The pig is sitting in the kitchen by the counter with a collage-in-progress because the betas came back for Wild Ride–three of four are back and I’m expecting the last one tonight–and I’m trying to figure out how to fix the problems in it. Most of them are easy fixes, Jeep Fairy fixes, or “this detail is annoying” fixes, but there’s a big one that I’m not sure what to do about.
It’s the romance novel thing.
I think it’s pretty clear that with the exception of Bet Me, I haven’t really written a classic romance novel since I left Harlequin, that the main plots of most of my SMP books (again, not counting Bet Me or “Hot Toy”) have been women’s journey books, but even though I think it’s clear, other people don’t. They’re still expecting romance novels. And that’s bad because if you read my books as romance novels, they don’t deliver. Which is what happened to one beta on Wild Ride: She got invested in what she thought was a romance novel and then the reversals started to happen and she got thrown out into the cold.
Now I can say “Wild Ride is not a romance novel” until I’m blue, and some people are still going to read it as a romance novel. There’s nothing I can do about that. What I’m trying to figure out is whether foreshadowing the reversals takes some of the sting out of the disappointment or if that just skews the book more toward romance and increases the disappointment. The love interest doesn’t show up until the sixth scene in the book which seems to me to say, “Not a romance novel,” and the heroine has major problems of her own that have nothing to do with any love affair and that, to me, are where all the crunch is, but I cannot discount a smart reader.
So instead of painting the pig, I’m talking this out with the betas, trying to figure out how to make the book better without ruining it.
Which brings me to my real question here:
On what do you base your expectation of what a book will be?
The author? The title? The cover? The back cover blurb and/or advertising? The first page? How do you know what a book is about when you open it, what sets up your expectation of the story?
i think the success or failure of any novel rests on that, setting up the expectation and then delivering on it. So, big question. Help.