Discussion- Do You Mind the Wait Between Books?

Spoiler Alert: This article contains a (maybe) spoiler for the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin. Honestly, I think you might have to be living without internet not to have stumbled upon said spoiler but this is your formal warning- proceed at your own risk.

I was inspired by the New York Times article Impatience Has Its Reward: Books Are Rolled Out Faster about recent publishing trends that was published today. Honestly, I’d probably not even have the article on my radar had it not been that my good friend and fellow blogger, Krys from Bibliopunkk, being quoted about her opinion on the wait time between releases.

The beginning of this particular article discusses how some publishers are wanting and trying to release books in rapid succession to limit the reader’s painful wait for the follow up book. I’ve noticed that books seem to be released much faster than in the past and admit that I’m excited when I learn that a release date isn’t that far off in the future.

On the other hand, my first thought goes to the master minds behind the stories, the authors. How do they feel about this trend and the ensuing pressure of turning out more words at a faster rate?

I was raised on George RR Martin so I’ve learned to wait for story conclusions (and I’m still waiting). The pressure on Martin to write and finish the series is well documented and even a long running joke and song. Now with his book’s adaptations to TV I’m sure the pressure is even worse.

My opinion is that I’d wait as long as it takes for a story to be fully realized in the author’s mind and translated to their ideal in written form. The wait is painful but I’m of the mind to wait for a really beautifully done story rather than rush the author. I think it takes time to craft a story. I imagine if several books are already written then it’s ok to have little time between each release. The idea of encouraging (in a forceful way) an author to write faster so that marketing can hit when the fire is hot…I’m afraid that’ll make subpar books.

I don’t know about you but there are a few books I’ve read (Hannibal by Thomas Harris and the last I don’t know how many Sookie Stackhouse books come to mind) that felt like the author wasn’t really behind the work. The characters stray from their original heart and most times fans are left angry and disappointed. When reading these books I have to wonder, was the author pressured into writing this? It seems to me that to force someone in any creative profession to produce really hinders the product.

How about sales? Do releasing books faster sell more books? In the NYT’s article they have some evidence that in some genres it does. There are many authors that are able to write on a schedule with little time between releases and are very successful. As with most things I imagine it depends on the person and their technique/style.  From my reading experience it seems that I personally favor authors that prefer to take longer between books. Regardless of the wait each time I finally get to hold the long awaited release it feels glorious to finally be diving back in.

So to George RR Martin and all the other authors taking time to fully realize their ideas-I give you patience and time. I am willing to wait.

I’m wondering what you, the readers, think of this trend. Do you mind the wait for an additional book? Do you think it would be horrible for the industry to start expecting a shorter amount of time between books?

Comments

  1. says

    Waiting for sequels can be REALLY painful. Especially when most of my favourite authors love cliffhangers… But for the most part I don’t really mind. Like you said, it takes time to write good stories and I’d much rather wait and read something longer but amazing than a novels that’s short and choppy and rushed. Some fans will be happy that there’s more books coming out faster, but I do think it’s going to have an effect on enjoyment.

    Thanks for this awesome discussion!

    • says

      I also read so many different series and books in general I always have a stack waiting for me. So, the wait is eased a lot by that. I admit there are some books that I’m so eager for the follow-up it hurts. But, I’d be more disappointed if the author rushed it and the book wasn’t as good as the first.

  2. says

    Personally, I took the article a lot differently. I thought, and still think, that the authors buy the series as a whole and then publish the first book when the last has already been written. That way, there would be no need to rush any authors but still get amazing books published quickly. I personally don’t know if I agree with the strategy, I think it would be very easy for the series to sink into obscurity with no time to gain hype. I think if the authors are being pressured to write books in only a few months then that will be terrible. All the best books I know, I had to wait years for!

    • says

      I agree…some publishers are wanting to publish a finished series as a whole so they can have quick release dates. I got that too from the article but reading it got me to thinking about the topic in general.

