A Letter to Epic Fantasy Readers: I know Rothfuss and Martin hurt you, but it’s time to get over it and move on.

Consider this an intervention.

Listen, epic fantasy readers, real talk time. I know you had a good thing going with George. At the beginning of your relationship there seemed like there was so much potential there, like he really cared, and he’d provide a satisfactory end to your relationship. Only George is fat and lazy, and once he got that sweet sweet HBO money, he didn’t need you anymore. So then you turned to Pat, only he was even sleazier, gas lighting you, promising you a new chapter if you paid his rent, stringing you along for a decade.

So now you’re bitter because you’ve been burned by these two bums. No more abusive relationships for you! All men… er, I mean, epic fantasy authors, are untrustworthy scum, who’ll never seal the deal, and you’re never gonna date/read again! You’re only gonna read epic fantasy series once they’re complete! I ain’t reading nothing unless they put a ring on it! That’s right, epic fantasy authors, don’t come sniffing around here unless your epic 5 or 7 book series is already done!

You sit there with the salty tears leaving mascara trails down your cheeks, drinking your box wine, bitterly posting about how all fantasy authors are trash and you’ll never try their books, because you’ve been burned before! And then you act surprised when no new epic fantasy writers show up to court you…

Alright, enough of that tortured analogy crap. Let’s get down to business.

George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss have totally fucked over an entire generation of new authors. That will be their real legacy. They wrote some books that got super popular. These books dominated their genres for a lot of years, and hundreds of thousands of readers were glued to them, waiting for the next installment. Only because they are both apathetic sacks of shit with zero work ethic, their fans have been left waiting for over a decade for them to fulfill their promises.

Only this post ain’t about them. I don’t know what makes up the assortment of their particular bag of nuts, or why they suck at doing their jobs now. As a writer who has retained his dairy farmer roots interpretation of what it means to have a work ethic, fuck those guys.

I’m here to talk about you. The readers. The customers. The folks who pay the bills and keep the publisher’s lights on.

Get over it.

I’ve written before about how the whole “unwritten contracts” thing between authors and fans is bullshit. They don’t owe you anything, but they made promises and burned them, so you’re right to be pissed at them.

Only you aren’t taking your anger out on them. Oh no. Thanks to HBO George has got Cheeto money until he dies. People still give Pat lots of money for some charity or something. Beats me.

The people who are getting fucked because of your righteous anger aren’t the assholes who let you down. It’s the entire generation of fantasy authors who came after them.

These authors haven’t wronged you, because you destroyed their careers before they even had the chance.  

This post came about because of some conversations I’ve had recently with a bunch of other fantasy authors, so once again it falls on me to be the one to tell people the ugly truth that everybody else is either too polite or scared to.

I had put up some goofy ass reviews from Amazon where various dipshits were whining about how they loved the book, but ONE STAR because the series wasn’t done yet, and something bad might happen that could prevent the series from getting finished.

Well no fucking shit. Forgive authors for not being immortal.  

Bragging about not trying new authors unless their series are finished has become stylish. It’s a fucking meme.

But anyways I ended up talking to a bunch of other authors about this, and it was the exact same thing across the board. They write an epic fantasy, and then people don’t buy it because they’re scared it isn’t going to get finished. This has even leaked over into sci-fi. I can’t speak for thrillers or other genres, and I can only hope that those authors aren’t getting burned too because their most famous guy turned to shit or died.

The issue is if nobody buys book 1, then I can absolutely fucking guarantee that the series isn’t gonna get done, because no author is stupid enough to waste a decade of his life not making any money, in the off chance you fickle bastards *might* give it a shot when he’s done.

Let me break this down for you.

Depending on authors, it takes about 6 months to a year of nonstop effort to produce a good epic fantasy novel. Some of us it takes a lot longer. (it doesn’t take any of us a decade, and whoever is telling you that is full of shit). We can make books faster, but the faster you rush an artistic product, the rougher it is gonna be. And epic fantasy is one of those genres where the customer is accustomed to a certain level of quality. So if you do the churn and burn, book of the month indy thing, you might get sales, but nobody is gonna remember that series. When most of us tackle a big epic fantasy series, that’s the thing we’re hoping will stick around and still get read after we’re dead.

Epic Fantasy is a genre that’s also based on fat books and long series. Both of which take time to create.

Now here’s the ugly facts of life. Let’s say there’s a new, unestablished author, who really wants to write an epic fantasy. Let’s even say he’s fucking brilliant. This guy is potentially the next Tolkien/Howard/Sanderson/Erickson/Donaldson/(insert whoever your favorite is here). He’s really that good. He sits in a chair for one year of his life, planning a five book series magnum opus, then pours thousands of hours into a manuscript and writes an epic fantasy novel that’s brilliant. It’s amazing. It’s fucking gold.

He publishes this amazing book… and then a bunch of snide fucks go hur dur I got burned by George RR Martin, so I’m not gonna give any new authors a chance, and that author with potential for greatness ranks in the two million range on Amazon and makes just enough money in sales off that year of labor to buy dinner at Applebee’s.

Now what are the odds this guy is gonna be able to spend another 8,000 hours of nearly unpaid labor to finish that series, while also being broke and poor?

Near zero.

I made one guarantee above. Here’s another. I can promise you with absolute certainty that there are some brilliant authors out there, who you will never read, and never see, and never hear of, because their careers died when their first book was a commercial failure. Whole careers were aborted before they ever had a chance to get started because the market is bitter at a couple of lazy fat fucks.

Just imagine the stories we have all been deprived of. The next Tolkien was right there. Only because you were ass mad at Patrick Rothfuss, Tolkien 2 had to hang up his dreams of being an author and go back to work at the RV dealership because he’s got alimony checks to pay.

This business is difficult to break into at the best of times. It’s harder when the customers are punishing the new guys because they’re pissed off at a billionaire with a stupid hat and scraggly beard.

Now full disclosure, because my regular detractors are gonna claim that this post is because I’m personally bitter, I’m doing fine. I’m 4 books into a 5 book epic fantasy, that’ll be 10 years from beginning to end, but it actually sells pretty good, and I’m successful in multiple genres already. I dodged the stupid Martin/Rothfuss kiss of death because I’ve been doing this long enough I had lots of fans I brought over from writing urban fantasy first. So when I get those whining crybabies talking about how they can’t read Son of the Black Sword until the whole series is done, that makes for amusing Facebook fodder for me to mock for the fans enjoyment, but it doesn’t make enough financial difference for me to actually give a shit.

Guys like me are fine.

Guys like Brandon Sanderson are SUPER FINE. Like piles of money fine. He’s built a fan base that trusts him. This is extra ironic because he owes his career to stepping in to finish another famous author’s series when he died. (and sadly I see assholes lumping Jordan in with Rothfuss and Martin… are you fucking kidding me? Jordan DIED. Rothfuss and Martin are alive but lazy. These things are not the same)

Guys who got established and built fan bases before GRRM smothered epic fantasy with a pillow are good to go.

But guys like I was talking to last week? The new guys? The guys who aren’t bringing thousands of readers with them already? They’re fucked.

I was talking to a friend of mine who just had book 1 of his epic fantasy come out last year. He got endless whining from entitled dicks about Rothfuss and Martin. His sales were okay, enough he can justify number 2 and hope it picks up. He’s one of the lucky ones. His publishing house now desperately picks up authors, tosses a book 1 out there in the hope it sticks, and when it usually doesn’t, the publisher just boots that author, then tries again with the new flavor of the week.

There’s another author I know who did a fantasy trilogy. His reviews and buzz were amazing. His covers were fantastic. Wide distro and good marketing. Book one sold meh. But he was in a financial position that he could keep pushing. Book two sold a bit better, and dragged book one up, as some more people thought okay maybe this guy isn’t a quitter. Again, he stuck it out because he could. Book three finished the trilogy, and then there was a huge spike. Sales took off, and the market breathed a sigh of relief and said, this guy isn’t Pat Rothfuss!

Well no shit. Because the vast overwhelming majority of us aren’t Pat Rothfuss. So quit fucking treating us like we are.

Now, imagine that last author wasn’t in a personal financial position where he could continue investing thousands of hours into labor into something which hadn’t had a positive ROI? Or what if it was supposed to be a 5 book series instead of 3? This arbitrary don’t buy until it is done nonsense, assures that the only people who can stick to it are people with a lot of money from something else… because gee whiz, when you think of the best authors in history, you think of the ones who were rich and sheltered trust fund babies with no life experience!

I’ve written something like 25 novels, 50 short stories, 6 novellas, edited 4 anthologies, and even wrote a non-fiction book about gun rights since George Martin’s last Game of Thrones novel came out, and I still have to listen to entitled dipshits act like I’m gonna suddenly hang it up tomorrow. Motherfucker, if I stop that suddenly it’s because I died, and in that case, oh well. Sorry. If you’re that much of a bitch about artists being human just program a chat bot to spit you out a trash book a day and shut the fuck up.

To those readers who aren’t perpetually aggrieved victims, get back out there. Please give new authors a shot again. Their series might not get finished. They might die. They might get a terminal illness. They might get shot by ATF agents for having a pistol brace on their bumpstock. The entire fucking Earth might get hit with a giant asteroid tomorrow.

But if you want more new good epic fantasy to read, you’re gonna have to take a gamble occasionally and buy some.  

This goes for sci-fi too, only they aren’t as infested with this toxic idiocy as fantasy. There’s fucking trashbags like David Gerrold, who started a hit series when I was in elementary school, but apparently it’s easier for him to beg for rent money on the internet in exchange for vague promises of finishing it, than it is to actually work for a living.

Every career field has shirkers, grifters, and beggars like that. Writers aren’t unique. Only you don’t assume that every roofer in the country is a lazy bastard who won’t finish the job, so you just let your roof keep leaking. No. You pick somebody who looks like they can provide a quality product and you roll the dice and hope they live up to expectations. If they don’t, you fucking move on, and hire somebody else. If no customers use them, they can’t stay in business and have to go do something different.

This is true of every business. Why would you expect books to be any different?

We recorded some episodes of WriterDojo last night and talked about this subject. Most of our episodes are light hearted and fun, but this one got a little grim at the end, because this subject is sad. Steve and I could talk about a few authors we know on the show, but during the break we thought of dozens of others who had gotten rolled up in this and broken. I’m talking amazing artists, who would have told wonderful stories. Only the whole world got deprived of their art, because too many of you are still hung up on some other assholes who dropped the ball.

That ain’t fair.

I try to help other authors, but I’m just one dude with very limited reach. I hate seeing good authors and newbs with great potential get fucked over for no good reason. I’m not writing this post out of anger. I’m writing it, begging you, the burned and bitter, to get back in the saddle and go find some new authors to give a shot.

They might suck. They might fail and let you down. They might have the audacity to have lives, or even die… the bastards. Or they might be awesome, and in a few years of practice because they’re able to make a living at this they might develop into your favorite author.

But you won’t know unless you try.

EDIT: adding the link to the post I talked about promises and expectations because some people have got really selective memories with their attempted gotchas.

A Capitalist Novelist’s Guide to Fan Expectations and How Not To Be A Douche

As for todays post:
Fans don’t owe writers anything.
Fans owe it to THEMSELVES to not let a genre they love die off because they were so pissed off at the last generation of producers they fuck over the new one. Duh.

WriterDojo S4 Ep15: Editorial Round Table (Round 1)
WriterDojo S4 Ep14: Science Fantasy

257 thoughts on “A Letter to Epic Fantasy Readers: I know Rothfuss and Martin hurt you, but it’s time to get over it and move on.”

  1. Points:
    I believe you rock at fantasy because you know so much about the real world. There are a lot of writers who have only attended school.
    You mentioned SRD… My heart has rooms that sigh with dust, and ashes in the hearth.
    It sounds to me like you are dealing with that fraction of the perpetually offended who read.
    I am damn sure not to complain about a wordsmith who can show me things I never imagined, including humor.
    The correct thing to do is not to whine about the future, but to cheer the delicious in hand!

      1. Sorry – Stephen R Donaldson, author of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, nine? volumes of the trials of a leprous, thoroughly unlikeable and occasionally evil person. Lots of people scoff because he has a ring, and Frodo did before him, but there are inventions Tolkien did not express, and his cast of characters is large and well-defined.

        He’s written Reave the Just and Other Tales, Mirror of her Dreams and A Man Rides Through, as well as others.

        1. He was a guest at our local con many years ago and I’ve never met anyone more cheerful and positive about seemingly everything.

          The contrast to Thomas Covenant was almost disturbing.

          1. Which is kind of weird since he have stated many times that Thomas Covenant and Angus Thermopyle were based on himself. Guess he channeled his negativity into his novels.

  2. How long does it take a person not writing before they aren’t considered an author anymore? Rothuss hasn’t published shit in a decade. To me, he quit being an writer and is nothing but a twitch streamer now begging for rent money.

    1. If you published something, you’re an author. That tag doesn’t go away. But neither is it magical fairy dust that implies anything. Authors can write good or bad stories. The point is to give them a try and see if you like it without waiting for the whole series.

    2. I’m guessing he might get off his ass when the GoH invites stop rolling in. He talks the craft well, but at some point you gotta produce.

  3. Can you let us know the the authors/series you referenced? The author who’s second book got picked up, and we’ll as the trilogy? I’d like to check them out.

    1. I, too, would like to know the authors’ names, please. And I own the first three Black Sword books but haven’t read them yet. Lame… but at least Larry got paid!

    2. Me, too. I am a huge fan of almost everything you have written. I can only believe that I would probably like anything you would recommend.

    3. Yes please!

      Throw those names out there. I like your recommendations. Sarah Hoyt gives good recommendations on her site too.

  4. I love your work Larry. I get your point. I buy your books. I do not understand why people would not give a new and interesting author a chance. Yes I am disappointed that Rothfuss and Martin have not finished their series, but that does not take away my enjoyment of their earlier works. I am eagerly awaiting the next Monster Hunters book in the series. Bloodlines left so many questions unanswered! Target rich environment indeed. Am I angry at you for writing other great books? Not at all! Keep up the good work and keep making bank on sales my friend. And keep posting your videos!

  5. Thank you for writing this!
    I got caught up on this when I wrote my first trilogy and I was even told by my fans that Rothfuss was the reason and WOW was I pissed. I almost quit writing. Even after Jerry Pournelle gave me a 5 star review on it!

    As it is, I left content out of the third book so I could get it done faster, just because I’d promised I’d do it. Not that I expected anyone to buy it, because you know they’re gonna FORGET all about your trilogy and not come back to see if it’s done or not.
    And they didn’t. Sales on it sucked (at first) so I told everyone it was a dead world and I wouldn’t write in it ever again.

    Thankfully, because I’ve got a lot of other stuff out there now and that trilogy is still sitting in my back list, it’s getting read and sales have picked up enough that I no longer regret writing it. But honestly, it sucked so badly getting painted with that same brush. Sadly too many people STILL feel that way because of those two assholes. It really does suck.

