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smcc360
02-26-2010, 10:45 PM
I'm reading a thread on a blog about George RR Martin, author of the hugely popular A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels.

Originally intended to be a trilogy, the latest estimates place the saga at seven books, four of which have been released so far.

There's been some delay with A Dance With Dragons, number five in the series. This delay has led to some bad feeling among self-described fans, some of whom have posted vitriolic rants demanding that Martin hurry up and write the books they want, instead of spending time on other products.

Here's the thread: http://fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com/2010/01/exclusive-excerpt-from-george-r-r.html

I like George RR Martin's work, as well as series authors like Lee Child, Sean Chercover, Gregg Hurwitz, and others. I buy their latest books as soon as I can get hold of them, and I look forward to the next one. But I don't think that makes me a 'partner' in their success, or somehow entitled to more stories. If any one (or all of them) decided to retire tomorrow, I'd be disappointed that the adventures of some of my favorite characters were over. But I wouldn't feel cheated, or deprived of something I was due.

What do you guys think? Does an author owe his/her readers more installments in a popular series?

Wayne K
02-26-2010, 10:51 PM
No, but if the series is incomplete and doesn't tell the whole story, I'd be expecting my money back. This is why I don't read them.

Shadow_Ferret
02-26-2010, 10:52 PM
No. His only obligation is to write the best story he can. He has no obligation on WHAT to write or WHEN (unless he has a contract, and then he's obligated to his publisher, not his fans).

M.R.J. Le Blanc
02-26-2010, 10:57 PM
Someone should ask them if they'd rather he butcher the story and characters they love in order to rush the work. If the story hasn't come, it hasn't come. It sucks, probably as much for Martin if he's contractually obligated to give seven books. But if he's not bound by contract, and he's fallen out of love with the series (which could happen, I'm just speculating) I don't think he's obligated to finish at all. It's a tricky situation.

LostInReality
02-26-2010, 10:59 PM
To echo Wayne and Shadow Ferret, NO. However, as a reader of many of series, I would feel a little cheated if the author suddenly decided to stop writing the series without giving his/her readers some closure. But, to get so upset that a book is not out right away that a you'd spit out some fairly vemonous words makes me think that you (the self-proclaimed fan) is not really a fan at all. That's just wrong.

On that same note, I am a rabid fan of certain authors to the extent that as soon as their newest releases are out, I am right there, snapping up the book and cracking it open. That is being a fan. pure and simple. Take that idiot bloggers who think they need to rant and rave and be just plain horrible.

Wow! That was a rant! lol :)

jvc
02-26-2010, 10:59 PM
I don't think so either. Although if they are writing a series, they can't just stop halfway through without telling us how it ends. It just aint fair. Imagine if JK Rowling had done that with the HP series and decided to stop at number 5. A lot of peeps would've been really peethed.

willietheshakes
02-26-2010, 11:07 PM
Sad that I knew exactly what, and who, this thread was about based only on the header.

Libbie
02-26-2010, 11:13 PM
What do writers "owe" their fans? Gratitude, I'd say. And Martin has been extraordinarily polite and gracious in his dealings with ranting fans. Far more polite than I think I could be. I am sure it's his gratitude toward them that's kept him from going off.

I am a huge fan of ASOIAF and I am eager to read the next book. I'm also eyeing Martin, seeing how he's not a very fit guy and he's getting on in years, and I'm worrying that he might die before the series is finished. That would be miserable. I wish he'd pick up the pace a little, as much as anybody.

That being said, not everybody can whip out great novels in a year. Or two. The plots in ASOIAF are hugely complex, and the writing is gorgeous -- he clearly puts a lot of time and energy into his writing. No doubt, nobody wants to see it finished more than George. I also don't doubt that all the nagging from "fans" only makes him more reluctant to tackle this enormous task. Working on other projects is probably his way of keeping his enthusiasm up in the face of all the negativity, so that he CAN make some progress on the series.

I really wish people would leave him alone and let him write. Honestly, it kind of pisses me off that fans feel such entitlement to his writing, that they think it's okay to demand that he crank out books as complex and deep as his are in a year or two. I have no doubt at all that the negativity only serves to delay the books further. I may hold this opinion because I'm a writer, and I understand how hard it can be to make yourself sit down and DO IT. Especially when the book you love has become an albatross around your neck and a source of bad feelings and stress.

(Also, I am freaking out over the HBO series. ZOMG. Can't wait.)

waylander
02-26-2010, 11:28 PM
Seconded
Leave him alone to finish it
I would hate it if he rushed and spoiled what has, so far, been a hugely accomplished series

Millicent M'Lady
02-26-2010, 11:31 PM
Seconded
Leave him alone to finish it
I would hate it if he rushed and spoiled what has, so far, been a hugely accomplished series

And I'm sure the very same people who were trying to rush it would be the ones complaining if the quality was not up to scratch.

Ruv Draba
02-26-2010, 11:47 PM
Between an author and readers is a brand. An author can have many brands; a brand can have many authors, and it's the brand and not the author which readers buy, so brands and fans make each other.

Branding is principally about trust, and it's the job of the author to be trustworthy in creating and supporting the brand. So words like competence, honesty, and diligence spring to mind.

