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The Winds of Winter Will Not Be Released Ahead of Game of Thrones Season 6

3 January 2016

From Nerd Core Movement:

George R.R. Martin has been working tirelessly on the sixth novel in his Song of Ice and Fire series that serves as the inspiration to HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones, but despite a lot of writing done in 2015, the book is still not complete and he’s unsure when it will be delivered.

Martin broke the news to his fans late Friday night with a blog post where he revealed that the plan was to have The Winds of Winter finished by Halloween and then released ahead of Game of Thronesseason 6, which will come out in April.

Unfortunately, Martin says delays continued to plague his writing and deadline after deadline passed and as 2016 begins he still hasn’t finished The Winds of Winter.

. . . .

Martin understands the frustration fans and readers have while waiting for The Winds of Winter to be finished — it’s now been nearly five years since the last book A Dance with Dragons was released — and his goal to stay ahead of the television series will not happen this year.

When Game of Thrones began, Martin already had several books completed with A Dance with Dragons released shortly after the show launched but five years later as the television series continues to churn out episodes every April, the writer behind the source material for the show has slowed considerably.

The Winds of Winter is expected to be the penultimate book in the Song of Ice and Fire series and Martin has admitted in the past that with each passing page and chapter, the novels tend to get more in depth and longer in overall length.

. . . .

Martin did spend about two weeks with the Game of Thrones show runners a summer ago to give them the outline of the rest of his story along with the conclusion so they would have an idea where every character would end up and how the series would presumably end.

Link to the rest at Nerd Core Movement and thanks to Cheryl for the tip.


111 Comments to “The Winds of Winter Will Not Be Released Ahead of Game of Thrones Season 6”

  1. He’s going to end up novelizing the show for the last book.

    Martin says delays continued to plague his writing and deadline after deadline passed

    How much you want to bet he’s moonlighting as a Greek fishing-boat captain. It would explain the hat…

  2. The series started with the idea that Winter is coming, that summer last 9 years and then comes this long winter.

    Well, he started the series in 1991 and we still haven’t made it to Winter. Will we ever get there, or will Martin continue to dither? For over twenty years, Martin has been this Chicken Little, rambling about, “Winter is coming! Winter is coming!”

    I’m starting to doubt that we will ever see it happen…

    • When I posted this story I wrote the headline ‘Winter’ is not coming. I was not surprised, since I first heard of him after he’d earned a reputation for writing slower than a dog on a turtle. It just reinforces my rules about not starting arc books until all the books are in. At least readers know that his publisher won’t randomly take the books out of print.

      I do wonder if he puts a lot of pressure on himself? I get having to walk away from a story sometimes. But I tend to think about it just enough that while reading another book or analyzing a game I’m playing a light bulb will go off, sending me “write back” to the story I’d walked away from. So maybe his problem is too much self-imposed pressure. This is where it helps for a writer to have a trusted first reader.

    • While I enjoy Martin bashing as much as anyone, I also enjoy accuracy.

      Summers aren’t 9 years in ASOIAF, they are random intervals. The current summer in the books has lasted 9 years.

      The Maesters sent out the White Crow at the end of A Dance With Dragons, signifying that winter had already begun. So, technically, we have made it to winter.

  3. The people of the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies kept badgering Martin, and he got no work done.


    • Yeah, he was making such amazing progress before.

    • At best, Martin writes 500 words a day for GOT. The Hugo controversy last year certainly didn’t take a way from that production. If it did, I would question Martins commitment to his story and his craft.

      And it’s not the first time he’s missed a deadline either. Its took him 11 years to get the last two books out, and thats on him.


      • Sincerely doubt he writes that much. That output would be approximately 1 (400k words) book every 2.5 years. If he wrote at that pace, Winds of Winter and Breath of Spring would have already been published.

        • He writs that much, I read an interview where thats the number he pegged….how much of it makes it into the final draft?

          Who knows?


          • He doesn’t revise much… but he does write lots of extra material.

          • He really, truly does not write 500 words per day. By his own admission he only writes when he’s at home, on his old DOS/Wordstar setup. Given his travel schedule over the last 15 years – dude spends half the year, easily. That’s 182+ days per year where no words are written.

            Even when he’s home, who knows, but it doesn’t sound as if he writes every day – in this one blog post, he worked on a chapter “a few days ago” and will work on one again “tomorrow” so that’s… 2 or 3 days out of a week perhaps.

            So perhaps he manages 500 words *when he writes*.

  4. Those of us who read the Wheel of Time Series have a bad feeling about this. We’ve seen an author die and one brought in to replace him and finish things up. At least that turned out well.

    Martin has said he’ll not allow another to finish his series.

    I hope he does finish it. I read the first 4 books three times each but the 5th book wasn’t as good. Maybe I need to read it again.

    A lot of times authors worry about things that, in the end, don’t amount to much. Sometimes you just have to wrap up a scene, a chapter, or the book. Get it out there!

    Chances are you’ll be surprised how well it’s received and how good you feel to finally be done with it.

    • I hope he writes something to be read after he’s gone in case he didn’t finish up prior to his passing. Like, who lives, who dies, who marries whom, what happens to the Stark kids, who gets to rule, etc. Just let us know, dammit.

      • Well, as the article said, he documented a rough outline for the rest of the series and made sure the showrunners knew where each character ends up. That’s about all Brandon Sanderson had to work with on the Wheel of Time.

        But, Martin isn’t going to have someone else finish the series if he dies. He’s said he won’t, at least. Of course, Robert Jordan said the same thing, and once he knew he wasn’t going to make it, he had a change of heart.

