Comic Talk and General Discussion *

Why did Harry Potter get so big?
Ozoneocean at 2:28AM, Sept. 21, 2022
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We have this idea that if something is popular it must be because it's great, the best of the best at the time, or totally unique and original…

…Which isn't quite the truth. The reality is that the thing is usually pretty good, but the reason it gets so popular is a mixture of good marketing and very good luck all coming together.

Like Pewdy-Pie for example: he became the biggest thing on Youtube because of his location and his content happening to accidentally work with the Youtube algorithm which massively marketed him till he got the audience and word of mouth to sustain his numbers.

Or The Mona Lisa by Leonardo daVinci and daVinci himself: It's not really that unique or even historically significant a painting and Leonardo despite his inflated reputation didn't really do much in his time, but because of the history of what happened to the painting, with all the hands it went through over the centuries it ended up being super popular and turned its artist into a celeb. (I'm simplifying here, but there are way more creative and significant people who don't have Leonardo's name recognition)

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So, what caused Harry Potter to blow up to such a hugely popular thing?
The ideas are not original. It's certainly not unique and wasn't a new idea at the time…
I do not know myself. I just recall the books being heavily marketed to young school children and there was huge word of mouth from their mothers at the time because the parents were reading the books to their kids or just reading them as WELL as the kids…

So maybe there were book deals that got the novels marketed through scholastic book programs?
 
last edited on Sept. 21, 2022 2:54AM
lothar at 3:06AM, Sept. 21, 2022
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Reminds me of something the late Philip J Fry once said: “Clever things make people feel stupid and unexpected things make them feel scared.”
If you want to get famous, just put a fresh coat of paint on an old idea.
TheJagged at 4:35AM, Sept. 21, 2022
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Aside from just being lucky? I pondered this question ever since the Potter hype started. Because i was right at the target age range of 10-12y, when that first movie released. And i hated Harry Potter from the very beginning.

Funny enough, it was my grandfather who dragged me to see the first movie. Guess he needed an alibi kid to not look like a creep among the droves of youngsters swarming the theater lol. Personally i did not care for the movie at all, i was bored all the way through. But i figured, since the books are so successful maybe the books are much better. Just so happened that my aunt gifted me a collection of Potter books that Christmas (apparently my relatives were really trying hard to get me into this franchise.)

So i read the second in the series, Chamber of Secrets, and i actually hated it even more than the first movie. I thought the charatcers were bland, the writing was clumsy, a lot of the rules behind how the magic works were compeltely arbitrary… Never read another Potter book again.

Mind you, i was a smartass of a kid. I was getting into horror movies by the time the Potter stuff got big, so while in age i may have been the target ausdience, as far interests go i was way ahead of my fellow teens. Like, why are you making me watch this baby wizard crap? Put on Princess Bride and Conan! Now that's REAL fantasy!


I do have a theory about the immense success of specifically the HP franchise: Self-insert potential. Think about it, here's a magical school setting with hundreds of students… so much room to make up your own Potter OC and go to the same school as all your heroes, and be part of all those magical adventures. I honestly think that is one of the crucial differences why this series in particular was so appealing to so many people. It basically writes its own fanficiton.
Ozoneocean at 5:25AM, Sept. 21, 2022
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lothar wrote:
Reminds me of something the late Philip J Fry once said: “Clever things make people feel stupid and unexpected things make them feel scared.”
If you want to get famous, just put a fresh coat of paint on an old idea.
I don't think that's it. We had LOTS of books like that at the time, so it had to be something extra about the books as a product rather than the content- like marketing, or a celeb endorsement, a viral campaign, or just word of mouth because of who was reading it.


TheJagged wrote:
I do have a theory about the immense success of specifically the HP franchise: Self-insert potential. Think about it, here's a magical school setting with hundreds of students… so much room to make up your own Potter OC and go to the same school as all your heroes, and be part of all those magical adventures. I honestly think that is one of the crucial differences why this series in particular was so appealing to so many people. It basically writes its own fanficiton.
It couldn't really be that since most popular fantasy often tends follows that type of thing.

Nothing about the books or the style or story idea is particularly unique, this is why I'm questioning whether anyone knows about how they were originally promoted…

I have memories of when the books first came out here in my part of the world that mums were getting them for the kids through the schools, and they were recommending them to other mums and reading them- aunties were buying them for nieces and nephews… etc.
 
bravo1102 at 5:35AM, Sept. 21, 2022
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Saw the first two movies and thought they were a lovely bit of fluff. Enjoyable and captivating but not spectacular.
My nephews and sister-in-law loved the books and read them multiple times. My mother got hooked on the movies because it was a nice wholesome story that you could identify with.
It was really easy to put yourself into the story. I was way too old. When I was the target age there was Tolkien and Edgar Rice Burroughs. ERB hasn't gotten the audience his work deserved since Johnny Weissmuller. Lol.
Harry Potter was a nice wholesome story written by a mom for her kids. It was the kind of book your mom would want you to read. It also tapped into a great market. YA was ready to explode and fantasy had moved on to “adult fantasy” that just wasn't kid friendly. Game of Thrones versus Harry Potter?
What would you want your kids reading?
last edited on Sept. 21, 2022 5:41AM
Ozoneocean at 6:17AM, Sept. 21, 2022
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bravo1102 wrote:
It also tapped into a great market. YA was ready to explode and fantasy had moved on to “adult fantasy” that just wasn't kid friendly. Game of Thrones versus Harry Potter?
What would you want your kids reading?
There might be something here…

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Just a point though- There has always been YA kid friendly fantasy, even kid focused fantasy set around a magic school. At the time that market was as full as it's always been.
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BUT, what you say about the “wholesome” thing, and the mother writing for her kids- Perhaps that was the angle that was used in the original marketing to the publishers to get it in front of the right eyes?
Obviously it was the massive blitz on the US market (for a British book), that helped it explode more than anything. And we KNOW how much the US market can obsess about “wholesomeness” to an almost fetishistic extent… haha XD

And maybe back then they had a hole in their YA catalogue for fantasy- not because there wasn't any, but rather because they were simply interested OTHER things at the time? (spies, mystery, aliens, wearwolves etc)

I remember reading that a lot of established YA fantasy writers just couldn't get their stuff published anymore around then. Publishing companies were going through a bit of a purge.