A brand owes fans its brand-values. They're those things that differentiate the brand and make it memorable in the reader's mind. Brand values are often seen in choices of subject-matter, mood, characters, setting, plots and quality of execution. I think that a brand owes its customers timely delivery on its promises, so if it's a series with unresolved story-elements it needs to come out in regular, predictable installments.

The brand is just about everything. I don't think that an author has a direct relationship with fans except at public appearances and even then I feel that the author isn't there on behalf of himself, but the brand.

Sometimes I'll read writing-advice along the lines of 'write to please yourself'. That's fine if fiction is a hobby but if you want it to sell then I think that better advice is 'write to build a brand'.

waylander
02-26-2010, 11:52 PM
And I'm sure the very same people who were trying to rush it would be the ones complaining if the quality was not up to scratch.

Damn right they would

Cyia
02-27-2010, 12:02 AM
They owe them nothing other than what they pay for - which is the one copy of the book they purchased.

jana13k
02-27-2010, 12:15 AM
At a conference a couple of years ago, I overheard a bestselling series author telling a friend that she'd received death threats for if she decided to end her series and had to take legal action. All I could think was, seriously, if that's what being a bestseller entails, then just keep me on the midlist. I have an enormous amount of trouble with people telling me what to do anyway. I can't fathom dealing with a scene from Misery.

C.M.C.
02-27-2010, 01:12 AM
The minute fans think they are owed anything by creative artists, they are dooming both the art and themselves. A fan would understand that writing takes time, while a greedy punk would say it was all about them.

Chris P
02-27-2010, 01:15 AM
I was upset at how long it took Dean Koontz to finish the Frankenstein series.

But on the other hand Piers Anthony's Xanth trilogy went about fifteen books too long.

scarletpeaches
02-27-2010, 01:17 AM
No. His only obligation is to write the best story he can. He has no obligation on WHAT to write or WHEN (unless he has a contract, and then he's obligated to his publisher, not his fans).Don't all die of shock, but I agree 100% with Fuzzface.

Saskatoonistan
02-27-2010, 01:22 AM
I have fans?

:TheWave:

Jamesaritchie
02-27-2010, 02:18 AM
A writers owes his readers the best book he can write. That's it. There's never, ever a guarantee that a series will ever be finished, and readers shouldn't expect it to be.

Neil Gaiman had the best response to the George R.R. Martin complaint. He said, "George R. R. Martin is not your bitch."

kuwisdelu
02-27-2010, 05:26 AM
Neil Gaiman had the best response to the George R.R. Martin complaint. He said, "George R. R. Martin is not your bitch."

Haha! Nice response.

I agree. All the author owes anyone is a great, well-written story.

Mac H.
02-27-2010, 06:33 AM
Imagine you bought a product.

The product wasn't complete - it needed another block in the series for it to be complete. You could still enjoy it and make some use out of it - but for it have its final function you need the final block.

Perhaps it's a fancy drinks mixer and they are assuring you the 'Vodka-straight-from-the-bottle' attachment will be available soon.

Before paying money for the product, you checked with the manufacturer to find out when the remaining block was going to be available.

'Sure!', they replied. 'It is coming out in a years time'.

So you buy the product. Then you discover that the manufacturer WON'T be making the final block available for a while.

They made assurances it would be available by a certain date. You paid them money based on those assurances.

Now they are saying the remaining part won't be available for a while.

Do you think this manufacturer 'owes' anything to their customers?

Mac

M.R.J. Le Blanc
02-27-2010, 07:04 AM
Honesty, that's about it. Shit happens, things get delayed.

There was a tv series I was really into and enjoyed, and it had a significant following. It got cancelled without ever being given an ending - bam! Over. Were we owed an ending? Obviously not. We wanted one. We did everything we could to persuade them to at least give us an episode that wrapped up the storyline but we didn't get one. That's life. Sure it sucks when that doesn't happen, but life is going to go on. I like Gaiman's quote though, it's so true.

Mr. Anonymous
02-27-2010, 08:49 AM
See, this is why I don't write series.

But to answer the question, I don't think an author, as a complete stranger, necessarily owes his fans anything other than gratitude.

That said, I can understand how it is hard to wait for the next book in a series and you guys have to keep in mind that most of the people complaining have never tried their hands at writing books so to them it's like, "Get it done already." They don't realize how much goes into it.

Libbie
02-27-2010, 12:26 PM
Do you think this manufacturer 'owes' anything to their customers?

Mac

If you're the kind of person who would be upset over buying only part of a series without some assurance that you would definitely be able to buy the remainder, then don't buy the first installment.

seun
02-27-2010, 06:09 PM
And I'm sure the very same people who were trying to rush it would be the ones complaining if the quality was not up to scratch.

There's a word for these people. But I'm too polite to use it. :evil

In any case, to answer the original question: the author only owes the readers an honest story written to the best of their abilities.

leahzero
02-27-2010, 07:09 PM
Before paying money for the product, you checked with the manufacturer to find out when the remaining block was going to be available.

When books start being sold with money-back guarantees that the following volumes in a series will be released by certain dates, let me know.

The sticker price covers the book it is affixed to, and nothing else.

ChaosTitan
02-27-2010, 07:20 PM
A writers owes his readers the best book he can write. That's it.

What he said.

Adam
02-27-2010, 07:33 PM
What he said.