    1. Aaaaaaaand now I’m adding your book to my Amazon list. 🙂 I usually go by trusted authors’ recommendations (or comments section) to find new authors (don’t have that trust-fund piggybank to just throw money at every new book that sounds vaguely interesting only to find out it was kludged together by a middle-school dropout on a pirated copy of MS Works 98).

      I miss Larry’s BookBombs. Found some gems that way!

    2. Yeah, I’ve watched a lot of people over the years pass over the first two books in my Sci-Fi trilogy because “I don’t read incomplete trilogies.” It had stellar reviews, sold great, but one of the crowning reasons it was snubbed by a lot of readers, some of which said it to my face, was the whole attitude of “It’ll probably never be done, and I won’t read until it’s complete.”

      Well, the whole trilogy was completed last year, but I never heard back from many of those “readers.” They forgot about it, and that’s their loss.

      But it’s my loss too. Simply because they couldn’t get over the hangup of a few big names in the industry not delivering.

      Is life really so meaningless that you can’t read a book and then wait for the next one to come out? The attitude is bad for the book industry as a whole.

      1. I am a fairly prolific fantasy/sci-fi reader. I think one challenge is just finding the content because there is so much. I like Larry’s site b/c he does shout-outs to newer authors. I also find great recommendations in the comments. Sometimes finding a new author is just happenstance.

        I just bought your trilogy b/c I was looking for a new series. I just finished the 3rd Leif the Lucky book and the latest Forgotten Ruin book. So don’t lose hope–people are looking for good reads.

          1. Sorry. Starman’s Saga: The Long Strange Journey of Leif the Lucky by Colin Alexander. There’s three books in the series so far. I classify it as “hard” sci-fi. Really great characters and premises.

      2. I’m sorry I hadn’t heard of it before. Chalk up another trilogy of sales.

        I got over the entire incomplete series in the early 80s… An author by the name of Michael Kring had a trilogy called “The Space Mavericks”. And I truly enjoyed both books. I never found out what happened to the third, but I could only assume he passed, and was sorry for it. Didn’t regret buying the first two at all, and really, more sorry that the author was lost before he finished the story than that I didn’t get the 3rd book.

        Never held me up on buying into a new series after that. The only one I truly regret buying into was “Kell’s Legend”, which was a painfully bad rip of David Gemmell’s “Legend”.

    3. Just ordered Portals of Infinity Book One. I’m looking forward to reading it. Which trilogy are you referencing in your comment?

    4. Not sure which of his series that John is referencing, but I can recommend without hesitation his Portals of Infinity series, and with slight hesitation (harem, a little lit RPG) his two Valens series published under the name Jan Stryvant.

  6. I think the only series John Ringo has actually finished is the books he wrote in your MHI universe. Every other series is still hanging in mid air. Have I given up on him? Hell no. Even without an ending, all of his series have been worth reading. I’m now one of the paying subscribers on his Substack. It’s like reading history. Where does history end? As long as the story is good, I’ll keep reading.

    1. Agreed! John’s work is worth every dime I pay for it! People who worry about series being tied up never dealt with favorite shows on TV being canceled with cliffhangers unresolved, like back in the old days.

      1. Or waiting for a new chapter from a serialized series, whatever form that takes. Sometimes authors have RWP’s they need to take of, just like the rest of us. Vacations, family time, health problems and many others.
        Try following a web novel or manga for years, some are released every weekday, once a week, twice a month, once a month or longer apart for a single chapter that may only be some connecting details for the next chapter.
        As much as I like reading big novels, I have come to realize I enjoy the daily/weekly/monthly quite a bit more. Finding websites like RoyalRoad, while far from perfect, allows for new authors to just write and self publish to see if their story gains traction or not and allows them to get feedback relatively easy from their readers. It makes it easy for publishers to choose a story they want to put into print or audio book. That is all based on the readers and their feedback. Sometimes if it comes early enough, a readers suggestion helps shape the story.

    2. Technically? the original Alldenata series was finished, as was the Cally’s War and Council Wars series. just because the Alldenata books are being fit into a larger set of books doesn’t mean that those series weren’t finished…

      1. And if you extrapolate from the epilogue from “Watch on the Rhine” then the “Eye of the Storm” arc is also finished. Characters alive in WotR are alive at the end of EotS and we meet them in the epilogue.

        John’s just left out ‘the fiddly bits’ to the Hedron War.

      2. Hedren War
        Eye of the Storm (2009);
        Ringo left us hanging with this one.
        BUT…he’s given us other good works. I’m disappointed to not finish the Hedren War but won’t abandon him as an author.
        GRR Martin however, blech!

    3. Nah, he finished the Live Free Or Die trilogy too, as I recall. (Yes, I know the series is called Troy Rising, but half the time I remember the title of the first book of the series better than the series title as a whole.) Sure, a fourth book in the series would be fun, but I believe he intended it as a trilogy, and wrote all three books.

      But yeah, I don’t hold off on reading new series from unknown authors, but these days I do tend to hold off on reading a new Ringo book unless I know the series is complete. Ringo, unlike Rothfuss and Martin, has a real work ethic, but his muse is a fickle wee beastie that scurries off to hide in corners at the drop of a hat. You’re quite right, even his incomplete series are worth it, but I’ve gotten a bit tired of waiting for the next Vorpal Blade book to drop, that’s all.

      Though watch me: he’ll start a new series and I’ll forget what I just said and dive into it as soon as book one comes out, just watch me.

      P.S. Oh yeah, he finished the March Upcountry / Empire of Man series, too. Feels like there’s more story to be told, but it wraps up at a satisfying point rather than ending on a cliffhanger.

      1. I loved that series! We Few was a pretty solid ending, but I would have loved another book on how he puts down the civil war and keeps from having a war with the other empire at the same time.

      2. I would also chime in that there could be a lot more after Princess of Wands and Queen of Wands but IIRC from MHI:Grudge intro he basically said he gave up on Barbara Everette to write in the MHI universe instead.

        Those two books are still well worth the read. The only series of Ringo’s I feel is well and truly “hanging” is the Looking Glass (Vorpral Blade) series.

    4. Now, now, John Ringo finished his Dark Tide Rising zombie apocalypse series, too. A lot more could be written there, but the end is not left dangling. Mike Massa and Charles Gannon have also written in that universe. It’s loaded with rich ore.
      Zathras used to being beast of burden for other people’s needs.
      Very sad life. Probably have very sad death.
      But, at least there is symmetry.


    This exact same argument is one you ahve taken plenty of time to destroy from the other side.

    Rothfuss and GRRM are on the top of the genre? because they are waht the genre had to offer, something better out there? We would not be waiting for these two dumb fucks if there was. You mentioned Sanderson, he is in the middle of writing a MASSIVE epic fantasy that sells like hot cakes. Your argument is weak, and is pointing fingers at consumer for not buying something that they don’t want. Sorry, not their fault. Should they all buy an electric stove and a Tesla too?

    Sorry YOUR field/genre has been ruined by these two but it is not the consumers problem to fix. We buy what we want, and you are butt hurt that we don’t want epic fantasy because its not worthwhile for the most part. OH WELL.

    1. Well that was a whole lot of missing the point.
      This is the jaw dropping super argument refutation you were crying about in several more posts because I went and ate lunch before approving new posts? 😀

    2. Now that we’ve moved past the part where you don’t understand how blog comments work, let’s get into the meat of why what you’re staying is stupid.
      I’m not “blaming the fans”. I’m telling some of the fans that their idea is stupid and wrong, and they’re missing out by artificially limiting what they read based on a dumb idea.
      But then again, I’m not the one who dishonestly tried to distill a 2000 word letter into “ITS THE FANS FAULT, REEEEE.”
      Next, there is lots of stuff out there better, which languishes in obscurity for all the reasons I just listed, so your bit about how you wouldn’t be waiting if those dumb fucks were all there was is clearly wrong and stupid.
      And bringing up a guy who I mentioned, and used an example as someone who bucks this trend, doesn’t make my argument weak. It just means you don’t read good. 😀 I specifically said guys like me are fine, and guys like Brandon are doing better than fine. I’m the 1%. He’s the .001%. It is pretty obvious to anybody who isn’t too dumb to understand how blog comment approval works that I ain’t concerned about the 1% on up.
      Your closing line is stupid for the reasons I already pointed out.
      And you seriously thought that was some kind of rhetorical master stroke that I was scared of? That was more you offering an uneducated opinion about how you don’t think I should have strong opinions about my own career field.

      1. Seriously, how fucking stupid do you have to be to make the argument “Brandon Sanderson sells a lot” as a response to a post where somebody says “despite a few guys selling a lot, all the new guys who’d make up the next generation are getting fucked over” and think that’s scoring points?
        Fucking duh.

        1. Anyone who can use the word “abjectly” properly most certainly did not fail English class. The idiot who can’t spell out “kind of”, however…

  8. There’s a lot of decent, successful, long-running fantasy and SF novels out there. Not the best writing or plots, but fun to read.

    They’re written by guys with names like “Miyazaki” and “Omori,” though, and the wait for translation from Japanese is a bit annoying.

  9. Hi please approve my comment above which completely counters this silly post and argument. I love Larry, but if he cant handle that tiny amount of push back he is a weak, weak man, pretending not to be.

    1. Yes, I am a weak man, hurt by blog comments from meaningless internet randos OR WordPress software defaults to first time posters requiring moderator approval.
      Gee whiz. I wonder which it could be, dumbfuck. 😀

      1. The two points are not mutually exclusive. Nobody can be a genius in all things⁽*⁾ but we still find people lovable for what they are geniuses (genusi??) in.

        (*) Except Isaac Asimov, and none of us are Isaac Asimov.

        1. That might work in other contexts, like recognizing that someone who’s great at one skill is bad at others.

          But when his entire point is mocking the man and saying that he’s pathetic, I don’t think there’s much “love” going around.

  10. At this point, I feel as though people just use it as a justification to ignore books. “Oh, this first book reviewed really well? Well it’s probably going to never finish, and I only buy finished series.”

    “Second book is out and reviewing better? I only read finished series, sorry.”

    “It’s finished? But are you sure? It probably isn’t. Besides, I don’t know if I can commit to something that’s three books long…”

    I do agree it’s become a damaging attitude in the market, though to me it just feels like an excuse to avoid the new in a vaguely hipsterish way.

    Leaving 1-star reviews for moronic reasons like “but what if the author isn’t immortal” is pretty stupid, though.

    Ultimately, people who whine about a book coming out in segments, but promise they’ll buy it all when it’s done are similar to, in my experience, the people who beg over and over “if you just write X I’ll read it.” They’re never buying it, because they don’t care. If they did, they’d read what was there.

    1. “A justification to avoid books”

      Hey man why dont you read epic fantasy?

      I dont like it and it isnt worth my time.

      What a lame justification.

      1. The only time I’m going to think twice about buying a book in a series that interests me is when I find book two, or five, or whatever, and can’t find book one. I don’t necessarily care about finding the last ones, it’s getting the first few so I can read them in order.

    2. I agree, but I have to say that I have definitely waited for a series to finished before reading it. Not because I was worried that the author was too lazy or that they might be abducted by aliens, but because I just don’t want to wait until the next book comes out. Normally, I’ll wait until there is at least one or two books available after the first before I buy the first. Nothing worse than being really into a series, finish the book and then have to wait a year.

      Why can’t more authors be content creating robots!? I keed, I need.

    3. I mostly agree.

      People are the most vehement when lying to themselves.
      Ten years ago, I loved me a goatgagger. Now? Not so much.
      Part of it, is that I have much less free time.
      But the shameful, larger, part is that I no longer have the attention span for it.
      With the smartphone epidemic, I’m pretty sure that’s fairly widespread. And that many people would reach for a flimsy excuse rather than admit it to themselves.

  11. China Mike Glyer fondles donkey balls. I know that loser scrolls through here looking for fodder to publish for his Chinese click farm of a readership.

    Donkey. Balls.

  12. I also would love to know the authors you mentioned. I am always looking for good new fantasy series and would love to throw some money at them

    1. Some recommendations for “new” authors.

      — Marc Alan Edelheit (Military Fantasy. Romans, Elves, Dwarves, Dragons, Orcs and Gnomes)
      — Christopher Nuttall (both SF and Fantasy. And a one-man book a month club. Easy, light reads, but keeps you busy)
      — Evan Currie (not quite as prolific as Nuttall, but similarly versatile, both SF and Fantasy, usually Science Fantasy)
      — Charles Gannon (started writing with Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire… as of Flint’s passing and last years DC, he was probably editing it for the then time being. Caine Riordan series is good SF, in a kind of Larry Niven melded with James Bond mode. Has spinoffs from other milfic guys)
      — Taylor Anderson (Alt History, kinda-sorta. The inflection point is via the dino killer not hitting, and humans never developing. LOOONG series and the first two books of a prequel series.
      — Jack Campbell (not sure if he’s “new”, as he’s been writing for about 20y, but he’s pretty good milfic)

      — Dennis E. Taylor (The Bobiverse)
      — Daniel Wilson (Robopocalypse)

      If you like Larry, chances are you’ll like some of the above, esp. MAE, Anderson, and Campbell, but the others, too. A lot of Nuttall’s SF is milfic, as is Currie’s main series, Odyssey.

      That’s probably more than 100 books, so it should keep you busy for a year or two. ;-P

  13. Here’s the thing I am an avidly voracious reader. I even read the terms and condition crap if I don’t have anything else to read. I only get pissed of when the author SAYS that they have the next book written and it is in the process of editing which is what both of the scumbags did. I bought Elantris when it first came out in hardback based on the dust jacket blurb and Warbreaker which is also a stand alone by Brandon Sanderson. So as long as the author is not feeding me a line of BS saying they have already written the next book I won’t avoid buying their books because there is nothing worse than a reading junkie without reading material

  14. Lets try again. Find out what kind of guy you are.

    Larry, your own blog is full of posts railing against this logic.

    Blame the fans? The genre is not fun, exciting, and, most importantly, worthwhile, anymore.

    It is not the consumers job to fix your product. Improve your product, or we do not want it. That is all.

    1. The genre is like any other. Some books are amazing, some suck and some are in between. And not everyone can agree. I read Rothfuss’s first book and I found it boring (regularly fell asleep while listening to it on Audible). No interest in the rest of the series and likely anything else he has to write.

      Assuming you’re new here trying to call out the ILOH. Getting popcorn and a drink to see how that turns out for you.

    2. “Lets try again.”
      Says the guy mistaking WordPress spam filters for first time email IDs, for some kind of cowardice.

      “Find out what kind of guy you are.”
      Lol. You’re fittn’ learn.

      “Larry, your own blog is full of posts railing against this logic.”
      Only if you are too stupid to grasp what I’m talking about every time, and I even referenced the other famous post about fan expectations and unwritten contracts being imaginary.
      Fans don’t owe the authors anything. (which is another reason I didn’t name any authors in this to stop low IQ dipshits from screaming about me shilling for anyone in particular, but that is secondary to not drawing collateral damage against any innocent bystanders by the supporters of the big names I’m insulting)
      However, that doesn’t mean fans are always right. And in this particular case a great many of them are doing something stupid that’s damaging the genre they claim to like
      So they don’t owe any particular author anything, but if they like the genre like they claim, then they owe it to THEMSELVES to not assume everybody is Martin, while starving off all their future talent.