        But something tells me Martin would stick to that. He doesn’t really give a rip.

  5. I started losing interest in GOT in 2005 when Feast for Crows came out and was only a half a book (and was missing my favorite POV characters and therefore the answers to my most burning questions to boot). I decided to wait for the release of the second half to read Feast all the way through. I thought it would only be a couple years at most–after all, supposedly the manuscript was mostly written and just needed to be organized.

    Waiting 6 years for the second half tried my considerable patience, but I still felt a flicker of excitement when I heard about Dance with Dragons, the kind of excitement you feel when you attend your 10 year high school reunion and catch up with old friends. At that point I went back and tried to reread the first three books.

    And discovered that I had totally lost interest–now I knew the horrors to come, the various awful deaths and tortures of characters I liked, I couldn’t bring myself to read GOT a second time. It probably didn’t help that between 2005 and 2011, both my parents died and I experienced other highly stressful interpersonal situations. I just wasn’t in the same place I’d been in when I read the first 3 books in my early twenties.

    I watched the first couple seasons of the HBO series to see if that helped rekindle my interest. However, when the show’s creators started upping the violence in an already violent series, I called that quits too.

    I admire what GRRM has accomplished as a writer. And I think GOT has done a lot to show fantasy isn’t just for kids, which as an adult fantasy author, I doubly appreciate. However, I’m no longer a fan, and that’s okay. He has millions more where I came from and won’t miss me.

    • I lost interest halfway through the first chapter of the first book, back when it was the only book in the series. A friend of mine recommended it because of its realism. Sorry too real for me.

      • In my case, too much politics and not enough fantasy.

        • The principal fantasy element is the idea that a continent-sized landmass like Westeros, with no means of transportation faster than horses or sailing ships, would continue to be one kingdom through a massive civil war instead of breaking into smaller nations. Ten men want to be king, and each one has his supporters? Sounds like a recipe for ten kingdoms to me.

      • I checked out quickly too. “He’s so mean to his characters! Don’t get attached to any of them, they’ll probably die! He’s not afraid to kill off the ones fans love!” is not a way to recommend a book to me. 🙂

  6. if it came out as an ebook, he could definitely publish it in March instead of having to hand it in in October. And really–it takes the pub house SIX MONTHS to get a book out?

    • Martin L. Shoemaker

      Six months is the fast track for many publishers. They have a publishing calendar, and the book has to fit in an appropriate slot on that calendar. Certain slots are prime, and are preferred for big releases. A book this big can knock another book out of a slot, but many books have to wait. There are other concerns as well that can delay the book, many having little to do with the actual writing and editing.

      One of many benefits of going Indie is you control your own calendar. If you finish a book and want it out next month, you can probably do it.

    • A few months between turn-in and release is not a bad pace for THAT book. If you’ve read any of his stuff you know it needs editing (and even with some editing quite a bit gets into the final version). His books average like 400k words, or roughly 1600 pages.

      Plus, the printing and binding alone would probably take some weeks. I really don’t know how many books would be in the first printing but safe to say it would be quite large. Then add in a couple of weeks for delivery logistics.

    • He would lose a lot of money that way. Having a windowed release allows him to maximize his profit, because he gets 15% of the $34.95 cover price for each sale… and it will sell more hardcovers than any other book that year. Then it will sell almost as many ebooks. I doubt it would sell MORE overall with an ebook first release. It might sell as many, but he would lose hardcover sales.

      Sure, he would make more money ebook only if he self-published the book, but that’s not an option, and to say its arguable that the books would be as popular today as they are without the marketing push he got from his publisher from 98-2000 is a severe understatement.

    • The issue is not that a publisher couldn’t get it out faster; it’s because the printed edition works on a totally different cycle than just doing an ebook only. The printed format requires that promotional covers be printed so that the sales reps can present the title to the print buyers. The major accounts are currently being solicited for August 2016 titles now. The accounts have budgets and they have to allocate how they’re spending their inventory dollars. Then the publishers need time to print the books and ship them. This is totally different than converting a file to an epub and putting it up for sale.

      • If it were announced tomorrow that The Winds of Winter was to be released in print on Valentine’s Day, every print buyer in the English-speaking world would buy it sight unseen, and in massive quantities. The ‘promotional cover’ could just as well be a brown paper bag.

        • That is not the point. They have to decide how many copies they will order for the accounts that they distribute too such as Target, Walmart, local bookstores, libraries, etc. They want to order only what they think they can distribute so they’re not stuck with wasted inventory dollars being used. It’s totally different than a print book. Any publisher could get an eBook up immediately but you’re forgetting about the hundreds of thousands of copies that he might sell at that high cover price which is also undoubtedly covering his advance.

  7. But, but, but writers HAVE to write slow or it won’t be any good! 😆

    • By that measurement, (the slower the author writes, the better the book) GRRM may be the worlds greatest writer. LOL

      I can understand why people lose interest, when there are either too many books or too many years between books.

      I’m going to stick to watching the series. It’s going to wrap up long before GRRM gets another book out. I like the books but the actors are bringing a whole lot to the series.

      I think the cast is amazing.

  8. Cue the outrage from people who think George R.R. Martin owe them something. Only his publisher has that in a binding contract.

    My takeaway from this: George said he’s been trying, but sometimes it just isn’t working. That’s something that happened to me with my last novel, so much so that I handed the unfinished manuscript to a good friend to tell me if it was as awful as I thought it was. (It wasn’t, I go through that phase in every novel, it seems.)

    But sometimes, the scene just doesn’t work, you know it doesn’t work, and you can’t move forward until it does.

