Great expectations (and I’m not talking Charles)

Are great expectations a positive for a debut author?

There was a book I really wanted to read. I entered contests galore but never won it. So gosh darn it – I bought the book. And now I’m only into the third chapter – and I’m feeling disappointed. I even fell asleep on it the first night! gasp. And I hardly ever fall asleep reading. I read a chapter at the beach, but I got distracted and stuffed it back in the beach bag. And I’ll probably try and read a bit more tonight in hopes that it lives up to the great buzz it got.

Were my expectations too high? Probably. Maybe if I had found it in the lost and found, I’d have loved it.

But I know when I go to read the 3rd or 4th book in a series I love, I’m hardly ever disappointed because the author has proven their ability at storytelling.

There are a few books coming out in the next few months. And I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed. I don’t want to be. Because I love a good book.

So, are great expectations necessarily the best thing for a debut author?

If the book lives up to the buzz then great buzz is well . . . great. But if the book doesn’t live up to the buzz, then….it was just buzz.

What do you think? Have you experienced this with expectations on a book (or movie)?

13 Responses to Great expectations (and I’m not talking Charles)

  1. Carole Anne Carr July 30, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    I live in dread of this happening to someone when reading my books, Laura. I try to have something exciting on every page so as to ensure this isn’t the case! One recent adult reader of my children’s adventure books said: ‘You kept me up until half past one in the morning, I had to finish the book!’ I do hope I don’t begin to sag a bit when I reach the writing of the fifth of sixth book! Hugs… :0)

  2. Elaine July 30, 2010 at 10:33 am #

    Sustaining the intensity is the challenge. When I plan something intense I go somewhere intense. I was planning at a night match – soaking up the atmosphere!

    • Laura July 30, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

      Carole – Fifth or sixth or book? Awesome! I’m sure they’re terrific!

      Elaine – I know it is sad. But it happens. And that’s a good idea. I think sometimes we think it’s intense but it’s really not!

  3. anne gallagher July 30, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    For years I’ve been stalking this particular romance author. I follow her website,blog, get her newsletter. Funny though, for some reason I’d never read any of her books. I don’t know why, so I finally saw one at a used bookstore and picked it up. I read it in one day because I kept waiting for it to get better. By the time I finished with it I said to myself, “My book is better than that.”

    Now my author wasn’t a debut author, so I think I know why the book wsn’t so great. But as with everything else, take it with a grain of salt. Debut authors have to push at the envelope with everything they have. Promo is their bag now. Getting good reviews is easy if they’ve been on the blogosphere long enough or twitter or FB with the right people.

    We can’t help but be disappointed sometimes with what gets published these days. (And then gets turned into a billion dollar movie).
    We can only hope someday, that will be us.

    Although let us hope no one is disappointed when they read our books. (Sorry for the ramble.)

    • Laura July 30, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Anne. This book that I still haven’t finished was worthy of getting published. It just felt written to me. The online buzz had been so incredible I got sucked into thinking it was a must read. Sometimes a review that has some negatives is more believable. And just because there are negatives doesn’t mean I won’t read it.

  4. Marcia July 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Great buzz feels so good but creates so much pressure. A book with huge hype that ends up being merely quite good is a disappointment; a book no one ever heard of that gets grass-roots support or wins awards is suddenly great, and if you just look at the STORIES, maybe they’re fairly equal. But one is perceived as falling and one as rising, and rising is better. Still, when a book comes out, everybody’s always going to love great buzz rather than no notice. I love to see “sleepers” win. If we get to a place where we’re sure buzz measures success, even before a book is released and has a CHANCE to sell — ugh.

  5. patti July 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm #


    Hmmm, having debuted and seconded and now about to third, I shudder to see how much I didn’t know then.

    Still, a reader only has so many books to read!

    So…if you like anything about the author’s book (like voice, plot technique, theme) I say stick with ’em and support ’em when you can. We need cultivation!

    Then lean back into the comforting arms of your tried and trues.

    A final comment? Sigh. I have learned that what ROCKS MY SOCKS OFF (in this past year, The Help, The Passion of Mary-Margaret, The Guernsey LIterary…) have left some of my friends COLD! REALLY!!!

    So…different strokes (or books) for different folks is SUCH a truism!!

    Have a great weekend! LOVE this blog!


  6. Laurel July 30, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    Like you, I try to search out some non-glowing reviews because I distrust buzz. Often those negative reviews reflect what’s simply bad fit with the reader’s tastes, but it’s helpful to know what sorts of readers a book doesn’t appeal to, right?

  7. Laura Marcella July 30, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    It’s always a bummer when I get really excited for a book or movie and it falls flat. It happens. But it also happens that it’s even better than I expected. It goes both ways. So I’d rather take the chance on the buzzed-about novel or film than miss out on something amazing!

  8. Robert Guthrie July 30, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

    Crushed expectations sometimes might be a matter of audience, trying to market a book for everyone when it’s for a smaller audience.

    • Laura July 30, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

      Wow! Awesome comments everyone! I do think any author would be excited about great buzz! And some books def. live up to it. I know when it comes to movies, my expectations of it are related to my overall satisfaction level. This is just something I’ve been thinking about, so I’m sure my posts on this topic aren’t done! 🙂

  9. kris July 31, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Great post Laura. I think the more buzz there is, the more likely that the reviews will be polarized. In other words, the more people who read the book the more likely a book will thrill some and disappoint others.

    I’m hoping for good buzz WHEN my book sells. 🙂

  10. Margo Berendsen August 2, 2010 at 3:45 am #

    Arrgggh- I just have to ask – what book is it?

    Unless I’ve gotten several personal recommendations, I won’t buy a book – always wait for it at the library – because I hate to be disappointed, too, and have been burnt a few times. But if I really like it, then I’ll go buy it anyway because I love to re-read good books. I always get more out of them the second time!

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