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Ser Scot A Ellison

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

152 posts in this topic

4 hours ago, Werthead said:

We should note that, even given the massively increased interest from the TV show, the wait for Winds of Winter has been far less rancourous, angry and spiteful than that for ADWD. The primary reason for that appears to have been GRRM's infamous note in the back of AFFC indicating that ADWD would follow a year later. What genuine anger there has been for WoW followed his New Year's Day 2016 update indicating that he hoped to get the book out in a year or so, even caveating that this was an aspiration, not a promise. This just seems to vindicate GRRM's instinct not to provide any updates at all.

Or people (me) have grown jaded with the wait and are (am) content to see the story play out on tv and be done with it. I've stopped getting upset or even concerned with the wait (unlike my friends who've read the books post HBO), because the wait is no longer a coincidence but part of a trend.

To tie this back in to the thread, does GRRM/Rothfuss/etc have an implied agreement with readers? Legal, no. But they have to accept that no one has an implied obligation to continue purchasing either. It's a symbiotic relationship. When one side breaks down, the relationship can't continue.

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32 minutes ago, Calibandar said:

And he's right to argue that. There is an obvious moral obligation on the part of the author of a multi volume series such as a trilogy to continue and complete the story. Implicit agreement between supplier and reader that the remaining 60% of the book's chapters will follow. 

Of course this has now been pointed out to you by several others as well, such as Kalbear who made a couple of very apt points on this subject, and Sperry and Hereward as well. I could continue the discussion I had with you in the Scott Lynch thread as well but this gets us absolutely nowhere, you will bang your head against the wall until it's bloodied on all sides. I don't think there is really any discussion going on here, just a constant restating of " there's no obligation whatsoever, authors are artists and they can do whatever the hell they like!" vs " of course there is a moral obligation, authors are not exempt from normal values, the expectation is perfectly reasonable". 

In addition, this is not about Rothfuss, he's an outlier. Any author that publishes book 1 of a marketed trilogy has an implicit agreement with and moral obligation to the reader who gives his trust to him, to continue to produce the rest of the story. Obviously they might fail, and obviously it is not a legal obligation, but without the implicit understanding that the trilogy will be continued and the reader actually gets to read the conclusion to the story, this stuff is going to get sold to a much smaller degree.

What does all that mean if there is no legal obligation created by your alleged "implicit agreement".  Does failure to complete a series make the author a bad person?  What do you mean by "moral obligation"?

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20 hours ago, felice said:

 

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.

That's an interesting way of turning this around and I note your argument has not been addressed by those proposing that there is no obligation and implicit agreement at all and that even if you buy book 1 of a marketed series, you only get what you pay for, 30% of the chapters, and you're not entitled to even expect anything more. Authors and publishers very much treat "this is book 1 of a trilogy" as a promise to readers, and not as a warning. Ran's remark that readers should beware and basically have themselves to blame if they're disappointed is not the way publishers see it. 

3 hours ago, mormont said:

I'm not really serious with any of these questions, just trying to point out how nebulous and absurd this whole discussion is, and how the premises go unexamined, and people ignore how complicated real life (and storytelling) actually is.

The root of this whole debate boils down to: sometimes in life, people are disappointed and frustrated. Human nature in those situations is to relieve those negative feelings by finding someone to blame. That is not always a healthy reaction, or a fair one, but there it is. So people will always look at stuff like this vague 'moral obligation' to justify that reaction. If it works for you, OK: just so long as you don't take it to the point where you start spitting venom and harassing people who, bluntly, don't owe you another single word.

As Sperry indicated, there is nothing nebulous or absurd about expecting the rest of the story to be published when you're buying a book that is clearly part of a series. It is fully within normal societal values.

What your statement tells us is that at root, *you* feel people who expect anything from the author beyond the book they bought, are entitled brats. People are not trying to offload blame onto someone else because they are frustrated, overly entitled and disappointed individuals Mormont; they can very well be right to blame the author. We all realize circumstances determine each case, but you're pretending that people unfairly accuse an author if they expect anything from them. It's not a way for people to deal with disappointment and just blame the poor author; oftentimes they are perfectly justified to identify the author as the cause of their frustration.

20 hours ago, Kalbear said:

Sorry, but you're acting like a lawyer here. I'm not saying that the person who buys it  can join a class-action lawsuit. I am saying that they have a reasonable expectation when they buy 'first in a trilogy' that the trilogy will at some point actually be completed, and if it is not then they have a reasonable disappointment because that promise was essentially broken. 

Not everything about a promise is legally binding. 

 

Exactly.