    I hope he finds his way through the problems with the story he’s having. I have no dog in this fight, as I gave up on the series with A Storm of Swords because it became too dark, brutal, and depressing for me.

    I’d rather see him write another Beauty and the Beast, myself.

    • It’s not that he contractually owes his readers anything. But there’s nothing wrong with saying it would just be plain decency to appreciate the people who made you a multimillionaire and at least make some effort to be decent to them.

      No one is saying arrest him for not delivering. But that doesn’t mean he’s not an *** for making his fans wait so long.

    • I don’t think people think he “owes” them something, but I do think he probably should have been a bit more open about how stalled his process was, prior to now.

      The whole thing was made worse for the fans because he published some 6 or 7 blog entries on New Year’s just prior to the “book isn’t done” post, talking about all the OTHER stuff he did this year, from working on other television series (non-GoT) to other books to travel and etc. There was something a bit offensive to True Fans in the way he went about this bit of news.

    • Well, Meryl, I am one of these “outraged” people (even if the word is a bit strong… I am just disappointed dnd disgusted… but much less today than five years ago). I am not a new reader : I bought my first GoT tome in 1998, if I remember correctly.
      But here I am taking the POV of a writer, not of a reader : if I, a very small, very much unknown writer, if I do feel that I do owe something to my readers (the few there are), and I do, why shouldn’t GRRM, big as he is ? It’s just a question of decency, by Jove. Common decency.

      Somebody below has written he owes us “his best efforts” : that’s it. Has he been giving it his best efforts ? No.

      My take away : “George” has not been trying at all. Maybe a little bit in the last months, but it was bound to fail. If he had been trying even a little bit since 2011, the book would be done. Even if he had been giving himself one or two full years of holidays to prevent the burnout.

      I do not believe, as some apparently do, that there is no book at all now. But I believe there wasn’t much more than nothing one year ago…

      If he doesn’t like deadlines, and that I perfectly understand, then WHY does he oblige himself to work on those publisher’s deadlines ? The best way to avoid deadlines is not to procrastinate when there isn’t one yet, or far enough in the future so that it isn’t a “real” deadline.

      And the last point : I would understand perfectly if he just admitted that the whole thing does not interest him any longer. After almost twenty years, and all the expectations, that would be understandable. And he has enough money to tell his publishers to get stuffed and that he will not produce a line more. So please, George, admit it, say it, shout it, just don’t leave your readers waiting and be sorely disappointed.

  9. I don’t believe he’s working hard at all. He’s making public appearances and doing lots of other projects and trips that have nothing to do with writing. He’ll be at a sci-fi con in Tucson this fall, for example. That’s time he could use writing. He doesn’t owe me anything, and I don’t care whether he finishes the series or not. Once the action moved Tyrion and Arya away from Westeros, my interest waned. There are so many other good books waiting to be read, that I don’t depend on his output to feed my appetite for reading.

    • More than a few people believe he actually doesn’t have a book at all and isn’t really working on one.

    • He gets paid for those appearances. That’s work. Its part of his job. Its a large, large portion of his income.

      The fact is, he is now extremely wealthy, he doesn’t need to keep publishing material to make money and support himself or his family, he doesn’t need to work at all.

      He continues to write because he likes too. Nothing more. When he doesn’t feel like writing, he doesn’t. He has that freedom because he’s already made his money, and he’s an old man.

      • He gets paid for those appearances. That’s work. Its part of his job.

        No, it’s a second job. He’s moonlighting, and goofing off on his primary job – the one he is under contract to Bantam for.

        • Um, under contract. As in, self-employed. He’s not an employee of Bantam. He’s not even a contract employee of Bantam. If he was, then it would be a work for hire. Its not. He’s a small business owner. Bantam is his partner, not his employer. His business is George RR Martin. Touring and public appearances is most definitely part of the job.

          • You should let all the other highly successful NYT bestselling authors who actually complete and release novels that they are clearly *doing it wrong*. They should be touring cons to enjoy the adulation of fans, instead, because comped tickets and reimbursed hotel rooms and airfare clearly are better for their careers and pocketbooks than writing the damn books. 😉

            The money isn’t coming from cons. It’s coming from book royalties and more importantly, television royalties. In fact at this point I would be surprised if the television royalties don’t exceed the book income.

            Oh, wait…

            • The money is coming from FANS, and not finishing the story is a slap in the face of those very same fans.

              In the case of GRRM and this series, the TV series is going to be the finish of the story, even if he never writes another word, the studio writers will write something.

              However, if he were to decide that his muse has spoken and he wants to start another series, I expect that a LOT of fans would hold off buying any of it until it’s finished.

              And as someone else posted, by that time they will be buying cheaper versions of the books (or used).

              He’s burned a lot of fan goodwill on this series.

  10. The man owes his readers nothing but his best effort.

    I’m slow, too, so I can only imagine what it’s like to deal with having to come up with something that pleases your fans on that large a stage, never mind being pressured to do it faster.

    The most interesting part, to me, is if you look at Martin’s original blog post, where he talks about the various ways the series and his books have already diverged. Now they’ll go even farther apart because he’s falling behind—and the show must go on.

    He pointed out that he couldn’t think of another example of a media property outrunning its source material (when that source material is still under way, that is). That’s a tough spot to be in: you don’t want to be influenced by the show as you’re writing, but you don’t want to be limited by it, either.

    Then again, he’s rich. That’s gotta help somewhat.

    • The readers made him rich, and he’s showing little but disdain in return. He could have finished that book years ago, if he put time into writing it rather than other projects.

