It may have poor characters, a weak plot line, and even be twee. But if there is suspense, readers often stay with the work. Unfortunately, when they have finished the novel they feel cheated and resentful or they instantly forget the book.
So if you have tried to create suspense in your work here is a useful checklist to see if you are on track.
Have you managed to create a sense of anticipation? This is the echoey footsteps in the darkness or the clock ticking during the exam.
Have you raised the stakes? If someone has to work out a password it's not that exciting. If they have to crack the password in a certain time or before someone shoots a family member, you are raising the stakes.
Danger is a powerful way to increase suspense, this doesn't have to involve a gun. The danger must suit your characters personality. There are many types of danger, sexual danger, illness, emotional, psychological or spiritual dangers. Have you used any?
Do you have a ticking clock? Go through your work and find out how much time has passed in the story. Adding time pressure can be effective.
Think about what happens if the clock is ticking, but your central character can't act because he's tied up with something else. Stephen King in Pet Sematary uses the mother to create suspense. She runs, but we all know that she can't get to her child fast enough to stop him being run over.
Next have you made use of the unknown? Climbing into the loft space, opening the box hidden in the wardrobe, checking the texts on the phone?
Stephanie Meyer climbed the charts with her Twilight series, what did she use? Sexual tension, will they, won't they - many TV series have used this successfully for years.
Have you let the reader in on the secret or not? Do we the reader know about the body under the floor boards before the young couple move in? Do we know about the curse, or the shark in the water?
Does your work contain a secret? Think about Psycho, what would the original audience have thought when they found out the truth about Norman Bate's mother?
Does your character have a flaw that can had to the suspence? Look at Indian Jones fear of snakes?
I hope this list gives you something to think about when you are reading your own work.