GOOD NEWS: This is perfectly normal!
I can't remember the source, but a few years ago I read this famous author's account of how it felt to have his first book come out, and he mentioned buying a copy himself because he was afraid no one would take an interest. Now this is a guy who managed to get not only an agency but a publisher (which is a whole pile of people who were like yesplz), and he's still afraid readers won't care. I was like, 'whoa mind blown.'
But anyway, the fact is that we are all strangers on the Internet and, by default, there is no reason for you to read my stuff or vice-versa. If you went and stood in Times Square with copies of your latest story, how many people would give you more than a passing glance? And how many of those people would get to the end of your work, and how many of those would offer critical feedback?
And, if you were one of the passersby, whom would you stop for?
How to Make People Care About Your Story
I had this long-ass spiel planned (and drafted, even), but honestly it all just boils down to respect.
Don't try to lord your cleverness over them, or expect them to automatically be as invested in your work as you are (did they spend twenty hours every week agonising over writing it? No they did not). Keep in mind that these are people with lives, and it's quite possible they have just as much of their own material to freak out over.
So how do you get them past that? By a) being a good writer and b) taking an interest in their lives.
Don't expect everything to fall into your lap. Communication goes both ways. I mean, how many times have you left a great critique that someone really appreciated and then did nothing with? It's happened to me more than once, and each successive time has soured me on bothering with more of that person's work. I still leave Goodreads reviews without expecting a pat on the head, so a well-done piece of work does outrank a 'wah wah this person was a jerk,' but unless you are 100% sure that you are that talented genius, don't be a dick.
FYI, it's never a 100% thing.
Everyone learns how to write in school.
Everyone learns how to write for school in school.
You may be one of those lucky bastards with a creative writing elective or even majoring in the field, but that's the exception, not the rule.
Creative writing is its own discipline, and getting an A in English class has little to do with it. I don't get how so many people equate being okay at writing essays or reading analysis with writing stories, but yeah. Stop doing that.
Yes, you can translate skills from one side to the other, and being able to analyze what you're reading is always important, but respect the fact that creative writing is as much an art form as drawing, and that if holding a pencil doesn't make you a master of drawing, being able to type words isn't going to toss creative writing into your lap, either.
Aside from this, you need to want to improve. I mentioned 'being a good writer' above, so it's even tied into respecting your audience, but if you really care about this being a thing that defines you, you have to be willing to do your own research. No excuses. Learn to use Google. Listen to good advice even if it feels like a slap on the bum.
Your words don't define you as a person, okay? Me telling you that your story is flawed shouldn't make you feel bad, it should make you want to do better. There's nothing wrong with caring about your work, but there is something wrong with treating every word of criticism like a stab wound. And with thinking that you're hopeless, the fact that you weren't a child genius is going to screw you over, you can never be awesome, blah blah blah.
(I want my writing to be perfect so it reflects well on me. Why? Because my ego is the size of a fucking mountain.)
You're not ink on paper. You're a person. Words are your medium of choice to showcase yourself, your ideas, and/or your views. There's no way it's going to be perfect from the beginning, and when someone tells you where you've gone wrong, pay close attention. Not because they're somehow better than you, but because wanting to be the best you can be means hunting down all your weaknesses.
Get your chin up and make your writing as awesome as your self.
GOOD LUCK, NERDS.
I will add that no one ever told me my poetry was trash - but it was all written for assignments, and I met the parameters, so frankly not sure quality was a consideration at all.
Very thorough and engaging advice, thanks
So NO. This is ALL bad advice. Following it will not accomplish anything. This is advice for a bad writer who gets lots and lots of undue attention, not anyone, good or bad, who gets none at all. Which is what actually happens here in reality.
SO it appears that me being a writer is nothing then?