      And this ‘I owe you nothing’ attitude by writers (and publishers) is why more and more readers wait for a series to be finished before they start reading it.

      • Neil Gaiman explains it better than any one else IMO:


        • Agreed. In the end, of course, the reader’s opinion is the most powerful in terms of deciding whether he or she bails on the author or not. And that’s as it should be. As I say above, I’m slow. So if someone decides they don’t feel like waiting for me, I’ll have to live with that.

        • I’d strongly suggest that most indies don’t adopt the attitude toward their readers that special snowflakes of the industry can get away with.

        • As an author struggling to balance a ‘real’ job with the writing that I hope to support myself with, let me unequivocally state to all my past present and prospective readers:

          I am your b****.

          Should the day ever come when writing books and stories becomes my job, I will treat it a such and I will treat my readers as my clients to whom I pledge my best.

          If I commit to a series I will write that series. If I run into a block or the project stalls, I will attack that obstacle from every angle until it is broken and the book is at your disposal. And while you may not agree with how I end the tale, you ail know that I ended it in the manner I thought best, and you will have my gratitude not only for your money which makes my livelihood possible, but for your precious time in reading my work and bringing my creations to life with your passionate interest.

          I am your b****.

          • Of course, it WAS Martin’s job… for 40 years. He’s past retirement age, and he’s wealthy. Its not his job anymore, and he’s obviously not treating it as such. He doesn’t need to do anything he doesn’t want to. He has achieved freedom from such things.

            He’s not a slave to A Song of Fire and Ice. It doesn’t own him. He doesn’t even have to finish it.

            • Not unless he has a sense of honour. He can either finish it, or return the money he took from his readers under false pretences, or admit that he’s a thief who sold people a big pile of vapourware.

              • Again, where is this contract? How much did the readers pay for it? Does a book that is part of a series cost MORE than one that isn’t, in order to transfer this right to the reader? Surely SOMETHING additional is given on the part of the reader? No?

                Well, lets say its true that he needs to finish the series (its not, but lets play along). What part of the contract stipulates the timeframe he needs to finish it in? He is working on it, after all, over 15% of the novel has already been released through readings and other things. Who gets to decide what’s too long? Each individual reader?

                That’s… not much of a contract.

              • Also, that’s fine, he can return the money and readers can return the words they read… oh wait, it doesn’t work that way. They consumed the goods. The goods were… well, really good in some cases, not as good in others, but still extremely popular.

                You pay for what you pay for. You didn’t pay extra. You paid for a book. You got a book.

                • It’s the trust of the readers that has been squandered, and they repay the lack of trust by being reluctant to buy anything else that he starts.

                  He seems to be so rich that he doesn’t care, so he will probably get away with it (although a lot of people who get rich end up loosing it one way or another and have to go back to work, so it’s not a done deal yet)

                  But examples like this not only hurt the one author, they hurt other authors trying to write long series.

                  It’s one thing if it starts off the way the Dresden files did, where each book ends in a reasonably complete way. But if you start off with something that is very clearly and obviously not going to be completed for many books, and especially when it’s not going to be clear how things tie together until very late in the story, the story creator owes the fans the finish of the story, at least in outline form.

    • Martin L. Shoemaker

      Star Wars, the Extended Universe. Of course, there the situation is reversed: instead of film getting ahead of the books, the books got waaaay ahead of the films.

      And we know how that all worked out, don’t we? “Oops! What Extended Universe? Here, watch this movie instead.”

      • I thought of that, but it seems to me that the difference here is that the source material comes from one guy—and he’s the only one producing the books. Were the Extended Universe books a Lucas product?

        • What is different about the Star Wars extended universe is that there wasn’t an intent for more post ROJ movies at that time. Lucas was working on the prequels so he reserved the period 1000 years before A New Hope for himself and licensed out the rest of time in his universe with only a few loose guidelines and let the authors and publishers run with it.

          • Also, as Lucasfilm state NUMEROUS times during the making of the prequels, the EU was NEVER intended to be canon. The authors of the EU worked hard to retcon things, but even as late as 2011, the Clone Wars cartoon was obliterating things that had been in the EU for two decades.

            The EU was never canon.

    • I see it differently. If one writes standalone books, that’s fine. But when it’s a series, it’s really hard for readers not to know how things end. It’s fine to wait, but waiting years and years is hard for readers. Things get forgotten, worries of an author dying and leaving a story unfinished.

      I hope he gets really, really fired up and gets it done, because after investing a lot in a series over a couple decades, readers naturally do think an author owes them a conclusion. Just end it with the next book if it has become a chore, but give us a finale.

      • I was something of a fan of Melanie Rawn at one point. I doubt I’ll ever pick up anything she writes again.

        • Why?

          • Because of The Captal’s Tower was never written or published. Its the third book in a trilogy.

            Of course, that wasn’t exactly her fault. The sales were so bad on the second book in the series that her publisher told her to start something else, because they weren’t going to publish the third volume if she wrote it.

            She has written a first draft of it, and DAW is going to let her self publish it. But, its been almost 20 years now that fans have been waiting for the conclusion of the series.

            • This isn’t what she said back then. She was caring for an ill relative, and then became ill herself, and then she lost interest and began a new series (Spellbinder). DAW themselves, back during those years, simply kept saying that they were waiting for her to send them a manuscript.

              Perhaps you are confusing it with the latter series, Spellbinder, the 3rd book of which TOR did actually cancel due to poor sales of the 2nd book.

              But that is most definitely not what happened to Captal’s Tower.

        • Same here. Rawn, in fact, was the very person who caused me to decide to no longer buy any series in progress.

