While most of us strive to be polite in our fandom interactions (well, when we’re not capslocking about how much we hate the faces of various people), there are times when you run into something that seems to bring out the impolitic in all of us. For some of you it might have been Ice’s flounce post that went up on the AO3 Sunday night, which some of us did watch with absolute glee.
For others, the it might be a rude, trollish, flaming comment on something you’ve created that you can’t stand to let pass without comment. Now, some of you might- you might say, “This is absolutely not worth whatever blowback I might get, I’m going to ignore the shit out of this (don’t feed the trollls!).” But some of you respond, and we’re curious: how do you all make that call? Has it ever blown up in your faces? Does it make you feel better to call someone out on being an asshole publicly?
You’re doing everything right. In fact, we love it, we love that you thank people, we love that you seem so together about this and are still asking us! Courteous, as long as you keep on in the same vein, you can proceed however you’d like.
Finding a beta is tricky, and it’s a constantly-evolving process. You have to find someone who is going to give you advice/guidance/input that you value, someone who gets where you’re coming from, someone who gets what you’re looking for and is going to be able to fit well with you, someone who is going to be able to turn this around in less than a month.
We do note that you say you’ve done this a few times- if you’re struggling to find someone who fits, letting everyone in on one gdoc or creating copies and letting different people beta the same work is a good way to get a feel for how you’ll work with that person. We’ve all had betas who we give things to and they just want you to rewrite the whole thing, or they don’t get what you’re saying, or they nitpick things you don’t think are important. By letting a few people look at it you give yourself more options and maybe find someone who, while not the first-responder, is a perfect fit for you. Additionally, people who offer to beta know that they may not be a perfect match for you, and generally understand that it’s a process, so they’re unlikely to get angry at you if you don’t take every suggestion they give you, or if you don’t ask them to beta again. If they are (at the risk of sounding impolite ourselves), it’s not really your problem.
Good luck, and keep on being so lovely and polite!
Asked by Anonymous
First off, “fannish activities” aren’t just limited to the fic you write. Following a friend’s fannish activities is different from reading every word they write. If you are friends, and we’re going to assume that you’re good friends based on your question’s word choice, you do need to follow her activities - take note of what she’s posting on her journal/tumblr/twitter, and interact with her about that stuff. As the rest of fandom is so often saying, fanfic isn’t the end all, be all of fannish life, and we’re assuming that beyond the tropes issue, you have things in common. If you decide that you would rather be squee-filled, link-sharing, fannish friends instead of writing friends, that’s absolutely fine.
You should be aware, though, that she’s noticed you’re not commenting on her writing. If the ratio is as skewed as you’ve made it sound, there is no way she hasn’t noticed. And maybe she’s fine with that, maybe she has betas and other writing-buddies and doesn’t need you to fulfill that role, or maybe she’s hurt and is beginning to think that you think she’s a bad writer. You could probably suss that answer out based on her a/n’s, or her other fannish interactions. We want to make it clear that you’re not obligated to to read her fics just because she reads yours, but this is something you’re going to have to navigate.
You do sound a little guilty - remember, just because she’s not writing tropes you like doesn’t mean you can’t be a support system in other ways. As a writer, you know that writing is intensely personal, and it puts you in a super-vulnerable position. We all want to feel like the people we’ve chosen to be our friends are going to support us and our writing, which is why we’re going to recommend that you be involved somehow in the process.
Now, we here at fandomemilypost have read truly terrible things for our friends. Things that were not our fandoms, kinks, or pairings. Things that had us capslocking I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU MADE ME READ SOMETHING ABOUT THAT FUCKING GINGER, GODDAMNIT WHAT THE EVERLOVING SHIT I HATE YOU HOW CAN THE GINGER BE THERE WITHOUT BEING THERE at them two years later (some of us carry grudges). We have written things that aren’t our pairings or fandoms as gifts, we have been pulled into fandoms and written things we never thought we’d write (like mpreg), and we have beta’d things that we only have cursory knowledge of. But those are relationships that we’ve cultivated, the direction we’ve chosen to follow. We also have relationships with fannish people who write whose stories/styles aren’t our thing, so we don’t interact with it on much more than a superficial level.
Since she’s a writer, we think that you should try to be involved somehow, even if you’re only saying “…wait, wait, they’re all werecats now? what?” and you are never going to read that shit (some of us will never understand werecats, and that’s okay). Remember that part of being a friend in fandom is interacting with things that aren’t high on your list, and sometimes it’s about interacting with things that aren’t on your list at all. Remember to ask yourself: am I being a good, supportive friend in other ways? Did I reblog and comment on something or did I link her to an ONTD post or a promo or an interview or a fic or a vid? Maybe you guys are never going to be writing buddies, and that’s fine, and we’d rather you be honest and pursue the relationship in a different direction, rather than be disingenuous and make her think you’re engaged and enthusiastic about her writing (because that will always come back to bite you, no matter what you do).
And, nonny, we have to wonder: is this a trope issue, or is she a bad writer? Maybe you’re making excuses about the tropes because you don’t want to think about the writing. If it’s because your friend writes really terrible fics, discretion is the better part of valor, and our answer doesn’t change much: be squee-buddies or tinhatters together but avoid the writing aspect of the relationship.
Just be true to yourself, and be honest with yourself. You are in no way obligated to read her stuff or comment on it if you do read it, but you need to find other ways to be a good fannish friend.
[AUTHOR NEVER ANSWERS COMMENTS (Fanfic Flamingo) STOP LEAVING THEM]
It’s not spiteful, it’s just realizing the author never responds and assuming the author doesn’t want them, since I know some authors don’t.
