Having an “I don’t write porn so no one reads my fic” sort of morning.
I can definitely understand having frustration about writing and people not reading it, and as I think you’re a lovely person and great to talk to I know you don’t mean anything by this.
But I have…
Hmmm. First off, that’s totally not how I meant it. I love your work and I love your character development and all the places you take me with every story you write.
My problem today was this… there was a lot of discussion going on about the kink parts of stories and excitement about OMG this sex scene or OMG that story that’s basically PWP and how awesome it was.
I was comparing my read counts against those of stories that do far less character development and far more let’s just have them fuck now and all those stories had way more buzz around them than mine where no one is even touching anyone. And while I admit that I like to read both kinds of stories when I’m in the right mood, I much prefer to write the sort of story that focuses on relationship development and take forever and have no sex whatsoever until like chaper 42 or something. But just observing discussions and observing who’s reading what and who’s talking about what I feel like no one is reading my long, drawn-out story that has no promise of anyond so much as kissing anyone anytime soon because that sort of thing doesn’t interest them.
Because the reality is, not many people read my stories and there must be a reason.
So maybe my saying that no one is reading it because I don’t write porn was just my way of trying to convince myself that the real reason no one is reading my stories isn’t that they suck and aren’t worth reading.
Sorry to enter this discussion, maybe unwanted. Just thought I’d toss in my experience. I’ve got a story where the sex happens four chapters in. Maybe my sex scene sucks because all potential new readers drop by half at that point. I’ve got a lot of character development, themes, and plot, so far over 150k worth of other ‘stuff’ that passes for writing. That section of the story is as much if not more of a coming of age story as a romance. As for long romances, dear god, it’s going to be ages before the OTPs are going to be shipped.
So why the drop in readership? Why is my story struggling to find an audience?
At times I can be philosophical and say the amount of readers don’t matter. I’ve got some brilliant reviewers. If I thought only of them, if I write only for them, the low readership bothers me less. I can look back over the reviews and say they get me—they get my story. That helps me get over the hump most times, but I can’t write just for them.
First off, the amount of work that goes into writing each chapter, especially when I’m tired or inspiration has left me, for my few but loyal reviewers isn’t enough of a pay off. Not when I see how uncared for my story is in comparison to others. They are enough to push me back to my laptop when I’m too exhausted to care on my own, and for that, I’m grateful to each of them; however, they aren’t enough to keep me from questioning why I’m writing this story.
Secondly, I can’t just write for this audience. Doing so changes how I would write the story. This is MY story, and I’ve got to stay true to it, whether that bothers my readers or not. I might compromise if I were getting paid, but this is written out of my own love.
Sometimes knowing that I love my story is enough. I wrote this story for well over a year before I ever considered putting it online. I’d still be writing my story is no other person in this world saw it. However, the act of publishing changed that internal motivation. Now that I can see the mass judgment of others, the lack of readership for my story deeply wounds my writing ego. I angst about this constantly. Thank god I’ve got some friends to support me and an ever loving beta who helps prop me up when I’m down. Sometimes that’s enough.
Sometimes I feel like ripping my story off the internet in a fit of self hate.
Yet every time when my brain is working and I have free time, I’m writing. I angst and whine and loath my tiny numbers. I hate this need I now have for recognition, this f-ing stupid black hole that’s opened up inside me that’s constantly NEEDING feedback and reviews and ever increasing numbers that do just the opposite. But I still write. These characters are in my head, and they will not leave me alone. Their lives continue, and those lives demand to be written. They’re chatting in the car with me, cooking dinner with me, whispering to me as I go to sleep and when I wake up.
I have these characters in my head. Sometimes they’re fighting with each other. Sometimes they’re screwing—which is as enjoyable as it is sexually frustrating. They’re falling in love, getting hurt, learning who they are, and growing. They’re in me, a part of me, and they want their story told.
Low numbers bother the living shit out of me, but these characters in my head will not shut the hell up. They’re much more a part of my life than any number.
Oh, it’s you girls! Long time no see, I hope you are doing fine :D
Okay, I guess my opinion is unasked for as well, but I might as well share my opinion.
By now, I’ve given up to understand the logic and dynamics of what is popular fanfiction and what not. Mind you, popular, not good.
The worst we can do is compare because we’ll have to realise that there is no logic behind what is “good” or “bad”, if we judge by views, reviews, favs and so on.
This will lead to frustration, something most artists know by the way. I hear creators of fanart complain about it all the time, how they spend maybe days of work for one picture and get a decent number of shares/views. But then they upload a - by their standard - crappy doodle and this one gains an audience twice as large, if not more. And it does not have to be porn.