Maybe different ownership and staff shakeups. mergers etc played a role in that?
I recall that there were some very big things happening with some of the bigger companies that published fantasy. Rupert Murdoch in particular was eating up many of the older names and bringing them under one roof.
 
last edited on Sept. 21, 2022 6:23AM
Ironscarf at 7:10AM, Sept. 21, 2022
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Ozoneocean wrote:

—————-
Just a point though- There has always been YA kid friendly fantasy, even kid focused fantasy set around a magic school. At the time that market was as full as it's always been.
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A good point, because Rowling was heavily sold as bringing back the fantasy genre to children's books, which was clearly false. Jill Murphy's The Worst Witch book series for one, had been selling well for years. It was based on the adventures of Mildred Hubble as she attended a shool of magic called Miss Cackle's Academy and had even been made into a tv movie around the time Rowling was writing Potter.

After the first book or two had gone down well with kids, it seemed to be decided that Rowling, or the book or both, were ripe for a huge marketing push. Her life and story of writing the book quickly became mythologized, to the point where tv interviews and even specially comissioned documentaries accorded her a tone usually reserved for the likes of Nelson Mandela or the Dalai Lama. No mention was ever made of Mildred Hubble, or of Neil Gaiman's Books Of Magic, in which Timothy Hunter learns he is to become the most powerful wizard on Earth, while looking remarkably like Harry Potter seven years before the first Potter book.
 
Andreas_Helixfinger at 7:55AM, Sept. 21, 2022
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Ironscarf wrote:

After the first book or two had gone down well with kids, it seemed to be decided that Rowling, or the book or both, were ripe for a huge marketing push. Her life and story of writing the book quickly became mythologized, to the point where tv interviews and even specially comissioned documentaries accorded her a tone usually reserved for the likes of Nelson Mandela or the Dalai Lama.

So kind of like how Beyoncé has been marketed into messiah-like fame in the world of mainstream music, if I'm not mistaken.
last edited on Sept. 21, 2022 7:58AM
Ironscarf at 8:35AM, Sept. 21, 2022
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Andreas_Helixfinger wrote:

So kind of like how Beyoncé has been marketed into messiah-like fame in the world of mainstream music, if I'm not mistaken.

Yes a good parallel. I remember seeing some of Beyonce's Glastonbury set and at one point she stopped the show and told everyone to sing happy birthday to Paul. I don't think anyone had the faintest idea who Paul was, but they sang along anyway and I tried to imagine Tina Turner or Freddie Mercury pulling a stunt like that.
I'm sure the internet plays a large part in this, but product marketing has become so personality driven it's hardly surprising if artists and authors begin to believe their own hype and act accordingly.
 
bravo1102 at 9:56AM, Sept. 21, 2022
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It doesn't matter what is around in a genre, but what is selling. Rowling could be marketed and sold. Her US publisher was Scholastic books which was dying. They were an old established children's publisher and were steadily losing market share. Then they got Harry Potter because they thought it was a children's book and they decided they could sell as a mainstream novel.

YA horror is still a good market to break into. I know three authors from forums when they were just starting out. Each has a YA horror/fantasy franchise now. It was the thing to get into ten years ago.

Timing can be key. One thing can just take off because it hits all the marks and people want it. Or a magnificent property can just be abandoned and forgotten before it even gets a chance.

Can never be forgotten that when pitching something it has to be described as what existing property it is most like.
Genejoke at 3:06PM, Sept. 21, 2022
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The marrying of fantasy and school probably made it an easy sell for kids and school reading material, but what really did it was the films. They aren't bad books and the way the writing style matured with each instalment meant the audience could grow with the characters.

Without Chris Columbus or some other well established dire4ctor who could command a decent budget on a kids film and get the who's who of british actors pottermania probably wouldn't have happened. The timing was probably handy given that it came out at a similar time to the LOTR films. Fantasy made a massive come back and the potter films were ripe to ride the wave as the younger audience companion to LOTR.
elektro at 7:18AM, Sept. 26, 2022
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It pretty much came down to marketing, and this was from before there were any movies. Harry Potter was pushed like crazy when it first came out, with it being mentioned in the media a lot. Plus, remember that the publisher was Scholastic, and Scholastic used to distribute those book order forms in school all the time to kids (they probably still do, but I've been out of the lower grades for decades). The combination of those two elements would very much push sales.
Niccea at 9:56AM, Sept. 26, 2022
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I grew up in the target age range for the books. My mom had saw all the hype when the third one was coming out, and so she got me the first two to see how I would take to them. I think I liked them at the time because it felt relatable to me. “Here is a kid my age going through similar growing pains but with magic.” Most of the other fantasy books I read at the time were adult oriented i.e. Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, Game of Thrones, and Dragonlance. By book 6 the series stopped being relatable to me, but I bought and read book 7 just to have the complete set. I would never call the series my absolute favorite read at any time, but they did fill the hours nicely.

I think it could be a bit if a generational and timing thing? I still haven't gotten past the first page of Twilight and really can't understand the hype it had.

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