September 29, 2016

Do Authors "Owe" Us Books?


This topic or phrase has come up somewhat recently on the internet: people defending an author for long publication delays and saying '__ doesn't owe you anything".

I say they do. But here's why.

Now, this post is in no way or form a "Finish the book George!" or "Where's book 3, Rothfuss?" angry fanboy rant, but why authors owe us books.

If a writer announces that they are working on a series (first hint there) and how many books it will be (second and final hint there) then, yes they do. You just said how many there will be! So, if an author has 2 out of 4 books published, for example, then the remaining 2 count as 'owed'. If that author only writes 'standalone' novels (not part of a series), then no: they don't owe the fans a book. The fact that the author has indicated there will be a book series, and how many there will be; then we, as readers, expect at least that many to be published in that series. However, that does not give readers the right to complain about long waits between books in that series, however, or if authors (annoyingly) publish material between books that's not related to the book series. It's their passion, it's their career, whatever works for them. 

Now, there's no legal binding document or laws or anything like that when you a buy a book in that series that you are entitled to have the author write more just for you. I'm a writer myself, aside from this blog. I'm working on a fantasy series, and I've got it worked out that there will be six books in my series. Initially, I was saying '5 or 6' just in case. But I've settled on 6. The writing is going a little slowly, but well. I hope to have all 6 in the shortest time possible. I'm still in the early stages. I started writing Jan of 2012 I believe it was, with a hopeful deadline for the first draft of the first book to be completed this year sometime. that didn't happen. As an aspiring writer or author, writing is tricky. You may not always be in the mood to do it. You may wish to do other things when at the keyboard. Myself speaking as an author - once I really get going with my series, I don't intend to top until I've completed the final book. On the other hand, as a future reader of said series, that means that the readers can expect 6 books in your series. Yes, that's true. That is the intent of me being the author. I'll even 'joke' about it: the first of five is completed....5 more to go!' because that's what I've announced, and I know future readers will expect 6 installments of my series.

So, as you can see, in a way, authors do owe readers books. they probably owe it to themselves as well: it must be relieving and great to not only have another book published, but to make progress in the series itself overall. However, readers also need to be patient with authors as well. Every time a book in the series get a new cover, new edition etc...it's not the author stopping their work / projects and taking part in that. It's a publisher thing. Think about it: every time the Harry Potter books get a new cover / edition, is J.K. Rowling stopping work on her detective novels to put something in? No (unless indicated there's new  or additional content by the author ). Another example is A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R.  Martin. Many many fans have outcried that that book is not The Winds of Winter. It is, inf ct, a collection of 3 short stories written in 1998, 2003, and 2010. So that publication did not have any impact on George writing Winds.

In short, it's a two-way street: authors have their work ethics and habits, and readers have to respect that and be patient. Waiting is never fun, but it's usually worth it. And, authors don't make you wait on purpose.

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