So, if you follow this blog, you might know that I try to participate in a weekly book meme called Top Ten Tuesday, where a list is posted, prompting you to list ten books that you associate with that list. This past week, I wrote about all the books I’ve shamefully not read from some of my favorite authors, which just sorta got me thinking. Because at the end of that post, I wrote something to the likes of, Sure, everyone is waiting for their next favorite book to be published, but what about all those books already out there we’ve always meant to read but haven’t? That are already waiting to be enjoyed?
You see, I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to intense anticipation when it comes to a book I really want to read being published. Hell, that’s one of the reasons I participate in another weekly book meme, Waiting on Wednesday, so I can highlight some of the books I’m really, really, really stoked to read.
There are a couple I can list off the top of my head:
- Velocity Weapon by Megan O’Keefe
- The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons
- The Unbound Empire by Melissa Caruso
- Nightchaser by Amanda Bouchet
- The Third Book in the Epic Failure Trilogy by Joe Zieja
- Fear the Stars by Christopher Husberg
- The Burning White by Brent Weeks
- The Olympian Affair by Jim Butcher
- The Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss
Trust me, that was just the top ones that popped out inside my head, without looking anything up aside from verifying I got titles correct. I know there are plenty others that I am positively stoked for. I think writing a blog post talking about how excited I am for this book is great, telling other readers they should read the previous books in a series or start following a debut author, also totally fine.
What I wish the bookish community–readers in particular–would do less of is harassing the author for the book to be completed.
Or missing a deadline.
Or pushing back the publication date.
Or asking, over and over and over again, when the next book is going to come out.
Friends, that is just not okay.
Ask yourself this: what do you really hope to achieve by doing this? You’re not making an author feel good, by reminding them that you’re “still waiting” for their next book to come out. You think they aren’t already feeling guilty for missing deadlines, especially when years go by and the book still hasn’t happened yet? Do you think that your prodding is going to be the last key needed in order for the book to magically get written?
Or do you think you’re going to be the final straw that breaks all motivations or desires to try, causing the book to never see the light of day?
Here’s the thing. I think, as readers, we feel a sense of entitlement towards authors when they write a series. We think, you told me this is going to be a trilogy, so you owe me three books. Sure, those are the expectations set. But when purchasing or renting a book after it’s been published, the author has “fulfilled” anything you’ve asked from them. They published a product and you’ve bought it. End of transaction. If they don’t finish a series, sure, you’re disappointed, but they don’t owe you that third book, especially if there have been no pre-orders yet, when it’s still in the stage of being written. Sure, there is the expectation, that hope, that book will show up, but if it doesn’t get written; or it gets pushed back by ten years than the planned/promised due date; that’s the author’s choice. And you haven’t paid for a thing, so they owe you nothing. Hell, I believe many times, it’s completely out of their control, actually, in many respects, forcing their choice of writing and creating to either feel impossible or to choose the opposite.
Because that’s the thing. We don’t know why an author might not finish a series or have major delays. Publishing is a slow business just as the nature of the beast, but we can’t always know the behind the scenes of that business or an author’s personal or professional life. We don’t know if they are suddenly battling depression or impostor syndrome that makes it crippling to write. We don’t know if they’ve lost passion for a project after receiving negative reviews and feeling like their story is nothing. Or, so many positive reviews, they fell crushed by the pressure to live up to such expectations we’ve placed upon them. Family changes, emergencies, suffocating day jobs, so many possible reasons, an endless list of rationale. But more so, it is not our business to know. These are human beings, with lives and privacy and emotions and choices that deserve to be respected.
So commenting on every tweet and making a joke about how you’re still waiting for that third book–even when that tweet is not even book related–is not only not okay, but frankly, I’d consider it harassment.
Flooding their email inbox or DMs or feed or channel with complaints and questions is not okay.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made mistakes in this area, too. I’ve ranted about waiting for a book and wishing it was out already. Or questioning why it’s “taking so long,” wishing an author would “hurry up” and finish it so I can find out what happens next. It wasn’t until I read someone else’s perspective and realize how truly damaging these types of comments can be that I realized I needed a change in my own behavior.
Now, realizing this, this type of treatment is always on my radar and I seem to see it everywhere (with some authors more than others) and it just depresses me. Because no creator, who gifted us with wonderful stories and escapes and worlds and characters, should have to deal with this kind of harassment as the price. I don’t think it’s bad thing to get excited, to tell an author you’re stoked for their next book or to find out what happens next. But I think it’s a lot better to add a statement like, “whenever you’re ready to tell it,” or “at your own pace, I’ll always be here to support you,” instead of, “Why haven’t you published this yet? I’ve been waiting for it and you owe it to me!”
Imagine what we all could create and do if, when we hit roadblocks or hiccups, instead of being met with scorn and disapproval, we were met with unconditional, unwavering support?
Just something to think about, fellow readers.