          I read [i]The Mageborn Traitor[/i] the same year I read [i]A Game of Thrones[/i]. I continued on to read the next 2 GRRM novels, however, by then I’d realized [i]The Captal’s Tower[/i] was pretty much never coming out, and began to reconsider buying incomplete series books. You must remember, back then, if you wanted to read these books on release you paid $25+ for hardcovers, which weren’t cheap for me on my budget. I decided to stop risking my money on stories that might never be finished, and thus have not read any more GRRM.

          Some years later, Rawn actually posted a message on her blog or forum or somesuch, asking FANS to write her an outline of the first two books in that series so she could try to finish Captal’s Tower. As if she couldn’t be bothered to re-read her own work. It very much read as “yeah I know you guys want the end of this story, but I am not very interested in it – give me all the stuff and maybe I’ll get it done for you”. It was bizarre, really.

    • [quote]… he couldn’t think of another example of a media property outrunning its source material (when that source material is still under way, that is)…[/quote]

      Maybe not in American media, but it happens very often in Japanese media.


  11. The readers made him rich, and he’s showing little but disdain in return.

    Without being able to read his mind, I’m not sure I could come to the conclusion that he feels disdain. Or anything else, for that matter. I’m not sure anyone else could, either.

    He could have finished that book years ago, if he put time into writing it rather than other projects.

    Your experience may vary from that of other people. You can only guess what someone else “could have” done. Or what they should.

    And this ‘I owe you nothing’ attitude by writers (and publishers) is why more and more readers wait for a series to be finished before they start reading it.

    But in fact no writer (or publisher) owes you anything at all. Or me. Or anyone. Certainly not to fulfill our expectations of what they’re supposed to be doing with their time.

    • Speaking for myself, this reader now regrets ever picking up GOT and reading the first page. And when I buy instalments of a series, I’m also buying the promise of the series, to be completed to the best of his ability.

      As for what he should be doing, how about butt in chair and typing?

      • Pretty much my feelings also. Gave up on grrm around book 4. I’ve had good luck judging people and he was found lacking.

        • I’m not in love with the books, but I enjoy them enough that I’ll read the next one. At that point, however, I’m not sure I’ll remember what’s happened or who anyone is.

      • How much extra did you pay for that privilege when you bought the first book in the series? Did the book cost more?

        I’m pretty sure what you paid for was the words within the cover. Any other promise you may or may not have received certainly wasn’t bought. It might be implied, but you didn’t buy it. You bought a book. You got a book.

        • You do realize that, when a reader is thinking of buying one of your books, a Google search will bring up your posts here, right?

          Why would any reader buy books from a writer who thinks readers are ‘entitled’ because they expect that writer to finish a popular series that they start?

        • What readers paid for was the first part of a story. A story has a beginning and an ending, and presumably enough middle to reach from one to t’other.

          A Song of Ice and Fire has NO ENDING unless Martin writes one. It is therefore not a story, but a fragment. Martin and his publishers sold it to readers as a story in progress, not as a fragment; and if they don’t deliver the entire story, they have been selling defective goods.

    • But in fact no writer (or publisher) owes you anything at all.

      And any writer who says that to their readers is a writer whose books I won’t buy. Why should I, if they don’t feel any need to finish their stories?

      All writers suffer when entitled writers believe they owe nothing to their readers, because readers stop believing they owe anything to writers.

      • I’m not sure that entitled applies to the writers in this scenario. Your attitude about not buying their books is spot on, though. They are not selling a subscription (unless they are, of course, which is a newer model.) They are selling a book. You don’t pay more for a book because its part of a series. Why would the reader be entitled to anything more than what they paid for? That’s what entitled means, after all, in the disparaging way you are using it; someone owes you something, even though you didn’t earn it, or pay for it.

        In order for a writer to be the one suffering with entitlement issues, they would have to feel that readers should buy their books, even though they haven’t written them yet. While pre-orders are a thing, that’s not generally the way it works.

        George RR Martin doesn’t feel entitled to your money for the next book, even though he’s working so slowly. He just doesn’t CARE if you buy his book or not–because he doesn’t need your money.

        Now, if Winds of Winter comes out, and sales are way down, and he come out and complains that people aren’t buying the book because he took so long… that’s entitlement. So far, I’ve seen none of that from him. Of course, that’s because he sells more books in two weeks after release than most professionals will sell in their entire careers. That’s not entitlement, that’s success.

        • In order for a writer to be the one suffering with entitlement issues, they would have to feel that readers should buy their books, even though they haven’t written them yet.

          Or to feel that their readers should buy their series, even though they won’t finish it. Surely no-one really believes he hasn’t had time to finish it by now?

          It’s like releasing a novel with no ending, then complaining that readers are ‘entitled’ when they ask why there’s no ending.

          • It’s like releasing a novel with no ending, then complaining that readers are ‘entitled’ when they ask why there’s no ending.

            It isn’t like that; it exactly and literally is that. None of the books in ASOIAF has an ending; that bit is deferred until the last volume. And it looks increasingly as if the last volume will never be written because the author has lost interest.

    • Without being able to read his mind, I’m not sure I could come to the conclusion that he feels disdain.

      The bit you quoted said he was showing disdain. That’s easy to confirm: just read his public statements on his blog and in interviews.

  12. I think, honestly, that there is a lesson here for all writers, and all want-to-be writers who haven’t made the plunge yet.

    If you are not a self-starter with the persistence to finish your tasks, this is probably not the career for you.

