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Ser Scot A Ellison

Does starting a series create an implied agreement that the series will be completed?

153 posts in this topic

I can't imagine any author just fucks off their readers for the sake of it, there will inevitably be a reason, whether its a good one is another matter.  That being said i'd rather have waited another 15-20 years for AFFC and ADWD if they were done right, rather than read them in their current state. 

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Every argument I've seen that it does create a moral obligation seems faulty to me, and aren't really talking about morality; Calibandar's last example from the previous sense concerned what would be simply calculations of business sense and where one's money could best go. It is not immoral to fail at something you attempt to do, in and of itself.

An Olympic athlete who tells people he'll bring home a medal and fails was not actually making a promise and is not immoral; anyone can understand that he's speaking of _intent_. The same with any forward-looking statement, or projection, from a creator or publisher or studio: they are expressing an intention, not promising something. If they fail to achieve their intention, that in and of itself is not immoral. It's just a fact of life.

 

 

Edited by Ran

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1 hour ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I don't believe it does.

Discuss.

Are we feeling prompted by a certain author who just told fans who asked about an unfinished series to "just die"?   I agree with him that it is quite rude to ask about an unfinished project, OTOH, telling people who loved your previous projects to "just die" was a little harsh.

On a whole, I don't think artists owe their fans anything.

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Fundamentally, I think there may be an obligation to complete but... because the author and publisher are entitled to remuneration for the work they have already done when the publish a novel in a series that it comes out as a wash.  You have paid for what you get, not the completed series when you buy an individual book.  You buy with the knowledge that the work is incomplete and that the author could get struck by lightening tomorrow and be unable to complete the series as a result.  

Heck, I think you can make the argument that "First in the trilogy" is more a warning than a promise.  The consumer is on full notice that the series isn't complete and buys at their own risk.

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I think it's not immoral but it is rude. 

If you write a mystery and you don't provide the solution you are violating a norm. Now you could be doing it deliberately (as denstorebog did with the pink stretch) or accidentally or things may come up, but part of the reason that your work got published or made was with the explicit understanding of a conclusion down the road. 

If rothfuss got an advance and a contract based on that kind of thing, it's more contractual - but otherwise it is simply rude.

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8 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

I think it's not immoral but it is rude. 

If you write a mystery and you don't provide the solution you are violating a norm. Now you could be doing it deliberately (as denstorebog did with the pink stretch) or accidentally or things may come up, but part of the reason that your work got published or made was with the explicit understanding of a conclusion down the road. 

If rothfuss got an advance and a contract based on that kind of thing, it's more contractual - but otherwise it is simply rude.

There is no contact between the buyer and the author with regard to the further books in the series.  Again, the "First in a Trilogy" can be seen as much as a warning as a promise.

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22 minutes ago, Lily Valley said:

Are we feeling prompted by a certain author who just told fans who asked about an unfinished series to "just die"?   I agree with him that it is quite rude to ask about an unfinished project, OTOH, telling people who loved your previous projects to "just die" was a little harsh.

On a whole, I don't think artists owe their fans anything.

And please let me qualify my normal stance to one that is more nuanced with regard to that particular author.  He made an actual unqualified representation that he would have the books in his series out on a yearly basis.  That makes his case... unusual.  Most other authors are talking hypothetically and with strong qualifications about when they think they will be done.  Rothfuss made a concrete representation. 

Also, wishing death on impatient fans seems a lot over the top.

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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Unless the author/publisher is charging for future volumes up front, then no. Shit happens. 

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3 minutes ago, KiDisaster said:

Unless the author/publisher is charging for future volumes up front, then no. Shit happens. 

That would change the analysis.  

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15 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

There is no contact between the buyer and the author with regard to the further books in the series.  Again, the "First in a Trilogy" can be seen as much as a warning as a promise.

It's not a contract, but it is an implied promise - and broken promises are rude. Promises obligate some people more than others. 

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4 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

It's not a contract, but it is an implied promise - and broken promises are rude. Promises obligate some people more than others. 

How is it a promise?  The author cannot know if they will be alive the next day to finish the series.  It is a statement of intent, perhaps, but that doesn't, necessarily, constitute a promise.  I really think it can also be seen as a warning "first book might not finish buy at your own risk".

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Seems really shortsighted from a financial standpoint moreso than anything else. You're talking about a license to print money if the earlier books were successful. Even if the later book is shit, it's going to sell.

