What are your intentions? By May.
Recently I read a short story that I quite enjoyed, and when I went to the author’s website to find out if there would be more (it was an Urban Fantasy type world), what her plans were, and if I could expect another installment soon I found nothing. No information at all other than the fact that the book in my hands was coming out. This got me thinking (and ranting to fellow Smexy reviewer Tori) about author intentions and I wanted to write up my thoughts on the subject. With any luck some authors will read this and help us readers out.
Right off the bat I must state that I do not ever believe any author owes me anything. I understand that things happen and life can change and that sometimes a book is delayed, or cancelled even. That said, I also know that somebody who is an author is publishing their books, most likely, as a means of income. It is a profession, authors create a product to sell, and I am a consumer of stories.
So as a consumer, I do like to know what I’m getting into. If I’m thinking about starting a series, trying a new book, or especially when I read a book I really like, I immediately visit the author’s website. I want to know if they have books I’m not aware of, what they’ll work on next, and generally any information I need to make note of for future reading goodness.
For example when I dove into Iced, I knew KMM wouldn’t be releasing the next book for about a year and that she had several books planned for Dani. When I picked up Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series book 1, I knew I could expect at least a few books and that it would be much darker than her previous series. In other words, the authors made it clear not only what I could expect from the current book, but what kind of a timeline and general number of books I was looking at.
A few months back I read an interview with an author of a romance series that irritated me. Let’s just say that she made it clear that the star-crossed lovers that show up in most of her books and that seem to be at the heart of her series don’t have a clear HEA timeline, she didn’t say when she’d get to their story, for that matter I don’t think she confirmed they’d HAVE a story. Well now hang on. The real heart of this series for me is these two people, and you’re telling me you can’t give me some idea of your plan? Or even make me feel there is one outside “make this series last long as possible”?! Well let me tell you if I had any inkling I was going to be teased and the mystery/drama/romance was going to be drug out over an indefinite number of books that feel increasingly weak and with less and less interesting characters I never would have started.
Being upfront about what you intend to do not only makes me happy from a “I have the insider scoop” standpoint, but it also lessens the chance that I’m going to one day be an irate reader/customer who feels taken advantage of.
If you’re building a series that is very in-depth, that will take place over multiple books, and that has a very distinctly connected plan, I’m going to need a bit more information from you. Especially if this is an UF or PNR or otherwise tightly knit series, or a contemp/historical series with a tightly connected overall story arc, I need to be clued into your plans. Whether it is a trilogy that will be released over the course of three years, or you have a five-book contract but hope to write beyond that, whatever your general plan is, whatever basic information you can share is helpful. Not only am I investing time in reading your series, but money on buying the books too so I do look for details that will help me decide what series I should (and shouldn’t) invest in.
This could be done by having an “about” page for the series, a FAQ page, or just a “thanks for visiting my site, here’s what I’m working on…” type paragraph or two that you keep as up-to-date as possible. Even if the note is “I’m writing the next book, expect it in a 2014”, or “at this time I am developing a new series, more information to come this summer” this is information I want.
Basically, as a reader, I want to know your intentions. The more clearly labeled and upfront, the better! I understand that things can happen, contracts can fall through, life challenges can put things way behind. I’m not asking for promises or guarantees.
If you’re an author, what you need to remember is that I am not just a fan, not just a reader, I’m your customer. You should not assume I am following you on social media outlets or that I read your blog- after all I might have just discovered you! I do not have time to dig through all your past posts to find a nugget of information about your future plans either.
So please, for my sanity as a book lover and as one of your valued customers, throw me some info and let me know what your intentions are. It is much appreciated, and knowing what you have planned for our author/reader relationship in the future makes me happy and you’d better believe I make notes of upcoming releases and books to watch for.