I was going to title this blog ‘I’m pissed’ but it’s not about me being pissed as a writer but more so as a reader who recently mentally threw a digital book I bought for $5.99 against the wall. Why? Because the author totally, blatantly portrayed the book to be romantic suspense and she stated that even though there was a love triangle involved and there was sex, it was not erotica. COUGH Right? As romantic suspense fan she hooked me with the first chapter, but after that… hmmm The only thing that hadn’t happened in the bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom during the first 40% of book was that the donkey didn’t show up to bring in a new element into the trios tryst. I didn’t finish the book.

I’m sure the situation she created happens or has happened somewhere in the world throughout the centuries, and she is writing fiction after all, but to sell the work for what it is not in my opinion is wrong.

Did I return the book? No. Maybe I should’ve, but I learned a valuable lesson from this author and for that I’ll let her keep the royalty she earned by making the sell.  Will I buy from her again? Even though her writing was top notch, I will not. She lost my trust, not through her writing but through her marketing of the book.

In any genre, there are element degrees: comedy, suspense, drama, mystery, fantasy, love, sex, etc.  The writer’s voice is her style in using the different elements in different degrees. Unfortunately, the cyber book shelves, just as the brick and mortar books shelves only allow us to classify our books in a general genre. It’s only through our marketing that we can let our readers know of the sub-genres and sub-subgenres the work could be classified.  

I write a light comedy contemporary romance series that I tell my readers is written in Hallmark Holiday movie tone. In doing so, I believe I’m letting my readers know the level of sexual tension and the degree of comedy and drama they can expect. The first book in the series, PERFECT, which is a Christmas romance, was given a one-star review shortly after its release because the reader believed for some reason that it was a Christian book. I felt bad that I hadn’t specifically written out that it was not a Christian Romance, but I never said it was.

Writing blurbs and marketing material is hard.

I also write romantic suspense and romantic mystery. I try very hard in writing all of my blurbs to let the readers know if they are getting more of a suspense with their romance or they’re getting more of a mystery. Or if the story is more suspense/mystery with romantic elements. Again, even though, I’ve tried to be up-front, some readers will flat out review the works as failing to meet their idea of the perfect romantic suspense or romantic mystery. All I can say is I tried and the 99.99% of the readers who’ve reviewed my works tell me I’ve done okay in marketing my books.

Do you believe the publisher’s and/or the indie author’s has a responsibility to convey to the best of their ability what genre or sub-genre their work falls into?   Have you purchased a book only to learn it’s not want the author led you to believe it to be?  Have you returned books for the reason, never to buy from the author again?


Autumn Jordon is an award-winning, sneaker wearing Ruby who has a new release out titled PERFECT FALL. Learn more about her and her work at and join her newsletter AJ Revealed





21 responses to “MY DRYWALL HAS A HOLE IN IT!”

  1. jbrayweber says:

    I really wish we could do more with BISAC codes to funnel our books down into fine-tuned categories and sub-genres. It would help steer our books to the right readers. And, yes, it is our responsibility to not mislead. But I do think some readers take away different perceptions from books that may not have anything to do with how we market our books to be.

    I’ve had a book labeled as young adult, was doing well in the rankings there, too. But my stories are far from that genre. I’ve had another book labeled romantic suspense, too erotic, and not erotic enough. I’ve even been tagged as writing military history. None of these key words are in my marketing or descriptors. *shrug*

    Great post, Autumn!

    • Me too, Jenn.

      You’re right that readers might see something different in our works than what we intended.

      I don’t think I would classify your books as military history, but I guess if you really stretch they could be. It’s cool that someone considered your world to be researched so well that they would classify them as such.

  2. Tamara Hogan says:

    –> I really wish we could do more with BISAC codes to funnel our books down into fine-tuned categories and sub-genres.

    Oh, sing it, Jenn! When I listed ENTHRALL ME for pre-order, my paranormal romance BISAC sub-category choices were “vampires,” “shifters,” and “general.” ENTHRALL ME features a vampire hero and heroine, but the other books in my series? Not so much. It’s a conundrum.

    –> PERFECT, which is a Christmas romance, was given a one-star review shortly after its release because the reader believed for some reason that it was a Christian book.

    Readers who conflate “Christian” with a lack of explicit sex scenes obviously have not read Tiffany Reisz. Just sayin’. 🙂

  3. Rita Henuber says:

    They MOST certainly DO have a responsibility. These days some feel they DON’T. I don’t buy a book until I’m ready to read it. If I find this deception I’m able to return it and have no problem doing so. I never did before. I totally understand the mis-labeling that Jenn speaks of but not in the blurb. Nope.

    • I hope in writing this blog writers will be aware how pissed a reader can become by misrepresenting their work.

      The goal in book marketing is to sell the book and then hopefully the book should sell the next one.