    I read his blog post, and for all the world it reads like this: he’s depressed, he’s got writer’s block, and he is no longer interested in writing these books. He’s tried to force himself to work on it occasionally, but without the external pressure of a boss or the need for a paycheck, there are literally NO motivators for him anymore. (Fans/Readers are clearly no motivation.)

    GRRM delivered as a writer when he was an employee who needed the paycheck to eat: he used to write episodic television. His novels, prior to about Y2000, were written in his own time and at his own pace and nobody gave a crap if he finished one or not. The paycheck work, the television stuff, he had someone standing over him giving him deadlines to meet, and he would have been fired had he not delivered his work.

    But when you’re a novelist? Whether you’re traditional or indie, it doesn’t matter – you have to be your own boss. You have to motivate yourself to get work done each day. If you aren’t the kind of personality that can do that, this isn’t the career for you. The worst a trad pub is going to do to you is demand their advance back when you miss deadlines. And if you’re indie? Nobody is going to do a damn thing to you if you don’t work.

    It’s good that HBO required an outline as part of the contract for making the series, because quite frankly I suspect that is the only closure this story is going to get. Even if he gets Winds of Winter out sometime in the next few years, the likelihood of book 7 being written and released is quite low. People may whine about the series not matching up with the books exactly (as if any movie or book can, given the literal time constraints of the medium)… but they should be grateful that there will be an ending at all.

    GRRM is the person who won the lottery, and now has no need to work. So… he doesn’t, or at least only dabbles in things that are immediately interesting to him. Life is short and he’s choosing to spend his time doing other things.

    • another great summary. This is exactly why I fear for book 3 from his seeming protege Rothfuss.

    • Well, I’ll be honest. I’d sign up in a heartbeat for a job where I made millions of dollars and only worked when I felt like it. That is definitely the career for me.

      • Yes, because you apparently don’t understand the concept of giving value for money received. Your attitude all through these comments shows that.

  13. I fell in love with GoT, and then the affair ended quickly. By Book 5 I was pretty much just skimming it. I no longer cared what was happening to people or why, and that’s a shame. I’m another that he’s lost as a reader – not necessarily because he’s so ridiculously slow (although that is part of it), but because what he’s putting out now is nowhere near as good or as promising as when the series began. And he keeps killing people I like and there’s so many things he’s never explained or revealed that I’m pretty much meh about the series now.

  14. I was a fan before he began GOT. Read the first book the day it was released. Loved the second and third. Didn’t much care for the fourth, hated the fifth- couldn’t finish it. No longer have any interest whatsoever. Been too damn long, as in a generation long. That’s long! As in my youngest grew to adulthood long. That’s long!
    As far as I’m concerned he can take as long as he likes. It’s not like I’m going to read any more of his books. I suspect he’s experiencing some pretty severe burnout, maybe can’t figure out how to end the series, so he’ll just do whatever the writers of the show do.

  15. Somewhere in a corner office in Manhattan, his publisher is sobbing uncontrollably.

    The Big 5 depend on “tent pole” books more than ever these days, mega-blockbusters that enable them to stay in business. And his book would have been one of the biggest of the year.

    • You are not wrong. I had an editor at a major publisher tell me in 2011 that if one of their tentpole authors (whom they had severe problems with) didn’t turn in his manuscript on time, they’d have to lay people off for the first time in their 30+ year history as an imprint. And this guy knew it, and wielded his power like a club. Threatened to withhold the manuscript if they didn’t comply with his demands like removing posts that painted him in a bad light from a public forum that they controlled. Not employees of the publishing company, but random fans.

  16. I have no secret knowledge, but having read much of what he’s witten, I think this has become about his ego and not about the books. He knows that once he’s done, he’ll fade into the West, and he’s fighting the completion of his life’s work.

    And I get it… really I do. He’s had a wild career, careening from the top to the bottom of publishing, then tv, then publishing, and now both!
    But the work is clearly suffering from the epic delays, and if he finished the primary text he could spend the rest of his life on the secondary work.

    My feeling is that his ambivalence is now outpacing his passion in the work.
    And I don’t say this as a reader hungry for more, I say it as an author who understands the struggle to write.

    • I don’t think you’re all wrong on that. For the last dozen or so years, his primary “job” has been the convention circuit and anyplace that will invite him to come visit for any reason. And when he is home, he writes copious amounts of blog posts on anything and everything for anyone who will listen (read) them, and embroils himself into whatever big thing is going on (lately, Sad Puppies). I’ve long sort of assumed he is an extrovert who fell into a writing career in Hollywood, where extroverted writers can get along okay in a writer’s room full of other people to push them along towards the finish line.

      But a person who can be content churning out stories in solitude? No, he is evidently not that kind of person. Not at all.

  17. I will disagree with many above, I believe that someone who is creating a long series ins entering into an implicit contract with the fans, the fans will provide a automatic market for future works, and the creator will keep creating. It doesn’t matter if it’s a book series, or a TV series

    how many people would start reading a series if they were told that the series would get cut off partway through. Or start watching a 5 year TV series knowing it’s canceled at year 3.

    There are exceptions, some series are open ended (Flint’s 1632 series for example).

    Other series are a series of pretty much stand-alone stories (either individual episodes/books or short series) and everything ends up at pretty much the same place at the end of each installment as they started.

    These two categories don’t really need a ending. But if the series has a clear arc that it’s building to, The fans really are owed some sort of wrapup, even if it’s only a ‘history book’ version that summarizes thins in outline form.

    If a creator is unable to continue (health, lack of interest, running out of ideas, loosing external funding), they should have a plan in their back pocket to wrap things up to a reasonable level.

