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META: Feedback -- A Crash Course In Fanfic Etiquette

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  • Kielle !
    (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
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2000
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      (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
      it.

      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
      them:


      * "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
      harried afternoon.


      * "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
      chance.


      * "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!

      .-=K=-.



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