  4. Jacie Floyd says:

    Good point, Autumn. I think I struggle with this myself. Because I prefer not to have sexy ab covers on my books, many readers have expected a low-level of sexual content. But in the other hand, it’s hard to know what other people’s opinion of the heat level will be. When I started writing, my heat level was considered high, but these days, I consider it fairly moderate, but not everyone agrees. I do think it’s important to let the readers know what’s in store for them, but they probably have a different perspective than I do.

    • Lol. I love reading the comments to this blog because it touched readers so many different ways and brought up so many issues.

      Yours brings up the level of sexually in a book. How do we tell readers the heat level if their expectations differs from the next persons. Should books have ratings like films to make it easier for the reader?

  5. Ugh! I hate a bait-and-switch. Truth in advertising, baby! That’s what we need. I was actually talking about expectations yesterday. We can enjoy both Braveheart and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but if we’re told Braveheart is just like MBFGW and then it turns out to be Braveheart? Dude. No.

    Marketing isn’t just about selling a book to me, it’s about managing expectations.

    • Yes! I was taken in by the bait and switch scam. At least that is the way I feel.

      As I said to Rita above, my goal in marketing a book is to sell that book and then hopefully the book will sell the next one.

  6. Interesting post, Autumn. This is why I am one of those readers who reads reviews. I like to see if people are commenting on how the book isn’t what they expected. Like someone above said, different readers take away different things from the same book. But if I see many reviewers saying the same thing, it’s a red flag to me.

    • I know. My bad. I bought because of the marketing video.

      That is a great advice, Anne. But how many readers actually read the reviews, especially on their phones, or do they only look at the total star ratings? After I read the blurb, I know that is what I do when on my phone.

  7. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    I do agree, AJ. If not, it is kind of like a used car salesperson who has not given you all the facts. I am sure it must be somewhat of a delicate balance so too much isn’t given away in the blurbs

    Have I purchased a book only to learn it’s
    not want the author led you to believe it to be? Yes & thought “wasted $$”

    Have I returned books for the reason, never to buy from the author again? No, but unfortunately for the author, I didn’t give them another chance…except for maybe picking up at the library.

  8. I usually read the reviews now as blurbs seem to be written for impact rather than content. And a lot of times what bothers some readers in a book doesn’t bother me at all. But they often give a better idea of what the book is about. I love those wonderful reviewers who say 30% mystery, 10% suspense, 60% romance, etc.

  9. Gwyn says:

    Excellent post, AJ! It’s so hard to know what to put in a blurb and whether you can trust those you read. Screwing like rabbits probably won’t make the cut, but it should. You get to a place where it’s “been there, done that, can we please get on with it?” after a while, and just want a good, satisfying story. Those are getting harder and harder to find.

  10. Hope Ramsay says:

    How to say what I want to say without ticking everyone off…

    *sigh* I’m going to try. And I’m sorry if I trample any toes. It’s not personal. It’s just the way I feel as a reader.

    I have never experienced a book bait and switch. But I have bought many a book based on the back cover copy only to discover that what’s inside is so poorly written that it’s practically unreadable.

    Part of this is my problem. I have very high standards.

    So I’ve become exceptionally discriminating these days. I read books written by my friends. I read books from new-to-me authors that are published traditionally. I read books that are recommended to me by friends and readers. And I read books that get good reviews from places like Publisher’s Weekly and RT.

    I guess that makes me a snob. A new-to-me indie author is going to have a hard time getting me to buy a book even with stellar Goodreads reviews, if I don’t know them personally or had the book recommended by a friend.

    I think indie publishing is fabulous. But I think it’s also the wild West out there, and the book buyer needs to beware.

    • Normally I find my books like you, but now and then I do read something that caught my attention through another venue. Again, the book I spoke of was well written, and yes, an indie, but the author represented it as a romantic suspense and not erotic which in my opinion it was.

      To respond to your take on the blog, I’ll say I’ve read a boat load of indie books that are very well written. The stories were wonderfully fresh and unique. And I’ve read traditionally published books that I couldn’t finish because they had no life. Flatter than pancakes. I don’t think it matters whether the book is indie published or traditionally published. What matters is that the author writes the best book he or she can, has it edited, copy-edited and formatted and markets it for what it is and not for what it is not in order to attract readers from another market.

      I think the whole publishing world is the wild west and probably will be for years to come. The writers who truly have passion for the craft will survive.

  11. Addison Fox says:

    This is a fantastic post!!!! Marketing carries responsibility and we have to make sure we don’t forget that.

    The other big lesson here, to me, is that there are plenty readers who want the book that’s written – appeal to them honestly and they will find you!!! Don’t try to use buzz that another reader wants and then not give that. Just go after those who will care the most in the first place!!!!



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