Friday, April 29, 2011

Expect the .... what?


We all have them. Personally, I "expected" to be home this week with my whole family. Instead Annabelle is still stuck in the hospital, back in the ICU no less.

Our readers will have expectations too. And if you don't meet them or exceed them, you will make them just as grumpy as I have been this week. The only difference is, they can snub your books, talk bad about them, and never buy them again. I, on the other hand, can't snub the hospital or never go there again! I guess I could talk bad about them... but it isn't their fault and they've taken great care of my baby, so I guess that would be mean! *sigh*

Sherrinda did a great post on expectations based on names earlier this week.

But what other kind of expectations might readers have for your books?


Imagine if you are a John Grisham reader, and pick up his next novel, open the book, and out comes a sordid pure romance.

Or if you are a Nora Roberts reader and pick up her next novel, and it is a spy thriller with no romance at all.

Extreme examples, I know, but you get the point. As your name becomes your brand, your readers begin to trust you to give them something.

I'm not saying you can't publish in multiple genres. Many do. Good friend of mine in my local writer's group, Kaye Dacus, publishes both historical and contemporary romances. But she has established that those are what she writes, and we trust her with that.

There are also some authors who "switch" genres, and that's okay too, most of the time. Although I think Nora Roberts should question her sanity if she switched to writing Sci-Fi or something like that:-) I mean... maybe... but...


Imagine you read Mary Connelly's books and you start reading it, only to be crying from the drama in the first chapter, and at "the end" you've cried only sad tears, and none from laughter.

Or you pick up a Francine River's book and get the giggles on the first page. (Okay, this might actually be cool!)

Personally, I write funny. Others write dramatic. Still others lace their novels in page-turning suspense. And others specialize in spicing up their style and giving their readers something unique each time, and the uniqueness becomes their own style. Whatever it is, your style is something your readers come to expect and desire. Change it up with caution and care.


Some authors have little trademarks they leave for their readers. Like dog lovers might make sure they have some type of dog in ever book. Or cat. Or turtle. Or chicken. Or a one-eyed science research rat. While I don't think it is quite as important of an expectation to meet (especially if the rat is your trademark...), if you set it, try to keep it!

What about you?

Are there any expectations that you want your readers to have when they read your books? Or do you think the whole idea of "expectations" is unfair and limits your artistic creativity?


Sarah Forgrave said...

Great post, Krista!

I think no matter what I write, I'll always have an element of romance. Even in my first-ever manuscript, which I pegged as a women's fiction, it had "strong romantic elements". Thus why I just bucked up and admitted I write romance, LOL.

(Hope you get to sleep in a real bed this weekend!) :)

Keli Gwyn said...

I did some serious thinking about expectations after my agent sold my first book and I set about planning the next. I don't want to disappoint readers who might like my voice but wasn't exactly sure how that voice had emerged and if I could duplicate it. (Call me the Queen of Self-Doubt.) I wrote in spite of my worries, and my voice is still there. Color me happy. =)

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I'm praying through a lot of this currently. I don't want to race to publication. I want to sure I make it there in the genre I feel most led to write.

Thanks for helping me continue w/ my thoughts.
~ Wendy

Joanne Sher said...

Not sure I know what expectations will be for me, other than hope at the end - and maybe that isn't narrow enough - or specific enough.

Great to start thinking of, though! Thanks, Krista - and praying for your girl.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Unfair or not, expectations are reality, both in my writing life and my "real" life. I battle my own expectations for myself (vaulting ambitions, as Shakespeare says), as well as others' perceived expectations. And then there are those folks who tell me flat out what they want--expect--from me. And I often fall short.
This is when I have to ask: Where is my focus? On me? My expectations? Others expectations? Or can I hang on to who I am in God's eyes and want he wants from me?
Tough job, that.

Casey said...

Very true, we have to find where we are comfortable and stick there. It takes too long to build an audience to play all over the map. Unless your like Angie Hunt. :-)

Ralene said...

I do think that expectations are unfair, but writers should anticipate that that is just the way readers are.

I hope when someone picks up my book that they expect to see stories of amazing faith and page-turning suspense. :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I am still searching for the right fit. Like Wendy, I am not in a huge hurry for publication, so it gives me time to find the genre/era for me.