META: Feedback -- A Crash Course In Fanfic Etiquette
- (NOTE: I sat on this "essay" for several days
wondering if it would be rude to post it or not, and
then decided what the heck, you can always hit your
"delete" button. ;) No worries, it's a friendly
rant -- and on-topic, too!)
Let me preface this by stressing that this is NOT a
complaint on my part. I've been in this game a long
time; much as I adore feedback, when I don't get much
it's NOT the end of my self-esteem's world. Nor do I
get discouraged about writing in general. (I have
FAR too much ego for that! ;) And I also want to say
that some of you send feedback whenever you can (even
a little is good, I know you're all busy people), and
you're the best! *HUG*
However, I've noticed a trend on this list and
elsewhere: people noting in their disclaimers that
they're not hearing anything from readers; writers
telling me (when I ask for their work to archive)
that I'm the first person to have said ANYTHING about
There are almost *350* (wow!) members on the
xmenmoviefanfic list alone, not counting everyone on
fthe crossposted lists too. If all of you are
reading stories posted to this list (and I'd assume
you are, why else would you be here?)...well, let's
say that only half of the list reads any given story,
judging by content and subject matter. Even if only
about ten percent of those 175 readers dropped a note
to the author, rounded down, that would be around 17
feedbacks 17! At bare minimum! To find that most
writers on this list aren't getting anywhere near
that is kinda depressing.
I know no one's doing it maliciously, and I'm not mad
at anyone, and I don't want anyone to suddenly feel
pressured to deliver...I just feel awful for those
writers who feel that no one's reading their work or,
worse, that maybe they should just give it up. Do we
want this? HECK, NO!
Now, despite my above teasing, this is not me
scolding. Not at all! You see, I've discovered over
time that folks who don't feedback often have quite
legitimate concerns that never get asked but need to
be answered. If I may, please let me address some of
* "Huh? I'm supposed to send feedback? No one told me!"
Well, gee, it's only hinted at or outright begged for
almost every single author's disclaimer. ;)
Seriously, put it this way: how much would you pay
for a good book? You pay nothing for a fanfic.
Zilch. Zip. Nada. A novelist gets paid money. A
fanficcer gets "paid" in attention and conversation.
No one ever said you HAD to "pay"...but it'd be a
nice gesture on your part, wouldn't it? Many fanfic
writers do it for the sense of community -- for the
knowledge that someone out there is enjoying their
work. If you never say anything, how do they know?
Think of it as saying thank you for a gift someone
worked very hard to make just for you.
* "But I'm not a writer myself" OR "I just don't know
what to say."
Whereas any writer would LOVE to get long, detailed
letters about their work, they'd be crazy to expect
every single letter to be like that. If you honestly
just really liked a story and don't feel articulate
enough to pen an opus about it, then just let 'em
know that you liked it. 'Sides, some writers are so
busy they really can't answer long letters anyway.
Being able to smile at your note and jot back a quick
"say, thank you for reading!" is often a relief on a
* "I'm new here. Wouldn't that be presumptious of me
to comment on someone else's hard work?"
Not in the slightest. When someone receives a note
saying "I really liked that story!" they don't
immediately leap to their feet bellowing "How DARE
this insolent newbie approach my awesome
magnificance?!?" You never know, they may be newer
than you are -- and if they aren't, well shucks, just
because someone's been dabbling in a hobby longer
than you have doesn't mean they have an inflated ego
about it. They keep dabbling because people like you
make it worth their time.
* "I'm too shy."
This isn't high school. This isn't even real life.
No one's going to be judging you. This is a world
where you can craft your own persona with words, and
there's no need to be shy. 'Sides, many fanfic
writers are just as shy as you are, and would
appreciate a friendly note as much as you would. Put
yourself in their shoes and take a little bitty
* "So-and-so is obviously a big-name ficcer who
probably gets enough feedback as it is."
Oh really? You'd be surprised. You see, if everyone
assumes this, then *no one* writes to the writer in
question and they get left out in the cold. I've
seen it happen -- I've seen wonderful "big-name"
writers give up and walk away because fanfic wasn't
providing a good enough reason to stick with it at
the expense of real life. It's terribly, terribly
sad. Please, don't assume. Don't judge. Just send
a note regardless.
* "No one wrote ME feedback." (Or, "I'm still waiting
for feedback on MY pieces.")
Okay, now this one's just petty. Let me address it
logically and from long experience: every time you
send someone feedback, you're potentially making a
friend, or at least letting someone know that that
you exist and that you're worth remembering. People
you've feedbacked are more likely to remember to
feedback YOU when they recognize your name on a story
-- whether out of friendship or out of good old-
fashioned guilt doesn't matter, it still raises your
chances. ;) Feedback is a good deed that reaps
benefits, so go ahead -- be selfish! Shmooze!
Network! Get to know your fellow ficcers! It's fun!
And occasionally threatening to sanity, but enough
about MY friends...
* "I'm waiting for the story/series/arc to wrap up."
Hmm. I can accept this one to a degree...except that
most people who say this forget and NEVER send any
feedback at all. Also, some writers put as more work
into a single chapter than some put into a dozen
vignettes! Compromise. Send a note of encouragement
every few chapters, even just to say that you're
still reading and can't wait for the next part. This
way the writer won't feel as if they're throwing
their hard work into the void, and you may actually
get to read the ending you're waiting for.
* "I'm sorry but, I'm just too busy."
I can sympathize. But try, okay? Every now and
then. Just a line or two. It's worth the trouble,
and if you get in the habit it's not too hard. You
weren't too busy to read the story, after all, and
that took a lot longer...
I hope that helped. If I didn't hit upon your own
particular reason or concern, let me know and I'll
see what I can do to address it. And that's enough
from me for the day!
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