Fanfare and a Tone (?) question. December 10, 2018 4:07 PM   Subscribe

I don't mean this to be Tone policing, but there are two Book posts on Fanfare about Jodie Picoult and the framing of the posts feels .. off?

Spark of Light is described as "One of the most fearless writers of our time, Jodi Picoult tackles a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel."

Small Great Things described as "Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game."

I don't want to Yuck On Anyone's Yum, but does this seem almost PR levels of effusive? I haven't read either book, so they might both be the greatest thing since sliced bread, BUT if every post on Fanfare used the same framing it would make it (in my opinion) a much harder space to navigate, and less useful for new media discovery/recommendations.

Am interested in what other Fanfare regulars think.
posted by Faintdreams to Etiquette/Policy at 4:07 PM (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

So, the first thing is those seem to be just the blurb text from the book jacket - so it's not the poster's own original phrasing, it's just a quote. But if folks want to talk about what kind of thing they want to see for the text of a Books post, that's a-okay.

For tv and movie posts, I think people generally use brief text from another source - like a one-sentence episode summary that doesn't give spoilers on the front page of Fanfare. For books, the same no-spoilers-above-fold request still applies, so I can see grabbing a nondescript sentence.

I guess I'd expect the blurb more commonly to be a description of what the book's about, rather than an evaluation of it ("this is a very good book" kind of thing). But interested to hear what other people think.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:13 PM on December 10, 2018 [6 favorites]

I copy and paste the (amazon, usually) description of the book and put it in quotes (with a link to wherever I grabbed it from), personally ... although it can be hard to figure out where to cut off to give enough that people know what it's about but not so much it overwhelms the front page. And some publishers do great with the two-paragraph summary that appears on amazon, B&N, etc., where you can cut off almost anywhere and it's still a coherent and well-formed description of the book (inverted pyramid!), and others present a hot mess, including just blurb quotes and no summary.

I'll also crib a couple of the magazine blurbs (BookList: "One of the top YA books of 2017, this thrilling romp explores new forms of narrative in a deep meditation on the environment.") and put those below the fold to help people know why it's an interesting/exciting book, if I think it'll be less-known.

But yes I find the quality of my post varies quite a bit based on the quality of the publisher's summary and blurbs!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:27 PM on December 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

The Spark of Light blurb is from the publisher's web page and the Small Great Things blurb is from either the Amazon page for the book or the publisher.

When making Fanfare posts, we can choose to have the post auto-filled. This doesn't seem to be the case here, but using short blurby descriptons is how I've made movie and books posts before.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:41 PM on December 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think people just come into the post and say whatever they were going to say about the piece of media, rather than responding directly to whatever's in the post. At least that's what I do, and seem to notice. It's not like the way a FPP works where people mostly respond to whatever is in the post itself.
posted by bleep at 5:34 PM on December 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

Are you genuinely interested in discussing either of those books?
posted by cribcage at 7:06 PM on December 10, 2018 [7 favorites]

Hi, I made those posts. I took the descriptions from amazon, since I’m in France there was more blurb like this than concise synopsis, and her books are quite twisty so the synopsis is generally long. I also did these very quickly after the recent meta about books on fanfare as I’ve read these both last month and wanted to know what other people thought.

Also I’m just a Jodi Picoult fan rather than her PR!
posted by ellieBOA at 9:37 PM on December 10, 2018 [14 favorites]

If you haven’t read the books, what’s the point of this post?
posted by Ideefixe at 9:47 PM on December 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

The point of this post is that someone wanted to talk about conventions on Fanfare. It's ok if you don't want to talk about that.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:48 PM on December 10, 2018 [21 favorites]

I’m happy to have the mods change the above the fold text for me if required.
posted by ellieBOA at 9:51 PM on December 10, 2018

If you'd like to change it, we can do that, just send the text you'd like to the contact form. It might help get more people interested (maybe?). It's not required.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:27 PM on December 10, 2018

I think using blurbs — rather than posing some question or thesis in the FPP — is fine. People are showing up to talk about the author’s text, not necessarily about the MeFite’s ideas. If the FPP asks a question, that’s great; if not, commenters are still mostly there to talk about the book itself.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:17 AM on December 11, 2018 [9 favorites]

I post a fair number of books on FF. While I do at least try to make the post more descriptive than PR-blurb like, that isn't always easy to pull off, as there isn't a neutral source of easily cribbed synopses for books quite like there are for movies and tv.

That said, I think the primary purpose of a FF post is simply to identify which thing we're going to be talking about. I don't think people are confused/intimidated/forced into conversations they don't want if the pasted text is overly effusive in a PR way.

So yes, it's good to encourage people to try and make posts for books that eschew that kind of PR-speak, but nah, I don't think it hurts much of anything if they don't.

Fair suggestion for best practices. Fairly far away from anything I'd want to see as a rule.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:36 AM on December 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

This kind of wording would annoy me in a Goodreads description because that should be a spoiler-free plot synopsis and not promotional. In this case, I don't see a problem with it. It is just a place to start a discussion.
posted by soelo at 7:52 AM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's interesting they were from the book blurbs, I honestly thought it was sarcasm.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:59 AM on December 11, 2018 [7 favorites]

it's fanfare not dispassionatediscussionfare amirite
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:34 AM on December 11, 2018 [16 favorites]

posted by clavdivs at 10:14 AM on December 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I appreciate this conversation because I had a similar conundrum when making a post for the movie Border which is [fan content ahead] an absolutely fantastic new movie [end fan content] based on a short story by “Let the Right One In” author John Ajvide Lindqvist.

I initially pulled from a glowing review for the post description because I was SO EXCITED after watching the movie, but then held myself back and pasted in a terse summary, saving review blurbs for under-the-fold. I decided that a boilerplate plot summary would be more helpful to folks who didn't necessarily share my taste and were deciding whether or not to learn more.

If I'm not familiar with a book/movie/TV show, a quick plot intro is more helpful to me as a description than a review, given the limited real estate. However, I like that FanFare has a wide range of users and titles, and since you can hide the descriptions from the main page anyway, I don't think there's any need for more stringent guidelines.

(Okay now everyone go watch Border and tell me what you thought of it)
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 10:52 AM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Some day, as APIs for these things become common, the pony , er uh, grown-ass horse, er uh freaking thoroughbred I would love would be if films could autopopulate the RT link and availability on top streaming options.

I am aware this is a horse from the future. I can wait until that day seems less far away and ask again.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:25 PM on December 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

“Too positive” doesn’t seem much of a problem. Would prefer to “fuck this book”.
posted by Artw at 3:29 PM on December 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by prize bull octorok at 3:40 PM on December 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

2nding as someone who generally filters out everything non-synopsisy in FanFare above-the-folds. Considering someone probably wouldn't be posting something if they weren't enthusiastic about it, to me it's sort of irrelevant if that it's a quoted PR blurb or if the poster is personally really jazzed about it, though my fussiness is saying quoted remarks should be in quotes.

Now I'm thinking about books I'd like to have sex with, but honestly I would rather just go on a platonic oceanic ramble with an obese ship's captain and a drug-addled physician/intelligence agent.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:18 PM on December 12, 2018

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