Being an avid reader is a tough job. You latch on to characters and your favorite authors all the time. There’s nothing like RELEASE DAY, espeically when you’ve pre-ordered that book MONTHS ago. Still, the feeling that comes with reading about the next phase of your faveorite character’s life is practically euphoric. And when you read the last page, nothing hurts worse than THE END. Because we, as readers, never want our favorites to end.
Sadly, they do.
Speaking from an author’s point of view, they have to.
Reading has been my favorite pastime since I was a little girl sneaking to read in bed way past my bedtime, using the light of the cracked closet door. Reading brings me more joy than writing because the excitement of writing the next book is never as thrilling as reading my fave’s next book. It’s just how it is. However, I do love to write and wouldn’t give it up for anything.
Except over the last few years, my excitement over writing and publishing has diminished significantly and I’m beginning to realize why. What I am presently seeing is an expectation from readers that I never saw coming. And it’s something that, as an author, I am not comfortable with. I can only speak for myself and my experiences, but it’s been my recent experience that readers aren’t just expecting that next book. They feel like it’s owed to them and are demanding immediate action. Their demands aren’t coming off as pleasant in an “I’m so excited about the next book” kinds of way. It’s more of an “I’ve been waiting too long now get off your ass, get your shit together, and write my book” sort of entitlement. Again, I’m not comfortable with that.
But since this is becoming a trend amongst the reading public, it begs the question of who do we write for and why do we write?
No author wants to risk losing readers who are genuinely interested in their writing and want to read more. But when readers are demanding sequels to stand alone novels or the continuation of a series that you’ve put to bed, what do you do? Do you bow under the pressure or continue to write what you want to write and write on your schedule?
Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer. However, I never thought I’d be getting emails telling me that I’m taking too long releasing a book that I never planned to write. I never thought that after pouring my heart and soul into a book, two weeks after it’s released, I’d have an inbox full of messages asking why I wrote that when they’ve been waiting on the sequel to another book (a sequel that I never mentioned was happening).
I have so many questions.
I understand that readers get caught up in characters and stories. But does purchasing and reading a book give anyone the right to demand that we write what the readers want? do we ignore the please for a sequel or a continuation of a series or do we give the readers what they want even though we aren’t fully invested in it? These questions plague me night and day.
If the author has moved on, how does he or she continue to bring their readers along the journey with them without bowing under the pressure of reader entitlement?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, reader and author alike, on this.