Satisfy Me by Johanna Harness

29 Feb

I just plunked down $17 for your book.

I’ve suspended disbelief.

I’m hanging on your every word.

I’ve committed time and energy to your work.

I want to like you.

No—you know what?

I want to love you.

I want to love your story.

I want to believe in you.

I want things to work out between us.


Don’t destroy all we have with a cliffhanger ending.



I adore a good series.

I love revisiting

favorite characters.

I love knowing

I can trust an author

to deliver

one satisfying story

after another.


Provide that for me and I will order everything from your backlist.

I will pre-order your next book, no matter how long it takes you to write it.

I will be devoted to you.

I will tell my friends about you.

I will gush and embarrass myself with how much I love you.


Play games with me?



Toy with me?


Withhold until. . .

I feed your publisher another $17. . .

or maybe another $17 after that?


Forget it.


Not only have you lost the sale, you’ve lost the fan.



I have a great deal of sympathy for beginning authors who don’t quite nail the ending.

Some of my favorites wobbled a bit with their first books.

I savored the improvement of their writing

from one novel to the next

until finally

they wrapped their stories

around me

so completely

I reread the ending over and over

and cheered for them.



I’m not talking about the new author who may be a bit clumsy, but endearing.



I’m talking about the skilled professional

who could write a satisfying ending,

but chooses to court the dollar

and frustrate the reader.


I’d rather have the earnest, awkward fumbling

of someone who wants to please me

over and over again.


Now that’s a series.



Posted by on February 29, 2012 in books, plotting, publishing, readers, writing craft


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

23 responses to “Satisfy Me by Johanna Harness

  1. Molly K.B.H.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:37 AM

    I love this post! And I couldn’t agree more. Specifically with a series I’m reading at the moment, it feels as though the author relies on cliffhangers between POV switches to keep a reader’s interest, and it’s not only frustrating, it becomes dull. If every time I leave a character his/her life is in danger, after a while I’m not going to be worried about it. I wish, in these instances, that an author would have faith that something else would keep my interest, such as…oh, I don’t know…characters and plot, maybe? Good writing? But not cheap tricks to artificially inflate the level of tension/profit.

    • johannaharness

      March 1, 2012 at 6:26 AM

      Exactly! The cheap tricks make me crazy–especially when it’s obvious a writer can do better.

  2. Liz Fredericks

    February 29, 2012 at 6:38 AM

    Wow ~ you’re in my head again and I KNOW this one will resonate with the masses. I’m at a little over 500 books on my kindle and have read many of them again and again and ordered the authors’ backlists and scoured bookstores for the hard-to-find copy when I discover digital won’t deliver. I think, more than anything, many of us want to be the author who can take a reader into a story – not just once, but again and again. Once is a fluke . . . a function of a title, recommendation or lurid cover (ok, for me at least). Twice? That’s talent.

    • johannaharness

      March 1, 2012 at 6:29 AM

      I like it in your head, Liz. 🙂

      You’re right. I would love to be that author too. Maybe that’s one reason it bugs me so much when talented writers go with the cliffhanger instead. Bah.

  3. Patsy

    February 29, 2012 at 6:55 AM

    Great post!

  4. Janis McCurry

    February 29, 2012 at 7:11 AM

    Good post. I have my keepers honed to a select few for the reasons you state. I try new authors, but they have to want what I want…satisfaction.

    • johannaharness

      March 1, 2012 at 6:32 AM

      Yes! We’re so loyal to those authors too. sigh. I wish there were more.

  5. stephanieberget

    February 29, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    You nailed it. Two well known authors, who I’ve read for years wrote cliff-hanger endings recently. They are coming out with sequels next year. I won’t be buying either one. Thank you for a great blog.

    • johannaharness

      March 1, 2012 at 6:34 AM

      I recently read a novel that was so well-written and fun that I was ready to go back and buy everything she’d written. Then the last twenty pages read like the first twenty of her next book. I moved on to another author instead.

  6. Marsha R. West

    February 29, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    I love the way you laid out this post, Johanna. Very creative!

    • johannaharness

      March 1, 2012 at 6:38 AM

      Thank you, Marsha. It’s embarrassing how many times I fiddled with line breaks and re-edited photos, but it’s fun to try something new.

  7. Meredith Conner

    February 29, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Sometimes I don’t mind a cliffhanger. If it’s an author that I love, I might be a little frustrated at first, but the anticipation of the next book is something I can savor until that book does come out. I read the first two Stieg Larson books and devoured them. I bought the last and third book in hardcover and it is still sitting in my TBR pile. Why? Because I know that this is the last book. I’m both excited to read it and filled with dread. I can reread the books, but there won’t be any more. I don’t mind anticipation.

    • johannaharness

      March 1, 2012 at 6:39 AM

      Clearly you can’t be alone in this or publishers wouldn’t be releasing so many of them. It must be a love-hate thing.

  8. florence fois

    February 29, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Johanna, what a wonderful way to take us on the journey of the muse. The loving, hard working, neverending story tellers and their devoted and loyal readers. Yes, I also love to stay with a writer and enjoy their personal quest to be better, give more and wrap me around in their loving words. Thanks for this one 🙂

    • johannaharness

      March 1, 2012 at 6:43 AM

      Yes. In some cases, the development of the novelist becomes a separate thread in my enjoyment of a series.

  9. Lynn Mapp

    February 29, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Johann, I LOVED your post. You are so right. The worst thing I can do is look at the author’s name and promise myself I will never read another thing they’ve written.

  10. Mary Vine

    February 29, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Your blog posts satisfy me!

  11. Clarissa Southwick

    March 1, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Johanna, You always do such a wonderful job of summing up exactly what I’m thinking. Thanks for another great post 🙂

  12. Ruth Fanshaw

    March 2, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    I completely agree. It’s not just discourteous to the reader, it’s unprofessional.

    A novel is, by definition, a story that is complete in itself (e.g. “The Lord of the Rings was never a trilogy – Professor Tolkien always meant it to be one novel, though it was originally published in three volumes).

    So when a novelist deliberately doesn’t give completion to the story, that novelist is not doing his or her job.

    Anyway, I’m glad I’m not the only one who is annoyed by these things! 😀

  13. Ruth Fanshaw

    March 2, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    PS – In case my meaning wasn’t clear, I was saying that Tolkien was NOT guilty of this! 😀


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