Impatient readers. A gift or a burden?

You know what I love more than anything in the world? Realizing at 8 pm the night before a blog post is due that I haven’t written it yet! This week has been just a crazy time with some personal issues, a cat that won’t let me sleep, and a maintenance man in our bathroom. I’m exhausted, and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t get much done on my book this week. I stalled out around 64k and I need to dig my heels in and get it finished if I want to meet my goal of the middle of December. For the first time in forever I don’t have the next book planned, so I may actually take that break I wrote about 6 books ago. Maybe.

What was interesting this week is a little drama over on the Nora Roberts blog. She released a first in a trilogy (which apparently ended in a cliffhanger) and already her readers are clamoring for the second. The comments on the blog got a little heated, and Nora and her publicist Laura shut it down pretty quickly:

For those of you who can’t read that one of her readers says: NR trilogies used to be published all in one year a month apart. now they are a year apart.
what the heck

Her publicist, Laura, came back with: The trilogies are longer, more complicated books. Nora needs the time to write them.

And Nora herself said: I did the three in three months in paperback trilogies once or twice. That schedule was by no means usual or regular. As it was, doing that cramped my writing schedule and seriously impacted my personal life.

I can’t write that fast!!!

It takes time to write, and it takes a lot of time to write these longer, more complex hardcover trilogies.

It does take time to write. Anyone who has written a book knows that. And the more subplots that are interwoven into the main plot, the more complicated and more time consuming it is. I’ve read several of Nora’s trilogies and she has each book with it’s own plot that gets tied up at the end but also an overarching plot that gets resolved at the end of book three. Those take time to plan.

You can dig through all of the discussion here, if you want.

The discussion upset Nora so much she had to write a blog post about it to, I don’t know. Defend herself, I guess. And in reality, does she have anything to apologize for? She publishes under Nora and her pen name, JD Robb, and her blog post says she write four books a year. That is more than some indies who aren’t under any publishing constraints.

And then Debra has a whole article written about her, and I happened to find her comment going deeper in to The Awakening thread:

Nora’s response is long and available at this article or in The Awakening comment thread I posted the link to earlier in the blog, but I’ll copy and past it here for fun.

Nora: I have personally explained the process to you, Debra. You are not stating facts but opinions. But you continue to contradict me, as you apparently think you know more about publishing than I do, and more than the industry professionals I work with.

FACT: Publishing the trilogy a year apart is not a marketing strategy. 

I haven’t finished writing the second book, and won’t begin to write the third until next fall. 

Your opinion that the publisher should wait a year or two—holding a completed ms, or two —is in fact not how publishing works. 

You’re not commenting, but contradicting and insisting against every fact given you that you’re right and I’m wrong, that Laura’s wrong, that everyone who disagrees with you is wrong.

Once again, I ask: Do you work in publishing?

If so you’d know that in order to publish a major release in less than 6-8 months means serious added cost—it’s called crashing for a reason.

This is not how the process is intended to work or should.

You can keep insisting you’re right, you know better than I do how publishing works. 

But that won’t turn your opinion into a fact.

The most interesting part though, is Debra’s opinion on the publishing industry:

Debra: Please stop making comments on a blog about the publisher setting release dates according to their timeline and not considering the customer? What is wrong with suggesting that the publisher can alter a release schedule? They can and they do. Many times. Assuming that just because we read Nora’s books we have no idea about anything that a publisher does is insulting. It is a business. It should consider its customer. Without the customer there is no business. This is business 101. I am sorry that you do not want me to state facts. Publishers can and do publish books in less than 6-8 months. Fact. It does not have to affect Nora’s writing time. Fact. A publisher does sit on MS’s when it is prudent or they are waiting for an event before they release. Fact. Publishing trilogies a year apart is simply a marketing strategy. Fact. I am reading the book for a second time. Fact. I will read it again before the next book drops. Fact. That does not mean I cannot comment on the fact that the publisher, that controls the release date, cannot change the release dates. If you do not want people to post facts-do not have a blog open for comments.

Of course, I don’t agree with her going off the rails on Nora Roberts. Nora does what her publisher tells her to do, and that’s it. All Nora cares about is writing a good book, and she does. Four times a year.

But what this does tell me is that Debra reads a lot of small press and indie. Indies and small presses who have a lot more flexibility in their publishing schedules. Indies who write books, save them up, and rapid release them especially so their whale readers can binge an entire series in one sitting. This is definitely a different kind of publishing than what Nora does, and quite honestly, I’m expecting the worlds to collide more frequently as more and more authors turn indie and more and more readers grow aware of that fact.

