Odd thought of the day: What exactly does it mean when readers say in reviews, "You won't be disappointed," or something similar. I get that sometimes lately, and I see it in a lot of reviews for other authors.
The feeling could just be misinterpretation or paranoia on my part. I suspect that authors like myself with ten or more books published hear it more than new authors with just a few. It could be that readers who stick with a favorite author for a long time start to worry that eventually the author will disappoint them—because it's inevitable that eventually it will happen. Believe me, as a reader, I know!
So when someone is reading my tenth or eleventh book and they get to the end, they might be thinking "Great! She wrote another story that didn't disappoint me." Then that thinking/language becomes part of the review or feedback or blurb.
Of course, I'd like to do better than just not disappoint my readers. I'd like to thrill them, mystify them, and make them think—among other things. I'm also grateful for every reader who has stuck with me through ten books...and for some, two additional unpublished manuscripts.
So I'm not complaining, just musing out loud and trying to understand.
Readers/reviewers: Do you use this phrase? What do you mean by it? Does the meaning varying depending on your expectations of the author?
Writers: How do you feel about this response to your work? Am I the only one who worries that it's not quite a compliment?
I think you're overthinking. ;-) When I begin reading a new book, any book, I'm filled with expectations and energy about where the story is going to take me. To have such high hopes for a book and not be disappointed? I'd say that's pretty damned good.ReplyDelete
You're probably right about me overthinking. I tend to do that. It's just that I've seen the phrase so much lately in everyone's reviews, I started to wonder about it.Delete
I agree with Peg. In part. The phrase, like any phrase, can convey several meanings. I use an example with my students. I say the sentence, "Will you please shut the door" six times, each time emphasizing a different word. (It works with almost any sentence, but a neutral one is best.) At least six different emotions can be conveyed that way. More. (I can get three different vibes from the way "Will" is pronounced.) When we write, all that nuance goes into phrasing - readers (and writers!) can be tone deaf. So the phrase "you won't be disappointed" can be the highest praise - the book is so good it transcends the positive review. Or it can be damned with faint praise, as you refer to, L.J.ReplyDelete
I'd say the nuance is in the context. What else has the reviewer written?
But, L.J, you raise another issue: the persistence of readers. We all know that while we hope our books will be consistent (consistently good), some are better than others. Readers know that, too. But if we are consistent, I think they stick with us, even granting us leeway to write a semi-clunker (as opposed to a Humphrey Clinker, which is a very funny book). Think of all the real clunker episodes of a TV show that has otherwise earned our trust. A bad Star Trek episode never kept me away from the next one.
That's part of the contract with the readers: we will be consistent but surprising.
Thanks for the post.
That was the point of this discussion: to see if it means different things to different reviewers. And I suspect it does.Delete
We all fall into patterns with our use of language. I've never used the "doesn't disappoint" phrase in response to a novel, so it surprises and kind of confuses me when I see it.
FWIW, when I hear the phrase, "You won't be disappointed," I hear a backhanded version of "this is great, you'll like it." I don't hear "you won't be impressed either" that you're hearing. I think of the phrase as a positive affirmation not as a noncommittal 'meh.'ReplyDelete
I agree. I think it is mostly meant to be positive. I'm just pointing out that it could be construed another way. Thanks for stopping in and commenting.Delete
I think I've come to a point where I'm just thrilled when someone writes a positive, or at the very least, constructive review. Having said that, I can see your point. Reviewers can sometimes make word choices that leave their opinions to appear ambiguous. In those cases, I just try to let go and realize these are some of the things over which I have no control and remain focused on the things I can.ReplyDelete
I've never thought of it before... Maybe it's like an A minus instead of an A plus? If they weren't happy with the book, I think their review and rating would indicate that.ReplyDelete
But I wouldn't be surprised if this is a concern for all novelists who write series with the same characters - Can I keep it fresh and maintain reader interest? So far, you're doing a great job of that, LJ, as every Detective Jackson story of yours is unique and intriguing. And I love your twists at the end!
It's probably good that you branch out sometimes, too, like with your upcoming thriller! Which, as a beta reader, I'm just loving!
Thanks, Jodie! I hope it doesn't disappoint you. :)Delete
Oh no! I'm pretty sure I'm guilty of using the phrase :( I've used it as a positive, though knowing now others may or may not see it that way, I'll have to rethink my reviews. Thanks for bringing this up, L.J. That's one of the extra perks of this blog: It's insightful and thought-provoking ... and never disappointing!ReplyDelete
Just for the record, I don't remember ever using that phrase in a review.ReplyDelete
My comment from this morning seems to have vanished.....it can either be positive or slightly negative. Usually, one can tell by the context of the review which way it means. When I see it used, it is usually done by those who claim they will not write a negative review.ReplyDelete
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I've occasionally used this phrase in my reviews but it's always meant as a positive note (if I write a negative review, there's no ambiguity). For me, it has nothing to do with a long-running series. I'm inclined to use it in two situations. One is the book with an unusual element that could go horribly wrong and the second is the self-published book by an author new to publication and thus with no real track record. Don't get me wrong---I think there's a lot of good self-published work out there but there is also a lot of dreck so I'm delighted to NOT be disappointed ;-)ReplyDelete
I've used the phrase and always mean it in a very positive way. These days, not being disappointed in a book or anything else is a wonderful thing!ReplyDelete
LJ, as usually another thoughtful blog. Thanks. IMHO if I write or read "you won't be disappointed", it means to "TAKE A CHANCE" this book, this author, because unlike others one has tried, this won't disappoint. And I also believe, again, IMHO, you worry too much. ;)ReplyDelete
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