“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it”- P.J. O’Rourke
Finding a new book is such a good feeling. Characters and stories that take you away to another place, another time, another world. You laugh with these characters, cry with the characters, hate and love the plethora of people (or creatures) that we become intimately involved with.
And then in what seems like a moment, it’s over. The chapter is finished, the final page is left blank, and you find yourself jumping on Google or the Author’s website/twitter/facebook page to find out when the next installment is.
But there is no new information.
That’s ok, I’m sure the author answered the question somewhere, maybe on a post or on Reddit. So you start investing the time trying to find the answer…but it’s not to be found?
It is at this point that you maybe are starting getting upset, or concerned, or even angry! You paid good money for this book. You have committed hours if not days and have become emotionally invested in this world, the least they could do is give you something to look forward to.
Well I guess there is nothing you can do except follow the authors on social media waiting for the announcement of the next book and tie yourself over with fanfic and cool posts on Deviant Art.
Oh look, the author posted something about their favourite sports team…oh they posted something about their charity…oh look they posted LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE EXCEPT DETAILS ON THE PROGRESS OF THE NEXT BOOK!
Being a fan can be extremely frustrating sometimes!
Now you don’t want it to be rushed…you would rather have a great book that takes 3 years to write rather than an ok book you get within a year. Some authors (like the amazing Robin Hobb) are able to push out a new quality book every year, but not everyone has that ability and it’s not fair to compare everyone by the same yard stick. JK Rowlings created the record breaking series of Harry Potter, but as the fame and popularity and mania of it grew, so did the pressure. The last two books in the series many fans (including myself) have to admit they seem a little bit rushed compared to the first books in the series. They are still good, but I wonder if we would have gotten something AMAZING if she had been allowed to have one more year on each.
I think the mindset comes that us fans are entitled to not only know what is happening, but to demand that the author’s time is OURS to command.
How dare they spend time with their family!
How dare they go off and play sports!
How dare they raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity!
No their number one priority should be finishing the next book so we know how the story ends! And god help you if you write SOMETHING ELSE in that time!
The amazing Neil Gaiman (author of such works as Stardust, Coraline, American Gods and The Graveyard Book) wrote a post answering a fans question about whether authors are letting fans down by not working on their works (it was related to GRR Martin’s ‘Song of Ice and Fire’.)
His entire response is well worth a read but in its simplest form here is what he said:
“George R.R. Martin is not your bitch”
He makes a good point. Authors are not machines and they need to make sure they are content when they are writing otherwise the product will suffer.
However, as much as it pains me, I must slightly disagree with Neil.
It is true as Mr Gaiman says the author and I have no contract in place of “ I buy the book and they spends all their time writing the next one”, I do feel they have still made a Faustian deal with us. In exchange for fame or fortune, they need to keep us, the fans, the people who put them there ‘in the loop’.
Now of course I’m not taking about a play by play of how the book is progressing, but how about every 6 months we get a report on how it’s going, what are some of the challenges that the author is facing, and even maybe a projected finish date. I mean if they have the time to write a blog post about a funny story of what happened to them, surely they have the time to give us the 4-1-1 once a year?
Or alternatively, why not a pie graph showing the progress of the book? Showing writing, editing, redrafts and finishing touches? Something where fans can come back and check to see how the needle is progressing
Literally anything would stop the vast amounts of salivating fans eager for any word on the next book because on the whole, fans don’t want to harass the author, they just love the book so much they want to know when they can see the next one. Pat Rothfuss (author of Name of the Wind) once said in an interview when asked about people who do this:
“They are expressing love. And it’s easy to forget that. It’s REAL easy to forget that… …and what they are trying to say is ‘I love your books and I’m so excited about the next one. It’s an incredible kind thing to say. But at the same time the same way that men who shout in the street at women and think they are paying them a compliment or think they are being funny, they don’t understand it is horrible behavior.”
And it’s true. Can you imagine being harassed constantly by every other person asking the same question? It would drive most people insane (which when you think about it, explains why some authors are a little strange). So come on guys, we need to dial down the “When is the next book coming” questions and authors, maybe you could please just throw us a bone every now and then with an update. Everyone wins…and I’m totally not trying to subtly hint at Patrick about book three in the Kingkiller Chronicles, or GRRM about the next Game of Thrones Book, or Peter V Brett with the next Demon Cycle book…(continues rambling off 30 authors who’s books we await impatiently for)
Let us know in the comments what book series you are still waiting on and how long has that wait been.