19 hours ago, Ran said:

People have the right to be as unreasonable and hard-hearted as they like, of course. I still don't think this creates an actual obligation. If one says one will attempt a thing, one is obliged to attempt it, not achieve it.

So you're at least recognizing here that there is an implicit promise/agreement that the author will try to finish the story if you buy the first 30%. Of course it's possible that they can fail to achieve it, but then you also have to accept that people can be understandably disappointed right? It's not like they just bought book 1 with the idea that they would get 30% of the story and nothing else.

15 hours ago, sperry said:

 

If you polled most people, I believe they would not buy a book that is advertised as part of a series if you tell them that that series will not be completed. A trilogy, or book series, takes one story and divides it into pieces that allow the author to receive compensation (and generate buzz and future sales) prior to finishing the whole thing. The books in both KCC and ASOIAF do not stand alone. They are very clearly individual pieces of a larger story, and were advertised exactly as that.

 

Exactemundo.

Edited by Calibandar

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8 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

What does all that mean if there is no legal obligation created by your alleged "implicit agreement".  Does failure to complete a series make the author a bad person?  What do you mean by "moral obligation"?

You are the only person here talking about legal obligations Scot. As has been said multiple times. .

Edited by lessthanluke

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33 minutes ago, Myrddin said:

Or people (me) have grown jaded with the wait and are (am) content to see the story play out on tv and be done with it. I've stopped getting upset or even concerned with the wait (unlike my friends who've read the books post HBO), because the wait is no longer a coincidence but part of a trend.

To tie this back in to the thread, does GRRM/Rothfuss/etc have an implied agreement with readers? Legal, no. But they have to accept that no one has an implied obligation to continue purchasing either. It's a symbiotic relationship. When one side breaks down, the relationship can't continue.

Readers are well within their rights to stop buying the books.

For example, I haven't bought anything non-aSoIaF that GRRM published or marketed. I don't care about miniatures or calendars or whatever he's been selling. For the same reasons, I haven't bought The Slow Regard of Silent Things nor would I buy anything else from Rothfuss until The Doors of Stone comes out (I may not buy that if it ever gets released, while we're at it).

If I knew Rothfuss flat out lied about the trilogy being completed and that The Doors of Stone would be so delayed, I wouldn't have bought the first two. I would've bought ASoIaF, on the other hand. It hasn't been marketed as finished and the author is not a proven liar. I don't consider failing to meet the (self-imposed) deadlines anywhere near as bad as lying about it being finished.

30 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

What does all that mean if there is no legal obligation created by your alleged "implicit agreement".  Does failure to complete a series make the author a bad person?  What do you mean by "moral obligation"?

It means that it's a dick move to leave your fans high and dry like Rothfuss  did after claiming books have already been written.

There is no legal obligation not to be a dick, and everyone is entitled to be a dick but then they shouldn't be surprised when they're called a dick.

Edited by baxus

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32 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

What does all that mean if there is no legal obligation created by your alleged "implicit agreement".  Does failure to complete a series make the author a bad person?  What do you mean by "moral obligation"?

Are you like this with your children as well? Haha, I promised you X but I have no legal obligation so sue me suckers! Or your wife? Haha, I promised to pick you up at 5 but I have no legal obligation so screw you honey and take the bus! Tell me, are you a bad person if you jump the queue, even if there is no law regulating the queue?

There is a real life outside the legal sphere that is not about legal rules, in fact, most of what we consider "decent" behaviour are not codified, legal rules but simple acts of kindness and empathy. So when someone starts to tell a story and gets money for it, there is no legal duty beyond the buyers contract (Money//Book), but there is a reasonable expectation that if somebody says "read this first part of an epic series" that this series will some day be finished. Yes, there are valid reasons, why this might not work out, and no mature adult will complain in this case. But not all reasons are equally valid.

 

EDIT: baxus beat me to it.

Edited by Alarich II

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24 minutes ago, lessthanluke said:

You are the only person here talking about legal obligations Scot. As has been said multiple times. .

I'm not asking what the legal implications are.  I'm asking what the moral implications are if the obligation is simply moral.

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Just now, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I'm not asking what the legal implications are.  I'm asking what the moral implications are if the obligation is simply moral.

Being called a dick by fans on the internet, for one.

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I think that Rothfuss is acting like a dick with the vitriol he heeves on his fans.  Likewise I think it is pretty entitled to whine about an unfinished series.  They're done when they're done.

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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Just now, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I think that Rothfuss is acting like a dick with the vitriol he heaves on his fans.  Likewise I think it is pretty entitled to whine about an unfinished series.  They're done when they're done.

Yeah, it's done when it's done.

But when you claim it's done before the first book is released and market the "complete trilogy" and all that which later turns out to be lies, then you get to experience people calling you a dick online.