    Babalon 5 did a good job of this when it looked like they were going to be cut off early, they produced a ‘wrapup’ eposode that ended up not quite fitting at the very end (because some actors in the wrapup episode had left the series before that)

    For creators who say that they don’t own anything to their fans, I’ll point out that if you spend just a little effort to wrap up something you are no longer going to work on, you earn a lot of goodwill from your fans to support your next project.

    Fans do understand things outside your control. A perfect example if Firefly, it got canceled by the network, but they planned and did a movie to wrap it up, and for many fans, Jos can do no wrong. He even gets them to watch Shakespeare.

    Now, in the first book or two of a series, you don’t need to worry about this sort of thing, but the bigger/longer the series gets, the more important it is to have a good wrapup

    Now some authors seem to be able to get away without this (I’m looking at John Ringo for example), but it’s only with the expectation that the series is going to get more stuff written, and ongoing output in other books.

    • We really need a like feature.

    • I will disagree with many above, I believe that someone who is creating a long series ins entering into an implicit contract with the fans, the fans will provide a automatic market for future works, and the creator will keep creating. It doesn’t matter if it’s a book series, or a TV series

      How much do fans pay for this contract? Do they pay more than people who don’t enter in to such a contract? Are they paying for a trilogy? A decology? What? A satisfying ending? Who determines if its satisfying? Is it a breach of contract if a reader expects five books, but only gets three? Or if the reader is unsatisfied? What if it doesn’t sell well? Am I required to keep writing it, even if writing something else means my family will eat better?

      • They pay with their time and the money they spend on your books. It’s an unwritten, implicit contract not enforceable (obviously) in law, but as others have pointed out, honor requires writers of popular series to finish what they start (or at least allow for others to finish it, in the case of Wheel of Time).

    • You know, the solution here is simple: authors should simply hold off on publishing the first installment of a series until the entire series is complete, regardless of whether it’s a trilogy or a decalogy.

      (I actually know of an author who recently published a trilogy but didn’t start doing so until he’d written the final word of the third book.)

      What, that’s not reasonable?


      • Actually, that’s very reasonable.

        Just like Netflix and Amazon hold off releasing the first episode of a series until they have filmed the entire season, and then release everything at once.

        People like to ‘binge read’ a series, just like they like to ‘binge watch’ a series. Writing the entire story and releasing it all at once is doable nowdays (unless you are using a traditional publisher with their set schedule)

        • The trouble is, that way you get no money until all the work is done – which may take years. And in the meantime, you have no new work being published, and your readers forget about you. It’s pretty much an option only for writers who are independently wealthy and don’t need sales to live on.

          • no, it just takes someone who is not living advance to advance. (and writing more than one book every few years)

            Kristine Rusch did exactly this with a trilogy within the last year.

            I wouldn’t recommend it for a brand new author, but I don’t know that a brand new author should be writing something that large right away.

            • no, it just takes someone who is not living advance to advance.

              I’m an indie. What’s an advance?

              (and writing more than one book every few years)

              It doesn’t matter how many books per year you write; if you are saving up a million words or more of output and not publishing any of it until the last word is written, you’re putting a giant gap in your publishing schedule.’

              Kristine Rusch did exactly this with a trilogy within the last year.

              So? We are talking about series the size of ASOIAF or The Wheel of Time. Nobody does one of those in one year.

              • > We are talking about series the size of ASOIAF or The Wheel of Time. Nobody does one of those in one year.

                Actually, what Will said a few posts up, that I was responding to was a trilogy, not a WoT size series.

                • What Mr. Entrekin said, verbatim:

                  You know, the solution here is simple: authors should simply hold off on publishing the first installment of a series until the entire series is complete, regardless of whether it’s a trilogy or a decalogy.

                  Since the actual post is about ASOIAF, and Mr. Entrekin specifically included series of that size in his comment, your objection carries no weight.

                  Many writers would like to publish their series in progress all at once when finished; but few can afford to do without income in the meantime. The effect of such a rule, if enforced, would be that series longer than three or (perhaps) four books – and fairly short books, at that – would no longer get written at all.

        • I think Netflix’s release is actually more akin to an installment in a series of novels. Consider that the first season of House of Cards would be the first novel in a series. The next season of HoC is scheduled for next month, I believe, isn’t it?

          Amazon’s new Prime Pilots releases the first episode of a prospective series just to test the waters. I watched Z (with Christina Ricci as Zelda Fitzgerald) not long ago; so far as I know, no other episodes are yet available.

          • The comparison of individual episodes to books in a series is actually closer.

            In a ‘normal’ series, they are filming episode 4-5 when episode 1 airs and they stay just a few episodes ahead for the entire run.

            so the parallel with releasing book 1 while writing book 4 in a series is a lot closer than thinking of them as chapters and the entire season as a book.

            ‘serials’ would be an even closer parallel, but there aren’t that many people writing and releasing that way currently.

            • True. We should extend it to there, too. Like, Hugh Howey probably shouldn’t have released the first installment of Wool until the entire Silo saga was complete, right?

              It’s probably obvious I’m being tongue in cheek here, but just to make certain, I think authors should write and publish whatever and however they choose. I don’t think it would be great if Amazon put Stephen King’s account on hold and said “Sorry Stevareno, but you can’t publish The Gunslinger until you’ve finished the entirety of the Dark Tower series! Trust us, that’s what your Constant Readers would want.”

              • nobody is saying that you shouldn’t release the first book in a series, or work on multiple series at once.

                We ARE saying that it’s a reasonable thing to do to write an entire trilogy and release it all at once.

                We ARE saying that if you start a series that has a definitive conclusion that it’s building up to, you owe it to your readers to finish it and not abandon the series.

