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Let’s discuss: Do Authors Owe Anything to their readers?

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On Tuesday 12th of March the Top Ten Tuesday theme was: Standalone Books That Need a Sequel. At first glance I thought I’d have a lot of books to use for the theme. The more I tried to think about it, the more I realised that I don’t. The ones that stick out to me like a sore thumb, the ones I can’t stop remembering – no matter how much I try – are the ones that are left unfinished. Obviously, that’s two very different matters. In the first one it’s just the readers interpretation or wishful thinking. The second one is worse, at least for me, because that always leaves me feeling let down.

 

Most recently it happened with an author that I’ve been very supportive of. Not only have I read each of her books. I’ve spent hours BETA reading for her – going through every single page with a fine comb to help find spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes and of course the biggest one: plot and/or character mistakes. Then later on I’ve also ARC read the book. I’ve prepared lengthy reviews and song her praises. Despite receiving free review copies, I’ve also purchased most of her books, because I really liked them and wanted to support her as an author. Needless to say that, in my own self righteous mind, I’ve went above and beyond – not out of duty, every single thing I’ve done has been 100% voluntarily. 

 

 

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Last year the author started a long awaited series, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I loved the books and kept impatiently waiting for more. As the months went by I started wondering what was going on. There was no new books released books in the series, the author ignored questions in the Facebook group when readers asked when the next book was coming out. Then all of a sudden out of the blue, the author released other books. New series started, older ones were wrapped up. But nothing from the series fans were waiting on. Then in winter the author broke the silence regarding the series, and basically told readers that the series wasn’t doing well enough economically. So its not economically worth it, to keep writing this series when other ones do better.

 

As a reader I was very surprised about this announcement. Because there were a lot of people in the Facebook group, whom obviously wanted more. The author group isn’t extraordinary big so in numbers it might not be many. But in percentage it was close to 70%. The author informed people in the group that in order to make worthwhile to write the books, the author considered pulling them from Kindle Unlimited and instead come up with another scheme. Something where readers, ahead of publication, could pay for the books. That way the author would be able to keep up her earnings. And I was shocked to say the least! I might just be naive, but I’ve never heard about anything like it before. And it got me thinking: what about the £10.85 I’ve forked out on an incomplete series? How is that lucrative for me? 

 

I understand that being an author is a job. They perform a task and want to be paid, just like everyone else. Because in short IT IS A BUSINESS. And every business wants to make a profit. I also understand that it takes hard work and dedication to write and publish books. That’s why I like to purchase the books I really like. But a part of me can’t help but think, that stopping a promised series, that readers have already spent money on, is NOT okay. I know there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s not breaking any rules or laws. But to me, it’s ruining my respect for the author. And it doesn’t make me want to help arc or beta read and future books.

 

 

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Lets chat

How do you feel about authors that just stops writing books in a series? Do you think it’s okay if they’re not making enough money? Do you find it disappointing? Let’s talk in the comments!

 

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13 thoughts on “Let’s discuss: Do Authors Owe Anything to their readers?”

  1. Unfortunately I don’t always think it’s the authors but the publishing houses. I’ve read about authors who have started a series that they love and are deeply committed to but the money just wasn’t being made from them and so the publishers have made the decision to stop production of the rest of the series.

    This sadly results in upsetting readers who *were* reading the series but also is a massive knock for the authors who have to deal with the blow of a series not selling but also never being able to complete their world and story unless they decide to do it for free and post it online.

    Sometimes if the author picks up and makes it ‘big’ with another series the publisher will re-launch the old series and commission more books.

    You’ve highlighted it but it can be easy to forget – publishing books is a business. Authors want to be creative/ express creativity *and* make money but publishers just pretty much want to make money. If something isn’t profitable then they just won’t continue.

    I like to think that authors care about their readers but publishers care about their readers spending money. It sounds harsh but I think money talks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely get your point, and it is really important to be able to distinguish between the author and the publisher. However, in my example and when I’ve seen it previously, it was indie authors that did it. So no publishing house to hide behind. And that’s what made it all the more annoying to me.

