Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Today's Big News & a Question About Book Loyalty

Posted by Simcha 4:19 PM, under | 13 comments

Today's big news, which has been circulating throughout the SFF world, is Patrick Rothfuss's long-awaited announcement of the publication date for The Wise Man's Fear, the sequel to The Name of The Wind.

Rothfuss fans have been waiting almost three years for this book, which had an initial release date in 2008, but they may be disappointed to learn that it will still be another year before The Wise Man's Fear will actually be available. While Rothfuss is certain he will be able to finish by September, the book won't be hitting stores until March 1st, 2011.

So that’s part of the news, that I’ll be finished writing The Wise Man’s Fear by September.

But here’s the rest of the news: that means that the book can’t come out until March of 2011.

Why? Well, for a bunch of reasons. Mostly because there are a lot of things that have to happen before a mass of text becomes a printed book on a shelf. It needs to be copy edited. The edits need to be confirmed. It needs to be proofed, checked for consistency, fiddled with. Fonts need to be chosen. It needs to go through layout. Then it needs to be proofed again. Marketing needs to happen. It needs to be sent to reviewers, and the reviewers need to have time to read it before they write the reviews. It needs to be put into catalogs of to-be-published-books so people who run bookstores can learn about it and order copies for their stores. It needs to be printed, boxed, warehoused, shipped. We need to sacrifice a black she-goat and pray to strange and terrible gods. Then we need to proofread again.

A lot of these steps are going to take longer than normal because my book is 2-3 times longer than most ordinary novels. Other things are going to take longer because this book is kinda important to a lot of people, and we want to make sure everything gets done just right.

While I loved The Name of the Wind and am eager to read its sequel, I just can't get excited about a book that doesn't come out for almost a whole year. I understand that writing a book is a difficult task and I don't think authors should sacrifice the quality of writing in order to rush their books to publication, but still, four years between books is a really long time. And I believe there is supposed to be another book after this one, which means that with the current time table the trilogy won't be completed until 2015.

Back in my pre-book blogging days I would have lost interest in an author whose series took so long to complete. I never even finished Kate Elliotts Crown of Stars series, which I had loved, because by the time the last book was released I had forgotten all the details of the story and I didn't have the inclination to read the whole series again. There are a few other book series that I can think of which ran for so long that I never ended up finishing them.

While I'm not one to give an author a hard time about their writing schedule, I am curious as to how Rothfuss manages to maintain a steady following when the only book he published came out years ago. I'm also surprised with his popularity as an author with only one published book to his name. It think this is unusual, no?

So while I loved The Name of the Wind, I'll probably end up putting off reading The Wise Man's Fear until the whole trilogy is complete, just so that I don't have to keep waiting between books. And right now, I don't even mind. It's right after I finish a book that I feel the overwhelming desire to immediately read the sequel. But this desire fades over time until the urgency has dulled, which is fine for me but I can't imagine it's good for the author.

How do you feel about long-running book series? Do you maintain your loyalty to authors and series of books even when you have to wait a substantial amount of time between books?

13 comments:

I'm sort of the same way you are about long-running book series. It gets hard for me to remember all the details, which in turn makes it hard for me to finish.
I've never heard of this series, but it sounds good, so maybe I should wait until it's done (if ever) and then check it out.

I agree and I understand the "remembering all the details" argument but sometimes you can refresh your mind without re-reading the whole series. Some authors add "what happened before" at the start or throughout the book (even though I don't usually like that) and you can even find good summaries on the web.

I don't really mind the waiting with so many series to read and although 3 or 4 years will really erase some details from memory, the book can still be worth it.

hi simcha! hope you're having a great week so far! i'm totally with you on the whole waiting for a very long time thing... you do forget details and sometimes there's just no time or i don't want to reread. if i have to wait more than a year between books in a series, i just lose interest. now that i'm blogging i'm exposed to more books that's coming out and creating buzz--by the time a series book is published i have moved on to other books.

I have to agree. When there's a long time between books in a series (Tad Williams Shadowmarch series is another example) I'll end up waiting until they're all published before I buy them. And sometimes I never will get around to them at all. That can't be so good for the author's bottom line I imagine.