                And ‘Finish it’ may end up being a ‘history book’ version that just gives the highlights (‘who won the crown’, ‘who got the girl’, etc) if you don’t feel like finishing it, and aren’t willing to hand this outline to someone else to finish it for you.

                A ‘history book’ conclusion to the series is not as fun to read as several fully detailed, well written books. But it’s FAR better than having things end with everything hanging.

                • We ARE saying that if you start a series that has a definitive conclusion that it’s building up to, you owe it to your readers to finish it and not abandon the series.

                  Unless readers paid in advance for the entire series, like if it were a Kickstarter or something, they got all they were owed when they paid for the book they bought.

                  Oh, wait. I just realized — did you pre-order Winds of Winter? Because, sure, then you’re owed it.

  18. I am not a Game of Thrones fan but I see this as a problem for future authors of this kind of long-form epic fantasy. This is the second time a generation of fantasy readers has faced the prospect of highly popular series never being finished by the original author, the other of course being the Wheel of Time.

    How many readers are like Jamie and determined not to start a series until it is completed? The percentage has to be going up. That is bad for writers because readers will be less likely to purchase and read anything labeled “Book One of…”

    • I know I am. I don’t read series in progress anymore, and in fact haven’t since Rawn abandoned hers 15 or so years ago.

      The benefits to me, as a reader, over the last 15 years are:
      – that I only buy stories that actually have an ending, and
      – during the pre-ebook-era, I tended to get them more cheaply (by that time, if they’re trad pub, they were in paperback as they usually began life in hardcover), and
      – during the post-ebook era, I get them more cheaply because of discounting and compilations, and
      – that I only buy well written series, because if a series goes to hell in a handbasket, the reviews are going to give me a lot of information about what went wrong.

      It’s sad for authors that some of them have burned a lot of readers, though, because it’s later purchases and often less money in their pockets from some of us, in the end.

      • I’ve gone the same way with computer games. I used to buy them for $60 when they were released, now, with a few rare exceptions from companies I trust, I wait until they’re patched and there’s a ‘game of the year’ edition with all the optional downloads in a sale for $5.

        Burn your customers too many times, and they stop lining up to buy your products. Does anyone think Amazon would be where they are if they told their customers ‘you’re just entitled, you bought some stuff from us, we don’t owe you anything’?

  19. Certainly one definition of the word tirelessly applies. Its tough to get tired at 200 words a day.

  20. I think more and more fans are starting to catch onto the reality that it just doesn’t take that long to write a book unless you’re actually not spending much time at all on the book. And it does not appear that Martin is spending any significant portion of his time actually writing the book. I’m sure I don’t begrudge him the enjoyment of his success, but it’s pretty obvious that he isn’t focused on trying to get the story finished for the readers.

    Personally, I gave up the series in the 3rd book for various reasons, but I do feel he owes something to the readers. Yes, when you start writing the sort of epic saga that ASoIaF is where it is openly acknowledged between the author and the reader that the story will not have a conclusion for several volumes and you still want readers to invest themselves in the early volumes, then you are making an implicit promise to them. “If you buy this book now, which isn’t a finished story, I promise that you will get a longer and better finished story by the end.”

    Yes, the writer does owe the reader. The writer owes a reader value for their money. They owe readers a completed story. Martin owes readers a completed story.

    But at this rate it does seem like Martin’s ASoIaF is going downhill fast. Will he even have any motivation at all to finish it once the show passes him by? Honestly it doesn’t seem likely. And I think part of the problem may just be that the super long epic saga type story structure doesn’t really suit him as a writer. Before he started ASoIaF he wrote short stories, stand alone novels, novellas and tv episodes. ASoIaF wasn’t even supposed to be as long as it is in the beginning, but it got away from him, as epics often do. I suspect that he’s stuck in a corner, pressured by his publishers and his readers, and doesn’t actually have it in him to finish his saga.

    I do feel a little sorry for him. But I think the implicit promise between the storyteller and his/her audience is more sacred than Martin’s happiness.

    • …I think the implicit promise between the storyteller and his/her audience is more sacred than Martin’s happiness.

      I have to strongly disagree here. Who has the right to ask someone to sacrifice their happiness for what some other people expect? Not me, that’s for sure. I like the books, and I’m disappointed when I hear the next one will be later than I hoped, but my disappointment doesn’t obligate George. I’ll continue to read the books as they appear, but I won’t tell another person that my expectations trump their happiness, whether that’s a writer I know or a stranger on the street.

      • So here’s a question for you:

        Does George R. R. Martin’s happiness justify his inflicting unhappiness on millions of readers who bought his series in good faith, expecting that it would be finished and there would be a payoff for all the time they spent on it?

        Seems to me that’s a pretty high price for him to expect other people to pay. Maybe they’re not the ones with entitlement issues; especially as they did not sign a contract to undertake the job, and he did.

        • Does George R. R. Martin’s happiness justify his inflicting unhappiness on millions of readers who bought his series…?

          I don’t consider that he’s inflicting anything on anyone. If I want to read a book and it’s not published yet, how unhappy I decide to be about that is down to me.

      • What Tom said, plus…

        you are making a very large assumption that books six and seven will appear. Six, perhaps… seven, I’ll be shocked if we see it, unless the publisher hires a ghost writer for him.

  21. The bigger question is whether he will be able to finish it all off by Book 7. At his current pace, he could easily be in his upper 70s by the time that book is ready. I would guess that if he can’t get it done in 2 books, then another author will have to finish the series.

    Someone find out if Brandon Sanderson has room on his writing schedule in the next decade …

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