What she said. ;)

PortableHal
02-27-2010, 07:45 PM
You pays your money, you buys your book. Transaction complete.

I don't read George R.R. and I don't know this series. (I'm glad about that. I have enough addictions.) I wish him well. His fan base has no right to threaten the man or cast aspersions about him. He has every right to quit writing his books just as his readership has the right to quit buying them.

That said, I believe an entertainer (and we're all entertainers here) has an obligation to his audience. If Babs stops singing a song in mid-chorus, the crowd would boo. That TV series that was canceled before a wrap-up episode? The producers failed their audience.

Or am I the only one that thinks this?

scarletpeaches
02-27-2010, 08:03 PM
If Babs stopped singing halfway through a song I'd be happy.

And when you buy a book, you get a complete book. It's not the same as a song. You can enjoy one song on its own without listening to the entire album, just as you should be able to enjoy a book on its own without reading the entire series.

Jamesaritchie
02-28-2010, 02:19 AM
I like Geroge R. R. Martin, but I like Stephen King, too. But as much as I love what King writes, I didn't start reading the Dark Tower books until he wrote the last one.

If everyone did this, there would be no long series out there, but everyone doesn't do it, so I can. Why sweat it? I have thousands of standalone novels waiting to be read. That's more than enough to keep me busy and happy until a writer finishes a long series.

Darzian
02-28-2010, 02:37 AM
I too vote that the author does not 'owe' anything to the reader, other than the story for which the reader paid.

But, if I were a series writer with a couple books out and others pending, I would feel a moral obligation to finish the series in a respectable, yet realistic, period of time. It's certainly not required, but I'd just feel that way.


The issue at stake is the emotional investment of the reader in the story and its characters. Unfortunately, most readers fail to realize that THEY are the ones investing in an unpredictable entity. The writer has no reason to finish the series so the readers are pretty much gambling when they begin a series.

After ASoIaF and WOT, I'm NEVER starting an unfinished series again. Period.

ishtar'sgate
02-28-2010, 02:37 AM
What do you guys think? Does an author owe his/her readers more installments in a popular series?
No, I don't think so. I've often been disappointed with writers who stopped writing about my favorite characters. I'm a murder/mystery junkie and I was miffed when Martha Grimes decided she'd had it with Richard Jury and his cronies, at least the way I loved them. We need to give the poor writer a break. Maybe they're sick of the storylines and characters. I remember Agatha Christie saying she was so fed up with Hercule Poirot she just had to kill him off, and did.

Mac H.
02-28-2010, 04:31 AM
When books start being sold with money-back guarantees that the following volumes in a series will be released by certain dates, let me know.How is that relevant to the example?

In the example there was no money-back guarantee given that the extra block (the vodka attachment) would be released by a certain date - it was just mentioned in descriptions of the product. And the sticker price the customer paid covered the drinks mixer it was attached to and nothing else. However, if they hadn't been assured that the extra vodka attachment was going to be released soon, the customer probably wouldn't have bought the drinks mixer.

So, in this example, would you feel that the manufacturer 'owed' the customers to fulfill their verbal assurances ... even if there was no money-back guarantee in place?

It would seem that we are all on the author's side here ... but if the situation was reversed in another situation I suspect that someone apart from me would be arguing that the manufacturer of the product DID have some kind of obligation. (Even if that obligation is just an obligation to be apologetic)

Good luck,

Mac

HConn
02-28-2010, 08:48 AM
If readers don't buy any books in a series until the series is complete, publishers will drop it before the final books come out.

If authors start a series but don't finish it, readers feel cheated.

I think it's unfair to readers to write 2/3 of a story and then leave them hanging. I know GRRM isn't doing it to torment readers, or because he doesn't care, but he knows that he owes his readers a finish to the story they've invested in. He also knows he has a right to deliver on that promise in the way he thinks is best.

If you're talking about a multi-book story (not just a series where each installment is self-contained) you can't get away with the whole "You're entitled to that one book and that's it." Authors should finish their stories, if they can.

brokenfingers
02-28-2010, 11:14 AM
While I, of course, don’t agree with rushing an author to finish a book, I do feel that there is an implicit contract between the author and the reader. There always has been.

When a reader picks up a book with a certain type of cover and a certain type of title, endorsed by certain types of well-known authors, he is being led to expect a certain something.

With not just these things, but also when a reader reads the first sentence, paragraph, page; the author is telling them - no promising them - a certain experience. They’re telling them, through all these things: Relax, you’re in good hands. I’m going to tell you x type of story. Buy me.

So, if a reader buys a book that promises to be a romance or a mystery or a historical or a fantasy or whatever, and the author suddenly switches things mid way, the reader is going to become angry. The author, in the reader’s eyes, has broken their implicit agreement. And they’re going to react badly.

I think when an author starts a series, there is the implied understanding that the story is going to be told in more than one volume, but 'you’re going to get the full story, dammit.’ So, yeah, while I don’t believe Martin should be rushed, I do believe he (or any series author) has an obligation to finish the series.

A question: Have you ever had somebody start to tell you an amusing anecdote or some juicy gossip, then suddenly stop? Didn’t you get angry? Didn’t you tell them that’s not fair?

Exactly. Because there was an implicit agreement once they began the story that they weren’t going to get your interest and hopes up for nothing.

