Thursday, 21 May 2015

Reader Demands vs Writer Integrity

I've actually been thinking about this topic for a few weeks now.  I didn't want to open a can of worms but I think both sides of the issue have a valid point.  I'll avoid naming names as a sacrifice to the gods of Dontsueme.

This all began because of a comment I noticed where a reader was complaining that a particular author was too slow because she was only putting out one book every two months.  This reader said they would no longer be buying any of the books this author produced.  As an author with a one book a year plan, it made me a little nervous.

I have heard complaints from the writer side as well.  Writing a book is not easy and writing a quality book takes even more time.  As much as we would love to have polished prose flowing directly from our brains to the keyboard, it rarely works that way.  So I've heard writers who are both discouraged and upset by readers who get impatient with waiting for the next installment.

On the other hand, I've been a reader waiting for that next installment and if the writer has done his or her job, I'm dying to know what happens next.  And I've had to wait.  And wait.  Sometimes the author loses interest in the story and doesn't complete the series.  Sometimes the author dies and there's no one to continue the work.  And sometimes they just take a really, really long time (10 years to pick a particular example) to write the next book.

Now, I believe harassment is wrong (and counterproductive!) no matter how much I want to know how the story ends.  If editors are having to use a Ouija board to contact the author, I may just have to accept not knowing.  And if the author is losing interest or is just a slow writer, then no number of emails, letters, calls or in-person visits will cause a jump start.  The plot of Stephen King's Misery is not really a viable real-world outline on how to get your favourite author to produce.

Maybe I'll feel differently in a few years, but for now, I take it as a compliment when readers say they can't wait for my next book.  I get excited when a reader takes the time to contact me to ask when the next book will be out.  It means that I've done what I wanted in creating an interesting world and characters that people want to know more about.  But I am not going to rush my work to try and get the book out sooner.  I know it's frustrating to wait but I also believe that most people would rather wait a little longer for a quality story rather than one I rushed through.

And with that in mind, it's back to the keyboard.

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