      “The genre is not fun, exciting, and, most importantly, worthwhile, anymore.”
      And what do you base that on?
      Rothfuss and Martin?
      Because while you’re whining about my supposed lack of moral consistency because you’re too stupid to keep up, I’m the guy who has spent years telling people that there is lots of stuff in genre which is not the approved dreck. So now you’re gonna cry to me that it’s all dreck? Fuck off with that recursive nonsense.

      “It is not the consumers job to fix your product.”
      I didn’t say it was. What an incredibly stupid point.
      I am actually sad for you that you thought this was some kind of strong rhetorical gotcha.
      There’s good product out there not in need of fixing, but a big segment of the market isn’t looking at it because they’re too fixated on a couple other famous dumbasses.

      “Improve your product, or we do not want it.”
      Please point out at what point in my blog post did I say anything about a lack of quality from any of these authors?
      Meanwhile, I’m the one who knows more fans, readers, and writers, telling you how it is in real life, while your dumb ass is barking at me about how you don’t understand how WordPress works.

      “That is all.”
      So you bumblefucked up everything, tried to start some shit, made up some strawmen, missed the fucking point, and then complained about points I never made.
      Well fucking done. Golf clap for you.

        1. Ah, but you must not have truly immersed yourself in the world of Conan the Barbarian. Fun fact: Robert E. Howard’s original IP is passing into the public domain in just a few years. Get ready for a whole lot of new Conan stories!

    3. Wow judging by what you have posted here you have the intellectual capacity of a prolapsed anus and the personality of a used diaper

  15. I’d love to know specifically which author you were referencing who is in process on Book 2 that he can barely justify.

    Oddly enough, I came here today hoping to go through some of your old Book Bombs to find a new series.

    Confession: I do hop you have an outline for your stuff so others can be the next Sanderson if the ATF snuffs you out.

    1. Quoting my own self above:

      Some recommendations for “new” authors.

      — Marc Alan Edelheit (Military Fantasy. Romans, Elves, Dwarves, Dragons, Orcs and Gnomes)
      — Christopher Nuttall (both SF and Fantasy. And a one-man book a month club. Easy, light reads, but keeps you busy)
      — Evan Currie (not quite as prolific as Nuttall, but similarly versatile, both SF and Fantasy, usually Science Fantasy)
      — Charles Gannon (started writing with Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire… as of Flint’s passing and last years DC, he was probably editing it for the then time being. Caine Riordan series is good SF, in a kind of Larry Niven melded with James Bond mode. Has spinoffs from other milfic guys)
      — Taylor Anderson (Alt History, kinda-sorta. The inflection point is via the dino killer not hitting, and humans never developing. LOOONG series and the first two books of a prequel series.
      — Jack Campbell (not sure if he’s “new”, as he’s been writing for about 20y, but he’s pretty good milfic)

      — Dennis E. Taylor (The Bobiverse)
      — Daniel Wilson (Robopocalypse)

      If you like Larry, chances are you’ll like some of the above, esp. MAE, Anderson, and Campbell, but the others, too. A lot of Nuttall’s SF is milfic, as is Currie’s main series, Odyssey.

      That’s probably more than 100 books, so it should keep you busy for a year or two. ;-P

  16. Dickens used to publish his books in monthly installments with a few chapters and a couple illustrations in each. His last book, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, had 12 planned installments, but Dickens died after the release of the sixth, and there were no detailed notes about where the story was going.

    So that’s some perspective for modern readers. Yes, something may happen and an author may not finish that series you started, but chances are extremely high you’re getting complete books.

    1. About 40 years ago I read Fire on the Steppe by Henryk Sienkiewicz. I thought it was amazing, brilliant, incredibly detailed, don’t recall single time there was a continuity error and was amazed to find out years later that it was serialized and published in installments.
      That was definitely ‘juggling 6 swords’ of amazing.

  17. Well said, Larry.

    The purpose of books is to read and explore new ideas, great characters, and exciting stories. Readers who have hyperfixated on “only this story” are missing out on all the other great stories in the world. The fixation on popular books and trends I think falls back to the shared experience, those series became extremely popular and a discussion point, almost main stream.

    I remember asking a Rothfuss reader if he wanted to try other Epic Fantasy stuff (to be honest, trying to feel out if I should pitch my stuff) and he seemed offended by the very idea that there *was* epic fantasy outside of what Rothfus wrote. Because it was popular, and he could talk about it with all his friends, and he really liked it.

    Epic Fantasy is a big time investment, both for readers and writers. I get being daunted as a reader on starting a new series. As you said, it’s about a hundred times more daunting taking it on and trying to do it right. That punch in the face when people won’t even give it a thought is certainly a deterrent.

    I knew after finishing my last 240k word door-stopper of a book for my epic fantasy series, I knew it wasn’t going to get nearly the readers or earnings of my other stuff. It was big hurdle for me in writing it in the first place.

        1. Chris:

          Also recommend always including an Amazon link. I tend to add a book by the author to my reading stack, which greatly increases chances I’ll get something to read by that author. Others may act differently, but being in that list makes you far far more likely to get onto my radar than the author’s page…. I would presume this is true for others, too.

          To that end:

  18. I have bought and loved a lot of books you have recommended on your facebook page and MHI page. I personally don’t care if a series gets finished, I love each new edition to the series as they come. DJ Buter, RR Virdi,Rothman, and a lot more.

  19. Well said, and it is tragic, Larry. I really do think your initial analogy is perfect. Cognitive Processing Therapy has this concept where you talk about “Stuck Points” wherein, due to negative experiences (trauma in CPT, but it can happen everywhere) where you take it and generalize that information. It is like people take something dumb, like Martin, and are now convinced that’s always true. Then, to make it worse, when there’s so many “1 of 3” Epic Fantasy Trilogies that fail due to people refusing to buy an unfinished series, that serves as confirmation.

  20. There’s another side to this coin as well — and that is, publishers not giving an author or a series a chance to find their bearings!

    Firefly is a classic example of this: a series cancelled after one season because the Execs didn’t think it had enough of a fan base and it was expensive to make. Never mind that the Execs screwed everyone over by scrambling the order of the episodes. (I remember enjoying the handful of episodes I saw, but was kindof disappointed by its episodic nature — something I expect for American series, but I appreciate in Japanese Anime, so it wasn’t necessarily a “deal breaker” for me — only to learn that it was supposed to be episodic!)

    Never mind that some series, like the Simpsons and Star Trek TNG, take a couple of seasons to find their groove, but once they do, they become so successful, that even when they get to the point where they “flame out”, they become zombie series that no one seems able to kill.

    Nope! You have to be successful immediately, and if not, you’re dropped like a hot potato — no soup for you!

    Now that I’m thinking about it, how awful would it be if we tried treating series like this? How many anime series are great, except for the last few episodes? And how many anime series essentially become never-ending soap operas? (Which is another thing I hate — I like series that have good seasonal story arcs with maybe some dangling loos ends for hooks for the next season — so that the seasons are episodic, even if the series itself is not.)

    1. I was going to touch on a related point, so I hope you don’t mind that I attach it to yours.

      People’s favorite TV series get canceled all the time.
      I’ve yet to hear a single person say they’re going to stop watching TV over it, or never pick up a series until it’s done.

      Girl Genius is a powerhouse webcomic, for good reason. But it’s unlikely to ever reach a satisfying conclusion. We still read it three times a week.

      The claim is a flimsy excuse.
      Grandstanding about it, is silly.
      The people doing it, are trolls. (And are much less lovable than Melvin.)
      Don’t feed them.

      I would say there’s much less demand for goatgaggers simply because of tech crack. I was much more eager to start an 800 page book launching an indefinite series before streaming and doomscrolling were things. (Shrug) And that’s before taking the generation gap into account. Kids these days are being constantly simulated to the point where they have next to no attention span.
      The market downturn isn’t because of two massive jerkwads. They’re just obvious targets.

      1. I’m not sure this phenomenon is limited to trolls. If fantasy authors are seeing a major uptick in sales after completion of a series, and I see no reason to doubt Larry or any of the other authors here who have observed this, then this is a real problem.

        I’m not sure how else to address it beyond what Larry’s doing here, so it might take another 5-10 years before the effect wears off. Maybe someone else more prone to finish their work will hit it big and snap people out of it.

      2. To be fair, though I agree with Larry, I don’t think is a fair comparison.

        1) The price of entry to a TV show is having access to the channel or streaming plat form its on. It is a rare thing to buy a cable package or a streaming services for one show, so it’s no big deal if I stop liking a show, I have a million other things to watch.

        2) Effort. You can sit and watch a TV show with minimal effort, or read a web comic with minimal time. A novel requires full attention.

        3) As a medium, we don’t expect TV shows to “come to an end” with some exceptions. The model in TV, and comics as well, is to run until you lose the audience. Yes, there are things like Lost that were built around an idea of a mystery being resolved then ending, but for every one of those there’s a 1,000 counter examples. Novel series, however, often have a predefined limit, with Saga of the Forgotten Warrior being explicitly set at 5, as one example. Heck, even the Drizzt novels are (or used to be, I haven’t read any in a long time) were set in trilogies.

        Again, I agree wholeheartedly with Larry’s premise. I just don’t think comparing the viewing habits for TV as equivalent to reading, though I think Alpheus has a point about letting a series find its legs.

      3. Honestly, I don’t watch TV much and hesitate to get invested in a series that is open ended. It’s not so much that I think it will get cancelled but I expect it all to go sideways so I develop a dread of watching. And if I LIKE it, the anticipation of when it will get ruined is even worse.

        I just don’t publicly flounce. (shrug)

    2. Alpheus: Firefly is a classic example of this: a series cancelled after one season because the Execs didn’t think it had enough of a fan base and it was expensive to make.
      I used to believe this, until Dollhouse. Fox execs listened to all the complaints, and actually gave Dollhouse a second (still short) season, and it did not matter. Numbers kept going down.

      Dollhouse was fucking brilliant (you need not LIKE it, but it was conceptually, purest SF excellent).

      Around the 8th episode, Whedon showed that he CLEARLY saw all the ramifications of the technology he created. And he explored some of that with the remaining shows, though the latter part of the second season was relatively low budget, but he did complete the main arc.

      My reasoning that it is “TV Audience fault” and not “Network execs fault”?

      I was “show editor” for a TV fan site, and asked in the more public forums why they weren’t watching the show. The typical answer was, “I didn’t get it in the first half hour, so I wasn’t interested”. In other words, too many people in the mass audience are couch potatoes. They sit down and want to watch the same mindless boring shit as they’ve seen before, because “thinking is painful”.

      They don’t WANT a show that makes them think, with a few rare exceptions… So we wind up with the same boring retreads, over and over.

      Streaming helps with this, because their demands for audience numbers are lower.

  21. There is absolutely nothing stopping people from *buying* the books in a series and waiting until it’s finished to *read* the books. Except that they’re cheap assholes.

    I know people who do buy some series like this, because they don’t like cliffhangers and the author is known for them. But they are still buying the books, so either the author can afford to keep writing or the traditional publisher will order the next book! Because they aren’t cheap assholes.

    1. I have the first two books of a trilogy by Melanie Rawn based on this theory. “I’ll read it when it’s finished.” Well, something happened (by context, it sounds like a major depressive episode), and she never wrote the third, and probably never *will* write the third, because she’s in a vastly different headspace now.

      But hey, she’s written again, so that’s good. And someday I’ll get around to reading those two books and will just cope with the unfinished nature of the story. (And this is her only unfinished series, so there’s plenty of other work of hers to read.)

      1. Oh, I remember that one! I read the first two in high school, and then gave up waiting for the third…I read about what happened to her some years ago, and at this point I’m just glad she pulled through and started writing again. I’m in a very different headspace myself, so I don’t know that I’ll ever go back and reread those two at all.

    2. That is exactly what I did. I have bought three first books of the Forgotten Warrior, but I won’t read them until the final novel is out.
      However, I did so because I had read MHI and liked it, thus deciding to go blind about the other series. In case of any other author I would need an incentive as strong as this one.

  22. Very nice, Larry. As someone who has gone the self-pub route, I have that as one mark against me for a great many readers. Add in that I’ve only just released the first book and I’m doubly screwed. A good number of folks I’ve exchanged messages and chats with have up front admitted they won’t read the book because the series isn’t done. As an author that is rather deflating news. It’s the whole sins of the father thing, except I’m not remotely related to Martin or Rothfuss. I’m just being punished for having the gall to not put out an entire series in one fell swoop. Still, I’m fighting on, and Book 2 is well underway.

  23. Larry, as a consumer, my usual solution is Kindle Unlimited and following the author.

    I do have an additional rule: if I read any book more than once in KU, I buy it.

    1. That’s actually a brilliant rule – I’ve found several series thru KU, and two in particular that I need to go back and buy because I’ve read them both several times.

      I really DO like KU because I have no guilt if I try a book because I like the blurb, but it ends up not grabbing me by ~30% of the way thru (that’s my personal rule – gotta get me in the first 30% LOL) I can return it.

      As a matter of fact, a isekai-cultivating fanfic that my daughter introduced me to has its first two volumes out on KU, and I love love LOVE the fic so much that I bought them (“Beware of Chicken,” by CasualFarmer). So, now I need to trot my rear end over to Amazon and put my money down for all of Mackey Chandler’s stuff (he’s in his 70s, he is that good, and he needs the $$! That’s his April series and Family Law series) and all of Jerry Boyd (Bob and Nikki – “Bob’s Saucer Repair”).

      Thanks for your kick in the butt 😉

      1. I have recently been buying books because of KU. I will go to look inside and read the first 3-5 chapters and if I am not hooked by then will not buy the book. But there have been so many that have piqued my interest that I now have a long list of books waiting to be purchased. And still, I wait with bated breath for ILoH’s next book!

      2. I have a 10% rule myself.

        If the book can’t capture me in that time amount, I set it aside for something else in my to-be-read pile.

        It doesn’t mean that I won’t go back to it because maybe it was my issue at that time why I wasn’t engaging with it. But I need my boundaries.

        What I haven’t found is a “rule” for stopping reading a series. As a kid I loved Clive Cussler books. I read all of the Dirk Pitt books until the covers came off, but I ended up walking a way after the joy, excitement and longing to read the series occurred. For that one it was when his son started writing with him.

    2. Loved the post.
      Totally loved the Gerrold comment. As an old guy, Gerrold was my first disappointment though better described as confusion. Kept looking for next books. Internet and search comes in and kept looking. I am a bit slow (obviously), but finally realized ‘oh, he just stopped writing them!’
      Thank you Larry. I will try harder to make time for the new guys (guys=all the 72 genders authors😄)

    3. ^^^This. I really love that KU means I can try out new authors for minimal cost to my (very tight) budget, but if they turn out to be one I love, I am absolutely buying them to keep!

