I read Dream Student late last year and was incredibly disappointed. The summary promised a thrilling mystery driven forward by the main character’s dreams. But the book meandered along through several genres, dropping then for others before picking them up later on in the story. I chose the book because of what it promised in the synopsis, and I ended up frustrated on each page when the book didn’t seem to be going anywhere with the plot I was promised. The summary can’t include everything without spoiling the ending, though it should match the plot.
Readers use the summary of a book in order to decide whether or not to buy. Occasionally they’ll read the first few pages to test the waters before committing. A few online sites, though, don’t have previews available ahead of time. For those potential readers, and those who don’t read the first few pages, they rely on the accuracy of the promise of the summary to make their decision.
There is little that turns me off a book more than finding out that it’s nothing like the summary. I usually read a stellar summary, start the book, and discover that what’s supposed to be the plot or genre is only a minor subplot. I end up reading a book that I don’t enjoy. One I probably wouldn’t have picked up to begin with.
Yes, the publisher (or the author in the case of a self-published book) may have gotten me to download/purchase the book because of the summary. That may be how they make sales on otherwise lackluster books.
The expense at which they got that sale is readership. When I’m burned like that, I won’t pick up a book from that author or publisher ever again. I don’t trust that the book I set out to read will actually be between the pages.
Have you ever read a book that was very different from the summary on the book jacket? Did you enjoy it? And will you ever buy anything from that author or publisher again?