Novellas, companion books written from the male’s POV, specific endings (usually HEAs): Should readers dictate what author’s write?
Of course! Hey! Who is the consumer here anyway, right??? That being said, ultimately, what I really want as a reader is an experience. I love reading contemporary new adult because I want to relive a time in my life when I didn’t feel like anyone understood me. Seriously, had these book existed like 10 years ago, how different would my life have been? I would have felt so much more connected to the world. I also love reading YA because I want to experience first love all over again. I love reading historical fiction because I love being swept up in a whirlwind of another time and place with issues that at the surface might seem far removed from my own, but once you dig a little deeper, you discover that the people and the places and the problems of the past are not all that different from those of today. So, like I said, I read for an experience, a thrill. Like a heart stopping, breathing taking roller coaster of a ride, I read for the sheer exhilaration. Now, I actually do NOT like roller coasters at all, but if I did, I might be able to pinpoint EXACTLY what it is that I liked about them. I might even turn to my friend beside me waiting in the 2 hour ridiculousness that is the line at the amusement park and have a conversation much like this:
“Omagosh! I am so excited. They say this things reaches speeds of over 90 mph, Julie!”
And Julie could reply, “I know! Can you believe it! I can’t wait to experience the negative g’s on the inverted barrel roll!” (or something)
and then we can go on and on about how if we dare to open our eyes at the top, we could see Canada on a clear day before plummeted over 310 feet at an 80 degree angle and blah blah blah blah blah.
Really just thinking about riding something like that in real life makes me wanna puke, and then pass out and then cry, in that order. So my point is, what if, as roller coaster riders, Julie and I studied the track so well that we knew what was coming at each and every bend in the track. At every corner, we could anticipate the next corkscrew or drop? Would we still enjoy the ride? Assuming that we really did love roller coasters, then yes. We would. But would we be as thrilled as we could be if we didn’t always know what to expect? No we would not. And that is my point. As a reader, I do have expectations and perhaps those expectations, which happen to be shared with a lot of other readers, do in fact influence what writers write and publishers publish. However, I love being surprised. Even if the surprise is bad, sometimes, a reader needs a good swift punch in the face, or gut or tear ducts. I might not like it if I do not get my happily ever afters (HEAs) by I will certainly remember a book that caught me totally by surprise. Also, I like when an author does what he/she feels is true to the characters. If a character really would never marry the hero, then, by all means, let them break up or move on or grow apart, whatever. If a character would never be happy settled down, then, go with what the character would actually really do. As a reader, I can respect an author for writing a well written, original storyline even if I do not like how the book ends. (Or perhaps even that the book ends and the author is not going to write a sequel or companion book.) Any author that maintains his or her true vision with integrity to the characters and plot, has my respect. And besides, how would you ever fall in love with a book if all it ever gave you was exactly what you wanted and never once took you by surprise?
This is a topic that readers like to debate. Sure, we are the target audience and if the readers are no longer happy with the direction of the books, we’ll go somewhere else. So in a way, if authors write what their readers want to read, they will ensure their books continue to sell. However, the story is up to the writer and that writer should be able to write his/her story however feels right. Do I think the readers should demand a different ending than the way the author wants to end a book or series? Well, no. The story and the characters live with the author, and the author needs to be true to the story and true to the characters. Changing the direction the story goes just because of reader demand is not right. I mean, that’s what fan fiction is for, right? But I do think it is fine when authors notice a trend and cater to it because they know their readers will appreciate it. This is the case with alternate POV companion books that have been coming out lately. There seem to be quite a few romances nowadays with a separate book being published from the male’s perspective. Sometimes these do a good job introducing new information to the plot, but sometimes they are just a rehashing of the story. But, if it sells and makes readers happy, there really isn’t anything wrong with that, right? I’ve heard some authors at signings or even in their blogs ask the audience if there is a specific character that should get their own novella, so they are interested in knowing which of their characters we want to hear more about. But, I definitely think we as readers should not be telling authors outright that we demand something, whether a novella, a companion book, or a change in the way the plot is going.