Lately I’ve come across people commenting on either social media or blog posts about reader expectations. They talk about the risks of buying a new author who might call her book Christian fiction, only to find out that . . . yeah, it isn’t! Or they talk about an author jumping genres or changing writing styles or something drastic that was a total turnoff.
This got me thinking. I know authors have lost me after toying with their writing style or changing topics. It’s a real issue. I’ve heard of publishing houses changing elements of a book during second printings due to readers voicing unhappiness over a book going farther than they expected that house to go.
What about what readers expect from me?
I hadn’t thought this through yet, but, since I’m still new here, I figured this might be a good time. What goes into a Sally Bradley book?
Well, first I’m a sucker for stories that deal with relationships. Male/female relationships. Married, dating, getting back together — anything that deals with the struggles and joys of love. I’m there!
Second, I crave reality-driven fiction. I want romantic stories that are rooted in what’s really going on around me. My readers should feel like everything in the book could happen in real life, and the books will deal with issues people can honestly relate to.
Third, I want fiction with a Christian worldview. Kept, my first book, is overtly fiction. I didn’t write it to have a message or a moral; story was definitely king. But I’m hearing repeatedly that the book made people think about particular aspects in their lives. Not every book of mine will be so blatantly Christian, but they all will have a Christian worldview at the center.
Fourth, my fiction won’t go too far. I won’t describe intimate moments between characters or be gratuitous with violence. I’ll do my best to be honest with the story, yet keep it clean. No rolling around in the gutter here!
And lastly, readers will laugh and probably even cry a little. I want to feel real emotion — and have you feel it too.
What about you? If you were to list items that made up your perfect fiction, what would that look like? What do your favorite writers do that you love? Please share!