      It would be a lot of unpaid time for an author to set out writing an entire series with no promise of publication. Or if a publisher signed on an author based on the series as a whole they would be taking a chance it would flop. So either they’d offer less money or less contracts. Also, I think some publishers base continuing a series based on sales? Granted, I’m not an industry professional so basing this on assumptions rather than fact.

      I totally agree that it would be easy for a series to be ignored if they were released rapidly with little build-up for the author. Agree too on the best books usually being a wait.

  3. says

    Great post! I think it is worth the wait. You can tell with some series when it is rushed, and I’d rather see it come out exactly like the author wanted. Some of the Sookie books were a hot mess! I understand the publishers don’t want to lose momentum, but I think it’s sad that they are willing to throw away the chance for better material because of it.

    • says

      Ugh, some of the Sookie books were so sadly bad. I loved the first 4 and so progressively got sad with each release. Totally agree with your points here.

  4. says

    Personally, I would rather endure the agonizing wait for a book that lives up to its predecessors, than be disappointed by a continuation that didn’t live up to all that came before. Like all great romances, a reader who loves a story and a set of characters will do anything to see them live up to their potential.

  5. says

    Something I noticed is that the quick releasing of books is usually romance, I definitely think fantasy and sci-fi books need more time to gestate because of world-building and the sheer complexity of the plot. I’m a bit torn on the whole releasing factor, I would rather read better quality books and waiting longer, but waiting is so painful!
    -Scott Reads It!

    • says

      Right, it does seem to be the romance genre that releases fast. I don’t read those books so I couldn’t say anything about the quality. It’s a booming genre so I guess it is working for some! I hear you, waiting is so very hard but worth it.

  6. says

    Thanks for opening up a discussion about this, Kristen! I read that article yesterday, but haven’t had much time to process my thoughts on it. I went to an author event recently (Magnus Flyte) where the authors told us about how they wrote the first book as a fun project over the course of a year, and ended up selling. Then the publisher came back and wanted them to write the next book in like 6-8 months or something. It was crazy! They turned it in at midnight on their deadline, and the book is out now, but I have to wonder how much (if any) the quality suffered because of this close deadline. I haven’t read either book yet, so I can’t say.

    Waiting for anticipated THINGS is something gamers, like myself, are very accustomed to. It’s common for games to have a far-off deadline, and even MORE common for those deadlines to get pushed back multiple times. My sentiment has always been that I’d rather wait longer if it will give them more time to perfect and polish the game. Getting to play a sub-par version of the game sooner isn’t as satisfying! This is a big reason that in most cases, I’m not interesting in playing the beta version of a video game. I’d rather wait till the full release (and sometimes, I like to wait for a while AFTER release, so they can continue to work out any launch bugs).

    Books are a little bit different, because I am much more keen to read galleys and ARCs, but it’s easier to g into knowing expecting a bit less polish than it is to play a video game that could have actual BROKEN things in it. ANYWAY, my point here is that I’m definitely willing to wait for a better book, instead of pressuring the authors to churn them out faster. Some authors are good at that (like Richelle Mead), and some are not (like Laini Taylor). Besides, it’s not like I don’t have a giant pile of OTHER books to read while I wait!

    • says

      Yep, I’ve had to wait a long time for games to release. I’m always expecting them to be pushed back, esp those big games (like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, etc). I don’t mind the wait. I know it takes time to create something like that. I think of books the same way–especially fantasy/sci-fi.

      I’m with you I’ve never played a Beta. I want to wait for the finished version. But like you, arcs don’t bother me. I’m so happy you enjoyed this post and I love your response! I hadn’t compared the wait to videogames. Great insight! Also, I’ll wait as long as Laini Taylor needs for her genius.

  7. says

    I’m definitely used to waiting when it comes to books, I was raised on Harry Potter. Waiting years between books is not that big a problem and can sometimes make the book all the more enjoyable with the anticipation. And you do make some excellent points about books being subpar because they are on a timeline.

