Authors, Please, Take Your Time

Smudge does not snuggle books, even really good ones.

Smudge does not snuggle books, even really good ones.

No, really. I mean it.

I read a lot, and my eyes & ears aren’t confined to one or two genres. There are many, many authors that I buy their latest on the day it comes out. Yes, I love the anticipation of wondering what will happen to some of my favorite characters, trying to second guess the author on where the plot will go.

But I can also wait. I want that next long-anticipated book to satisfy not only me, but the author. It is their art and should meet their standards first, and the fans’ standards second.

I have been blogging since 2010 and the book blogging world is by and large welcoming and enthusiastic. If you read, there’s a place for you here. But I also see A LOT of pressure being put on authors to turn out that much needed, much wanted next-book-in-the-series NOW. Scott Lynch, Patrick Rothfuss, George R. R. Martin, and the next book in The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson are just a few that spring to mind.

LynchLiesOfLockeLamoraNow all the authors I have met have been human, and as humans they have all the crap going on in their lives as the rest of us. They have families, illnesses, joys, obligations, sorrows, vacations, hobbies, and pets, maybe even jobs (other than writing). In short, they have lives.

Patrick Rothfuss had a post in 2008 explaining why Book 2, Wise Man’s Fear, was taking so long by pointing out scenes and characters that weren’t in the original Book 1, The Name of the Wind, until several revisions in. His post is excellent in showing how enhanced Book 1 was by him insisting that the book meet his standards first. And he is right. I fully agree The Name of the Wind would not have been as enchanting, as deep without certain side characters and scenes.

RothfussNameOfWindGeorge Martin and Brandon Sanderson have been busy entertaining millions of people; George Martin has had an active hand in the hit tv series The Game of Thrones and Brandon Sanderson gave us the climatic ending to the decades-in-waiting series The Wheel of Time by the deceased Robert Jordan. Scott Lynch, author of The Gentlemen Bastard series (The Lies of Locke Lamora & Red Seas Under Red Skies) has been living his life, paying his bills, and fighting personal illness. In short, none of these folks are lazy or are blowing off their fan base.

Even before A Song of Ice and Fire series became really big with the tv series, George Martin was receiving pressure from his fan base to work on the series, and nothing else (another excellent post from the author’s view point). John Scalzi posted in 2009 about authors, their secret lives, and yes, they are human. Patrick Rothfuss mirrors this in his post explaining that he has a life, is obsessive, and giving fans some hints on how to be supportive instead of snarky dicks. Patrick Rothfuss has this great humorous post about the revision process. Go, have a look, learn how complicated it is.

SandersonWayOfKingsHere’s my take. If you are obsessing over the release date of the next book by a beloved author, if you are stalking them on the interwebs, if you are leaving unhelpful, pressuring comments and fanmail – EXPAND YOUR READING HORIZONS. There are many, many awesome authors out there with books calling your name. Spread the love. Before you know it, you’ll have plenty of great books from favorite authors, even if those authors individually take 2, 4, 7 years (or much more) between books. It is unreasonable to expect greatness to be turned out according to your time table. Please, let the authors work their magic on their time table.

Here is an example list of authors and their books, showing years between publications.

Jean Auel: The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980), 6 books in series, ending with The Land of Painted Caves (2011)

Diana Gabaldon: The Outlander series & Lord John series – up to 4 years in between books.

J.R.R Tolkein: The Hobbit (1937), The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)

JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (2007), Casual Vacancy (2012)

Ken Follett: The Pillars of the Earth (1989), World Without End (2007)

Guy Gavriel Kay: up to 4 years in between books

Octavia Butler: Parable of the Sower (1994), Parable of the Talents (1999)

Neil Gaiman: American Gods (2002), Anansi Boys (2005)

Conn Iggulden: The Gods of War (2006), The Blood of Gods (2013)

Isaac Asimov: The Robot Series, 1954 – 1985, 4 books

Peter S. Beagle: The Last Unicorn (1968), The Last Unicorn (lost version ) (2007), Two Hearts (sequel to The Last Unicorn) (2011)

Elizabeth Bear: The Stratford Man (2008), One Eyed Jack (2013)

Marion Zimmer Bradley: Avalon series 1979-2009, 7 books

Caleb Carr: Up to 14 years between novels

William Gibson: The Blue Ant trilogy – 2003-2010

Karin Lowachee: 5 years between Cagebird and Gaslight Dogs

So, with all that said, who are some of your favorite authors that you have faithfully waited for?