      1. If I may — I’ll repeat this list from above, assuming not everyone reads all the comments (no connections to any of them, I’m not even a beta reader for any of ’em):

        Some recommendations for “new” authors.

        — Marc Alan Edelheit (Military Fantasy. Romans, Elves, Dwarves, Dragons, Orcs and Gnomes)
        — Christopher Nuttall (both SF and Fantasy. And a one-man book a month club. Easy, light reads, but keeps you busy)
        — Evan Currie (not quite as prolific as Nuttall, but similarly versatile, both SF and Fantasy, usually Science Fantasy)
        — Charles Gannon (started writing with Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire… as of Flint’s passing and last years DC, he was probably editing it for the then time being. Caine Riordan series is good SF, in a kind of Larry Niven melded with James Bond mode. Has spinoffs from other milfic guys)
        — Taylor Anderson (Alt History, kinda-sorta. The inflection point is via the dino killer not hitting, and humans never developing. LOOONG series and the first two books of a prequel series.
        — Jack Campbell (not sure if he’s “new”, as he’s been writing for about 20y, but he’s pretty good milfic)

        — Dennis E. Taylor (The Bobiverse)
        — Daniel Wilson (Robopocalypse)

        If you like Larry, chances are you’ll like some of the above, esp. MAE, Anderson, and Campbell, but the others, too. A lot of Nuttall’s SF is milfic, as is Currie’s main series, Odyssey.

        That’s probably more than 100 books, so it should keep you busy for a year or two. ;-P

  24. I understand readers complaints. I was enjoying Gerrold’s epic series when he abruptly stopped it. I still remember the disappointment of going into the bookstore week after week (no Internet back then!) with no new book and no idea when the next one would come out. I eventually gave up and stopped looking.

    But it never stopped me from reading quality material when I found it. Personally I have a hard time believing true readers feel this way. Average readers, who only pick up a book when nothing is on TV might, but the true readers like myself, who go through multiple books in one week are always looking for new quality authors. That’s why I was so happy to stumble across the IDLH and have enjoyed him so much. Even if MHI had been a standalone, I would have enjoyed it and read it again and again.

    That’s a true reader.

  25. Shit man
    That’s pretty heavy stuff at the end.

    Right now I’m just trying to not let myself down (that’s not going well) and I can’t even think of plopping it out there and betting my livelihood on enough people taking a gamble on a nobody.

    Is this what being a new author is today? Augh.

    1. Sian,

      Don’t give up! I was really nervous when I was getting ready to release my first book (Alternate history, not fantasy), worried about how it would be received.

      Don’t worry about id10ts like the ones Larry is slamming. You’ll find your audience. Have you had any test / beta readers look at your book yet? If not, I strongly recommend doing that. Getting those initial impressions from others can really help you gauge how your work will do in the market.

    2. New authors in dead tree are commonly getting sales around 1500-3000 copies. In Canada a new author who breaks 1000 is considered a success. Break 5K and you’re a star.

      In self pub, your first book, absent considerable advertising/marketing push, will sell a couple hundred copies. “Dozens of sales” is how Kathy Shaidle put it to me once upon a time.

      That’s how it is at the moment.

      If you -need- the money your time is better spent flipping burgers. Writing is for spare time.

      It’s like hockey. How many million kids start playing vs. how many become Wayne Gretzky?

      Personally, I write them anyway. I’ve got one on Amazon and six more hanging fire, waiting for covers and etc. First one, I got dozens of sales. I guess we’ll see what happens when the extended series finally meets the real world. Not expecting wonders, I am not in this to become Gretzky.

      One thing to make sure of is that publishing doesn’t COST you money. Don’t spend money on proof-reading, typesetting, covers etc. hoping that the sales will pay for it. Make your own cover, it won’t kill you and the difference in sales will be small. Have you seen the Dead Tree proof-reading and covers lately? They’re not spending money on that. Be guided by them.

  26. Well said, Larry.

    I love epic fantasy. I read through ALL of Wheel of Time because I enjoyed it – yes, even some of the books that were slow and went nowhere (Crossroads of Twilight, I’m lookin’ at you). I was devastated when Robert Jordan passed, yes because the series wasn’t finished, but also because he was a damned good author who wrote like crazy and worked hard for his audience. Sanderson did great finishing the series, and his own epic fantasy output has been great as well. Terry Goodkind was enjoyable as well and I was sad to hear of his passing.

    I tried reading Game of Thrones. First book was great, second was okay, third got too lost in the weeds for me to want to continue. Never tried Rothfuss, which seems like it’s for the best.

    These days, I have to read epic fantasy via audiobook. Or sneak-read on my Kindle app. Between a day job at the library (no, we don’t get to read all day, contrary to popular belief) and two little kids that take up a lot of my attention, it’s hard to pick up one of those doorstopper fantasy novels that I used to devour. There are a few that I’ve tried to get into, but I either lose interest or I get distracted by life. I blame ideological publishing trends. All the checkbox diversity nonsense drives me crazy. I keep hoping that the culture is trend back to reasonable sanity, but then I get a delivery of new releases in at work and my hopes slip even farther down.

  27. I just want to point out:


    “oh crap no one is buying the first book of an uncompleted series”

    I’m a fan, tho. Keep up the great work.

  28. There is only one author whose books I have stopped purchasing and reading because of an inability to finish a series. That’s because she has proven over time to be completely unable to do so. She writes two or three books (out of a promised 5, maybe 7, whatever) in one series, then moves on to another, and another, and another. She never goes back to the earlier ones.

    That’s fine. I certainly don’t feel like she “owes” me any books, but I will wait for her to finish a series before buying anything more of hers. That does not, however, stop me from buying tons of other books in all sorts of genres, the vast majority of which are in “incomplete” series.

  29. If they were comparing you to Robert Jordan, at least they’d have been comparing Apples to Apples. Jordan was prolific, and didn’t appear to slack noticeably over time (his editors OTOH…)

    Gordan Dickson was also prolific and didn’t get to finish his ‘Childe Cycle.’

    I still enjoyed their work and am grateful for what they did produce.

    The slack wits complaining should look at the lack of output, and just right the f’ers off.

  30. Reject the novelty of modernity by rejecting the novel. Embrace tradition, i.e. shorter stories that get to the freaking point.

    1. I’ve written like 70 something short stories, and this is a terrible idea.
      That’s like saying ban trucks because cars are better. They exist to do different things.

      1. Novels exist to waste time and brainwash against God. Prove me wrong. Look at the people who read novels: blue hair, piercings everywhere. Point proven. People use novels to leave God’s world for a fake world inspired of Satan and live there among elves and dwarves, leaving our world to rot. The short story at least doesn’t suck your soul away into a false world, or if it does, lets you back out quickly enough.

        1. You are one stupid motherfucker.
          And JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis were both better Christians than you are.
          I don’t claim to be, hence me calling you a stupid motherfucker. They would have been more diplomatic.

        2. “Novels exist to waste time and brainwash against God.”
          That is the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard.
          The most pivotal and important fantasy novels of all time were Christian allegories.

          “Prove me wrong.”
          That ain’t gonna be difficult.

          “Look at the people who read novels: blue hair, piercings everywhere. Point proven.”
          You are on a novelist’s page, dummy. That describes a fraction of a percent of my readers. I’ve got more readers who picked up my novels on FOBs in Iraq than I’ve got hipsters.

          “People use novels to leave God’s world for a fake world inspired of Satan and live there among elves and dwarves, leaving our world to rot.”
          Oh really? Because when I get done writing my evil novels with themes about heroism, sacrifice, and good versus evil, I’m going over to my church again to volunteer to fill sandbags to fight the flooding.

          “The short story at least doesn’t suck your soul away into a false world, or if it does, lets you back out quickly enough.”
          Are you stupid enough to think that Satan cares about word count?
          Porn is even shorter than short stories, dummies, so it must be splendid for the soul. 😀

          I honestly can’t tell if you’re one of those actual dumbfuck who gives real religious people a bad rap, or if you’re a dedicated troll. Could go either way.

          1. I think this guy is either someone doing an imitation of Jeffro Johnson or is Johnson himself. And I really can’t say which it is.

          2. }}} I honestly can’t tell if you’re one of those actual dumbfuck who gives real religious people a bad rap, or if you’re a dedicated troll. Could go either way.

            I would suspect both, Sirrah!

            Just because you’re a mean spirited fuck who has no concept of what God is about, doesn’t mean you can’t also be a Drama Queen who thrives on deliberately and mindlessly provoked argument, does it?

        3. Easy enough to prove you wrong, Jeffy. There are tons of novels out there written specifically to inspire people to follow God. They usually read like preachy crap, but they’re novels. Or are you saying that Satan brings us away from God by preaching God’s praises? Because that would mean he is capable of praising God.

          Oh, wait, that’s logical. Logic is probably also a tool of Satan, right?

          Are you really against fantasy, since you’re mumbling on about false worlds? Because there are lots of novels out there that take place in the real world. There are novels out there about real people and real events in history, including novelizations of books of the Bible.

          If it’s any kind of fiction, then why are you so focused on novels? Movies and TV are even larger industries, filled with all sorts of immorality just begging for someone as righteous and upright as you to come along and lead them to the light.

          Maybe the real issue is that you are terrible at paying attention to all those words for so long? Perhaps I can interest you in something with pictures. Maybe a graphic novel? Oh no! They’re called novels! Automatically evil, even the graphic novels about the Bible or the lives of saints.

          Personally, I don’t know why you’re so against the thought of elves and dwarves; you’re clearly used to the life of a troll.

          1. Mister Whisler, you may be relieved to discover that Geoff is, indeed, the proper spelling of the name and only illiterate wankstains make use of the abbreviated “Jeff” or “Jeffrey.” In fact, you need not apologize to any, and should some be silly enough to attempt the argument merely send them to the library where they can look up Geoffrey Chaucer and his seminal work on structural engineering, “Cantilever Tales.” I think it was. Could have been. Maybe. Been a while…

        4. JRR Tolkien’s work, which is the literal origin of elves and dwarves in fantasy, is one of the most powerfully Christian works of fiction ever put to print. Your trollish arguments are nonsense based on garbage based on anti-Christian bigotry, and you should be ashamed.

        5. Yeahh No, Fuck Off. Hair is gray, No piercings, and I read Novels by the dozen. Your point is not only not proven, but fucking stupid.

        6. “Novels exist to waste time and brainwash against God.”


          You want to know why everybody dunks on “Christians” these days? You’re why.

          I’m very happy that my work of creating a “fake” world for my readers is pissing you off. I’m going to work harder at it just to see the look on your face, pal.

          1. That’s the frustrating part of it. Most Christians are perfectly nice, decent, and reasonable people, but then an idiot like Jeff (who is certainly not *acting* Christian, at the very least) comes along and vomits all over everything, and makes some other jerk think it’s appropriate to make fun of all Christians and their core beliefs.

            Case in point: the idiot who commented right after you did.

          1. Spare me that bullshit here. I don’t let any posters insult anybody else’s religion, I’m not going to let them insult mine just because I happen to share part of it with an asshole like Jeff.

  31. SciFi and Fantasy have both gone into an interesting space in the last decade or so. I recall a wonderful time when I had a list of authors whose books I’d almost certainly enjoy, and there was almost always one or two books coming out from those authors every month or so. David Weber, John Ringo, Eric Flint, Elizabeth Moon, Ryk Spoor, Sharon & Steve Miller, S.M. Stirling, Modessit, David Drake, Bujold, and of course Larry. But a big chunk of that list has died, stopped writing, or is writing at 1/10th of their old pace. And a lot of that list, I found through reading collaborations with the ones I found first. It’s a lot harder to find good stuff now. I’m sure it’s out there, but finding reviews you trust… if people at Ars, Goodreads, or Amazon like it, that’s almost a counter-recommendation. I grabbed Summer’s End recently and really enjoyed that, I need to pick up more by Van Stry. I just picked up Empire of Silence, but haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

    1. FYI, since I love most of the writers you mentioned, I’m buying me some Ryk Spoor books right this second, having never run across his stuff somehow. Thanks!

  32. I mean literally most novels are longer than the Bible, and the story is not even finished. God finished a billion stories in less space and his also has soteriological significance. Some novel series longer than the Bible plus the church fathers combined ain’t gonna save my soul, so why are they so freaking long?

    1. What a stupid question.
      I’m gonna try and answer this without being insulting. I will probably fail.
      First of all the Bible isn’t an entertainment product. That’s an apples and oranges comparison so incredibly stupid that it makes my eye twitch.
      You are comparing scripture, which is doctrine and history and revelation, to an entertainment product… which just fucking baffles me.
      Entertainment products are whatever size they are, because they’re intended for people to read over a period of time in order to entertain themselves.
      There are different size entertainment products for different purposes and markets.
      TV shows are shorter than the Bible on tape, ergo TV shows are better?
      Why don’t you pull some other arbitrary apples and oranges out of your ass while you’re at it? One of my fantasy novels is shorter than the History of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.
      The Bible also doesn’t have detailed fight scenes, but you don’t hear most people with a functioning brain crying about how fantasy novels need to remove all the sword fight details.
      Books being too long sounds like a personal problem. You should go back to YA or that Chatbot I mentioned and let story tellers tells stories without trying to foist your arbitrary bullshit on them.

          1. Let us not forget the Reorganized Moon Ferrets of the Reformation, who later split into the RMFR and the Moon Ferrets Of the Reformation Revised sects. Family reunions used to be absolutely *brutal* after the schism but are finally winding down as the remaining members become older. About the only thing they can all agree upon is no more sects, which has had the obvious effect upon recruitment.

    2. Aside from being nuts, your premise is just factually false: translations vary, obviously, but most are over 780,000 words. Brandon Sanderson has a reputation for writing long books. His longest, Oathbringer, comes in at 454,768 words. Maybe there are a few novels that are longer that 780,000 words but most come nowhere near that.

      1. Even ‘Les Miserables’ is only 450,000 words.

        There are few I’ve heard of longer than the bible, like Guanzhong’s ‘Romance of the Thee Kingdoms’ which is about 800k, and Shikibu’s ‘Tale of Genji’ which is about 750,000, but those are hardly typical.

        I’d also point out that Les Miserables could hardly be described as ‘escaping this world for elves and dwarves’ or however he put it, *and* has a strong redemptive and Christian sensibility about it, so, you know…

    3. The wordcount of the Bible is over 780,000 words. Even Brandon Sanderson doesn’t write books that large.

      Lemme guess, you usually use the Illustrated Children’s Bible, right?

      (Edit: Carlos T’s comment didn’t show up for me when I wrote this, even though he had posted it since I refreshed the page.)

  33. Unfortunately, your post too accurately described me and my relationship with epic fantasy series for a number of years. Fortunately Sanderson kept my love of fantasy alive. I am always looking for a new series nowadays. Does anyone have a resource to find new fantasy that doesn’t reek of wokeness? That has been my bane the last couple of years.

