Are Tropes Just Lazy Marketing?

On Twitter, which I understand has limited characters to write your message, I’m seeing more and more authors promoting their books via tropes rather than characters/story (note I did not say PLOT because a PLOT is different to a STORY).

  • Enemies to lovers!
  • Fake dating!
  • Slow burn!
  • There was only one bed!

Yeah, but what’s the story actually about?


I don’t really know how I feel about this. I’m not a huge fan of comp titles because they are often lazy and misleading, like every YA fantasy is Game of Thrones meets Throne of Glass or whatever. Trope marketing feels a little bit the same to me, like they’re relying on common elements people recognise rather than what the story is actually about.

A book could be about puppy-killing slave owners who live in the sewers and are planning a heist so they can get their hands on more puppies to kill, and we’d only see that it’s DARK ACADEMIA and THE VILLAIN GETS THE GIRL. Do authors actually care about their stories or are they just trying to lure readers?

You can find 10 different books with exactly the same tropes, but completely different plots, characters, and stories. They’ll be marketed the exact same way, using those same tropes.

What makes me want to read one book as opposed to the other?

And true, a list of tropes is designed to excite the potential reader enough to read the blurb or look at the cover, which is generally a better representation of the contents of the story. Maybe it’s savvy marketing and just as valuable as a cover or a blurb in today’s digital-driven short attention-span world.

I think my problem is that tropes do not equal a story. What does the main character want, what are they willing to do to get it, and what are their obstacles? That’s not reflecting in tropes or comp titles like it is in blurbs.

I’m also annoyed by trope marketing because it leans so heavily into tropes, which used to be utterly vilified. I still remember when no one knew the difference between a trope and a cliché and recognising one trope meant the author was lazy or even copying someone else.

And now, suddenly trope marketing is OK because readers recognise elements they like.

I dunno. Maybe I’m old and grumpy.

I’m just not a fan of using tropes to sell books. It’s making authors write books that are a collection of favourite tropes according to Bookstagram and BookTok rather than developing an engaging plot and characters.

Savvy marketing, yes.

But do they actually make good stories worth investing time into reading?


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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