Greetings all,

I was just thinking about books I’ve been waiting forever for, and that led me to this post.

caught-front-coverFirst, I’m very guilty. I was supposed to have the entire Oneiros Log done by now (Hey! I’m getting there). I got derailed on quite a few projects, and while I still produced books, I didn’t publish the titles some of you are waiting for.

The thing is, authors owe readers stories. More importantly, they owe readers the stories they’re waiting for. Now, the author doesn’t owe the reader the stories the reader wants in terms of I want Kaladin to marry Shallan, but they do owe readers the next chapter in the story.

There should be some grace in this. For instance, any Stormlight book is some 700 pages. They’re huge, so waiting two years for 500,000 words is probably fair. But what about three, four?

Readers should be patient. I think Towers of Midnight had some issues here and there because they were working so hard to get it out there. So there’s a balance between the fact that the author owes the reader another story and the reader needing to be patient.

I dream of the day someone gets mad at me for not having this book or that book done. It hasn’t come yet, though I do have a few readers who are indeed waiting for Betrayed. Thinking about how angry I was waiting for word on the next Dresden book gave me some perspective on that.

Why is this important? Well for starters, it’s very hard to gain momentum when you’re not putting out product. A guy like George R. R. Martin can make anyone wait as long as he wants because he has his money. The worst readers can do to him is say, “Well, HBO ended it, so I’m good.” Please know that I don’t think that’s the case; I’m only saying if it was, no one could really do anything about it.

However, a guy like me trying to earn a living doing this needs to make sure that he’s always ready with the next book.

I get a lot of questions about being an author, and in the context of this post, I always say, “If you’re writing a story, don’t publish book one until you have the other two books in the series ready.”

Caught and the rest of Oneiros taught me that. For starters, when you publish books in quick succession, you give yourself more visibility. We’re in a binge age, and people want that next series. However, they want that series readily available. Even as I mention the need for readers to have at least some degree of patience, I understand that people want to marathon a whole season of television. I do the same with books. I don’t want to read one book in a series; I want to read the whole series, and I don’t want to wait a year to move to the next book.

Sojourn_Ebook_CoverDoes that mean authors are evil if they don’t release books in quick succession? No. I confess Power of Words, Repressed, and Sojourn all distracted me from the book I probably should have written. Sometimes an artist has to go where the muse takes him.  You may want a book quickly, but you don’t want a quick turd. Again, there’s  a balance. I finally got Betrayed ready and COVID obliterated the chance for conventions (and therefore the opportunity to make what I need to get edits done).

That led me to start working on Discovered, and I even had the chance to return to Images of Truth. I have so many things I want to release, but I live on a budget. Yes, I owe you the rest of Oneiros, and I’m getting it done as quickly as I’m able with that budget.

What about the big guys? Well, I don’t think they’re being rude either. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes wonder what Martin is up to (probably editing another series). It doesn’t mean I didn’t wonder what Butcher was up to. As a reader, I found myself frustrated at the wait. As an author, I feel convicted about not having stuff ready to print.

So maybe you’re not personally waiting for Betrayed, but you might be waiting for the next Ice and Fire book or something of that sort. I agree, it is frustrating to wait. You have a right to that emotion. Authors owe readers stories, and they should be produced in a timely fashion.

On my end, I’ll start drafting Discovered on the first. Once I’ve saved up enough money, I’ll send Betrayed to Sara for edits.

So I’m curious. How long do you feel it is appropriate to wait for “the next book?” Are you satisfied if an author at least publishes something in that time?

Thanks for reading,

Matt

6 thoughts on “What Authors Owe Readers

  1. I’m totally okay with the idea that some authors do not publish every year, but I think developing a cadence is important. Publishing 3 books in three successive years, followed by a five-year gap until the next one is what would bother me. Am I frustrated as a reader/fan that it’s been nearly 10 years since Martin published Dance with Dragons? Absolutely. But at this point, it’s to be expected. I keep optimistically telling myself that he’s getting Winds and Dream ready simultaneously, but that’s not realistic. He’s also expanded beyond Author to Editor, Producer, Director, so it’s not like he’s not working. He’s just not working on the thing I want.

    I, for one, am trying to find my cadence. Having published a novel in 2018, a short series in 2019, and potentially 1 or 2 short stories in 2020, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to publish in 2021 (unless one of those short stories gets pushed out). Maybe that’s okay, since I don’t have a readership as big as yours 😀 I just don’t want to set unrealistic expectations for myself or my readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s well put. You build a sense of expectation. Authors have to maintain their output because readers come to expect it.

      I don’t actually know how our readerships compare. But I expect you’ll have more as you produce more work. I’d also live this pandemic to end so we can do conventions together again.

      Liked by 1 person

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