From author Elle Casey:
If you know me, you know I write in several genres. At last count, those included urban fantasy, romance, thriller/suspense, paranormal, action-adventure, dystopian, and hard science fiction-space opera. The hard sci-fi was new for me as of last month. It’s a genre I enjoy as a fan of TV, film, and novels (Dune was my first!), but had never experienced as a writer.
So far I’ve published one sci-fi novel (Drifters’ Alliance, Book 1) and a short story prequel to that series (Winner Takes All), which is scheduled for release on August 24th as part of an anthology titled Dark Beyond the Stars. I’ve really enjoyed stretching my wings and trying this new thang. I love space battles! Pew-pew!
I’ve also realized something important about myself and my job as a writer, and because this new discovery is kind of slowing me down and holding me back from writing my next book (by clogging up my brain), I figured I’d blog about it. Generally speaking, when I write something down in the blogosphere, it gets it out of my head and allows me a clear path ahead. And right now, my brain is completely clouded and jammed up with the specter of … duh-duh-duh-duuuhhhh … Reader Expectations.
. . . .
Once you write a book, if it’s good enough and all the planets and stars have aligned (meaning you get some kind of online exposure somewhere, be it via a retailer and/or an influential blogger), you gain a following of readers looking forward to your next release. And those readers will naturally have some expectations concerning that next release. For example, they’ll want your next book to be similar in tone and style, similar in length (or longer if possible), and capable of evoking the same kind of emotional responses the previous one did. Fair enough, right? That’s cool. I’m down. I’m a reader too. I toootally get it.
When there are just a few expectant readers out there, it’s somewhat easy to make them happy. After I wrote one book, I had maybe three people who bothered to email me and tell me what they were hoping to see in the next book (and one of them was my mother). I was happy to accommodate any of those requests that made sense for the next story, and I did my best to write the second book with as much passion and focus as I had the first. Reader expectations in small doses like that were invigorating!
. . . .
The problem with reader expectations for me at this point, really, is twofold: First, because there are so many, they constantly conflict with one another; and second, because of that first point, they eventually make it very difficult for me to write anything at all.
I’ll give you an example of the first situation, a phenomenon you can verify by reading the reviews on any of my books. For the same book, I’ve heard from readers that :
- the story is too long, and the story is too short,
- the girl should have gone with boy #1, and the girl should have gone with boy #2,
- a girl of this age would never do what my character did, and my character acted exactly as a girl of this age would,
- I didn’t resolve the main conflict, and the main conflict was completely resolved
- people don’t say in real life what my characters say, and my characters are so real they practically jump off the page,
- I don’t know what I’m talking about, and I’m a frigging genius,
- series suck, and series are awesome,
- cliffhangers suck, and cliffhangers are awesome,
- characters shouldn’t swear (because it’s not nice to read in a book), and characters should swear (because real people swear and characters in books should act real).
Link to the rest at Elle Casey and thanks to Noelle for the tip.
Here’s a link to Elle Casey’s books