    1. I’m not plugging anybody on this post where I’m insulting some of the biggest names in the genre, because I don’t want them catching collateral damage. But if you listen to WriterDojo or follow my FB feed, I plug a lot of good authors.

      1. Actually I enjoyed it. More of a what happens when you choose the lesser of two evils book series to me anyway.

  34. I not only enjoy Larry’s books which I discovered when there was only one, but his “I’m not afraid to give my opinion” comments.

    I don’t read to feel comfortable…I read to stretch my imagination and experience. I may die before some of my favorite authors finish their long running series but that’s just a reason to read what I can when I can, and die with a smile.

    It’s why I buy ebooks, not join the read all I can programs…I consider my purchase a vote for an author to continue doing what I like, and if I like an author, I buy all their books.

    A big THANK YOU to all authors for giving me choices of a wide range of stories to entertain and educate me further.

  35. Hey Larry, a couple of vignettes. The second may be more relevant, but here goes.

    It’s not always the writers. Sometimes it’s the publishers. They bail on a series before it’s done. Maybe the author can get it published elsewhere; maybe not. Pre Amazon, I was looking to read a trilogy. It had come out in hardcover and was now coming out in paperback. I found the first two in the store and bought them. I put them in my TBR pile and awaited the third.
    It didn’t show up.
    Turns out the publisher got cold feet and never released the third book. It was years before I was able to get a copy of volume three. I was pissed — but at the publisher, not the author. I don’t think it hurt this particular author but it could have.

    The other story was from many years ago when Robert Jordan was about five or six books in with his Neverending Series. I read a comment by a person who was leery. ‘I’m going to wait until he’s done. If he dies before he finishes, I win’. I note that this was years before Jordan came down with his fatal blood disease. I’m not sure how he scored what happened, but I’m pretty sure he was an asshole. And this was years before Martin started his series and Rothfuss wasn’t even a published author, so this attitude, sadly, predates both.

    1. Jordan’s series was eventually finished, but there were a lot of books in the middle that could pretty much be summed up as, “No one does anything, but the characters discuss the possibility that they might consider doing something in the future.” There was quite a lot of justified skepticism as to whether Jordan intended to move the story along or just keep putting out endless volumes of the characters spinning their wheels. I can’t blame anyone who hit Book 6 and wondered, “Is this actually going anywhere? I think I’ll wait until he’s done to find out.”

      Martin and Rothfuss are the big offenders now, but there were plenty of epic fantasy writers before them who had long gaps between books, and then when they finally did put out something, it didn’t seem worth the wait. I think part of the backlash against those two is that they managed to convince their fans that they “would never pull a Jordan” … and then it turned out that they were even worse.

      1. I still cannot understand the buzz around Martin. Can’t stand his writing. Can’t stand the TV show.

        Seriously, how is this popular? Are people crazy?

        And Rothfuss, I had to look him up. He wrote a book once, apparently. Hurrah.

        100% agree on Jordan. I dropped the Wheel of Time series because nothing really happened in it. I may have lasted 4 books, but it became obvious he’d lost the plot somewhere along the line. The first few were fun, but after a while…

        1. I read the first quarter of the first Game of Thrones book before bouncing off of it, and never watched the TV show, so I’m just guessing here. But it’s a semi-informed guess at least, because I’ve heard bits and pieces about it so often that I’m piecing together the vague shape of what the story looks like. So here goes my guess as to why viewers like the TV show so much:

          Complexity. Oh, and also Teh B00behs(TM). But mostly complexity.

          I’ll unpack that. When the show was first on, I just Kept. On. Hearing. about the various scenes where some character or other would be in bed with a lady of negotiable affection, or a way-too-close relative, or whatever, with either partial or full nudity visible. TV producers using the old tried-and-true methods of getting eyeballs on screen, don’t you know. But come seasons five, six, seven… I wasn’t hearing about those any longer. Instead I was hearing plot spoilers, about how this character betrayed that one and what his/her motive was. Or how this one character brought a dragon to a swordfight. Or what happened at this one wedding.

          I believe what appealed to people was the complexity of the plotlines, with nearly every character having a plan (some better than others) and trying to pull it off. Some would, inevitably, fail; others would succeed for a while; and so on. Sort of like the appeal of a soap opera, except with somewhat more realistic plots. (Plenty of betrayals, but for motives that actually make sense — scheming for the throne, or revenge for a loved one’s murder — rather than simply For Teh Evulz(TM). Maybe soap operas are better-plotted than I’m giving them credit for, I don’t know. Anyway, that’s enough of that digression).

          So basically, I think the appeal was the same appeal as soap operas, except with a really skilled writer behind the plotlines. (You’ll note that once the showrunners got past GRRM’s material and had to write their own, ratings and reviews trended sharply and suddenly more negative. I dislike GRRM, but I can’t deny his skill as a writer. He’s good at plots, I just can’t stand the grim grimdark darkness of his worldbuilding.)

      2. The difference with Jordan was that he was writing, with a book every two(ish) years until he got sick, then he made a plan for when he couldn’t finish. IMO anyways.

        Anyhow, this came at a great time, as I just received a notice that Scott Lynch has finally gotten around to writing Book 4 of his Gentleman Bastards series. Eleven Years, Eleven. And as any fan of George knows, publication dates on Amazon are just a guideline anyways. I’m not getting my hopes up

  36. If readers are reluctant to start a series that might never finish, imagine how reluctant writers must be to start a book or series that might never sell. Yet we do it. Writing takes a lot more commitment than reading, but we take the chance.

  37. I wrote Empire of the Sun and Moon to completion (five books in the same number of years, in your face GRRM!), but I did that because it was a labor of love — I wanted it to exist outside my head, and was financially able to afford the cost of covers and layout. I will probably eventually break even, but it won’t be anytime soon.
    If I’d been doing it as a commercial venture, I would never have been able to justify anything past Book 1.

    1. With regard to the whole “owed a book” thing, I think there’s a basic problem that always comes up in these discussions of conflating a commercial/legal obligation with a moral/professional one.

      No one is “owed a book” legally or financially, of course. Larry is completely correct about that.

      But I think an author who puts out the first book of an epic fantasy (which is one gigantic story broken into book-sized pieces) IS making a moral/professional commitment. They’re releasing PART of a story, with the promise to complete it. They have no legal obligation to finish it, they cannot be sued over it. But they have made a moral and professional commitment to their readers to complete the story.

      (Side-Note: I also think there is a meaningful difference between the “epic” model of one giant story told across multiple volumes, like Lord of the Rings or GRRM’s trash-fire or Son of the Black Sword, and a series of more individualized “episodic” books like MHI or Desden Files.)

      1. Anyone who buys book one has a moral obligation to buy the series, right? The author is counting on them!

        1. Nobody has an obligation to do anything.
          I don’t know why people keep conflating my saying “if you claim to want more of X you need to actually purchase X so that it’s financially worth it for the creators of X to make more X” with some sort of contractual obligation.

        2. The problem is that Rob is misusing the word “moral”. Morality is about right and wrong, good and evil. What he’s talking about has nothing to do with morality at all. It’s about having a work ethic and delivering on a product.

          He has a point, but his argument is severely weakened by the introduction of morality.

  38. Some authors are hard-working.
    Some are ones who don’t treat it as a job, or treat it as a side-gig.
    Some are prone to bouts of inspiration, write like mad for a while, then lose it again until the muse shows up again – except the muse often is ADHD to the point of “SQUIRREL”, and rarely comes back to the same place of inspiration, resulting in another book series. And, just because you’re wanting more, doesn’t mean that the author doesn’t consider the last book to be the conclusion*.

    But, then there’s the ones that get fame, and promise more stuff while sitting on their ass milking the fame instead of writing.

    But, there’s also another class of people, that are from the first three groups, that end up having outside issues that mess with their best laid plans. Pournelle (RIP), Flint (RIP) and Weber have had prolonged illnesses, among many other famous SF/F writers. Jordan wrote like mad, but the Reaper came for him two books before he was done.
    Others have Real Life (TM) throw them a hanging curveball inside that knocks them on their rear for years, if not decades (DK Moran just published a new book in a series I first read 35 years ago, where after 2 or 3 books there were long gaps between later ones).

    It happens in every genre, it’s just that (as Larry points out) that the grifters in fantasy are the ones that are most visible, and it’s hurting everyone else because some people think that all authors are like them.

    Right now I’m looking at something that just came in this past weekend, a gaming kickstarter that was originally supposed to be done in 2016. Now, kickstarters are notoriously late (out of the hundred+ I’ve backed, they average 4 months late, even when you factor in the third of them that were on time or early – it’s closer to 5-6 months for just the ones that are more than 1 month late). But, this one was exceptionally late. There were all kinds of bizarre, rabid, hate out there over it. Some of it was because of the lateness. Other idiots were from the wokists that attacked one of the two authors (Ernie Gygax) because they consider his father’s work as racist (by their fundamentally flawed standards – see the bizarre shit being done to D&D currently).
    This, while ignoring that in the 8 years or more since the Kickstarter launched, EG spent half of it IN THE HOSPITAL (BEFORE COVID), his coauthor was living off the grid part of the time, and since it was Gygax trying to base this off campaigns his father and other early 70s guys ran when he was but a kid, the other guy was having to write when he could get clarification on the notes he was working on. Eventually, it took Troll Lord Games to help them complete the project, as by that time most of it was done (it just needed polishing), they just didn’t have the resources any more to publish it (just the money held for the kickstarter, which after 5+ years when TLG extended the helping hand was probably going to be insufficient for them to print and ship the books without help, and that many other groups had blackballed Ernie for the “sins” of his family not being woke in the 1970s)

    In summation, I’ve only avoided starting series in the past because they got TOO LONG by the time I was introduced to them and it would cost me a small fortune to catch up (I prefer reading dead tree editions), not out of fear that they would be left too short (I’ve never been able to get into HH, for this reason). And, even then, that can be overcome with cheap ebooks, if I find the time (which then leads to shopping trips for the physical books at a later time – I sent much of 2020 replacing 20 paperbacks and 50+ ebooks with hardbacks on Amazon, filling an entire bookcase with Ringo, Correia, Hoyt, Taylor, Williamson, and a few Webers).

    Besides, if an author croaks before the series ends, you can always find someone (perhaps yourself) to finish it with fanfic, if someone like Brandon doesn’t do it in an official capacity.


    * Examples: Weber & Ringo’s Empire of Man/Prince Roger series technically ended right where they wanted, originally (only later did they think of possibly continuing it, and signals got crossed and other work intervened), or for that matter, while Ringo’s Aldenata books are often seen by many as “unfinished”, technically, it’s made up of TWO complete series (the actual war story, and the Cally books), with a third series bringing the elements of the first two (and Kratman’s stand-alones in that universe) together being what’s unfinished, because the muse left at a really bad time, and half the characters were as much (or more) Tom’s or Julie’s characters than his – but were just as important to the story as Mike.

  39. This is a very real, and very personal problem for a guy like me.

    I’m blessed to be writing a series with my best friend, mentor, and brother. Larry has an established fan base that will buy his books. And even then, we both felt the attitude of hesitance he describes. It wasn’t a sure thing that we got a contract to write the sequel to Servants of War. We had to fight for our sales on that book.

    10 years ago, pre-lazy authors screwing the rest of us, we would have easily doubled or tripled our initial sales. Easy.

    But instead, I’m praying we get just enough to keep us going to eventually wear all those people down so they FINALLY buy the book.

    But think about it from me on the personal side. I have and Urban Fantasy series I want to write. A Sci-Fi series. So what am I supposed to do? I’m trying to become a full-time author. You think this trend doesn’t terrify me? This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.

    1. I’m pulling for you, Steve. I really enjoyed Servants of War and Residue, and I never miss an episode of Writer Dojo. I’m keeping an eye out for Parasite, too.

    2. Honestly, do you think they’d be more likely to buy the book if you don’t put a series name on the cover until book 2?

      1. No, this makes things worse. If it’s a series, but you pretend it isn’t, readers get PISSED. I believe in honesty, and readers appreciate that same honesty.

    3. Makes me glad I have a safety net to write. A grand-a-week, 4-day-a-week job, coupled with a small military pension, keeps the lights on in my house, food on the table, and my lovely wife from divorcing me*. I can afford to spend the time gambling on launching a series.

      Sadly, many other authors can’t, either due to time constraints (they’re already working at their day job(s) so much just to be able to afford to live that they’re lucky to get the time to average 2K words a week) or they’re so burnt out from their day job that all they have energy for upon getting home from work is going right to sleep, several days out of the week. Sure there’s a certain amount of “When there’s a will, there’s a way” element to getting around that, but that’ll only get you so far. If you’re a newbie with a day job, and only have a little bit of time or energy each week to write, do you really want to waste it on a potential series that ends up being a dud?

      How many newbie authors cleared the hurdle of getting their first book published, only for it to sell poorly, discourage the author ftom writing further, and drive them to go back to working 10 hours a day at Taco John’s, because of Rothfuss and GRRM? Worse still, how many have suffered depression or other mental issues from the stress of a failed product of a long-running effort to pursue a dream, because of those two? How many discouraged authors decided that they couldn’t handle the failure and chose the Kurt Cobain Solution** to cope can we lay at their feet?

      Sobering to consider.

      *This is a joke. My wife loves me……most days.

      **This isn’t a joke–if anyone here is having thoughts of suicide, get help and call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988 or 1-(800) 273-8255. Shitty book sales don’t make one shitty, or a failure; don’t choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem!

  40. This feels like the people who got so used to binging entire series and seasons in a few days they petitioned and threatened to cancel their netflix when the company released shows in a weekly format.

    There is a shelf full of books that might not ever get a sequel and I truly wish they would but I’ve found many books I’ve enjoyed looking for something similar to scratch the itch.

  41. I’m starting to realize that I’m old.

    My messed up relationship with novel series or trilogies was set before Martin. In fact, I waited until his trilogy was complete to buy it! (Joke was on me!)

    I think that my “wait till it’s done” resolve was because of brick and mortar and year long publishing cycles. And it may still take a year between books but for a while the combo of books that were incomplete, that really left you hanging, and then waiting a year, and if you didn’t happen to look at the right time, the books getting sent back from bookstores for returns and the chance of *missing* an installment, caused me a lot of trauma that I wanted to avoid.

    There was also the business practice of publishers not even buying follow on books if the first didn’t sell, so the ‘smart’ author didn’t even write them until told to do so by the publisher. Nothing to do with work ethics. I bought a number of first novels that I just held on to unread, to wait to see if there were more before committing.

    (I also psyched myself out of writing, or finishing, or committing to writing for most of my adult life by freaking out about “what if I finish one book and it’s great and then I can’t write another?”)

    Larry is right, of course, none of that is the fault of authors who it’s not the fault of, and lots of people really like long, involved stories, so take a chance on new authors.

    1. “what if I finish one book and it’s great and then I can’t write another?”