24 thoughts on “Authors, Please, Take Your Time

  1. TBM says:

    I agree with you and half the fun is waiting. Of course, it will be hard to wait for the next way of kings if Sanderson follow’s Jean Auel’s timeline :)

  2. Eivind Fonn says:

    Oh, you’ve been through the Ayla series too? What are your thoughts on that one? It’s my… err… other weakness. One of them, at any rate. :P

    • nrlymrtl says:

      I read the first book, The Clan of the Cave Bear, like….2 decades ago. I never got around to finishing it. Maybe you and I will have to explore the possibility of future read alongs once we finish The Wheel of Time.

      • Eivind Fonn says:

        Ha… I don’t know. The first book is one of my absolute favourites and the next two are good too. It should have stayed a trilogy I think. Ayla gets really bland after that, which sucks because the premise has such potential.

  3. Anyaa says:

    Excellent post! I don’t even notice the time between books because I have so many series to catch up on in the first place :D. I am quite excited for the third Rothfuss book though *bounces around*

  4. Amy says:

    Yes, yes, and yes! Waiting for the next book is part of the fun and getting to re-explore my favorites, is well, a favorite thing. :)

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Yes! If they are truly favorites, then re-reading them wouldn’t be a chore. I find that I usually missed something good the first time around, because I was devouring it instead of savoring it.

  5. On behalf of all the writers who want to do their best work every time: THANK YOU.

  6. lynnsbooks says:

    I couldnt agree more. I have plenty of other books to be reading in the meantime and I love the anticipation. Plus, I sort of put the next book out of my mind until I get the good news. If Rothfuss announced his next book was ready and soon to be published I’d dance a jig but, as it is, I don’t even think about it. That being said I’m nearly bursting a blood vessel now I know Lynch’s latest is nearly here! (All good things to those who wait hey!)
    Lynn :D

  7. I think the pressuring, threatening, cajoling and complaining is really stupid. Really and truly. I do have some slight feelings that authors who get readers committed to long series owe their readers a continued commitment to keep working on it, but I too feel that there are way too many books than what any of us can get to. Even if I were to confine my reading solely to SFF, which I can never entirely do, I couldn’t keep up with what comes out in a normal year, not to mention all of the books that have come out years before.

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Very true. I recently discovered Connie Willis and Joe Haldeman – both of who have been writing for many years. I have plenty to keep my happily piled under books while awaiting the next Jim Butcher or Patrick Rothfuss, etc. And I’m sure my favorite authors don’t mind sharing my bookshelves and my reading time amongst each other.

  8. Really interesting round-up on how long some series took to come out. I just finished reading The Last Unicorn–didn’t know there was a sequel!

    I entirely agree with your points here–but must admit I do get impatient for that next book in a series. This is one advantage of loving authors who have been dead for years…

    I feel like I’m always waiting on Tamora Pierce’s next book. She writes two series, roughly alternating, and since I’m *really* waiting for just one of them, it makes the time between books seem long…

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Discovering dead authors hopefully keeps you busy while awaiting the next book in your current favorite series. Besides, the anticipation can be half the fun, right?

  9. I’d add Steven Brust. First Jhereg novel: 1983. Latest Jhereg novel: 2011, with next one coming 2014. And, IMHO, that series gets better and better with each novel — he takes the time to try something different, beyond just the plot or adding new characters, every time. Worth the wait!

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Oh! I really enjoyed the first few books in this series too. My man read all the Brust books he could get his hands on several years ago. I will have to let him know there is even more Jhereg goodness forthcoming.

      • Have to give Brust credit — in the ’80s he said he’d try to write one novel for each of the Houses, as long as he could keep them interesting, and so far I’d say he has :)

  10. This post made me smile. I always find myself wondering why fans think it’s okay to build the pressure.. surely all that’s going to do is make these releases take even longer as the author finds him or herself becoming increasingly stressed.

    Great post! Would write a response post but I’d pretty much just be saying “HERE HERE”.

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Most humans understand that being under pressure can actually slow down a process or lead to an inferior product. So, I have always been puzzled by how pressuring, on purpose, fans can be on their favorite authors.

  11. […] of Darkness asks authors to take their time writing awesome books, we can […]

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