So, I do think authors (and especially series authors) have somewhat of an obligation to readers. But I don’t think readers have the right to harass or hurry an author. It takes as long as it takes and readers have to accept that.

But authors are not “do-as-they-will” free agents once they put their work in the public’s hands. They have an obligation to do their best work and to complete what they finish, not start and stop book series at their whim.

So while I’m not disagreeing re: Martin, I do think that writers should be aware that there is a relationship between them and their audience, and as with any relationship, there are obligations and responsibilities on both sides.

If you disregard them, you will eventually lose your audience. Period.

Jamesaritchie
03-01-2010, 01:04 AM
While I, of course, donít agree with rushing an author to finish a book, I do feel that there is an implicit contract between the author and the reader. There always has been.

When a reader picks up a book with a certain type of cover and a certain type of title, endorsed by certain types of well-known authors, he is being led to expect a certain something.

With not just these things, but also when a reader reads the first sentence, paragraph, page; the author is telling them - no promising them - a certain experience. Theyíre telling them, through all these things: Relax, youíre in good hands. Iím going to tell you x type of story. Buy me.

So, if a reader buys a book that promises to be a romance or a mystery or a historical or a fantasy or whatever, and the author suddenly switches things mid way, the reader is going to become angry. The author, in the readerís eyes, has broken their implicit agreement. And theyíre going to react badly.

I think when an author starts a series, there is the implied understanding that the story is going to be told in more than one volume, but 'youíre going to get the full story, dammit.í So, yeah, while I donít believe Martin should be rushed, I do believe he (or any series author) has an obligation to finish the series.

A question: Have you ever had somebody start to tell you an amusing anecdote or some juicy gossip, then suddenly stop? Didnít you get angry? Didnít you tell them thatís not fair?

Exactly. Because there was an implicit agreement once they began the story that they werenít going to get your interest and hopes up for nothing.

So, I do think authors (and especially series authors) have somewhat of an obligation to readers. But I donít think readers have the right to harass or hurry an author. It takes as long as it takes and readers have to accept that.

But authors are not ďdo-as-they-willĒ free agents once they put their work in the publicís hands. They have an obligation to do their best work and to complete what they finish, not start and stop book series at their whim.

So while Iím not disagreeing re: Martin, I do think that writers should be aware that there is a relationship between them and their audience, and as with any relationship, there are obligations and responsibilities on both sides.

If you disregard them, you will eventually lose your audience. Period.

Well, writers usually have nothing at all to do with cover art, or with the title of a book. The marketing department decides on both of these. Wrters do not get to write teh book's jacket copy telling teh reader what teh book is about. Writers often don't even get to decide whether the book is called a mystery or a romance.

The writer has every right, maybe even the duty, to switch from romance to mystery to magic realism mainstream, if that's where he wants HIS book to go. It isn't the reader's book, ever. At best, he gets to buy a copy of the book.

If the reader doesn;t like that copy, he's free to burn it, trhow it away, rant and rave and get angry, as he chooses. He can't write bad reviews about the book, he can call teh writer names, and he can vow to never again buy another book the writer writes.

But he never has the right to say the writer should have written the book in a different manner. Because it's still the writer's book, even if he or his publishers sold you a copy.

As for a series, do you really think the writer should have to finsih a series if the work becomes repugnant to him? If he grows to hate theseries, dread every minute spent working on it, should he still have to finish the reast of the books because of some nebulous relationship with people he's never met, and isn't even writing for in the first place?

I believe a writer shuold always write the best book he can write, but I believe we should do the best we can at whatever we do.

If we finish a series, it should be because we're enjoying writing the books, or, at worst, because finishing is good business practice.

But the short of it is there is no relationship between a writer and a reader. There are no obligations, no responsibilities, on either side. It's all imaginary.

DeleyanLee
03-01-2010, 01:29 AM
But the short of it is there is no relationship between a writer and a reader. There are no obligations, no responsibilities, on either side. It's all imaginary.

For published authors, I disagree. There is a relationship because one supplies the funds for the other's payment. That means there are obligations and responsibilities present.

How much value the one receiving the payment puts on that fact is up to them, of course, but there is a relationship and all that implies.

Momento Mori
03-01-2010, 05:02 PM
DeleyanLee:
For published authors, I disagree. There is a relationship because one supplies the funds for the other's payment. That means there are obligations and responsibilities present.

What obligations and responsibilities do you mean?

The funds for the author actually came from the publisher when they bought the manuscript. The author won't see a penny of what the customer pays for them until the book hits its earn-out threshold. Does this mean that up until that point the author doesn't owe his/her readers anything but afterwards they do? What happens if the author never earns out?

A reader's obligation comes at the till when they hand over the cash for the book. There's no obligation on them to enjoy what they've bought. That's the risk you take when you buy a novel.


brokenfingers:
When a reader picks up a book with a certain type of cover and a certain type of title, endorsed by certain types of well-known authors, he is being led to expect a certain something.

Then the reader's expectation has been built up by the publisher (and its marketing department) and not the author because the author has little to no say in the cover or the blurbs that go on the front of it.


brokenfingers:
With not just these things, but also when a reader reads the first sentence, paragraph, page; the author is telling them - no promising them - a certain experience. They’re telling them, through all these things: Relax, you’re in good hands. I’m going to tell you x type of story. Buy me.