    My problem with George R.R. Martin is that he has a tendency to expand his world and books to overwhelming proportions. I think he needs to be on a timeline so he actually finishes them. He knows the endgame it’s just taking him forever to get there. He’s already turned what was supposed to be a five book series into seven. His books are long enough and in my opinion they tend to be a little too long. I think we would have just as good a series if he were given some deadlines.

    I feel like there has to be some happy medium between rushing an author with a deadline and giving them carte blanche to finish a book whenever they feel like it.

    • says

      Haha, I have to agree about GRRM…a timeline but be helpful for him 🙂 There has to be a happy medium, as you say. I loved the Harry Potter books too but was lucky enough to start them pretty late in the series so didn’t have to wait all that long for the last installments.

  8. says

    So agreed, Patrick Rothfuss can wait as long as he needs for his third book because I want it to be perfect :D. We’ve already chatted about this a bit, so you know that I’m weird and like the wait between books, haha. I think part of it is that I get overwhelmed if lots of sequels come out too quickly and I can’t keep up D:

  9. says

    It definitely is hard to wait between books! If it’s an established series, I think readers kind of have to expect that they’ll be waiting once they catch up to all the books that are already out (like I am doing now with ASoIaF)! But new series are a lot trickier. You don’t always know how long it will take for a book two or book three and I know some readers avoid starting series until they can binge read. I’m actually not much of a binge reader… Not intentionally but I just like to mix things up when I read and I’m such a mood reader that I’m not always in the mood for the next book right away. My only qualm is, really, that I forget a LOT in between books. It’s nice when the author recaps just a bit or great sites like Recaptains help you remember before you start a new book!

  10. says

    I don’t mind waiting. I’d rather the author take the time to get things right, rather than rush to meet a publisher deadline. There are probably only a few authors who could get away with writing the way Martin does. He’s got a huge, dedicated fan base who will likely be there no matter how long it take, whereas the vast majority of authors risk being forgotten if they took many years to write a book.

    I was actually thinking along the lines of this topic a couple of days ago. As you know, I just started reading The Lunar Chronicles, so I didn’t have that “Hurry up and get here, Cress!” feeling that people who read the books as they were published felt. And then I wondered when I last felt that way about a book. I know I was anxious for Just One Year to come out. But at the same time, the anticipation can be fun.

  11. says

    I guess it depends on the series for me, but I’m conflicted. Ideally, I’d love if every series I enjoyed were written to completion before the first book came out. Not that I need the next book within a week or month, but at least one a year would be nice. When it takes too much longer than that, it’s not that I forget about the series, but it moves down in importance on the TBR/buy list when it does come out.

    A delayed sequel release can also adversely impact my review of the sequel. I don’t usually re-read a book before picking up the next in the series, so if the sequel relies heavily on knowledge/emotional investment from the first, it may not work as well for me. A prime example just came to mind: I loved Robin McKinley’s “Pegasus,” but the next book was first slated for something like 2012. It’s been moved back to 2014 but still doesn’t have a set publication date. That worries me.

  12. Alyn Y says

    If I finished a very good book that is part of a series, I want the next one as soon as possible even if it isn’t out yet. After a few days I kind of get over it. I have plenty of other books to read and these days just about every book is part of a series of some sort. The hard part is keeping track of them.

  13. says

    Let’s be honest… I am mad at George RR Martin. I have been reading those books since they FIRST CAME out. So we’re not talking a couple years for me. Martin writes great books but he is rude to his fans about it. One time, Time magazine or EW asked him why he was so rude to his fans and he said he has hobbies. It was an odd interview. I have only read up to book three now in the series and refuse to read anymore until they are all out. Though I did get book 5 signed by him when he came to town. I am still a fangirl.

  14. says

    Waiting for a book is always hard. I’m already counting the days before Winter comes out by Marissa Meyer, but I definitely agree with your thoughts about rushing. I think I’d rather have a very good book than a shorter waiting time.. On the other side, George Martin is really pushing the limits. There is a difference between waiting and torturing your fans.

  15. says

    I don’t want authors to rush and not produce the best quality. I rather wait and read an awesome book. I do admit though the longer I wait the more I lose interest and the NEED to read dwindles down and it becomes a …when i get to it I’ll read it.

