Breaking Promises to Your Reader

Do not break the promises you make your reader.
Photo by Jasmine Carter on

Don’t ask me the book’s title or who wrote it. I simply won’t tell you. I don’t publicly bash my fellow writers. But I will issue warnings. My warning for today? Do not break the promises that you make to your reader.

Just don’t.

Tuesday, the book club that I’m in met via Zoom. We gathered to discuss a novel that was described as a “powerful depiction of the life a glamorous inventor.” Yes! Beauty and brains. I was so ready. And I read. And I read. And I read. Finally about two thirds of the way through the book, we got to her inventions.

I wanted the science. I wanted the nuts and bolts technical details. Instead I read page after page about her dresses, her jewelry and her hair. I even got to read about how she dressed when she was inventing.

To put it kindly, I was disappointed. I am not going to seek out this author’s next book and I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.

I’ll admit that this disparity might not be the author’s fault. Maybe she wasn’t the one who wrote the description. And if that’s the case, I’m sorry. But I still felt cheated.

Be careful what you promise your reader. It doesn’t matter if this reader is your editor, your agent, or your intended audience. If you promise a romance, there had better be romance. Your mystery can have a romantic subplot but if you call your book a mystery, there needs to be a “who-done-it” as well.

The promise can be made in the title (The Secret of the Singing Statue) or it might be in the query letter. Beware how you describe your manuscript. Because if you don’t follow through and deliver on that promise, there is a chance you will lose your reader.


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