Writing or drawing, it leads to one thing - frustration. We spend a lot of time in our work, even to a point it really becomes real work, and not just a bit of fun between job and housework. It’s tireing, exhausting but also leaves us with a bit of satisfaction to have finsihed a new chapter and story, maybe despite circumstances that made us thought “I’ll never get it done because of…”. So, then we see that a piece of half-hearted fiction or art - by us or somebody else - is judged “better”, it becomes personal.
We connect what we’ve spent to create our piece of work with the result, what we “sacrificed” (please forgive me this bit of dramatism). And then we feel ignored.
An audience doesn’t see this. As we don’t see the hardships an author of a nice novel might have had while writing it. We see and judge only the result, and one reason why we don’t buy a book or read a longer piece of fanfiction mgiht be - it’s long.
I think that’s a reason why we often are left with only few views in comparision is really the amount of text. This is the internet. People want quick amusement. Quick and shortlived. They want to jump into the story, bath in it while it lasts, and jump out of it, taking a good memory with them. The satisfaction and joy a few hours swimming can bring. Not the kind of satisfaction getting invvolved with something new. This is, of course, also appreciated, but not now, while browsing for fanfiction. The expectation is different, people search for a different kind of entertainment.
And if they chose to give a longer story with tons of words, characters and a complex world to be introduced, a chance, they want to know what to expect. It’s easy to give a shorter story, especially with porn, a chance when it doesn’t fit the own taste by 100%. 30 minutes of time, or less, when we see it’s not our cup of tea at all (maybe because of the pairing, the kind of porn, how it’s written, the AU, habits of the author…) it’s not a big loss of time.
A long, maybe unfinished story, is another matter. Let’s say there’s an element you are sceptical about, like… “in an AU with si fi elements” or “cross over”, or everything’s perfect, except the main pairing. I think everyone of us is more likely to give a finished 3-chapter-story a chance than a 20 chapter fic, on-going.
I’ve often wondered - why am I, compared to many other fanfic writers in my fandom, so unpopular? Why do I see bad written porn with twice as many favs/views as my work?
I’m learning not to wonder and care anymore, but to be happy about every single little positive kind of feedback I can get. We have to stop to wonder. And especially to stop trying to understand.
There is nothing to understand.
We cannot blame others when they don’t want to give our work a chance because they don’t see the amount of time, mental and emotional work a story cost us. That’s our problem and joy, and that’s fine. We cannot expect to meet the wishes and expectations of everyone. If we want a high amount of feedback, we need to target a different audience, to write something that meets the expectations of many. It’s okay if others choose this way, totally fair and fine.
If we decide against it, we have to live with the consequences - less feedback, dropping views. We only have control over what we create, not over those who read it or want to read it.
There are so many reasons why people don’t click or stop returning. They don’t have control about the things that happen, and maybe the develoment we choose isn’t what they wanted to see. Maybe we wrote/said something that made them angry. Maybe they decided to dislike us, the author, because of an opinion or realtions to others. Maybe they are stricter than they’d be with a real novel, forgetting that we are - basically - just amaturs like them.
And the worst is - one reason might apply to one reader, for another reader it’s totally different, so even if a former reader would give us an explanation, changing things might chase away somebody else.
It’s impossible to understand the dynamics. Or all the reasons. We can only do our best and decide for ourselves if it’s worth it. We can (and should) try to improve and simply… get over it and continue creating as long as creating itself gives us joy and satisfaction. Same as the readers - they should read whatever brings them joy and satisfaction. If it’s not our work - for whatever reason, be it the weather, the development or maybe because we simply aren’t not good enough for them - we cannot force them. Like they cannot force us to deliver excactly what they want.
Oh well. In the end, all wise words, all efforts to analyze, to ponder, to connect the dots and to conclude won’t help. We can realize what’s important so many times, and we all know it’s the right result.
It doesn’t change the fact that it hurts and frustrates when we see how only a fraction of people cares for our love children, while the crowd goes crazy over some shallow, quickly created work, be it by others our our own, correct? ;)
So, to make a final TL&DR: gulp it down, wipe your face, and continue. If necessary, drown the bitter taste with beer. ;)
For the record, neither of your opinions is ever unwanted. Even if I don’t ask, you can always just fire them at me. I respect the opinions you both have. A lot.
In short, thanks. Wise words, always. I know better than to compare myself to others because, really, I don’t owe anyone but myself and my story even an ounce of my attention and making them more important than just writing these fucking words is doing myself a disservice. I know that.
But now…just as always…all I really want is to have that one thing that people crowd around and say “wow. She’s completely fucking amazing at this and has changed my life.” I want to be *known* for something. Respected for that thing. The one people come to when they have fears or doubts or questions. And I want that thing to be a thing I respect. A thing I love so much it hurts. And I want it to be a thing I pour my entire soul into.
Still waiting for that thing. Maybe if I keep pouring my entire soul into everything I do, eventually I’ll find it.