      Then you have written a great book, which is more than most people ever accomplish. Most folks never manage to write even a not-so-great book. Some never manage to write even a lousy book. Who’s that one Brit, got a government grant to write a book 15? years ago, and still hasn’t written anything?

      In that case, I suspect that we are all better off for the government paying him NOT to write.
      “Gentlemen! You can’t fight in here — this is the War Room!”

  42. A series with mostly self-contained books is very different from a classic multi-book story where they really really did leave you completely hanging with literally everything unresolved for at least a year (if you were lucky).

    1. Synova brings up a point I haven’t seen earlier in this (significant) thread: It’s possible to write series books that stand sufficiently alone that readers who read one from the middle don’t go away hungry. It’s not either/or. There is a shaded difference between books that stand utterly alone and books that can’t be understood if the reader hasn’t read all the earlier books first.

      This happened to me: I discovered MHI before I rejoined fandom circa 2014 (after abandoning it about 1986) and began with book 4. I had no trouble with it. I knew it was part of a series, but Larry dropped enough hints about previous volumes that I loved the book and read the rest in the order that I cornered them in bookstores. So it wasn’t in order. As they say, Nothing of value was lost. This was less true of Grimnoir, but by that time I knew Larry was a Power and went looking for anything by him that I could, and read it from the beginning, in order.

      My own approach is to create a sufficiently rich universe and then tell loosely-coupled tales within that universe. This is a good idea for older authors like me (I’m closer to 71 than 70) and does not confine the author to a specific order for the tales. Yes, you have to do a timeline to keep the details straight and all that stuff, but if the universe is interesting enough, the readers will be able to connect all the dots and read the books in any order they choose.

  43. Jordan also made sure his work would be finished. I love trying new authors. Larry is one of my favorites. Brandon probably is my favorite- read Brandon because of his finishing up Jordan.

    Martin not my favorite, got banned from his website for discussing politics – but hey his house his rules.

  44. Still mad at Gerrold. But I bought into the Wheel of Time when The Dragon Reborn came out, figuring “surely this series is done.” Then I had to read that book 7 more times in order to remember what the hell was going on, and who was who as each succeeding book came out. Same with the Aubrey and Maturin series, and currently stuck in said situation with The Dresden Files and the Rivers of London. I’m never doing that again, and there’s enough fantasy writers that if someone doesn’t finish his trilogy, well, there’s three others who will.

    1. ^ this.

      I read WOT ovwr and over because i came in around book 4 then had to remind myself who the characters were every couple years. Not complaining, i love them.

  45. Fuck GRRM. I say this not because I’m waiting on his next book, I say this because I have enough door stops in my house and do not require another. GRRM had a decent story. Nothing astounding, except for the sheer arrogant stupidity of about 90% of his characters. His prose is… eh. I read about three chapters of the first book, put it down and never went back. I do not require a sleep aid, thanks. The TV series was more entertaining, even though the arrogant stupidity of the characters was still present. That’s… literally amazing. What other author can you say that about? How many authors write awesome stuff only to have a TV series follow that absolutely blows goats? All of them. Except GRRM. That’s pretty telling imho.

    Also, Son of the Black Sword is like crack. Take my money, every time a new one rolls out.

  46. Thanks for reminding me of another bloody disappointment.
    David Fucking Gerrard has been sitting on the Cthorr series for even longer than GRRM has been avoiding writing Winds of Winter. And yeah, the first book was published when I was in elementary school and I turned 50 this year.

    Having met him, I think he’s a tin plated ass, but he’s a damn fine writer when he actually… writes.

    1. Gerrold and Martin were both angry at Larry during the Campaigns to End Puppy-Related Sadness. Coincidence?

  47. I read lots of series and books, and am always looking for new ones so that I usually have several series’ and even books partially read at any given time.

    So I may complain in the “I can’t wait for the next one!” Vein of good naturedness comments, but I can actually always wait.

    Rothfuss… isn’t that the name on the wind thing? Yeah, barely got through book one, didn’t really like it.

    If anyone is looking for an excellent epic fantasy series and they haven’t read it, the Traitor Son Cycle by Miles Cameron is excellent (and finished).

  48. Ok I’ll push this here too instead of just Facebook.

    What your piece is really saying to me is that Epic Fantasy is an incredibly unhealthy genre in a business sense and will likely continue to be so for a some time. The genre is defined by large word counts and long multi-book arcs both of which cause significant business and market issues.

    Large word counts aren’t particularly profitable for writers in the first place as a book twice as long takes twice as long to write but does not pay twice as much. This makes it harder for writers to make a living in this genre compared to others.

    Long arcs are the big problem because they really change how people get paid including the publishers. The inability of major popular figures in the genre to actually complete their series has made the readership leery of buying into a multibook series before completion. The publishers have taken the approach that they’ll just push out lots of 1st books in a series and see what gets some readership. Everything that doesn’t gets cancelled. This will actually make even more readers leery of buying into book 1 because most books published this way will never see a book 2 or 3. So a few old writers don’t finish series and now most new writers won’t finish series either. This is a wicked cycle that will only deepen the genre’s problems.

    Is there a way out? Maybe, I would argue they need to shift Epic expectations back towards the Fantasy roots. Leaner storytelling. Lower world counts. That way the writers can make a profit. Also the truth is that lots of Epic Fantasy is damn bloated storytelling. Maybe moving towards a more episodic, but progressive story arc system instead of expected the epic multibook arc. Maybe something like Goodkind’s Sword of Truth which had strong individual books tied together with shared characters and setting. The genre needs to become approachable instead of please publisher dont’ hurt me again. I mean when I look at how I started reading Epic Fantasy, it was through Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Terry Brooks, and varies D&D tie-ins as points of entry. Of those most wouldnt’ be considered to be in the genre if they ever were. The Lewis and Brooks books would be children or YA now. The D&D stuff isn’t epic enough (and God some of it was bad). Tolkien grandfathered, but is barely long enough to make word counts for EF at major publishers.

    The current state of Epic Fantasy is profoundly unhealthy for everyone and it probably should die. It will could be reborn as a subset of a broader and healthier Fantasy genre that includes books structured to be more approachable for readers. Or it will struggle on as a prestige genre occupied by a relatively small group of writers. These writers will either already occupy it and have the trust of the readership (like Brandon Sanderson), manage to import a readership from somewhere else (like Larry), be darn stubborn and maybe self-publish, or just happen to win the readership lottery enough to make it to old hand status. Or maybe it will pull out somehow, but I doubt it will be by authors telling people to just suck it up buttercup, buy more books, and embrace the hurt.

    1. So your “solution” to “the problem” of Epic Fantasy and Sci-Fi is … force everyone to not write or read Epic Fantasy/Sci-Fi? It’s not “maybe I should just not read Epic genre,” but “everyone else is wrong for enjoying Epics?”

      Hmm … Nope. Not doing it. I’m going to keep writing and selling Epics. My readers will keep purchasing them as long as they keep enjoying them.

      I suggest that your fix is “buy books that aren’t Epics.” There are plenty.

    2. you’re saying all that on the page of a dude whose epic fantasy series is 140k per book, and paced like a thriller. 🙂

  49. Larry, dead on and entertaining as well. I would only quibble or question one of your tossed off bon mots….

    “[Sanderson has] built a fan base that trusts him. This is extra ironic because he owes his career to stepping in to finish another famous author’s series when he died.”

    I guess I thought he was already a ‘made man’ by then. Certainly I believed he had frankly shown himself better than Jordan by then. And proved it in finishing the series. But then I could rant about Wheel of Time for hours.

    These days I hit the indie published stuff hard (Hi JVS … Waves) and get well entertained even if quality varies.

    Thanks for a fun read.

    1. He wasn’t made at all. He was a relative newb.
      The very first time I met Brandon was at a con, where I was a total newb, and he was the guy with a few books out, and they had just barely made the announcement that he had been picked to finish WoT. I was there when he got mobbed by angry, angsty fans asking him questions and making demands. Brandon was far from set at that point, but sticking the landing on WoT and making all those fans happy so they followed him elsewhere gave him 20-30 years worth of career building boost at once.

    2. I was also a fan of Sanderson’s well before he got picked to finish WoT.

      I keep wondering if he’ll eventually be the one to finish GoT as well. 😉

  50. For me, reading time is far more limited than money. I have time to read about 30 books a year. If I live to an average age, I have about 25 years left, which equates to 750 books.

    If I read a complex, epic fantasy novel in an uncompleted series, I generally have to reread some or all of the previously completed novels before reading the next book in the series if more than about a year has passed between novels. If the mainline of the series extends to 5-10 books, that takes up a big chunk of my lifetime reading (and reduces book revenue to other authors since re-reads are free.)

    I am reading a few uncompleted series, but have to limit those from a time management perspective to ones with great recommendations, or significant built up trust and enjoyment from previous books. If I was reading 10+ open ended series with no plot resolutions and long publishing gaps, most of my reading would end up being re-reads.

    My lay person recommendation to new writers would be to start with some standalone books to build a fan base and trust. Failing that, try to end books with some sort of temporary resolution/good stopping point instead of cliff hangers. If the book is good, people will buy the next installment regardless.

    As an aside, I’m not mad with Rothfuss since he has been struggling with mental health issues. I am mildly irritated with GRRM since he seems to focus on everything other than completing his main series, and he loved his cliff hangers and teasers, but that’s his choice and in the end it’s just a story. I’ve moved on from that series.


  51. Larry, great post as always!

    The unfortunate answer to the dilemma for new authors seems to be writing the entire trilogy and then seek out publishing. And perhaps the corollary is the new author needs to do 800-1000 pages total trilogy so you have an epic trilogy with “medium size” books.

    Publishers could then decide to either publish the trilogy all at once or space releases out over a year. The author then would have clout with both the publisher and the fanbase that they can complete a trilogy and then for the next series, perhaps be granted some faith to complete 3 books over 3-5 years.

    Would the publishers launch a trilogy without the first book proven to sell? Unknown, but they would have three books in hand and hopefully the market knowledge to know how many potential readers would jump at a completed trilogy.

    Also, if the readership Larry describes can be targeted via advertising, then perhaps the Done Trilogy concept would work well for a new author via Kickstarter. First chapter free download, join the KS to get 3 physical books and 3 ebooks, its all done and the KS bonuses could be stuff like internal illustrations.

    I imagine somebody must have already done this.

  52. I’ve got a strong aversion to starting on any series that’s got past book 3 and the author is still making more.

    It’s not even a fear that the author will quit on me. It’s that they WON’T! An ending would be nice, especially if the quality suffers or the author decides to try out new writing devices to keep themselves interested in the work. COUGH Brust COUGH

    Speaking of Brust, think he’s gonna advance that plot anytime soon, or we getting three more flashback books?

    1. I have DEFINITELY dropped series that felt like they were spinning their wheels and dragging it out instead of ending. But I at least read the first few books, even though the series wasn’t done. If I get to the latest and the next isn’t out, I read something else in the meantime.

    2. I do love Brust, though I despised the latest “Paarfi” novel. I’d really really like to see the actual end of the Taltos series. Though I suspect he may be in a bit of a Zelazny bind, the way the last five novels of the Amber series were, when Corwin’s kid had stuff like the GMs favorite player.

      Main character is now acquaintances with the legendary assassin that used to be spoken of only in hushed tones, possesses a Great Weapon (and not just any one of them, at that) regularly converses with The Gods… That character sheet has a lot more loot on it than it did way back in “Jhereg”. It’s difficult to come up with plot that doesn’t suck when your character is too overpowered for the world they’re in. There’s no challenge for them. Which is part of why we keep getting flashbacks, I suspect. If I were to take a guess, I’d say Brust has no idea where to go with the plot for Vlad, forward from where he is.

      Total speculation on my part, and I could be talking out my ass. But it’s still my guess.

  53. Larry, my man… “a pistol brace on his bump stock” … hmmm
    I read series if I like them. In MHI I’m waiting for the epic moment that Earl finds out he’s related to Stricken. I’m still waiting for Terry Mancour to finish the ‘Tanith’ trilogy, cause he’s dug a hell of a plot hole to fill. Probably never will, he’s off in ‘Mage’ stuff.
    Amongst new guys, Josh Dalziels ‘Destroyer’ batch was good, the next one kinda uneven. The ‘Junkyard Spaceship’; first one bored me and I didn’t go further.
    Hell, I’m still disappointed that Ellis Peters didn’t get to finish the ‘Brother Cadfael’ books (middle ages). The very next book would have likely had Thomas Becket in it, she was right at the edge of it.
    Even Tolkein didn’t get to finish everything. “Unfinished Tales”, anyone.
    Just keep grinding along…

  54. Last summer when Eric Flint passed away, I suddenly realized that when a good author is really prolific that just means that if they die they’ve got a lot more unfinished work. So should I forego all authors until one comes along who is immortal? But I’m not immortal so I’ll never be able to finish the series written by the immortal author. I guess I’ll just have to never read anything again. Which would be the same thing as being dead.

  55. A couple of points… One, as you said, if a series is good enough to agonize over it not being finished because that bastard author up and died… it could be, and has been finished, by others as has happened. Problem one dismissed.
    Two… sometimes an author writes him/herself into a corner, and can’t finish the arc with the same quality as the start! My favorite example is Alan Dean Foster… I LOVED the Pip and Flinx books (over a dozen published) but his novel series’ climax was… well, anti-climatic.

    Just saying… you might be better off with no final book than a disappointing book after all of your emotional investment. On the flip side, it’s got to be intimidating to a new Author who writes two fantastically popular novels, and is expected to live up to that on the next! See: Douglas Adams.

  56. Dude, I think you’re spot-on about the entitled jerks who never finish what they start.

    There’s another dimension to consider bigger than laziness. It’s stupidity: the writer writes himself into a corner and cannot write his way out. Maybe s/he’s a pantser… Or maybe it’s the Hollywood stupid tax.

    Happily, a certain dairy farmer’s kid has demonstrated the smarts to craft a satisfactory story arc and the character to finishes what he starts.

    1. I think that helps explain Ruthfuss. He thought he had it essentially finished, but then in the last revision, I think what started as tweaks kept going deeper and deeper, and he found that he had written himself into a corner and couldn’t fix the story without breaking it. So he gave up.
      If GRRM’s books were as pointless, bleak, and depressing to write as they were to read, it’s no wonder he couldn’t finish. There’s a limit to how much glitz, glamour, and jewelry you can hang on a pig.

  57. I’m lucky enough to be one of those writers who doesn’t have to worry about whether the book pays my rent. I don’t need a day job. I can simply focus on writing.

    Even at my lowest points, when I’m only writing 100 words a day, I’m still more productive than GRRM.

    I’m also lucky enough to have a pound or two of talent. My first book was one of the last to ever be edited by David Farland. He instilled in me the desire to publish 100 books before I die.

    Here’s an Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Advent-9-T-Alan-Horne-ebook/dp/B0BBK4125Z

    I know I’m not famous enough yet to have Larry plug one of my books, but I look forward to the day. May we all be so lucky.