I call that a fair trade. ;) 

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Just now, baxus said:

Yeah, it's done when it's done.

But when you claim it's done before the first book is released and market the "complete trilogy" and all that which later turns out to be lies, then you get to experience people calling you a dick online.

I call that a fair trade. ;) 

I can't disagree on that one.  But Rothfuss is a bit unusual.  I still love reading his books.

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2 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

What does all that mean if there is no legal obligation created by your alleged "implicit agreement".  Does failure to complete a series make the author a bad person?  What do you mean by "moral obligation"?

Let's quit with the stupid bullshit about a 'bad person'. It means the person has broken a societal norm, and that is usually considered 'bad'. Does that make them a bad person? What makes a person good or bad is another topic entirely different and one that I suspect you would have very different views on, but it doesn't fucking matter in the least

The action is seen as morally bad. There are ways that it can be alleviated - apologies, explanations, changes of behavior, making up for it, etc - but the action is morally bad. And humans as a rule can be expected to be angered at morally bad things. Some will of course take that way too far, but the central premise of 'doing morally wrong action, get anger' is a fundament of people, built into humans at a very core level that transcends cultures, and shouldn't be a surprise. 

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3 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Does failure to complete a series make the author a bad person?

Badness isn't a binary quality that a person can either have or not have; everyone does a mix of good and bad things in their lives. Failing to complete a series without good* reason is a doing a bad thing. Less bad than genocide, more bad than returning a library book a day late.

(* also not binary; there's an inverse relationship between goodness of reason and badness of failure)

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7 minutes ago, felice said:

Badness isn't a binary quality that a person can either have or not have; everyone does a mix of good and bad things in their lives. Failing to complete a series without good* reason is a doing a bad thing. Less bad than genocide, more bad than returning a library book a day late.

(* also not binary; there's an inverse relationship between goodness of reason and badness of failure)

Fair enough.  I'm just surprised by the amount of indignation that is sometimes offered toward authors who are less than prompt with the publication of works in their ongoing series.

 

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18 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Fair enough.  I'm just surprised by the amount of indignation that is sometimes offered toward authors who are less than prompt with the publication of works in their ongoing series.

 

Well, it's about honesty. A lot of people dislike implicit or explicit dishonesty, and depending on how they fall on the liberal/conservative spectrum will rate this as a big deal or a smaller deal. If you don't understand the importance of keeping promises and being honest, you probably wouldn't understand the vitriol people might give someone who breaks their word like this. 

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8 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Well, it's about honesty. A lot of people dislike implicit or explicit dishonesty, and depending on how they fall on the liberal/conservative spectrum will rate this as a big deal or a smaller deal. If you don't understand the importance of keeping promises and being honest, you probably wouldn't understand the vitriol people might give someone who breaks their word like this. 

I understand the importance of keeping promises.  I simply think of promises as a more personal commitment than an author attempting to write a book series.  That isn't the same thing in my mind as me promising to read to my children. Telling my children that I promise to read to them is a personal commitment the other is a general statement that an individual is undertaking a project.  The latter may or may not be completed and isn't a personal commitment to an individual or a group.

 

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Just now, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

 

Just now, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I simply think of promises as a more personal commitment than an author attempting to write a book series.  That isn't the same thing in my mind as me promising to read to my children. Telling my children that I promise to read to them is a personal commitment the other is a general statement that an individual is undertaking a project.  The latter may or may not be completed and isn't a personal commitment to an individual or a group.

For some people, keeping their promises or being honest is important regardless of who you're being honest to. 

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20 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

For some people, keeping their promises or being honest is important regardless of who you're being honest to. 

Kalbear,

I don't see a generalized statement of intention to write a book series on an unspecified schedule (in most cases) to be the same thing as a promise to undertake a specific action at a specific date and time (or by a specific date and time).  You may see the former as a "promise" but I do not.  It isn't about who is being spoken to... it is about what the person who is speaking says.

Saying "I'd like us to take a vacation in Key West someday."  Is not the same thing as saying to your family, "I'm going to take everyone to Key West in May of 2018".  The first is a generalized statement of intent, the second is a "promise."

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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Wait a sec maybe Rothfuss is grumpy because (Sanderson's Stormlight reference/spoiler)

Spoiler

he broke his oaths and killed his spren!

 

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You're the one that said that being honest to your kids carried more weight than being honest to strangers; I took you at your word. 

You appear to not be able to understand that honesty for some people doesn't have a variable value depending on who you're talking with. Some people don't think like that; some people believe that honesty is important regardless of who you're interacting with. This appears to be difficult for you to get, but that makes it no less accurate.

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