Bookish Topic Tuesday
Waiting for the Next Book in the Series
I want to discuss today the sense of entitlement some fans have over their favourite author, especially when it comes to a series which is yet to be completed. I discussed the fact previously that Books Belong to their Readers, and while that might be true, their authors most certainly do not belong to readers. As Neil Gaiman elegantly put it “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.” When he was replying to someone asking whether or not it was unrealistic that readers should feel let down by Martin not yet publishing the next novel in his series. I do suggest you read his full response which you can find here.I’ve found over the years that some fans get really angry and frustrated about the fact that they have to wait to find out what happens next in the series. It’s obviously true about A Song of Fire and Ice by Martin with numerous articles about when he’ll finish the story before he dies (his response “F* you”), and countless comments around the place. And it’s also definitely true for Isobelle Carmody and her Obernewtyn Chronicles, there’s a Facebook page asking her to ‘HURRY UP AND FINISH WRITING…’ with 150+ likes. When it was announced last year that The Red Queen‘s release date was to be unscheduled rather than 2013, a number of very angry fans commented (you can see it here via the WebArchive since the blog has swapped and the comments gone) some even saying they weren’t going to read it since it was taking too long.
Now, actually, some of these fans have something to complain about in regards to The Obernewtyn Chronicles. On numerous occasions a release date for the ‘final’ book has been posted, only to be delayed, then revealed that there would be another book, which was delayed, then another book, again delayed. In my opinion it is the fact that Penguin have always decided to announce a date for the next book, before actually really having IC on board and with the book in hand, which is really frustrating. The fact that people get excited about the book coming out this year or next or whenever (which is something authors should be happy for) but then find out that that isn’t true, is a disappointment. And people have a right to disappointment.
What people don’t have a right to do, is to start being malicious and rude towards Isobelle, or any other author. Gaiman states clearly, “People are not machines. Writers and artists aren’t machines.” Therefore to expect that the next book will be published in a year, is not always reasonable. Yes, some authors do that, they are prolific and churn out countless books a year. Sometimes they do so whilst keeping up quality, sometimes they don’t. Other authors take their time, that’s just their process. And when it comes to huge saga’s like what Martin and Carmody write, it’s no wonder it takes so long, you try and keep track of the hundreds of characters they have, and make sure the chronology is correct, and that it actually makes sense that it takes this character 2 days to get to this place, and meanwhile this other guy is also coming. People have enough trouble remembering their own lives, let alone what a dozen characters are supposed to be doing. So let them take their time. If it’s a toss up between waiting and getting a similar standard book, or getting it now, and having it substandard, I’d go for the former.
Further to this, people can’t expect authors to solely be dedicated to this one series. Firstly, they are human, they have families and lives outside of writing, just like you do. Secondly, some authors don’t function that way, or can’t because they have other obligations. Authors need to make a living, which sometimes means they need to go do talks, go to conventions, do interviews, write short stories, do other novels, perhaps work part time. All of which takes away time from writing that particular book. And sometimes they need time for the ideas to mature, to get through writer’s block, to be sure that’s where they want the story to go. Just because you have a story to write, doesn’t mean the story gets written, and sometimes your inspiration takes you to different directions, so you do a different project. For people who complain about this, until you’ve written a book or indeed a series, even if you don’t publish it, it’s only then you can have at least some ground to stand on with your complaint, but even then, it’s pretty shaky.
Yes, authors choose to be authors, and it’s their job. But fans have no right to be rude just because they take their time. After all, as fans there’s plenty of things to be doing in the meanwhile. Perhaps you should branch out and read a new author, or maybe read one of their older works, or re-read the series and that way you can start to theorise and wonder what will happen next, or find a fan group and theorise together and share your love of the work. All readers want to find out what happens next, and it’s a sign that you are invested in the story, and that you enjoyed it, and you want more. The thing to remember is, that patience is a virtue.