  58. I have enjoyed this rant and all of the comments, quips, snarks, criticisms and refutations greatly. I am a hobby write, I guess. I write to keep my mind active (I am 74) and as a legacy for my greatest fan who badgered me to write again. 31 years ago I started an alternate history novel but real history kept stepping on my story line so I set it aside. My wife a dyed in the wool Asimov and Heinlein fan, convinced me to turn my story into a fantasy story. When I finished the first one, she tore it apart and made me redo it. I am now on book six of my epic.
    I may never publish it because I am too old and crotchety to put up with editors, publishers, lawyers, fees, illustrators and so forth but may simply put up a web site and pull a Pirate ABA Wandering Inn on the world! Hey it seems to have worked for him!

  59. I’m a new author who is just about to publish his first trilogy sf/f novel with the second trilogy manuscript just about complete and being told by people that they’ll check it out when the series is complete is way more demoralizing than any rejection or criticism or whatever else.

    1. If you pay attention to other people’s opinions, particularly random Internet trolls, you’ll never do anything.

      If you worry about how something is going sell before you even write it, you are worrying into the void. You -can’t- know how it will sell.

      Just write the damn book. Then you’ll have something to worry about.

  60. I agree that we should not tar all authors based on the actions of two well known ones who are not behaving badly. That said, I think the big problem is the prevalence of these long, so-called “epic” series. Not many writers can pull this off in a really satisfying way. The trope of a “save the world” epic storyline is pretty trite IMO. I’d rather read individual books that are more self-contained and grounded. Or even better, an open ended series of them.

  61. I want to point out that it wasn’t fans who created a moral obligation. It was Martin and Rothfuss themselves, when they explicitly promised that there would be succeeding books in their series. No one held them at at gunpoint to promise a finish to an obviously incomplete story.
    If writing is a business, one of the fundamentals of good business is “Do not promise and then fail to deliver”. When you make a such promise, it’s reasonable to expect reasonable customers to ask when it will be delivered. Granted, not all fans are reasonable. But when months turn into years of delays and some fans turn into all of them, it’s also reasonable to expect a reasonable customer to ask if it will ever be delivered, and if not, whether they haven’t been cheated.
    No, it isn’t a written contract. It’s not enforceable. No one can sue them. No one can force them to write a satisfactory finish. But it was a promise. Once having made it and chosen to disregard it, they cannot reasonably blame their fans for being unhappy with them.
    Once bitten, twice shy. It is not unreasonable for readers to expect authors to show they can finish what they have started with shorter stand-alone works before they commit to multivolume series. There are, after all, ways to write a story that has a satisfactory beginning, middle, and end and is nevertheless part of a larger story.
    If I want to buy a book for pleasure, I do not want the author to set me up for disappointment because he simply doesn’t care enough about either his work or his fans to finish what he started and promised to finish.

    1. Sadly, you’re still missing the point. The readers are right to be upset and angry, indeed… with Martin and Rothfuss. What they are not right to do is take out that anger on completely unrelated writers who have done nothing wrong.

      “It is not unreasonable for readers to expect authors to show they can finish what they have started with shorter stand-alone works before they commit to multivolume series.” — This also overlooks the fact that this phenomenon is affecting *everyone* whether or not they have completed previous series or stand-alone works. The accusation is thrown at new writers, established writers, ones with multiple completed series under their belts… and it affects them all. The big guys manage through it, but the newbies and midlisters don’t always survive.

      You can’t develop trust with your readers if they refuse to even become readers in the first place because they’re too offended by something done by this other guy that you don’t even know.

  62. Eh… it is a free market. After the Washington Football Team broke my heart for twenty plus years, I realized that was going nowhere and had to move on. That’s the price they pay for being awful. Yeah, Robert Jordan kept stringing me along with random side-issues and characters and then suddenly started adding new characters and plotlines in book 9 or 10 thus showing that he never intended to stop the series. They’re all sitting here on my shelf. I guess I could go back and read them to see if there’s some juice left to extract but why would I hurt my brain and lose all that time all over again only to be disappointed again? I just… can’t.

    GRRM? Look, I get it. He didn’t have much when he was growing up and a new author. He struggled for years before he hit huge. Now he gets to travel around the world and see things most of us will never get to see. It is his life. He’s entitled. But I surely would love to see some of his characters progress in his way with his plotlines rather than being stuck with the HBO improv forever.

    But nobody with a rational mind could impute a few authors’ shortcomings to an entire genre nor could they do that in all perpetuity. Heck, Brent Weeks is bringing out another Night Angel book soon and I’m looking forward to that. Steve Perry unexpectedly produced a last Matator book recently which I received with surprise and delight. And that Correia guy has two series, both the Grimnoir and Monster Hunter International where new work is expected this decade. It is all hugely exciting! 😉

    1. I was so happily surprised that Steve Perry published that final Matador book, but anyone not intimately familiar with that series will be completely lost. I am a huge fan of that series, and I need to go back and re-read the whole series myself, which gives me something to do while I wait for the next book Larry (or one of my other favorite authors) publishes. I understand that Steve Perry wasn’t making much money off the Matador series, and got tapped to write Stars Wars novels, that is a no brainer.

      I also found a military sci fi trilogy he wrote called Cutter’s Wars that actually has an ending to the entire series.

      Lastly, Daniel Keyes Moran has started writing again, which is great news to those like myself who really liked his books and short stories. Of course he is going to an entirely different “time” in his universe. There are still a lot of really good books & series out there, you just have to have a little faith.

      1. Excited to hear about Brent Weeks. I bounced off the stuff he did after the Night Angel books, the ones with the Magic-the-Gathering style metaphysics.

        I’d be ecstatic to be able to buy new DK Moran books, especially if he finally picked up the Continuing Time series again… my book case has been waiting on that since the 90’s…

        Also, I think that the habit of not buying due to being burned goes back further. I won’t ever pick up another Stephen King novel in my life due to the Gunslinger delay (and now due to knowing he’s shit-bird of a human being). To balance, I try to buy a mass-market paperback from a new author a few times a year, both to encourage the brand new authors and to remind publishers like Toni that there are still folks that mostly only buy in a preferred format.

  63. Problem was, we got spoiled. David Eddings, who just kept punching them out. Terry Goodkind, who not only punched them out, but several times left the series at a good stopping point only to continue to write. Robert Jordan, who kept stringing us along, but when the unthinkable happened, left notes for Brandon Sanderson! to finish the series. Then came Martin who screwed it all up. But you are right, buy them as they come out. Sometimes you get The Book of Kantela, where you get one GREAT book, but the sales just do not justify the authors writing the next two books. I am still bitter over that. Not at the authors, but the fans who didn’t buy the damned book.

    1. The problem is that GRRM and Rothfuss grew the audience, but the new readers they hooked are also taking their frustrations at G. Martin and Rothfuss out on everyone else.

  64. On December 27, 2013, my best friend was murdered. He was a fan of the GRRM books, so one of his other friends promised that when the next Ice and Fire book came out, she’d place a copy on his grave for him. That book still hasn’t come out. I don’t think my friend really cares – he’s up in Heaven, probably enjoying Robert E. Howard’s latest masterwork or something – but just putting some extra perspective on Martin’s futility…

    As for me, I don’t read a lot of epic fantasy right now, but I am reading Robert McCammon’s Matthew Corbett books. He’s been getting those out without any notable delays. I’m happy, but even if he hadn’t gotten as far along as he has, I’d still have some good books out of it.

  65. My writing insights are dated, as I basically went back to tech work and just write now as recreating, but…as of 2013, none of the big publishers (who’d pay at least few thousand for a book) would touch a new writer who wanted to write an epic fantasy trilogy unless all three books were done. That didn’t mean they’d buy all three or publish them (like you say, lots of really great writers got dropped because their first book, or two, didn’t sell well enough), but you had to have 3 done to even get a look-see from DAW, Pyr (RIP), or Random House.

    That throat-clearing said…I’m kinda on the side of the picky readers. There is SO much good stuff out there, done and complete, taking a risk on something or someone new and unknown is a gamble. And there’s only so much time to read, so do I go after an author with one or two books of a trilogy out or do I go with Agatha Christie or Fritz Leiber or yeah, Robert Jordan? It sucks but I’ve been burned often enough that I’m one of those reluctant to get emotionally invested in a story that will never be ended.

    And this has nothing to do with Martin or Rothfuss, I’ve mentally written them off long ago. I no longer care about their output, as I mentioned, there’s only so much time and my unread book pile is not getting smaller.

  66. I got really pissed off after I started the new “Stairway to Forever” series by Robert Adams (the “Horseclans” author for those of you who’ve never heard of him). Bought the first two books, and then he stopped producing after the publication of the 2nd one in 1988..

    Since this was pre-Internet (for me) I only found out that he had died at the start of 1990 when I complained to Scott at Uncle Hugo’s about how long he was taking to put out the next book in the series. He actually had the NERVE to up and die on his fans in the middle of an uncompleted series! (That’s sarcasm, by the way, for the humor-impaired.)

    Hey, Mr. Correia? Take really good care of yourself, because we want to be reading your stuff for a long time to come.

  67. As a potential solution, what do you think about leaning on the “standalone with series potential” versus “planned as a trilogy” continuum? Especially for new authors?

    Part of my personal qualm with trilogies is middle book syndrome.

    Process-wise, many authors spend years crafting the first book but have 6-9 months to submit the sequel for editing. Content-wise, it isn’t the triumphant start nor the epic finish.

    Even Brandon Sanderson started with standalone novels until he built enough credibility to dive into a trilogy, and only then started the 4.5M word magnum opus that was his dream.

    Would focusing on standalone novels to begin help aspiring authors?

    1. I’ve talked about this on WriterDojo repeatedly. Yes. Make sure your first book, even if it supposed to be part of something larger, can stand on its own and give the reader enough satisfactory conclusions that they come away feeling positive about it.

  68. The Martin/Rothfuss issues are a problem easily solved — simply
    hire out Brandon Sanderson to finish up for them. It’d be nothing
    more than a minor blip in his workload. Admittedly, you’ll miss
    out on a bit of sex, violence, and perversion in the finished product, but do you want an ending or not?

    1. Even better, hire one of the authors commenting on this post. They need the exposure more than Sanderson.

  69. Another thought I had while reading this is that even *if* the series manages to scrape by enough to finish several years later, the fact that it didn’t sell well right out the gate is going to hold it back forever. With exceptionally rare exceptions, books don’t suddenly become phenomenally popular years later. They get placed lower in online stores or stocked in fewer brick-and-mortars, because they proved to be a midlister the first time around.

    You know all those folks who whine about Tolkien, Jordan, and Sanderson having three shelves each at the Barnes & Noble, while the average author is lucky to have a couple books on the shelf? This is exactly how we widen that divide.

    I genuinely wish that every time I heard someone say they wouldn’t try a particular series until it’s finished, I could write that down on a contract that requires them to read it once the last book comes out. Because I guaran-damn-tee you they’re saying this about books that they’ll never look at or think about again. Their words are hollow and they should be ashamed.

  70. So, basically what you’re saying is, “George R. R. Martin may not be your bitch, but he is *A* bitch.” :p

  71. I really don’t get this trend at all. I read each new SotBS installment as soon as it comes out. Same with Sanderson, Butcher, etc.. If the author dies or can’t arse themselves to finish what they started, that doesn’t change my enjoyment of what they produced. It’s not like there isn’t a massive amount of work in the genre I can’t move on to.


    I wrote Martin off because his pervy, shitbag characters all come across as self-inserts. I put Rothfuss down because his MC is poorly written. If neither of them care about their own work, why should I? There are plenty of others worthy of my attention.

  72. I’ve read every novel Larry has written or co-written, most of the stories, the 2A book, etc. I come back to him because he is a great WRITER and fun to read! I thoroughly enjoy his books and can’t wait for the next one to come out. Whether he finishes MHI, or GRIMNOIR, or SOTFW is irrelevant. I can drop dead just as surely as he can before I finish a series. So my advice is: shut the hell up and enjoy the books! That’s what the purpose of the exercise is…

    P.S., I made it through 2 1/2 chapters of Martin’s series before I abandoned it. Turgid, wordy, boring.

  73. Jordan – I stopped reading at around book 8, after volume skipping. He (and James Michener) needed an editor armed with the Vorpal Pen of Brevity. I read the last book to see if Sanderson could get it concluded. Interesting outcomes, but too many plotlines abruptly got knotted. Impossible task.

    What I like about Larry’s writing, also Ringo and a few other authors, is that if a series doesn’t conclude, it has one or more definite pauses, and a change of pace. As some other work gets under control, I’ll get a chance to read more from several authors in this thread. Not waiting for a series to be written, but just setting some time to read 1-2 new books was hard.

  74. Several commenters have pointed out that publishers often drop series in the middle. Publishers have also done the opposite. For example, an author I once met was making good progress on the second book (IIRC; if not, the third) in a trilogy for Tor when they offered him significant amounts of money to turn it into a much longer series, based on great sales of the first book.

    This resulted in sequences of events like this. One day, George RR Martin tells his SO that he has finished a chapter and now has 12 chapters left in his current book. A few days later, he tells her that he finished another chapter and now has 15 chapters left. (I heard this about 4th or 5th hand, long enough ago that I have forgotten the real numbers, so 12 and 15 are just guesses.)

    So GRRM got to put in all the side stories he could come up with (something that he IS good at, IMHO) into A Song Of Ice And Fire. BUT … now he (presumably) wants to tie them all together to close out the series, and there are so very many subplots that to do so is an immense undertaking. My guess is that he is … um … not making as much progress with this task as he’d like, not enjoying it much, and not all that eager to get on with it.

    1. The current estimate by other authors is that if GRRM does NOT add in any new subplots or side stories, it will take at least 3 maybe 4 books to finish everything that’s unanswered/unfinished in Game of Thrones.

      So basically, he’s got to write approximately ONE of the novels of The Stormlight Archive worth of story to finish what he has, minimum.

      I suspect he can’t keep away from side stories though, so it’s probably more like six or seven novels worth… minimum.

  75. The First Binding by R.R. Virdi that came out last year seems to be a replacement for Patrick Rothfuss’s the Name of the Wind. Hopefully, there will be a book 2 soon.

  76. Another option for those people is to just seek out and read standalone novels. A lot of writers don’t write standalones because they don’t sell as well and you don’t make as much (because the money’s in the sell-through), but if more risk-averse readers who didn’t want to read a story until it was complete simply realized that standalones are by definition complete stories and picked them up more often, everyone would be a little happier.

  77. I must be an outlier in reading, I just read what I can find and think I’ll enjoy. While I’m disappointed with GRRM for taking so long between book three and four, and then even longer between B4 and B5, my disappointment doesn’t influence how I look at other authors. If it had, I would have never got to enjoy the MHI books, each which I’ve read several times

  78. Terry Mancour started the Spellmonger series a few years ago and is on book 15ish now with several offshoots, and anthologies to broaden a particular character or story line. It’s great when I find an author like that, who writes well and often! Guess what, I’ll keep buying his books until one of us dies. I’ve spent a lot of money on books I’ve never finished and have discovered books that were one hit wonders that never had a follow up. I don’t know why popular authors don’t publish too often, but there is a lot of new talent out there I’m willing to give a try.