Debra has forgotten that even though Nora finishes a book she’s put into a queue same as other authors. With cutbacks there are fewer editors who edit the books, and her cover artist isn’t solely working on her book. Indies are in charge of their own editing schedules and buying a premade for a book cover doesn’t have much of a wait time involved.

Where does that leave us? Especially those of us who write romance? When customer demand outweighs supply, that can be a good thing, right? Except when indies try to write ten books a year and get burnt out on reader expectation.

Sometimes the customer isn’t always right. Sometimes she’s a Karen who feels entitled to getting what she wants when she wants it. I’ve seen that behavior more than ever before with COVID and the horrible things some authors have said about KDP (Amazon’s POD service) and IngramSpark. They forget that these call centers and POD printers are run by people. People who may have gotten sick and need to go home and quarantine to get better and prevent others from getting sick. I’ve seen some nasty treatment of workers for the POD companies right now and it’s disheartening. A sick employee doesn’t GAF where your proof is, Karen.

Indies are the same. We get sick. We have to look after sick family members, not just in COVID times, but all the time. Some of us still have day jobs and we write when we can. Some of us write through pain of carpal tunnel or other illnesses like depression. Nora, in a previous blog post some time ago has said she has dental issues and finds herself in a dentist’s chair frequently. Having had a tooth pulled a couple months ago, I can agree that teeth issues are not fun.

I won’t even get into quantity over quality simply because yes, some authors do need time to daydream, take walks, think about their book and where they need it to go, what their characters are telling them. Just because I’m not sitting at my keyboard pounding out letters doesn’t mean I’m not in some capacity writing every single second of my day. And it’s exhausting.

Debra got a lot of flack online for trollsplaining to Nora Roberts, but I’m interested in what she’s saying, even if she could have put it in a nicer way. Indies are spoiling readers. They want what they want, and they get it. And if you sign up for an indie newsletter, you get more than just the books. You get excerpts of coming books, deleted scenes, novellas, just-for-newsletter subscribers short stories and in some cases character art, word searches, crossword puzzles, and coloring pages, exclusive giveaways. It takes a lot these days to keep a reader of indie books happy, and if you don’t believe me, read Debra’s comments again.

So far, I don’t have a readership clamoring for my books, but I don’t think it would be a bad thing. At least, not until I have a Debra trolling my website hounding me for the next book.

What do you think?

Happy Monday everyone! Have a great week!


11 thoughts on “Impatient readers. A gift or a burden?

  1. Wow! I can’t imagine cranking out books that fast. Mine take over a year from start to finish. Much longer if I count that my first published novel was a rewrite of a draft I wrote at 15.

    I enjoy your writing, Vania! Thank you for what you do!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You have to write how you have to write, and if that’s a book a year, so be it. You’ll train your readers to expect it. I’ve heard of lots of authors who feel pressured to crank out books because they trained their readers to expect that productivity. Reader demand is a double-edged sword, for sure. I hope you’re doing well, and thanks for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Vania – Thanks for recapping this blog. I’d heard about the Nora/Debra thing but hadn’t had time to look into it. This whole conversation makes me think of a Maya Banks book that has been postponed for over ten years… Highland Ever, it’s one of her historicals. My suspicion is there is some legal thing in the traditional publishing world holding the book up. And I agree that as more traditional authors go to Indie, the lines of who publishes the book (the author vs. a publisher) are blurred.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are in a very interesting time of publishing, for sure! And I think part of Nora’s (or Debra’s) problem is that she ended her book with a cliffhanger. Readers are willing to wait for the next book, but we’ve all been warned not to end a book with a cliffhanger unless the book will soon be released. Nora can afford to have readers mad at her. For every one who is angry, there are 20 who will give her space. Authors just starting out aren’t as lucky. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  3. I’ve encountered impatient readers and I’ve been an impatient reader, but I believe in the end, it’s understood that books take time to write and publish, and life can/does happen.

    I’d hazard a guess that “Debra” is simply the confrontational type, obsessed with arguing her point, determined to be right. I applaud Nora for entertaining and tolerating her as long as she did, even though her frustration was evident.

    Writing is hard enough. No one needs troublesome “fans.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Cliffhangers. Are they a good thing or do they spell trouble? | Vania Margene Rheault

  5. I haven’t had trolls impatient for my work and I hope it will not happen. Because I legally cannot publish for another year, at least…! XD

    Good article, Vania! An expose that opens eyes for indie and traditional authors alike!

    Liked by 1 person

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