You might get an idea of whether you'll enjoy the writing from the first page, but you'd have to be a total idiot to think that the first page is enough to tell you what kind of book it is.


brokenfingers:
So, if a reader buys a book that promises to be a romance or a mystery or a historical or a fantasy or whatever, and the author suddenly switches things mid way, the reader is going to become angry. The author, in the reader’s eyes, has broken their implicit agreement. And they’re going to react badly.

Then the reader should again take it up with the publishing company and with the bookstore, which determines where books are sold. If you've got a bookstore that's selling romances in the SF section, then you've got a right to be annoyed (although the type of cover and the back blurb should be enough to tell you that something's been mis-shelved).


brokenfingers:
I think when an author starts a series, there is the implied understanding that the story is going to be told in more than one volume, but 'you’re going to get the full story, dammit.’ So, yeah, while I don’t believe Martin should be rushed, I do believe he (or any series author) has an obligation to finish the series.

Even if he dies before he can do so?


brokenfingers:
So while I’m not disagreeing re: Martin, I do think that writers should be aware that there is a relationship between them and their audience, and as with any relationship, there are obligations and responsibilities on both sides.

If you disregard them, you will eventually lose your audience. Period.

Except that the good authors don't lose their audience. Martin could take another decade to finish the next book in his series and there would still be thousands of people waiting to buy it.

MM

DeleyanLee
03-01-2010, 05:32 PM
What obligations and responsibilities do you mean?

The funds for the author actually came from the publisher when they bought the manuscript. The author won't see a penny of what the customer pays for them until the book hits its earn-out threshold. Does this mean that up until that point the author doesn't owe his/her readers anything but afterwards they do? What happens if the author never earns out?

A reader's obligation comes at the till when they hand over the cash for the book. There's no obligation on them to enjoy what they've bought. That's the risk you take when you buy a novel.

That statement was in response to the quoted comment that there was "no relationship" between a writer and a reader. That's untrue as stated. I never said WHAT the relationship was, just that there was one existed because there was meaningful interaction between two parties.

Personally, I think the only obligation and responsibility a writer has to a reader is to do their damnest to tell a good story and give the reader the emotional/entertainment experience the reader paid for (assuming, of course, the book isn't mismarketed, which isn't the writer's fault but is the writer's problem). It's the reader's obligation and responsibility to give the book they purchased a fair shot to provide that emotional/entertainment experience they desired when they bought it.

YMMV.

Wiskel
03-01-2010, 08:49 PM
I picked up ASOFAI about 7 years ago. I think, but I couldn't swear to it, that there have been two new books on the shelves since then. I love the story, I will finish it, whenever it reaches a conclusion.

The fan / author issue is not how I'd view this. GRRM is a human being. So am I (allegedly). No-one deserves to receive abuse. GRRM deserves the right to enjoy life a little, not just be shackled to his computer and forced to write.

My desire to see the end of the story is not that big a deal......and if the worst thing that ever happens to me is that a series I like never concludes then I can consider myself to have lived a charmed life.

I'm sure, though, that GRRM recognises that his lifestyle has been enhanced by a publisher willing to take a risk on buying a series and allowing GRRM to continue major plots over into subsequent books. If he doesn't deliver then he's making it a little harder for the next unpublished author to sell their series, both to publishers and to readers who adopt the "I'll buy it when it's finished" approach. He can best support the industry by delivering good books in a timely manner.

Craig

Libbie
03-01-2010, 09:14 PM
I think it's unfair to readers to write 2/3 of a story and then leave them hanging. I know GRRM isn't doing it to torment readers, or because he doesn't care, but he knows that he owes his readers a finish to the story they've invested in. He also knows he has a right to deliver on that promise in the way he thinks is best.



Emphasized for emphasis.

Yes, anybody who reads Martin's blog knows that he knows. He knows. HE KNOWS, ALREADY! (I'm not yelling at you, HConn...I'm yelling at the fans who won't lay off him.) And again, I say: The characters in ASOIAF do not live anywhere as vividly as they do inside the author's head. Martin is about the biggest dork-o for medieval Europe that's ever lived. He's been way into this stuff since he was about five. He's in his sixties now. he's been working on this series of novels for decades -- first in the planning/development stage, and then writing it and selling it. Nobody -- not the biggest fan in the world -- none of the people who met their spouses because of ASOIAF, none of the people who named their children Bran and Sansa and Arya -- NOBODY loves these books as much as the author loves them. Nobody wants to see them finished as badly as he does. Nobody wants them to be as perfect as he does.

I really feel for this guy. He's devoted a huge portion of his life to these books. And I completely, 100% understand the total frustration and burnout that comes from having people nagging you to deliver a creative product NOW. It's a long story -- I was once involved in a creative hobby, and I developed a pretty good fan-base of my own, but along with supporting my creative endeavors and being enthusiastic for my work, many of them also had a heavy sense of entitlement to my creative work, to the point that they would loudly and publicly criticize me for taking my time to produce it, and would decide they knew my motivation for not turning out the product at the speed they wanted it. They would watch what else I was doing with my life. How dare I take up hiking when I had art to make for them? How dare I try my hand a beading or painting when I had art to make for them? Writing a novel? Oh no you don't, Libbie! Get your ass back in the studio and make my my art!

