One of the complaints readers make is that a particular book wasn't what they expected. Some will go as far as to vent their disappointment with a bad review. I suppose it's a little like on-line purchases that don't measure up to your expectations. Of course, you're annoyed. Hopefully, you can return without charge. There's no doubt it is frustrating to realize an item is never going to work for you and then face paying half the cost of it in return shipping costs. Many of us have been there.
No, as writers we have an obligation to let our readers know that to expect when they purchase one of our books. We don't want to give away the plot or ending but especially with on-line purchases, we don't want to lure in readers with false expectations.
I was reading recently that, where in the past readers felt obliged to keep going with a book they weren't finding enjoyable, today there seems to be less hesitation in hitting the 'delete' button. Our time has become more valuable to us, perhaps. In some reviews, readers will make clear their frustration with comments like 'that's three hours I'll never get back' or 'even if it was free, it wasn't worth it' and even 'I'd return it if it wasn't free.' Since I don't make my books free, at least I won't receive the latter two comments!
It can be difficult to be objective when reviewing books that one hasn't liked. Often it comes down to disappointed expectations. I read about half of a post-apocalyptic book until it turned into what I would call 'horror' and I had to stop. Someone else may have found that an interesting part of the book. No judgment where books . . . and music . . . are concerned.
But to get back to the title of this post. I've sometimes wondered how to give potential readers sufficient information as to that 'what they see, is what they get.' There is, of course, the Read Inside feature on Amazon that allows for the first couple of chapters to be previewed. Perhaps that's enough. In the two romance novellas I wrote recently, I used the tags 'sweet romance' and 'clean romance' to indicate that they were definitely not 50 Shades of Grey. But when I checked out these tags in the Amazon search box, I came up with books about compulsive cleaning women, clean jokes for kids, addicts who are looking to come clean from drugs and even the Smelly Sock Shop, a book for children.
I didn't fare much better with Sweet Romance which is the other tag given to books that leave sex to the imagination. This includes a Short and Sweet Erotic Romance, and another graphic novel which has Sweet Temptation in the title.
Perhaps what is needed is a glossary!