Every author wants an audience. We all want a loyal following, where numerous readers are eager to get our next book. They’ll recommend our work to others, tweet, Facebook and blog about our books, and maybe even leave kind messages to us via email or social media, ever thankful we’ve written books they like.
But what about when they don’t leave kind messages to us? Especially if they are not happy with one of our books?
You may have heard of author Charlaine Harris, who wrote the Sookie Stackhouse novels which are the inspiration behind the HBO series True Blood. She recently completed the series, with the release of Dead After Ever, and boy, were many fans livid. Some were very disappointed over who Sookie Stackhouse ended up with at the end, and some reacted rather viciously.
I get annoyed with some authors myself. I feel like Anne Rice could’ve written better books. I think Paulo Coelho thinks himself too much as the voice of wisdom, and should stop preaching and just tell a story. But I could never threaten someone’s life because they didn’t do what I hoped they would do – especially if it is an author who has no affect over my life other than my leisure time. It’s scary to know there are people who would go that far over a minor thing.
But this raises the question: should an author consider what their readers want from in their work? If so, how often?
It’s a delicate balance, I believe. I have ideas on how my vampire trilogy should end and how the protagonist, Claire McCormick develops. I think my readers will like them, though it’s possible they’ll be surprised by the direction I take the books. That’s my feeling and I could be wrong. I touched on it in the first book, The Dark Proposal, so I hope it wouldn’t be completely unexpected by anyone. But I have in the back of my mind that some may not be pleased, and that’s just to prepare me for any disappointed reactions I may get.
But if I ever read a review on my book, I am taking into consideration on what my readers would like to see become of Claire. Granted, none are asking for a lot, just to see Claire become a stronger person. That’s fine, and I am working on that. I did intend to make her develop more for the follow-ups, though I admit I wasn’t aware of how weak some readers thought she was. My intention was for her to wracked with anxiety and fear, but I guess I didn’t do that so well. Anyway, I’m working on redeeming that part in my next book.
My point is, it is best to take consideration on what your readers want from your books. They bought it, they read it, and if they liked it, they will be first in line to read your next work. You sort of owe it to listen to them, but I also don’t think you shouldn’t disregard your plans for your characters. Maybe tweak them a little, or let them not do something your fans wouldn’t want them to do. It won’t be easy, I’m sure, because we authors spend hours envisioning what our characters will do. Those characters are very real to us, and to learn that reality isn’t going to be popular is a bit disappointing.
So again, it is a delicate balance. Authors have to be true to their vision, but be considerate of their fans, who make writing worth the time. A good author learns to balance all this well.
But I highly recommend not threatening an author just because a series ended the way you didn’t want it to. It’s just not right. It really isn’t.