Monday, February 29, 2016

Loyalty to Authors, Not Books?

I've seen the concept of reader loyalty discussed quite a bit in the YA book blogosphere. Something that I wonder about with regard to reader loyalty is whether there's a differential loyalty depending on genre for author vs. a book series.

First off, what is the step to committing to author loyalty? You love one series so much that you deem an author an auto-buy author. You love an author's online presence and decide to get whatever they make because duh, they're awesome. But what of when an author says something you don't agree with? What if their personal opinions are counter--or anathema--to your own?

But even more interesting to me -- what is that step between becoming loyal to an author versus loyal to a series? I've been thinking about this a bunch because I think that in fantasy, you can get a lot more people loyal to finishing out the series whereas in contemporary, they very much emphasize being loyal to an author. Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman, John Green-- they've all built their names to be their own brands, and that's without a series; their contemporary work can be very different, but their voice, their writing has become what draws in your loyalty. For fantasy, or most SFF series, it seems like people are committed to the series itself, more so than the author. Undoubtedly there will be people who are interested in following Marissa Meyer's new books, for example, but how many people are loyal to her and her new projects compared to those who were excited for the Lunar Chronicles? Is there a big difference? I don't know. I also found myself thinking about the massive popularity of authors like Sarah J. Maas and Maggie Stiefvater, authors who have earned reader loyalty more than usual, loyalty to the author maybe more so or on par with loyalty to the series they write (or the fandoms are great at making everyone else think that?). And I started to wonder whether in SFF, the bridging ground between author loyalty and book loyalty are the characters. Something about characters and being able to write about them in fanfics or fanart makes fans more loyal to the creator, doesn't it?

Do you think that part of the difference in author vs. book loyalty has to do with the genre and the characters? What makes you transition from being loyal to finishing a book series to being loyal to the author?


  1. Yeah, I guess I wonder how you got to be loyal to Brandon Sanderson. Was it like with the case you mention of SJM & TOG/ACOTAR? Like the series themselves have specific qualities that are similar enough that SJM then becomes an autobuy author? Or is it more of "the more books they publish, the more you decide to be loyal to them?" And if that's something specific to contemp vs. sff.

  2. Hmm, I wouldn't say that series don't get you more fans than standalones. In fact, the opposite. I think the problem doesn't have to do with the commitment and effort of series, but more that fans don't dissociate being fans of the series from being fans of the author, whereas it's easier to do that when contemplating contemporary novels.

    Agree with you though on SFF fans and loyalty/rabid/behavior etc. lol. And also agree on feeling loyal to author & what it means. I think we might disagree on personal opinions - depends on the author. Orson Scott Card, for instance. His stuff is considered classics, but I don't jive with his very explicit personal beliefs.

  3. Yeah, so why the distinction for contemporary and SFF authors in terms of author loyalty vs. series loyalty? Why is it that if you've read a few books by an SFF author that you're also not loyal to the author instead of loyal to the series? It does make me wonder about how certain authors build their brand.

    Yeah, I definitely avoid books by authors if I haven't enjoyed their previous work. Unless I hear AMAZING things about the author's new book, then I usually avoid it. (We were just discussing / reading a book by an author whose previous works were all like 3 stars for me but then I continued to read her other works ;) because of the idea potential, the rave reviews, and her writing, which I enjoy. So definitely a case by case basis).

  4. Hmm, but really what is originality in SFF anyway? What is originality? I thought most of the reasons why people were so loyal to Sarah Maas, for instance, wasn't necessarily that her world was the most original SFF world they'd read but for the same reasons you listed of contemporary authors -- that they'd felt so deeply for Celaena and the things that happen to her and the other characters, that they'd cried when she was lost, etc. etc. I can see how authenticity of voice brings in loyal contemporary fans, but I see that equally for SFF as well.

    THough I do think that you make a good point here about how SFF has a specific limitation in the actual topic. Contemporary, there are a limited number. The plotlines are limited in both but SFF could make something feel newer with the world, yet the world itself could be a detractor for readers.

    "The breadth of fantasy is so wide that there's much less guarantee compared to contemporary fiction that the author will deliver a book that is on par or better than the ones before." -- I agree with this though.


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