Granted, I can understand the frustration of not getting feedback/support and why authors feel the need to hold their stories at ransom. It happens in fanfics where I see stories recieve 300+ faves/reviews simply because they got a favorite pairing with a favorite topic (ex: time-travel fanfics for FF7 - god, that's like crack to an FF7 addict ). The grammer could be crap and the story very typical, but because people like a specific pairing and certain plotline they're all over it like peanut butter on jam. Meanwhile, fanfics with original or controversial ideas get overlooked. Many readers are also awfully impatient. There are plenty of stories I follow that I think are brilliant and amazing. Their chapters are well thought-out and fresh. However, readers won't touch them because they're too impatient to wait for the next 25-paged chapter a week later. Authors have lives too. They can't whip out a 25-paged chapter within two hours. Of course, long stories have the extra challenge of keeping readers interested. Many readers don't want to bother waiting for a well-paced story to resolve itself. They want the interesting plot-lines/cliff-hangers *immediately* settled in the next chapter. There is no time for proper build-up. They want things NOW-NOW-NOW. I used to wonder why it was hard finding good quality fanfics. And now I know. It's a bit unfair to the author to have to rush things. Worse, the story suffers. Just the other day I stumbled across a real potential gem. I wasn't a big fan of a certain character. But the writer really got me glued with solid characterization and an interesting premise that I actually started to care for said character. With each chapter, I enjoyed the amount of depth she put in it. It was obvious she took great care and love in her work. But then I got to the last two chapters and scratched my head. Those two chapters were extremely short, had little description, and rushed some very important scenes that I felt required more build-up. Upon investigation, I learned from the author that she had taken a poll and asked readers what they preferred: long, complex chapters with delayed updates? Or quick, fast chapters with short updates? Surprise-surprise, many readers wanted NOW-NOW-NOW. This was a case where the writer sacrificed quality over quanity in effort to appease her readers.
I state this because authors need to accept that readers can be funny (and not everything they say/demand may serve the best interest of the story, only their own personal interest). Even if an authory follow steps a-b-c, they may still not get the amount of support they want. It has nothing to do with the quality of the work. It's got to do with readers' personal preferences actually. I've come to know this based on my own experience. I had to take a break from posting my epic long fanfic because I saw many people drop/unfollow it after my last update and got a bit depressed. I love the story and continue to write it for me. But I haven't posted my next chapters online because I'm trying to get out of my funk. Out of courtesy, I informed my readers about my hiatus on my author's page (I didn't want to post the announcement on my update since I didn't want it to distract from the story and create drama, lol). I gave myself a month to decide whether to take it down from the site or not; I wanted to reach my decision with a level-head. As the weeks have done by, I'm thinking I should start posting the story again. Many people have noted me and I feel guilty for letting at few departed comrades get the best of me. I'm also coming to accept that, even with the unfollows and lack of support, my story *is* successful. For a while, I thought the unfollows meant my story 'sucked' and that people had enough of it. Which may be true. Still... Even with losing some of my readers and still struggling to reach a bigger audience, I did manage to obtain a core readership that accepts my controversial ideas as they are. And given that my story is over 550+ pages long? Um, yeah, I think I did an impressive feat. :roftl: Not many readers would take the time to invest in a monstrous story like that, which is all the more reason to finish what I started.
I mention all this because I think it's important that writers understand there are different types of success. This journal is all about what not to do in an effort to gain a readership. But it also serves to provide hope to authors who wonder why their stories aren't as successful as others. In truth, they may *already* be successful. But not in the way the author originally thought it would be. They may not have 300+ followers/faves. They may not have their story circulating everywhere on the web. They may not be the talk of the town. However, if they managed to step outta the box and pose some fun/controversial concepts and STILL have a few strong readers who are in it for the long haul? Well, that's its own success. Right?
I think the biggest problem with fanfiction is that you have two very competitive interests. One, the wish fulfillment part that makes people favorite just because it's their OTP. But on the other side, good writers want to craft a good story, which generally breaks wish fulfillment because deus ex machina to solve everything is no longer an option. It's a shame people feel the need to reduce quality just to appeal, though.
Yes, it's really important to be clear on whom you're writing for! I think if someone wants to pander, that's their right. But if you're not aware of what that entails to start with, it's going to cause you a lot of grief in the long run. And more so if you drop what is best about your story just because you're afraid of losing fans or whatever.
It totally is.
I agree with everything written, especially 'Respect the craft'. Even my English teacher has admitted that she can't write. I mean, just because you know what an adverb is and how prepositions and conjunctions work (I admit, I do not) doesn't make you Stephen King II.
Love the GIFs too, by the way. The last one is great.
So, thanks for posting this! I actually might print it out and put it somewhere where I will see it ALL THE TIME. Might be good for me.
I also agree with respecting your readers! I mean, all readers have lives, and so spending time reading your story and commenting on it is actually a big thing.
Again, thanks for this! I should really keep this in mind.
YES. Sensitivity is all across the board a bad thing. I mean, in business...if they tell you to shape up, you don't get to cry, you either shape up or you're out.
That's probably one of the major weaknesses I have to overcome! I've tried so hard to be less sensitive, and I think I'm going fine... but I'm still sensitive! But I do take critiques if they're nicely-worded, sincere, and/or true. I've encountered someone who critiqued me before and we've actually been okay and I really learned from it!
Thanks for the encouraging words, I'll keep that in mind!