I’ve been reading a lot of romance novels lately. Not because it is my favorite genre, but to help strengthen my skills in writing inner-thought and making an emotional connection between the reader and the character.
I recently read a book that was AWESOME at this. I was totally engaged. I liked the heroine. I cared about her. I liked the hero even more. They were both complex characters with faults that drove their characterization, and I completely believed them and felt like part of their lives. It was everything I wanted in a novel. This author totally deserved the “bestselling author” splash on her advertising.
At the end of the novel, there was one of those lovely magic buttons nice and handy so I could buy the next book.
Did I buy the next book? No.
Wasn’t I interested in the story? Didn’t I want to know more?
Yes. I totally did. I was ready to stay up late and read more.
So why didn’t I buy the next book?
The author, despite being incredibly talented, lost my trust. The story was not complete. Not by a long shot.
The heroine is being threatened by her brother and a former boyfriend who raped her. She had been in hiding for years, but they found her. She needs to go home and face them because her mother is dying. The hero of the story agrees to go home with her so she is not alone. BAM. It’s over. If you want to see what happens, you need to buy the next book. There isn’t even a neat, tidy closing thought to make the novel feel like it ended, like “I would be fine, I knew I would be fine because we would face this together.”
Nope—a closing line like that was not there. The chapter just ended, and the next page prompted you to buy the next book.
Now, if this had been a free read, I totally would have cut the author some slack. I would have purchased the next book. Call me snobby, but I expect a story to be complete when I pay $5.00 for it.
But maybe I was wrong. Maybe I misunderstood. So I checked to make sure there was not a worded warning like “part one” that I overlooked.
I went from being a wildly enthusiastic fan to a lukewarm, disappointed reader in a matter of seconds.
But the novel was great. Why wouldn’t you buy the next one?
Like I said, she has lost my trust. Will the next book finish the story, or will I be prompted to buy another book? I don’t know. I cannot trust that I will ever see a satisfying ending.
For now and probably forever, I will see this author’s name and red flags will pop up all over the place.
Why not just tell the truth?
Now, if it was stated up front that this was an add-on series, a work in progress available in installments (and priced at $.99 rather than $5.00 each) I would have totally slipped the next book in my cart. In fact, I think that’s an awesome idea.
But you just need to be honest about it.
Don’t lie to your readers.
Would I recommend this book? No. Absolutely not.
I sure did learn from it, though.