We've all seen review excerpts slabbed on to the covers of books — some books even have pages dedicated to praise for the book. Sometimes, the whole back back will just be reviews, rather than what we want — the blurb. If you look closely, the "praise" is disingenuous — paid reviews, reviews from the author's friends, or reviewers which want to maintain their ARC privileges.
Look, I know what the purpose of these reviews is: to market the book, to drum up excitement and to hopefully catch the reader's attention. I know that authors often get little to no say in what goes on the front cover. But at this point, my eyes just ignore these quotes — and I'm sure most of us do — maybe I'm just cynical, but I know that the quotes and recommendations on the book are just marketing spin anyway.
Unfortunately, this seems to be something which happens most frequently to first-time published authors on their debut novel.
The main reasons why I think these quotes are wasted space
1. The excerpts don't actually tell me if the book is good or not
I don't rely on the excerpts to tell me if the books is good. I decide if a book is worth my time by: a) looking at reviews online b) reading the blurb, and c) opening up the book and reading the first few sentences to get a feel of the author's writing style.
2. The excerpts can be misleading
Sometimes, these quotes are taken out of context. In Ben Shapiro's book True Allegiance the book included the "praise" from Salon.com saying: "Meet our new Ayn Rand", but the quote in full was "Meet our new Ayn Rand: Ben Shapiro’s hamfisted propaganda fiction is even worse than you guessed ".
Unless we google the review, there is no why to know what the quote says in its full context just by reading the small excerpt.
3. Even if this book is "the next Twilight" or the "next Harry Potter", why do I want to read the next Twilight? Why would I want to read a book copying something which I've already read?
As Cassandra Clare said (when asked about her book being called "the next Twilight"):
“…I love Twilight but I don’t think there is a next Twilight. I don’t think there is a next Harry Potter. I think they are their own thing…. the Hunger Games is the Hunger Games. What I want [The Mortal Instruments] to be is the first Mortal Instruments and have that be an awesome thing.”
4. The excerpts make the cover look crowded and messy
There. I said it. The main reason why I hate excerpts on the front cover. I think it makes the cover look ugly. I think covers usually look more pretty, cleaner, with no unnecessary text. And now I reveal to you the before and after of your favourite books; let me know which one you like more!
5. Please don't replace the blurb with reviews
Do you know what tells me the most about a book? The blurb. Not the reviews. Please stop replacing the blurb with reviews and putting the blurb in some weird spot like the inside jacket cover or inside the book.