The self-entitlement of the fans totally ruined it for me. Totally destroyed it. I was made to feel guilty for having anything else going on in my life aside from making art for them. It only made it harder and harder every day to sit down and face the art I once loved. I became depressed. I hated doing what I was doing. I loved seeing the finished product, but getting there was sisyphean. Absolutely draining. Crushing. I really began to resent the very people who made my success possible. And eventually, their shitty attitudes were so wearing on my mental health that I backed out of all my commitments, returned their commissions unfinished, gave refunds where I could, and almost entirely left the community.

I REALLY DO NOT WANT TO SEE THAT HAPPEN TO GEORGE R. R. MARTIN. I understand the crippling depression that comes from feeling one has an obligation toward one's fans, and not being able to meet that obligation in the way they'd like (that is, QUICKLY.) Sometimes good art takes a lot of time to percolate. People who aren't in the business of creating often do not understand that. Writers, like other artists, are not factories, although many of them CAN tap into something that allows them to produce quality product at a high speed. That's awesome for them, and even more awesome for their fans. Martin is not one of those writers. And the more insistently his impatient fans push, the longer it will take him to feel up to tackling the series.

People need to understand that. I really think the most pushy fans are shooting themselves in the feet -- it's because of all their nagging that ADWD is taking so long to come to fruition. They all really need to STFU and let the man write in peace.

jana13k
03-01-2010, 10:03 PM
Emphasized for emphasis.

They all really need to STFU and let the man write in peace.
That pretty much sums it up.

ether
03-01-2010, 10:05 PM
There isn't a series of books that I adore more than ASOIAF. I can't even begin to imagine the dedication Martin has put in just for planning alone. Everything in these stories happens for a reason, and I do mean everything. The tiniest detail in one chapter can have relevance two books later and you have to pause and go, "Wow, really?" He doesn't pull punches, his characters are so real and human. The world he paints starts to feel like home.

That being said, it has been a long time since the release of the last book. But following Martin's LiveJournal where he frequently updates, he is working on it. I know that he's been stuck with one particular plot point that he's trying to work out all the details for. This far into the series, where sooo many plots/people/details have to be taken into consideration, I can't honestly blame him for taking so long with it. It's not Harry Potter or Twilight, it's not that simple. And, yes, he does get frustrated with people constantly bitching at him in the comments about when the book is going to be done, but I think he updates giving note of his progress to try and appease people.

I don't think authors "owe" it to their fans to finish their series. I think it's bad for them (the authors) if they don't, but do they owe it to anyone? No.

I don't know how people can complain about Martin, though. He hasn't 'dropped' the series, he hasn't stopped working on it. He's just trying to write the best that he can, and that I can immensely appreciate. I'd rather wait the extra time and get a fantastic book than get them all quickly and find plot holes and everything I originally loved about it lacking.

I'd recommend Gaiman's blog rant about this to anyone willing to read it. ;) It was an excellent read and so very, very true.


(On a slightly different note -- is anyone else as excited as I am that the pilot episode for A Game of Thrones was filmed? The cast chosen has the potential to be outstanding.)

Jamesaritchie
03-03-2010, 01:48 AM
If he doesn't deliver then he's making it a little harder for the next unpublished author to sell their series, both to publishers and to readers who adopt the "I'll buy it when it's finished" approach. He can best support the industry by delivering good books in a timely manner.

Craig

Not at all true. He might be making it harder for a pubisher to take a similar chance on him again, but his decision has no affect at all on how publishers view other writers. If this were true, publishers would have given up on all unpublished writers decades ago. Established writers have done far, far worse things than not finish a series, but publishers only hold them responsible, not unpubllished writers.

His job is not to support the industry, it's to support himself. Period. His job is to write the books he wants to write, when he wants to write them. This is all any writer's job is. Writing is not factory work, we do not have an assembly line, and we do not have a quota.

brokenfingers
03-03-2010, 12:31 PM
As for a series, do you really think the writer should have to finsih a series if the work becomes repugnant to him? If he grows to hate theseries, dread every minute spent working on it, should he still have to finish the reast of the books because of some nebulous relationship with people he's never met, and isn't even writing for in the first place?

I believe a writer shuold always write the best book he can write, but I believe we should do the best we can at whatever we do.

If we finish a series, it should be because we're enjoying writing the books, or, at worst, because finishing is good business practice.

But the short of it is there is no relationship between a writer and a reader. There are no obligations, no responsibilities, on either side. It's all imaginary. The biggest asset a writer has is his fan base. Itís the number one factor in a bookís success and reader loyalty is the Holy Grail when it comes to publication and an authorís success.

If a writer willingly abandons his story, a story readers are eager for Ė do you think heíll keep those readers? Heíll basically be committing career suicide.

Readers have long memories.

To say there isnít a relationship between writers and readers, between a writerís success and a readerís happiness is absurd.

brokenfingers
03-03-2010, 12:41 PM
A reader's obligation comes at the till when they hand over the cash for the book. There's no obligation on them to enjoy what they've bought. That's the risk you take when you buy a novel.A writer with that mindset will never attain or keep readers. If a writer doesn't care if readers enjoy his books, then he will not gain readers, and hence will wind up unpublished.