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44 minutes ago, Lily Valley said:

Are we feeling prompted by a certain author who just told fans who asked about an unfinished series to "just die"?   I agree with him that it is quite rude to ask about an unfinished project, OTOH, telling people who loved your previous projects to "just die" was a little harsh.

On a whole, I don't think artists owe their fans anything.

Agreed.

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43 minutes ago, Ran said:

An Olympic athlete who tells people he'll bring home a medal and fails was not actually making a promise and is not immoral; anyone can understand that he's speaking of _intent_. The same with any forward-looking statement, or projection, from a creator or publisher or studio: they are expressing an intention, not promising something. If they fail to achieve their intention, that in and of itself is not immoral.

Failing isn't immoral, no. But not putting every reasonable effort into the attempt is. An athlete who gets sent to the Olympics to represent their country but treats it as a holiday and shows up to the stadium with a hangover after spending days sightseeing and partying instead of training would not be behaving acceptably.

Authors don't want "part one in a series" to be treated as a warning; that's a vicious circle of reduced sales, less likelihood of being able to afford to complete the series, and the warning being taken increasingly seriously.

How do you think readers would react to an explicit warning on books that there is no such agreement? A sticker on the cover saying "This book ends in a cliffhanger; the author might write a followup volume to resolve it if they don't have anything better to do, but no promises!" isn't likely to improve sales.

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1 minute ago, felice said:

 

Failing isn't immoral, no. But not putting every reasonable effort into the attempt is. An athlete who gets sent to the Olympics to represent their country but treats it as a holiday and shows up to the stadium with a hangover after spending days sightseeing and partying instead of training would not be behaving acceptably.

Authors don't want "part one in a series" to be treated as a warning; that's a vicious circle of reduced sales, less likelihood of being able to afford to complete the series, and the warning being taken increasingly seriously.

How do you think readers would react to an explicit warning on books that there is no such agreement? A sticker on the cover saying "This book ends in a cliffhanger; the author might write a followup volume to resolve it if they don't have anything better to do, but no promises!" isn't likely to improve sales.

Fans who refuse to buy a book in an unfinished series are already treating "First in a New Trilogy" as a warning.  It can be either.

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I don't think there's any such agreement, implied or otherwise.

If you think about it, it's in the author's best interest to finish the series since he/she stands to lose the most if he/she doesn't. Even if we disregard the financial benefit that more sold books would bring, it's their life's work we're talking about, it's their legacy.

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34 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

How is it a promise?  The author cannot know if they will be alive the next day to finish the series.  It is a statement of intent, perhaps, but that doesn't, necessarily, constitute a promise.  I really think it can also be seen as a warning "first book might not finish buy at your own risk".

All promises have liability like that. A statement of intent to do something is another way of describing a promise. 

You can see it as a warning as well, except most people don't - because the implication when you state something like this is that it is planned and will be completed. Now, if we're at the point in our society where there are so many failures to complete series and works that this isn't exceptional I'd agree - but part of the reason 'first part of a trilogy' is used as a marketing ploy is because the implication is that it will complete. 

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8 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

All promises have liability like that. A statement of intent to do something is another way of describing a promise. 

You can see it as a warning as well, except most people don't - because the implication when you state something like this is that it is planned and will be completed. Now, if we're at the point in our society where there are so many failures to complete series and works that this isn't exceptional I'd agree - but part of the reason 'first part of a trilogy' is used as a marketing ploy is because the implication is that it will complete. 

I don't think "Statement of Intent" and "promise" are quite as co-extensive as you seem to think.  The key there is whether someone acts in reliance upon the "Statement of Intent".  If the answer is yes then there may be some obligation on the part of the person who made the statement if they reasonable knew that another party to rely to their detriment upon that statement.  However, arguing that the person who buys the book, in a series, is materially harmed by their reliance is where this becomes difficult.  They did get a book, a book that they presumably enjoyed (hence they want the next book in the series).  The person who wrote the book, the company that published the book is entitled to payment for the product they produced.  As such I think this is a wash.  

While their may be some obligation that obligation is discharged by provided the portion of the series the person purchasing the book actually obtains.  Another difficult question if this is in fact an obligation/promise to complete... the damages are contingent upon the series being incomplete.  So long as the series can be completed I would argue the person claiming the author has an obligation to complete can't claim damages, because the series can be completed.  That means the only time damages would actually arise is when the author can't complete the series. 

 

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