As an author--as a human, actually--there’s no way to guarantee a reader’s expectations will intersect with my offering. So many things are out of my control, and I just can’t know what makes a reader like or dislike certain things about my book. It’s like that Aerosmith song, "Same Old Song and Dance":
Get yourself a cooler lay yourself low
Coincidental murder with nothing to show
The judge’s constipation will go to his head
And his wife's aggravation, you’ll soon end up dead
I just finished a book wherein the ending came way too soon for me. I was so disappointed, because I thought I had a whole ‘nother chapter to go, judging by the number of pages left. So I finish a chapter, anticipating the “wrap-up” that should begin as I turn the page, and find instead discussion questions and an excerpt of the author’s novel. It was over. Like that.
I understand the need to market the next book, but this actually made a black mark against the author in my mind. Even though the book was fantastic the ending soured it for me. Because of where I expected it to end, I was reading that final chapter in a different way than the author intended. She knew it was the end. I did not.
I re-read that last chapter as a last chapter, just to see if maybe I’d missed a change in pacing or rhythm, the subtle signs that the book was ending, and sure enough, they were there. I think the ending was still weak, but it definitely would have been stronger for me if I’d had the right expectations.
Is my reader in a loveless marriage, or did her boyfriend just say he loved her for the first time? Did the cover promise something I didn’t include in the book, or is the reader a writer himself with his own ideas of how to do things? Did my reader just get the death penalty?
You just never know.