Saturday, July 11, 2015

Rare Writing Post - Managing Expectation

Greetings from the Hermit Writer.

We writers must know what every project manager who knows dip knows, that it is important to manage the client’s expectation. The production folks who put out Schwarzenegger’s recent movie, Maggie, should know this.

What the heck am I talking about?

You know it’s important to…
  1. Title your novel to its content
  2. Pick a genre-appropriate cover
  3. Sell it for what it is
If you don’t, your reader will be horribly disappointed. I thought I did these three things for my New Order Apocalypse, then got a scathing review because it wasn’t the ‘post-apocalyptic world’ one reader expected. As though there is only one kind.

Back to Maggie. Look at the blurb: “When a deadly zombie virus sweeps the nation, a father will stop at nothing to save his infected daughter in this post-apocalyptic thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
  1. Zombie’ … immediately sets a specific expectation.
  2.  ‘Stop at nothing’ …suggest action and violence.
  3. ‘Thriller’…oh, guys, this wasn’t a thriller.
  4. ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’… immediately places action hero in my head.

Regarding, ‘Sell it for what it is,’ the marketers did a horrible job. They would have done better with something like this:

Arnold Schwarzenegger steps far from his normal role to portray a father in agony watching his young daughter die in this dark and realistic, emotionally charged, apocalyptic bromide.

If you haven’t seen Maggie, go with that expectation, and you will readily enjoy it, and won’t be tempted to hang a two (or worse) star review on it, like Maggie received.

Maggie was an excellent film, with excellent acting, cinematography, script, and premise. A must see. Okay…one negative: Arnold and his wife were much too old for their roles, to have eight or nine year old kids. Come on. They’re grandparents.

So, writers…are you ready to sell your novel for ‘what it is?’


  1. By Jingos I think you got something there. One would think with just the Arnold name it would be muscles and bullets flying---not a tender hearted dad. Very interesting.
    Sell it for 'what it is' and don't mis-lead. right?

  2. You are spot on. Of course you cannot judge a movie by it's book, they say and visa versa. I've also found it best to ignore our movie critics knowing I often give their one star rating a 5 star plus at times. You may find this link interesting.

  3. It's only fair (to us and them) to let our readers know what kind of story to expect.

  4. I see very few movies. And never, ever movies of books I love. The images don't match the ones the author and I have drawn in my head...

  5. Excellent point, Mac...haven't seen the movie, but I wouldn't probably go to see Arnold anyway.

  6. Must admit, I simply assumed Arnie was short of cash. He did say he'd be back, didn't he?

  7. PS Good advice about managing expectations!

  8. My English is not very good but I do understand your point: the "message is quite deceiving"!, is it not?



  9. for tonight we were choosing between this and woman in gold. we choose the later because it received 4 stars on redbox. maggie will be next!!!

    i always expect nothing, therefore i am never disappointed!!!!