Wednesday 24 February 2016

All readers are great - but if you're asking how to help MOST?

This was sparked by Sam Sykes' tweet:

“If you don't buy a book until the series is done, you increase the chances of that series not getting done. Publishers just see bad sales.”

There are many reasons why books can fail. What's undeniable is that some series, trilogies etc are bailed on. The publishers jump ship and the reader is left holding one or two books.

In Spain you can only buy Prince of Thorns. In the Netherlands just Prince and King of Thorns.

Undeniably, an author can put out one book, or two (or five) then make you wait an age for the next. I can think of examples of all these. I won't name the author who put out a successful book 1 alongside my debut in 2011 and dropped book 2 in 2014, but the wait for Rothfuss' book 3 and GRRM's book 6 are the stuff of genre legend.

So, yes, there is a risk in jumping in. But the flip side is that if you don't jump in ... the publisher may bail. It's a numbers game.

I'd like to think that the fact I've put out a book a year for 5 years and that book 6 is due in June a year after book 5, and that book 7 is written and that book 8 is 75% written, is sufficient to win readers' trust that when they buy my book the next is not going to keep you waiting too long.

Anyway. Any person that buys a book of mine at any time is GREAT. This is an info-post only, for those of you interested in how to best help an author. The answer is: buy early, read early, and talk about the books.


  1. Done, done, and done. The wait for the next of your books to come out is hard enough as it is, I couldn't wait until each triology is completed.

  2. ...and give star ratings on goodreads.

  3. Unfortunately I'm guilty of this...jaded ever since I finished the last Game of Thrones book! But I never actually thought about this perspective, how my impatience could have an impact.

    I have faith now!!

  4. I understand the dynamic. I speak only for myself when I say that membership in the center ellipse takes time. You are there because you've earned it by the quality of your books, the regularity of release and your enthusiasm in interacting with your readers. My center ellipse has about a dozen. I didn't always ponder whether I'm jumping into a series at the beginning, middle or after completion. But the examples you mentioned along with a few others have taught me to be more circumspect.

    When a writer invites a reader to take a risk at the beginning or middle of a series, I think it comes with a tacit promise to complete it within a reasonable period. A 'reasonable period' is fluid. It accounts for unforeseen circumstances, lengthier subsequent books, the desire to write a more perfect book. The disillusionment enters when I don't feel the same sense of urgency --the same hunger-- to complete the series. In that instance, I do feel disappointed. I feel let down, left hanging, took an unwarranted risk.

    It's not an actionable promise. There's nothing I can do, not even express disappointment on social media. I do not advocate yelling, cursing or discourteous behavior, but disappointment should be understandable, not subject to mockery or public condemnation. Yes, you pay for a book, you get a book. The writer is not, as someone put it, the reader's bitch. But it bears noting that the reader isn't anyone's bitch either. Not everyone can wait indefinitely, silently, with no right to express feelings. My devotion to the books I love comes from the same well of passion from whence disappointment springs. I am disappointed and disheartened because I desire it so much. I have jumped with both feet before seeing that a writer consistently releases a book a year. Then a series is stalled, not for any force majeure but shelved in the meantime in favor of another project. I understand the need to expand creative horizons, but I also desire and, to some extent, deserve closure. Further, my reading taste evolves. Leave too much time between books and I may no longer want to read them.

    I have limited reading time, shelf space and budget. I can't do anything about past reads but experience affects future behavior. Right or wrong, I am more risk-averse now. As many have observed, there are loads of other books, not just to read in the meantime but 'instead of'. I am also more circumspect in making recommendations because I get good-natured blowback when I recommended what now seems indefinitely stalled or abandoned. I am not (or not entirely) a book buying automaton. I cherish good books, good interaction and feeling valued as a reader. I respond in kind by celebrating books I love and gracious authors, inducting them into my center ellipse.

  5. Done and done! Besides that one little article/interview I had on Den of Geek, I try to spread the love with word of mouth. I don't know how many people I've recommended Prince of Thorns and Prince of Fools to.

    At least in this day and age, we've got, which is a fantastic way for the average reader to share the love on their favorite books, as well as recommend them.

    Although I still don't like the star rating system. If I just sorta "liked" but didn't "love" a book and it gets a 3 star review, I feel like the author is going to see it.... I'm super picky on what I give 5 star ratings to.

    I've slowed down on rating anything I really didn't like because, y'know, publishing is hard and at least the author got to the point of publication. And I've left low-star reviews on books that I really didn't like, left a sizable review on why I didn't care for it, and had it deleted (presumably by the author).

  6. I agree with Sykes.

    Personally, I've never quite understood the mentality of waiting until a series is completed. Let's say it's a 7 book series; the author will try his best to finish as soon as he can, but pumping out a book a year for 7 years might not be doable (unless your Mark Lawrence, I guess). So with a couple of delays, it takes 10 years to wrap up. Still pretty good for a long series.

    You're telling me you're going to wait a full decade to start reading this awesome series?? Why? What's the gain? "Oh, I'm so glad now I don't have to wait between books. Totally worth holding out for 10 years!"

  7. I'm really glad you wrote this. I have been reading fantasy for many decades. Given your appearance I can safely estimate that I probably started reading fantasy before you were born, or in the first decade of your life. I've been burnt a thousand times by poorly written books and halted series. The latest fantasy/science fiction trend towards epic stories told over multiple years (yep, GOT, we mean you) means you make a series commitment when you start a new series. So, here is my approach. I wait until the book is out in paperbook for the second novel. Then I obtain both, gulp them down in one series and then jump on line to see when the next one comes out. But, you have helped me to see that I might be harming an author through this decision process. Something to think about. In the meantime can I just saw that I am a huge, honking, out of control fan? I both hope and feel fear that your stuff will be turned into a series. Thanks for all you do, and tell your kids that somebody out there thinks you are awesome.

    1. My author photo is 5 years old and taken to make me look good :) I just turned 50 :o
      I shall make sure all my kids know I have the Walker certificate of Awesomeness. Thanks!

  8. Successful debut in 2011 and then book 2 in 2014 that's Douglas Hulick

  9. Is there a difference between hard copy or eBook in helping support future releases. I have bought an eBook and left a review for each.

  10. Is there a difference between hard copy or eBook in helping support future releases. I have bought an eBook and left a review for each.

    1. Good question. Authors get a larger % royalty (about 17.5%) from the sale of an ebook, than from a hardcover (8 to 10%) or a paperback (as low as 4%) but ebooks are often much cheaper than a hardcover, so it depends. Buy early and you will help most.