That does seem like a long time to wait, and it doesn't help that from the time a book is done until it is on the shelves is a reeeally long time in the publishing industry. All those steps are important (except for the goat sacrifice). I can't help thinking that some of this will change once e-books become more prevalent.

The only series that I ever avidly followed was the Harry Potter series. I could not wait for the next one and it seemed like ages between books - because I'd read each one the night I got it. If I had found out that it would be three years between books? I'd still line up at midnight to buy the next one whether it was one year or three years in between.

I do think it is hard to keep up with series when they are drawn out through long periods of times. But I also am finding I am having a hard time with keeping up with the series with books out every few months. I like that I don't have to wait long to get them, but I am having a hard time keeping up with them as well. It is starting to catch up with me. :) But 3 years is a long time with the cliffhanger like this one. I am kind of up in the air on it.

I don't really mind waiting, because I like to space out the different books in a series. I need to change things up in between books :)

Brizmus: The Name of the Wind was one of my favorite fantasy reads and I highly recommend it, though if you don't want to wait six years for the story to be completed, you might to wait.

Phil: I suppose you can browse through the previous books to refresh your memory, but after four or so years it would really be a struggle to regain the connection with the characters and a sense of what took place, from the previous books. I'm not saying I wouldn't read the sequel, but my enthusiasm for it would have faded over time.

Chelleyreads: That's also true. There are so many new books coming out all the time that I think an author who takes too long to produce a new book risks losing his footing in the publishing market.

FairiesNest: That's my assumption as well. I would think author would lose out if they don't provide readers with books more quickly, in a long-running series. I've also completely forgotten about authors whose works I had at one time really enjoyed, just because the series took too long to complete and I never ended up finishing it

Susan Quinn: Rothfuss makes a point of explaining the different steps involved in publishing books to help readers understand why the process takes so long. I imagine this helps somewhat. But I think many of these steps are still present in releasing an ebook, no?

StephanieD: Yes, the Harry Potter books did garner some real loyalty from readers, which was fully deserved. How long was it between each Harry Potter book?

Melissa: I don't remember there being a cliffhanger at the end of The Name of the Wind. If there were I would have really been irritated, particularly since you know that if an author does it once he will probably do it again. It's true that having space between each book gives readers time to catch up with all their other reading, though too much time can just cause readers to forget.

Carrie: As I commented above, to Melissa, I can see that point of view. Though I still prefer less time between books. Gail Carriger is somehow managing to release her books within months of each other, which is good considering how her last one ended. I just hate finishing a book, knowing that it will be years until the story is actually completed.

In conclusion, I think fantasy authors need to start making an effort to produce single volume stories. Authors of every genre manage this, why not here as well?

Simcha Yes, many of the same processes are present in an e-book: editing, layout, design, cover, marketing. I'm not sure if the actual printing of the books is the difference or if it's more of a mindset: E-publishing companies are smaller, more nimble perhaps? Traditional print publishing companies are larger, more bound to the print edition (even if they produce e-books as well)? I'm not sure the difference, but my first book is coming out with an e-publisher and the turn around is going to be about 6 mos, compared with about 12-18 mos for a print publisher. (Also: my e-publisher also does print, but it's small run or print-on-demand)

I guess it wasn't really a cliffhanger, as much as it was just an uncompleted story. I wanted to know what happened with the girl, why Kvothe ended where he did, and what about the scathes that are attacking travelers. I just need to know the end of the story. Oh, and the sword - how did he get that? :)

Susan: Congratulations on your upcoming book! That's very exciting. Six months for an ebook sounds like a lot of time. I supposed I had assumed that an ebook would arrive in reader's hands faster, but if a book is taking years to be produced, then that's the writer's doing.

Melissa: Well I guess you see my problem now when it's been only a few months since I read The Name of the Wind and none of the events that you mention ring a bell :) But I guess this means that even had Rothfuss published the sequel after only a year, I would still have to reread the first book to refresh my memory.

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