Deliver What You Promise

Writers use titles to make offerings to their readers. If the title interests the reader enough, the reader dives in and starts reading.

What really transpires is an offer, an acceptance, and end result of customer satisfaction (or lack thereof). The writer’s offer comes in the form of the title. The acceptance comes from the reading of the offer. The satisfaction depends on how close the work delivers what’s promised.

I was president of our local chapter of Sisters In Crime mystery writers group here in the Twin Cities for two years and met so many great mystery writers (male and female). It was great because I love reading mysteries. Romance? Not so much.

Several romance writers have crossed over into the mystery genre and brought their romance writing habits with them. Some write under a different name, presumably to not confuse the reader. I understand that. When a reader expects the author is writing a mystery, the reader isn’t expecting romance, so using a new name to write mysteries makes sense.

A few years ago, I picked up a mystery by J. D. Robb. It looked interesting. I bought it and began reading, then the romance stuff started. I couldn’t believe it. Agatha Christie never wrote like this! Granted, I didn’t research J. D. Robb before I plunked down money for her book, but when I finally did research her and discovered she is really Nora Roberts, I felt duped. Nora Roberts is a beloved romance writer, and I would have expected romance if her name was on the book. But it wasn’t. J. D. Robb’s name was.

Janet Evanovich also crossed over from romance novels to mysteries. But at least I know that, so if I get into a mystery and that romance stuff appears, I’m warned.

The point is you need to deliver to your reader what you promise. If the title of what you’re writing suggests content about American history, you better write about American history, not German history.

Deliver what you promise and you’ll have reading fans beyond measure.

Happy writing!

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