As fans of Game of Thrones are aware, it’s been about six years since the release of book 5 was released, and author George R R Martin has missed several deadlines for the next one, largely due to writer’s block. (I’m sure we can all relate!) Martin made headlines last month by announcing that the 6th book ‘may’ be ready by the end of 2018, and I can tell you I’ve already had inquiries from my customers.
As I’ve been discovering, Martin is not the only author with big gaps between series volumes. Looking at a listing of most popular authors, it’s been 3 years since the most recent Risolli & Isles book, 3 since the last Outlander book (with the next one due possibly in a year or two), 10 since the last book in Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth series, and there was a gap of 5 years between Harlan Coban’s most recent Micky Bolitar novels.
This got me wondering- how long will you wait for the next book in a series? Are you a die-hard fan who will line up for the next book no matter when it comes, or do you read on momentum, and the longer the wait, the less likely you are to continue with it? Personally, I’m a bit of both. I follow a lot of industry publications on social media, I see catalogs in advance, and I will occasionally do a web search of a favorite author to see whether or not there is news of a new book- but only if their last one was recently enough that they are still in my immediate memory. After a couple of years, my memory starts to fade. Unless the author is someone so popular that there is instant name recognition, they become (as I’m encountering now) someone I remember reading a long time ago. There are just too many authors and too many books, and I just can’t keep up with everyone I liked at one time or another.
The other reason I generally have for dropping a series is also related to memory. My memory for books is funny. People are always amazed that I remember virtually every book I’ve ever read, and even when I read it, but I’m not much of a details person. I remember the general storyline and themes, but minor details (or what my brain deems minor details) tend to escape me. (I can’t tell you how many quizzes I failed in school because the teacher thought that remembering the color of so-and-so’s dress was proof that I’d read the book.) Unless I binge read an entire series, I feel behind the eight ball trying to remember all of the details from the previous book. A lot of the time it comes back to me as I start reading, but 10 years is a long gap, and I don’t really have the time to go back and reread an entire series in anticipation of the new book.
In 10 years, a lot can change, and I simply may not be interested anymore. A Juvenile/YA series is especially time sensitive because if you take too long, the reader can outgrow the author’s books. (With the exception of someone like J.K. Rowling) If your books stay in print long enough to reach a new generation, you might attract a new audience. A publisher might even re-release or re-publicize your older titles to generate excitement for the new one.
Not every author is able to produce 3 unique novels in a year. There may be research involved, or the author doesn’t write that fast. Books take time to write- I get that, and I think fans will be patient for a time, but for how long? Even George R R Martin can’t get away with keeping fans waiting indefinitely for the rest of the series. So I ask you-at what point does your patience/interest run out, and why? And if you are one of those people who will wait 10 years for a new book, what makes you come back to it after so long?