      I don’t dispute that it needs to be a profitable business, and being an indie author isn’t exactly cheap. But I do think it’s wrong to put the lack of sale to readers. To me that seems like guilt tripping them. Especially when you hold a series hostage, and saying there’ll only be more if readers spend more money.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know a great deal about the indie publishing world sadly as my research hasn’t extended that far! I don’t know what checks and balances are needed in that world to make a series profitable or what they need to do in order to make sure that a series *is* profitable.

        I think it must be tricky finding a balance between writing a series that is profitable and finishing a series that already had a readership. I think I’m quite sympathetic to the reasons behind a writer *not* being able to complete a series though but I do understand the frustrations for readers that are invested (both in time and money) and who want to see the series through to completion.

        Sadly if there are no readers then the writer may not be able to continue on with a series, either they’ve lost motivation or they literally can’t afford to continue. That doesn’t mean it’s the readerships fault though, ultimately it comes down to the author’s marketing and PR approach. Being an indie writer takes time and effort and I wonder in the case of this author if there wasn’t enough of those things expended on this series.

        I think the lack of communication in the case of this writer seems to be the real issue. They should have been open and honest with their readers and expressed thanks to those who read the series but also regret that they couldn’t continue. I think maybe they displayed a lack of grace about this issue and that won’t necessarily benefit them in the long wrong.

        The paying up front for a series not yet written is not one that I’ve heard of either. I know a few indie writers use Patreon to help fund their writing but I think that’s a different platform/ concept.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t know much about INDIE publishing – the economy, marketing etc. But I think my point is, that as a reader I shouldn’t have to. When I go to a restaurant I don’t expect to know exactly how the meal is cooked. That’s for the professional to know and deal with.

        Of course the lack of communication is a big part of my issue with it. But even with an explanation I don’t think that I, as a loyal reader, would understand the actions of the author. To me when you start a series, and have people buying into it, you owe something to your readers. It might not be a legally binding contract, but in my opinion it’s a moral obligation. At the very least 🙂

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  2. Interesting topic. I think an author should really follow up on their announced intention for a series, it’s unfair to the fans otherwise. Of course other factors may prevent them, but this particular author was ignoring communication etc which is not fair to the fans. It’s also suggesting that the author only cares about making money, when surely the main reason is because they love creating that art?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a tricky one. When it comes to an author losing all inspiration for a series and stopping because of that . . . well, I can’t actually name one time that’s happened. Maybe a series where readers really wish there were more books, but there really wasn’t anywhere else for the plot to go. That, I completely understand and it doesn’t make me bitter. But stopping in the midst of things purely for $ reasons? Seems like a wrong choice, to me. Even finishing up the planned plotlines for that series with a quick novella would be better than just stopping cold. I don’t know. Perhaps because I’m not actually making real $ from my writing yet, I have the luxury of saying that. But disappointing loyal readers is also a surefire way to loose money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a tricky one, and I’m torn between what I think is right and what I’d wish for. I can honestly see it from both sides. But at the same time, I think it’s a shame to make it about $$ and even worse, to make your readers aware you’re not earning enough from the hard earned cash they spend on you. To me that just seems greedy and almost like pressuring people into buy your books 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Bibi I have planned since last Sunday a post for tomorrow Authors, the good, the bad, the ugly….and if it’s not the exact same topic here it still flirts with the same concept.
    Yes I get your POV here but also the author’s. If you take Sarah J maas, her series Throne of Glass is very popular! I bought the books in French for my kids (I have them in English) but the publisher decided to stop the series after the third book was translated in French! My daughter was furious and so frustrated!! I guess it was not selling well enough on the French market but it’s no way to treat the readers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What can I say, great minds think alike 😀 I don’t think there’s just one right answer. But I do think it’s an interesting topic. My biggest issue with it, is to make it the readers responsibility if the author isn’t making enough money. That would be like me telling you, that if you want to read my full blog post you have to drop some cash into my account 😛 Not really a way to treat friends, customers and loyal readers.

      Like

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