  79. James Clemens. Robert Frezza. David Sherman and Dan Cragg. Roger Zelazny. All of these authors, before Martin and rothfuss decided to be lazy dirtbags, have unfinished series for a number of reasons, whether it be low sales, lack of interest in continuing, being cut by their publisher in a mid-list cull, pay dispute with their publisher or in Rogers case, an untimely passing away. None of this has ever stopped me from buying books from authors who haven’t completed their series or buying books by the some of those authors for different series. Some things are out of the author’s hands, especially in the days before Indy was a real thing. People need to stop acting like entitled Karen’s, and support the author community, not piss on it.

  80. Yeah, I stopped reading GRRM. Not because he couldn’t finish a series, but because I got tired of reading his stuff. (It was like 24, about which I joke “If they did things halfway right, the show would be called ‘8’.” He would do something just to give him cause to write a bunch more crap, even if it didn’t fit with the story. And then when it looked like his series would turn into this Never-Ending Epic, I said, bleh, I’m done.

    But I never said “I’ll never read another ‘epic fantasy’!” Because that would be stupid.

    I have said “I think I’ll wait for this author to produce a few more so I can read a few in a row.” Because I found that author’s style of writing either had me binging or a need to read the entire story end-to-end. And, because I hate to wait and wait and wait for the next installment of the story, sometimes. 🙂

    Seldom an absolutist, throwing all of X into a box and saying “Never again!”

    1. GRRM tried writing a takedown of Epic Fantasy… by writing an Epic Fantasy.

      And I think knowing that the ending must conform to Epic Fantasy Tropes and Cliches kills him on the inside, considering his original intent of writing an epic takedown of what his rape and violence laden saga became.

  81. Larry,

    Didn’t enter this chat to disagree (or agree) with you, but thought maybe I could put a slight spin on your take, for you to consider. For far more years than I care to count, I was a consumer (including of your books). Then I retired, and had been being bugged by friends and family to write (they told me I was good, and should go for it – Lesson One, beware of friends and family and their advice on writing). I’ve held off on publishing book one, NOT for the reasons you are referring to, but for personal experiences reading unfinished series that I actually liked. Lord knows, I’ve dropped more than a few that WERE finished, because they didn’t hook me on book one or two.

    My problem, as a reader, is the opposite. IF an author can write good characters and an engaging story, and I start the series, and I become INVESTED in the characters – I want to read the rest of the series because (i) I’m invested in the story, (ii) I care about the characters and the story the author has created, (iii) I want to see where the author takes the story (even if I think the outcome is obvious, I STILL want to see how the author accomplishes it).

    My problem is, frankly entirely my problem – like most people, when I got addicted to reading, I had limited time, many competing demands on my time (a more-than-full-time career, and four kids). I snuck in reading when I could. I had at least a couple of occasions where I DID get hooked on a story, got to the end of volume two, was actually invested in the story and characters, and read the “volume three will be released this winter” blurb – and it was the next spring, and no volume three.

    When volume three came out, it was over a year later than that (already half a year late), I had moved on to other reading options, and though I still liked the characters and the story, I knew I’d have to reread the earlier two to get reinvolved with the story arc. I didn’t have the time. As a reader, it frustrated me, so I vowed never to do that if I started writing.

    Now I’ve started, and I’m trying to keep that vow. Fortunately for me, I am retired, and not depending on writing income to pay the rent, but for a noob, I can understand the challenge. But at least be sensitive to the frustrations of legit fans who DO want to hear the ‘rest of the story’.

    I’ve been there as a reader, and it pissed me off. So now I’m struggling with it from the other side. IF anyone is kind enough to buy my book when I do publish it, I do feel like I owe them my best effort, and I would feel bad about letting them down.

    Just my two cents.

  82. Gordon R Dickson’s passing when my new husband introduced me to his Final Encyclopedia was unnerving, since his secretary had announced that the conclusion of the series was already written. It wasn’t.

  83. Looks like Glyer couldn’t keep Larry’s name out of his mouth. He calls this post a “cruel rant”, lol. Glyer, I’ve seen some of the things *you* praise.

  84. When I read the Game of Thrones books, I had this reaction:
    -Book 1: Whoa- this is an interesting world, and kinda brutal! I wonder how the Starks are going to pull things off!
    -Book 2: Okay, it’s getting pretty nihilistic, and there’s a lot fewer Starks now- but I think things will get going.
    -Book 3: I don’t think things are going to get going (except for the murder, rape, and nihilism), and I don’t like anyone left at this point
    -Book 4: All this murder, rape, and nihilism is getting exhausting, and doubt anyone is going to go and do anything anytime soon… I’m done.

    1. Subverting expectations that the “good guys” will ultimately win after a series of struggles and losses is probably not the absolute best plan.

      If we want stories about the good guys losing, we can just be nihilists about real life and call it good.

        1. I think GRRM WANTS to finish his Epic Takedown Of That Hack TOLKIEN as a nihilist/”realist” masterpiece, but knows damn well that:

          3: He built up so many loose plot threads that it would require 3 or 4 books to finish all of what he has.

          2: Even if he says “OFFSCREEN!” for all of that extra stuff, he still trapped himself in the very fantasy tropes and conventions that he wants to take down, which leads to:

          1: GRRM either plays to the fantasy tropes and has John Snow be the destined hero, ending in the worst of faceplants because his realist epic fantasy takedown became regular epic fantasy due to his own hubris, or:

          1: GRRM “subverts expectations” and goes the same route as the ending of the TV series, ending in the worst of faceplants due to his own hubris.

          So GRRM is going to drag out the money train with prequels and side stories until he either burns it all down with an actual final book series, or he’ll let it all fall apart and be forgotten as he tries to gain comfort and love from his cold heartless piles of money.

  85. I checked your Alphabetical List, and determined that Patrick Rothfuss belongs at rank M or N. Published a book, and proclaimed himself a Writing God.

    GRR Martin (pronounced just like it looks, Grrr! Martin) made it to A or B rank. Now he just sits on his huge pile of money and vegetates.

    Is there some sort of decay rate for author rankings? Do they slowly slide down the list during their years (or decades) of sloth and apathy? They should.
    Sanity is like most things — best practiced in moderation.

  86. Question for everybody:
    Are you making a distinction between series in some way that makes Alan Dean Foster’s “Spellsinger” different from CJ Cherryh’s “Merchanter” – and therefore worse in some way?

    (Avoid The Chronicles of Amber, eh, it’s one cliffhanger after another.)

  87. I’m a web comic reader. If I stopped reading new comics just because they might not finish a series then I’d probably never start a new series, because the vast majority of web comics either never finish their stories, or end them in a terribly unsatisfying way.

    So I do the same with books, though since I’m not the fastest reader, I tend to read through series very slowly.

  88. Some time ago, I remember reading the first volume (which absolutely can stand on its own, but has a somewhat depressing ending) in this Martin fellow’s series, but upon learning that he had written several more and he’s still at it I decided to wait until it’s finished. I haven’t watched the TV series either.
    I was also put off by the nihilistic violence and the fact that bad things (gratuitously) happened to good characters. It felt manipulative.
    As for Rothfuss, I gladly read the first book, which was clearly open-ended, but the thing was also so clearly exploitative (look at me, being the secret hero behind everything! look at me, in my reduced circumstances! don’t you crave to learn my secret secret?) that it rang (emo) warning bells louder than a tornado warning. The ending was so disappointing that I’m pretty sure I won’t buy subsequent volumes (which I didn’t know existed).
    So maybe it’s because of the likes of me that they haven’t finished yet. Up-and-coming authors are easily discouraged.

  89. Oof, I hope you have a really good editor.

    I can understand your point that this can be damaging to new authors, but it is perfectly within someone’s right to not want to consume unfinished media. People even do this with television and movies.

    1. Yeah, I totally put as much effort into polishing a novel as I do a blog post I cranked out. I love when random dipshits say that. I recall posts like this fondly when I cash my giant royalty checks.
      But anyways, I like how people who disagree with me keep inserting bullshit like “rights” or “obligation” or “owing” into what I said, rather than just be honest that customers have the right to do something that fucks them over long term, but that don’t make it smart.
      What a fucking useless comment. 😀

  90. As an old (62) curmudgeonly reader, I find that – as I approach my dotage – I prefer shorter novels. The current trend of the 500 page book presented as one novel definitely sends me looking elsewhere. Back in the prehistoric days of the 1970s when I started reading sci-fi, a novel was about 135 pages.

    What is driving the market for thick tomes? If it’s not a history book or a biblical commentary, I tap-out.

    Maybe part of the solution would be authors completing a story-arc with a shorter page-count. I find it hard to believe that a typical hero’s journey can’t be told in about 400 pages; all being presented as a trilogy.

    1. I say this as someone who goes back to older novels because of their relative conciseness…. (compared to Epic Fantasy, *Tolkien* is concise….)

      Black Orchids (Nero Wolfe series), $7.99 for 192 pages.
      Fire & Blood (Martin), $7.48 for 800 pages.
      Rhythm of war (Stormlight archive) $9.69 for 1296 pages.

      In theory, if the author keeps the value consistent, the longer books represent more entertainment per dollar.

      In practice, when you factor in multiple reads over the years, not so much.

  91. One downside to reading a series piecemeal is that when a subsequent book comes out years later, I struggle to remember the details of the story. Sometimes I’ll re-read the earlier books but that’s not always feasible. I really appreciate authors like Anthony Ryan and James Islington when they provide a fairly detailed synopsis of the series’ previous entries to help me get oriented. I noticed Tower of Silence has a short blurb — it helps, but I still expect to feel lost at times when people and events are referenced and I draw a blank.

  92. https://monsterhunternation.com/2023/04/18/a-letter-to-epic-fantasy-readers-i-know-rothfuss-and-martin-hurt-you-but-its-time-to-get-over-it-and-move-on

    Larry, ok, perhaps I’m dense, but I do not find the argumentative basis for these two pieces to be consistent.

    FAN: I feel betrayed and will not buy any more of his X’s books!

    CORREIA: I’m sorry you feel that way, but that’s your choice.

    My own add-on to this:

    FAN: They keep doing this shit to me! Fuck ’em, I’m not buying anything from any of them, if they ALL don’t think that giving them a payment on what they wrote now does not, in any regard, mean they should be at the least TRYING to make it a complete story for me.

    Call it whatever you like. Moral Obligation, Ethical Obligation, Implied Contract, a trait for self preservation, whatever — when you make the claim that it’s ok to create expectations, then STILL expect the person who gave you a partial payment on those expectations to keep trusting people who keep disappointing them to not generalize and stop trusting , it’s not a rational expectation of behavior.

    You go and beat a dog wearing a red checkered shirt . The next person wearing a red checked shirt beats the dog… and the next, and the next and the next…. Whose fault is it, then that the dog fights back against the little girl wearing a red checked dress who came over to pet the puppy?

    I don’t think fans should take Rothfuss, Gerrold, and Martin as a statistical universe such that you should be generalizing to all writers, but there’s probably a fair number out there who take partial payment on a story, and then renege on it. Many times it may well be justified.

    But your example back then was utterly inflexible.

    If the author can’t figure out where to take it (e.g., Gerrold), sure. No one should be giving Gerrold (or anyone else) too much shit over this, as I don’t think he did it intentionally.

    If the series did not make enough to pay for you to write any more in it, ok, again. The author needs to earn a living, and you have no obligation to SUFFER greatly to finish the story — it is, after all, only a story, and “Yeah, First World problems, no argument”.

    It is perfectly ok to disappoint your fans as an author (Hell, it happens all the time when the subsequent stories are not as good as the first).

    Whatever obligation that might exist is very low priority in terms of life (again: First World Problems!) Just as long as author’s realize that they’re doing that: Disappointing their fans. They gave a partial payment for a whole story, which the fans gave freely, because they understand, “An author has to make a living”, and the authors reneged on that. If they did it for the apparent reasons Rothfuss and Martin did (I’ve made far too much money to work any more. Fuck ’em!), that’s bad. If they did it for reasons out of their control, hey, that’s life and them’s FWPs.

    There’s a spectrum here, tied to causes. but it’s always FWP on both sides. But one of the downsides to too many authors failing to follow through is that the dog just stops trusting people to do the good thing.

    I’m really really disappointed in Gerrold, as he had a really great idea. But I’ll live with it.

    I’m also greatly disappointed in Martin and Rothfuss, because they both had great stories to tell, and I think/suspect they made too much money, because I think they’ve gotten fat and complacent. But I’ll live with it.

    When authors disappoint me, I live with it. But it does not mean I’m not disappointed, nor does it mean I’m wrong to feel disappointed.

    1. I don’t find it inflexible at all. In fact, I went through and talked about every single point you make.
      In the more recent one, it remains consistent. The author doesn’t owe the reader shit, but the author can still be a dick. Fans don’t owe the author shit, but fans can be dicks too.
      And the part people are leaving out of this equation, there’s no OWE between these two parties who don’t have a contract.
      What there is however, is enlightened self-interest, where in this case if the fans like epic fantasy, and would like to see it continue, then they owe it to THEMSELVES to support new producers in that genre so they have an opportunity to actually produce.

  93. People are fucking weird. If you find a book that you really enjoy be happy with that. If the author writes more books in the series great, if not that’s fine too. It doesn’t make that book you loved any better or worse. I personally would rather the author write when they’re inspired and want to write, and not because everyone is bitching at them to finish the series because that might hurt the quality of the book. I also think it’s bizarre that people don’t like books because of the political views of the author. If a book is good it’s good. I sure the fuck don’t agree with everything Mr. Correia says, but that doesn’t stop me from liking his books. The world would be a boring place if we all thought the same.

    1. ” I also think it’s bizarre that people don’t like books because of the political views of the author. If a book is good it’s good.”

      Generally, I agree, but there are times it’s just obnoxious. I’ll use an example of a story I read whose politics I mostly agreed with. I was reading a spy thriller once who at least three different times had characters go on multi-paragraph rants about communism, globalism, and…I don’t remember the third one. I almost put the book down at each point, and I agreed with him. The problem was, it just distracted from the otherwise fun book and pushed me out of the story. There have been times with people I disagree with started talking and it began to push me out of the story but they then move on to pull me back in.

      1. I was mainly talking about the author’s political views outside of their books, but I get what you’re saying. If the politics in the book are annoying to the point of stopping the book then the book would fall into the not good category anyway 🤷.

        There is this whole us vs them thing going on with the politics in this country to the point that neither side can admit when their side fucked up on something and constantly bash the other side. I’m not sure when it became a thing to treat politicians like they’re rock stars instead of the fucktards they are, but I’d like to see it stop. I’m not sure where I was going with this, so I’ll go have some more tequila 🤪

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