Then the reader's expectation has been built up by the publisher (and its marketing department) and not the author because the author has little to no say in the cover or the blurbs that go on the front of it.Readers make no distinction and don't care about that. The author's name is on the product and that's what they're buying. If they wind up disappointed - it's the author who will suffer, ultimately.


Even if he dies before he can do so?A ridiculous assertion since we're talking about if a writer willingly abandons a popular series. Of course if the series isn't popular or isn't selling, then who cares. But that writer will then most likely have to choose a new pen name and hit one out of the ballpark to remain in the business.


Except that the good authors don't lose their audience. Martin could take another decade to finish the next book in his series and there would still be thousands of people waiting to buy it.I agree. His writing and his story are strong enough and I have no problem with the wait. But many do and the discussion at hand is why.

But Martin isn't abandoning readers or treating them like they can eat cake either. He's actively trying to finish the series.

Yet still people are unhappy. I believe it's because there is an unwritten bond between an author and his customers. It's like a drug dealer - once you have them hooked, you better be able to keep them supplied or they're gonna react badly and/or take their business elsewhere.

I have to say, Martin's position is indeed an enviable one in some ways.

kaitie
03-03-2010, 01:38 PM
Am I the only one who's contrary to the point that if a bunch of readers were being this bitchy about something I'd be tempted to write something else instead just because of that?

Okay, so knowing me I'd really end up writing a really nice, polite answer saying "I'm working hard and making an effort to give you the best product available." But don't think I wouldn't want to be contrary about it. I don't know where people get their sense of entitlement, honestly. Granted, I feel this way about many things in life.

jana13k
03-03-2010, 05:19 PM
kaitie - I have that problem with perversion and being told what to do, especially on what I consider "my own time."

Another thing to consider is that none of us know what is going on in his house and with him. Maybe he has cancer and doesn't want everyone to know - the lead actor for Dexter did and never announced it until he was in remission. Maybe he caught his wife with the pool boy. Maybe his accountant stole all his money and the IRS has set up camp in his backyard.

In my case, my last book in a series is delayed because my publisher would not pay monies owed to me, so I held the book hostage. And if they hadn't paid by a certain amount of time, I would have refused to hand it over at all. I would have published it myself for the people who want to read the end - and there are plenty, but I do not consider myself under ANY obligation to write for free, regardless of who wants to read it.

My point being, you can't really judge someone else's actions unless you truly know their situation. And we don't.

Momento Mori
03-03-2010, 05:29 PM
DeleyanLee:
That statement was in response to the quoted comment that there was "no relationship" between a writer and a reader. That's untrue as stated. I never said WHAT the relationship was, just that there was one existed because there was meaningful interaction between two parties.

Fair enough. I should have gone deeper into the exchange before shooting off a post. My apologies.


brokenfingers:
a writer with that mindset will never attain or keep readers. If a writer doesn't care if readers enjoy his books, then he will not gain readers, and hence will wind up unpublished.

Where in the quote from my post did I say that writers shouldn't care whether readers enjoy the book or not?

What I said was that a reader does not have an obligation to enjoy any book that they buy. I've bought tonnes of books because I thought the back copy looked interesting, only to find that I hated the book itself. That's not the writer's fault and it's not my fault. It's comes down to personal taste.


brokenfingers:
Readers make no distinction and don't care about that. The author's name is on the product and that's what they're buying. If they wind up disappointed - it's the author who will suffer, ultimately.

That's a sweeping generalisation and while that may be true for you, I'm not convinced that it's true for all readers.

Personally, if I find that I dislike one book from an author, then it won't necessarily stop me from buying another work if I think it looks interesting.


brokenfingers:
A ridiculous assertion since we're talking about if a writer willingly abandons a popular series. Of course if the series isn't popular or isn't selling, then who cares. But that writer will then most likely have to choose a new pen name and hit one out of the ballpark to remain in the business.

Yes, a ridiculous question made in response to your equally riduculous statement: "I think when an author starts a series, there is the implied understanding that the story is going to be told in more than one volume, but 'you’re going to get the full story, dammit.’ So, yeah, while I don’t believe Martin should be rushed, I do believe he (or any series author) has an obligation to finish the series."

If you only intended this to apply to authors who voluntarily abandon a series, then that should have been made clear.

MM

Sevvy
03-03-2010, 05:33 PM
A writer with that mindset will never attain or keep readers. If a writer doesn't care if readers enjoy his books, then he will not gain readers, and hence will wind up unpublished.


Sorry but I'm gonna have to disagree with you on this one. Sort of. The writer should care about whether people enjoy their writing or not, but what Mori said is true, there is no obligation for a reader to enjoy a book. This is why I'm so hesitant when I buy books. Just because it looks like it'll be good, or sounds like it'll be good, doesn't mean it'll actually be a good book.

I like vampires, but I sure as heck hated Twilight.

So while a writer should care whether readers like his book, you can't get too wrapped up in that, because not everyone will. And readers should know that you won't necessarily like the book you buy, that is a risk you take when you purchase it.

