The post title comes from Rage of Thrones by The Axis of Awesome.
(Please note the video contains a lot of swear words.)
You see where we're going, right? So, book series and waiting for the next volumes is a challenging topic not only because readers experience the waiting time differently, but also because while we wait, the writer is (usually) busy writing and also needs our money to keep on living. So it's easy to look like a spoiled brat if, as a reader, you think that the infamous "six year wait" might be a tad too long...
A Song of Ice and Fire is the most obvious example of series you endlessly wait for the next volume. But, of course, Martin isn't the only one, there are also Jordan, Rothfuss, ... Depending on what kind of reader you are, I could say: "Pick your poison!"
Exhibit A is C. "I'm a binge reader. So when I started reading ASoIaF in 2002, I had no idea what I was getting into. This year is the fifteen year anniversary of when I started reading. Do I look happy about this long relationship? I honestly don't really care about the ending of ASoIaF anymore. Mainly because since 2002 I've had plenty of time to imagine my perfect ending (I've got a great idea!). Now, I want to read it only for proper closure. Since 2002, I've had time to move from the edge of my seat and read quite a lot of other books that completely blunted my eagerness to know the rest (poor quality of volume 5 didn't help either)."
Two of us have now developed strategies. C. never starts on a series of books unless at least two volumes are published in a trilogy or a complete series if it's a saga. Leigh doesn't often proceed with a book if she knows that there are future volumes to come which have not yet been published (1).
It also lets us get an idea of whether the quality and promise of a first volume are carried through to the end of a series. We don't want to be entranced by volume 1, a little bored by volume 2 and thoroughly disappointed by volume 3. Feist, whose Magician series Leigh loves, made her wary of committing to anything longer than three volumes now, and only if they are all out already.
For the people who read the ASoIaF books and watch the show, storylines have been shuffled about, given to different characters, or dropped entirely. It's going to be confusing coming back to the books after so long and having the show fresher in our minds.
Amy is really worried about how this will affect the books. GRRM might have planned to go the same way as the show but now that they've chosen some paths will he want to do something different for the sake of it? She's sure there will be things that have changed from his original plan because of the show. For the better or worse we're yet to see.
The fact is that some of those long winding stories could honestly be trimmed down to a trilogy but because they keep on expanding it can make some readers feel as if they're some sort of cow to be milked by the writer and/or publisher. Fan loyalty can ever go so far, especially because there are many other stories to read. No one is asking for the author to say thank you and tug at their forelocks when we buy their books. We know that our money is their living wage (barely for most of them!) and we happily part with it for a good story but it sometimes feels that to some authors we're more customers rather than readers. And as long as we're buying, well, ... So yes, of course, if a writer has one of their books creating a sudden craze, they should enjoy it because no one knows if the next books will sell as well. But there's certainly a balance to be found where readers can enjoy different aspects of their favourite world without feeling they're being dragged through a never ending story.
After all, doesn't it boil down to this? The writer may write alone, in a creative process that can be long and difficult and painful, but once their stories go out into the world, they're not alone anymore. And there's a relationship between writer and reader through the book that is completely different to the one there can be between the grocer and the customer through the cabbage the customer just bought.
This blog post was written by Amy, Leigh and C.
If you are a writer of an ongoing published series or who has had an ongoing published series, we would love to hear your thoughts from your side of things.
Three (complete!) series reviewed on The Middle Shelf
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