How Long Will You Wait for the Next Book?

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?

7 Responses to How Long Will You Wait for the Next Book?

  1. Sara L. Sep 6 2017 at 8:44 am #

    Patrick Rothfuss is another author with long gaps in between new books. It’s been almost 3 years since his Slow Regard of Silent Things novella was published, and over 6 years since his last novel (The Wise Man’s Fear). Yet I’d still wait however long I have to until his next book comes out, just because I love his work so much.

    And that’s my overall feeling toward waiting for the next book in a series: I’m patient. I don’t mind waiting. There are so many other books I want to read anyways. *lol* The only concern I have is with YA authors putting out at least one new title every year. What about those who aren’t fast writers? How do they deal with the pressure of trying to put out a new book every year and ensuring it’s a good story, on top of all the other responsibilities they have in their everyday lives?

  2. Rachel Seigel Sep 6 2017 at 10:02 am #

    I wonder about that too- I know some writers are genuinely able to produce quality content quickly and get a book out per year, but too many, and then the quality slips. And then there’s the whole ghost writer thing…

  3. Sam Sep 6 2017 at 10:48 am #

    There’s probably some graph I could make with length of gap on one axis and how much I liked the previous book on the other axis. The more it stuck in my mind, the longer I’ll wait. Otherwise I’ll just plain forget it existed, and if I notice a new book is finally out I might not remember enough of what happened to feel interested in the conclusion anymore. If I’m lucky, I find out about series late in the game and don’t have the full wait time!

  4. Melody Simpson Sep 6 2017 at 2:25 pm #

    I don’t mind waiting, the issue for me is remembering the series exists if it’s been too long and the next installment wasn’t something I needed to have and start reading at like midnight of its release. In recent years, GR and the increase in author newsletters being a thing has helped with keeping a series on my radar but even with that and involvement in fandoms, some books still manage to slip through the cracks and I don’t find out about the next book in a series until the week of or even months after it has been released. And by then, it usually turns into an I’ll get to it when I get to it type of situation because the anticipation doesn’t exist anymore and the excitement is gone since I don’t even remember what I read beforehand. I don’t really re-read anymore because as you mentioned, time, so it’s always great when an author knows how to seamlessly recap throughout their series.

    It’s even harder tracking new standalone works from authors I’ve enjoyed in the past 9especially if they’re “quiet” books)… so every year I find myself going through the standalone books/authors that I’ve read and loved in the past handful of years and searching for new books by that author to add to my TBR for the future.

    As far as the book a year situation goes… quality over quantity always. I’ve stopped reading an author’s work for a period of time because they’ve pushed out a few rushed not so great books that I just can’t get behind no matter how hard I try BUT I’ve gone back to them when I could see that there was a shift in the quality and it got better again. So, long story short, I’ll always eventually come back to an author (no matter their pub schedule), it’s just a matter of when.

  5. Shae Sep 6 2017 at 7:55 pm #

    As a Megan Whalen Turner fan, I just sighed heavily. For a series like hers – where every day spent between books is clearly shown in the quality of the works produced – I’ll wait as long as I need to. To put that in perspective, the series in question (The Queen’s Thief) started in 1996. It is not yet finished. The shortest wait time between books so far is 4 years. The longest so far is 7.

    So yeah, if it’s an author I trust and a series I adore, I’ll wait as long as I need to. For everyone else, it comes down to the factors you mentioned – anticipation, enjoyment, memory, etc.

  6. Katja Sep 9 2017 at 7:38 pm #

    I’ve often been lucky enough to get into a series right before the next book is supposed to come out, but then I get hit with the wait anyway. It can be hard to turn myself somewhere else if I was really enamored with the book or series (bookhangover) but there’s always something that will eventually lure me.

    I actually just cleaned up my goodreads TBR and took off things like the next Martin and Rothfuss book because I know I WILL read them, but if they don’t even have release dates it’s silly to keep them on my to-read shelf.

    Whether I will get rabid when a release date is announced and approaching depends on how much I loved the series; I will probably jump right on ASoIaF immediately, but Rothfuss’s I’d get to when the time is right. I don’t know that I’d ever abandon a series because of a long wait, but then it’d have to wait, too.

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