  16. says

    I’m inpatient, and also have a bad memory, so I hate the wait between books, especially if it is over a year. I’ll forget everything by the time I get around to reading the next book.

  17. says

    I love this discussion. Let me see–as a fan, I mind the wait between books a great deal, because I want to read all the books NOW. But as a reader, I absolutely agree with you–I’d rather wait for a fully fleshed out book than be stuck with one that is rushed out to meet an arbitrary deadline. I can think of a few series where a more forgiving publishing pace might’ve helped.

    Or maybe not, hah.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  18. says

    This is a great discussion topic, Kristen. I completely agree with you about not rushing authors – that’s my main concern with this “trend” of wanting to release sequels faster. Where does that put the author? What decisions are they making based on their deadline, vs. staying true to their story? Of course I mind long waits, insomuch as any fan hates waiting for more of what they love! But I’d take a long wait over a deadline-driven story any day.

  19. says

    Amazing post Kristen. <3 Thank you so much for sharing. Hmm. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about it.. I HATE waiting for books to come out. I really do. And with a series it happens that I really enjoy book one, but then do not read the next books because they take too long to come out.. sigh. But of course, I do not want a badly written book. And I want authors to take all the time they need to write it. <3 I just wish it didn't take 6+ months AFTER they finish writing the book for the book to come out :p Sigh.

  20. says

    The wait between books in a series hurts me. I remember waiting for the new Harry Potter books, and it was painful. That said, I would quite happily wait another five years for an eighth book (I am really waiting). I love that authors like GRRM and JKR really take their time with these worlds and stories that they’re building. I think the pressure must be immense, especially since the TV show and movies have generated so many more fans and attention. I think that the author taking their time is much more important than rushing out a story due to impatience or money or whatever other reason there is. Authors should be able to do what feels right for them.

    That’s not to say that I don’t join in with the GRRM jokes, because some are just too good to pass up. Then again, I’m only on AFFC.

  21. says

    I actually like the fact that there’s months in between sequels because this way you can build the tension and get all excited when it finally releases. I like the thrill! Of course I don’t like it when the book ends with a huge cliffhanger and I have to wait so long to continue reading. But what if books are released faster? Won’t we disappointed when our favorite series are over faster as well? Maybe I’m the only one in this but I like to enjoy my series to the fullest and I feel like I can’t do that if there’s a book out every 6 months.

  22. says

    I hate the wait between books because I tend to forget so much from the previous book in that time period, but I also understand the pressure it puts on an author to continuously churn out new books. I think, and this is just me talkin’ out my a$$ pretty much, but I think that it would be more beneficial to both sides for the publisher to allow the author ample time to write the entire series before releasing the first book. I understand that there would still be editing and rewrites, but a few months between books as opposed to a year or more? I am all for that. I know this is totally unrealistic because you have to look at it from the publisher’s perspective, too, and they don’t always know how the first book will sell and if there will be a sequel, etc. But a girl can dream, right? 😛

  23. Pili says

    Great discussion, Kristen!!
    If I have to choose, I prefer to have to wait a bit more and make sure the book I’m getting is the best the author can produce and that it didn’t kill them writing it. As a long time reader I’ve had to wait for the next in series many times, and the bloody wait is always a killer, and binge reading can be just fantastic, but all in all, it’s all part of the fun!
    And sometimes books and series not only suffer from rushed writing and deadlines, but also dragging a series along for more books for the heck of it (and the sales…) but that’s a different discussion I think!

    As for George RR Martin… he does take SO bloody long to write the books!! I just hope he doesn’t die before the series is complete, he’s not getting any younger!!

    • says

      Oh GRRM…I think we are all worried that his age will stand against him finishing the series. Esp since it’s happened in the past with Robert Jordan. I hope that he is able to fulfill the entire series to his liking. We’ll see.

      I hate waiting but I hate a subpar book more so I’ll wait 🙂 that is an interesting discussion you touch on about dragging out the books.

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