As for GRRM...I got less than half-way through that first book in this series before I put it down for other things that I might actually enjoy reading. I'm not angry at him for writing a book I didn't enjoy, because lots of other people love this stuff. But I wasn't obligated to enjoy it, and I'm actually in his target audience. But even if I had enjoyed it, I'd still be waiting patiently for him to finish it, not only because I'm a writer and I understand that shit happens and you need more time to make the story work, but because even as a reader I don't feel I'm entitled to a story. He never had to write that story down, he never had to publish it. It wouldn't have killed him if he had kept it to himself. Plenty of people do that, it's why the world isn't filled with writers. As a reader, I am glad that there are people out there willing to share these stories with me. And there are plenty out there, so it's not like I can't just read something else while I'm waiting for a series to finish.

Wiskel
03-03-2010, 08:28 PM
His job is not to support the industry, it's to support himself. Period. His job is to write the books he wants to write, when he wants to write them. This is all any writer's job is. Writing is not factory work, we do not have an assembly line, and we do not have a quota.

I've no reason at all to suspect GRRM is anything other than a lovely bloke. I have no negative feelings towards him.

This is a generalised comment, not about GRRM, and you're right that a writer's main priority is to put food on their own table, but all of us have a choice to live our lives either looking out for number one or seeing if we can help a little along the way.

My comment was simply that delivering good writing in a timely manner helps the industy....an industry most of us on this forum quite like and want to prosper. I didn't make any comment about battery farming my favourite authors.

My starting point for my initial comment was that decent people wouldn't want to make anyone's life difficult and shouldn't sink to the level of insults or harrassment. As a reader I'd rather support a writer I liked than one that gave the impression that once they'd been paid they stopped caring. I'm happy to defend GRRM and chip in by saying that his series is probably my favourite and I'll buy it whenever he finishes it. I'd probably drop the series if I didn't think he was a respectable person doing his best. I'd definately drop it if he went on record saying his only responsibility is to himself....and even though I respect him, he won't be able to sell me on the next series he writes until the last book is on the shelf.

Craig

bkwriter
03-07-2010, 02:02 AM
There's more things to read or do then for fans to wait for a book in a series. This girl wanted to read the next Harry Potter book so she wrote her own.

LuckyH
03-08-2010, 09:06 PM
I donít write series, but write books in the same genre; I havenít written a bestseller (yet) but my books have been well-received. Because of a publicity exercise organised by my publishers two to three years ago, I became reasonably well known in my locality.

Since then there have been numerous occasions when complete strangers have come up to me to ask when the next book is coming out. A lot of the time they have kindly asked me to hurry up and write the next one. Iím always flustered and stuck for words when it happens, and usually give a short reply that itís on its way.

I enjoyed the flattery to start with, and even wrote a bit faster, but then crossed it all out because I had written hurried rubbish. A stubborn streak followed when I wasted a lot of time writing something different. I grew a moustache and a beard, and looked silly for a while. Finally, I got writers block.

When the numbers came through, they were no better than 15 years ago when I was walking along with total anonymity. I had finished another book in the same genre, but I held on to it for some reason, I was out of contract anyway.

Iím writing something else now, a complete change of genre, and I donít know if it had anything to do with the hurry-up-and-write-next-one brigade, but I keep my head down when Iím out and have started going to new places for my morning shot of coffee.

Phaeal
03-08-2010, 09:58 PM
If a writer doesn't want to finish a series, or can't finish a series, or finishes a series in a way a fan doesn't like, well, that's what fan fiction's for. ;)

If I'm lucky enough to get a rabid (or even mildly dizzy) fan base for one of my series, I will make sure it's completed. If I can't complete it myself, or don't want to, I'll license someone else to do it for me. Maybe the fan-ficcer whose vision most closely matches mine and who seems to have the chops to go pro.

geardrops
03-09-2010, 12:14 AM
I had an original post. It swore, mocked, said derisive things about a culture of entitlement, and at points my shift key got stuck.

So I'm trying again.

Let's say an author owes you a finished series. (I firmly believe authors don't, and it makes my blood pressure rise to read the arguments that they do, but I'll just try and play devil's advocate here.)

Then you know what? YOU OWE THE AUTHOR YOUR LOYALTY.

YOU owe the author peace to write said series.

YOU owe the author caring a little more about their personal well-being rather than your selfish desires. (GRRM is getting on in years, isn't in prime health, and all you can care about is if he'll finish the precious little fantasy series you like to read in the tub? Well, you stay classy.)

YOU owe the author some modicum of respect as a human being, and instead of calling them out for enjoying a game of football realize that holy balls authors are people too, even if they're all famous and stuff.

So maybe next time, when you start wondering what someone owes you, maybe you start thinking about what you owe them.

DeleyanLee
03-09-2010, 12:22 AM
So maybe next time, when you start wondering what someone owes you, maybe you start thinking about what you owe them.

Sad commentary that respect really needs to flow to and from all sides, and not just to those making the loudest noise.

shaldna
03-15-2010, 03:42 PM
Now, this does make me think.

In general I say a writer owes thier fans everything. After all, the fans are the ones who buy the books and have put the author where they are. Without readers the best writer in the world is going no where.

That's why I am always shocked when writers are horrible about thier fans, take them for granted, say less than pleasant things about them etc. They seem to forget that fans aren't plebs, they are people, and more importantly they are people with money who buy your books and then tell their friends how good it was.


So what do I think authors owe fans? The same level of respect that fans give them, and to write as good a story as you can.