We’re finding this conversation that this particular FYFFF prompted to be quite interesting!
note: we heard back from this anon, but we’re going to go ahead and post this because we want to make sure that no one feels like we’re slighting/ignoring them, and it might help you guys to know what we’re doing to answer you.
We promise to ALWAYS answer our asks. The last thing we want is for anyone to feel uncomfortable about asking us, and we try our best to be objective and reasonsd in our answers- if we fail at that, we expect to be called out on it.
But to help you understand why there is sometimes a gap between when you ask us something and when it gets posted, there are several of us behind this blog. We receive your ask, and then we start and email chain to talk about it and work out our differing opinions. Sometimes we’re of a mind and it’s simple, and sometimes we fight back and forth, but we want to present you all with a united front, so we work to formulate responses we can all agree to.
Then we type up the response, and if it’s been contentious, we might send the response around for a quick beta-type read, and then it gets added to our queue, which is set to publish only one post a day. And then there’s RL, which slows the whole process down even further.
So sometimes there will be lags, but they have nothing to do with the nature of your asks. And sometimes you’ll find we respond right away, as with the ask about wanting to take down her fic after posting it. In some cases we want to respond quickly because there’s a very narrow window, or because there’s an issue that we feel requires a quicker turn-around.
We’re doing our best, and we’re very open to feedback! Leave us an ask as feedback (and please indicate whether you’re comfortable with us posting it to respond publicly), or find us @fandomemilypost on twitter.
Short answer? Yes. You are morally obligated to give credit in some way to the person who actually created the item in question.
Ideally, you would have triple-checked to make sure you knew who the actual creator was, and then would reblog the original. You can drop a note to the person reblogging without credit to let them know that you’ve noticed, as well as a note to the original creator to let them know what’s going on, but this gives the reposter the opportunity to edit the post and make things right. Alternatively, you can reblog the repost and attach a note with a link back to the original source, or use the ‘source url’ box to link back to the original.
Remember to be tasteful, if you’re going to leave a note—something like “god, a;sldffa;df is so talented! [link].” Don’t start a fight, just fangirl the original person. Don’t be aggressive, because getting into fights on the internet is time consuming, and honestly, acts of carelessness or reposting because someone found it on weheartit happen too often to be worth the effort of starting a fight over it. Calling someone out for an honest mistake turns your good deed into a gauche expression of troll-like behavior.
Hopefully this helps some - Tumblr and the ubiquitous use of .gifs has started to change things and made it a bit more difficult to give credit where it’s due, but everyone should always strive to do so, and use the tools Tumblr provides to do so.
Our best advice is to follow the example the canon material gives you. If, even though the show is set in Kansas, the characters say “soda,” that should be the term used in fic. A lot of international readers are not going to pick up on the nuance, and can be confused by language choice (and no one likes to be jolted out of a story by something as trivial as word choice), which brings us to the hypersensitive part - we wouldn’t say “hyper,” but you do seem to have a finely-tuned sensitivity to it.
And that’s fine! Everyone has that thing that will just make them wince, but we should caution everyone that nitpicking a writer about things like that in a comment will make you look like a dick. It’s one of those things you grit your teeth and skim, or you backbutton, or you email one of your friends, but don’t leave that comment (unless you are a beta specifically solicited for advice—then go right ahead!).
On a slightly different note, we would encourage writers to rein in their dialect-related impulses. If you have a southern doctor who in canon does not sound like a Southern Belle, don’t write his dialogue a la Scarlett O’Hara. Your readers are familiar with the source material, they know that Mal in Inception was French, that Chekov in Star Trek is Russian, they don’t need you to phonetically write out the dialogue. Restraint in all things, and your readers will thank you for it.
We say: bail.
You participated in this group to celebrate something that you weren’t seeing a lot of, and the instant that it stops being fun for you (and it raises a major red flag when you use the word “uncomfortable,” nonnie), you are under no obligation to participate any further.
If you’re comfortable, you could address the mods privately and explain your concerns, and then depending on their response you might feel more justified in leaving (i.e. you did all you could do to make it a better place &c).
We understand that because it’s a small fandom, you might feel like your absence will be pretty obvious, and it might be—unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do about that, and in the long run you need to do what’s best for you. Hopefully that friends you’ve made will understand why you had to withdraw, but if they don’t, maybe they’re not the friends you thought they were.
Hopefully the other group continues to be fulfilling, but if not, remember that you can always open up your own group/comm! Good luck!
It would be nice if you can manage to send them a copy early, but a lot of authors are scrambling to finish right up to the last second, and so it’s not feasible to send the artist a copy of the fic ahead of time. Artists, by and large, understand that this is the case and no one’s feelings get hurt. Those of us who have participated in reverse big bangs have had the experience where the artist assumed that they would read the fic with everyone else on posting day.
You could send the artist their own copy when you’re done, but as we’ve said, it’s not necessary.
In terms of the artist approving anything, the time for talking and negotiating is at the beginning of the process. It’s up to the artist how involved they want to be with the author throughout, but the end isn’t time for big changes. There is also no expectation that the artist should approve anything, in the same way that no author in a regular big bang should expect to approve the artwork.
Good luck with your first reverse big bang!
To the first part: we agree! We focused on the Brit writing in an American canon because that was the context of the question.
To the second part: unfortunately this answer is a bit wishy-washy. What to do with comments you’re currently receiving is a matter of personal preference. You can fix the information and thank the commenter politely (“Oh, thanks! I fixed that bit :)”), or you can ignore it, but don’t feed into people who are flaming you (because that always makes things worse, even if you’re giving them what they purport to want).
You may want to look at the comments and see if there’s a trend, though, because if a lot of people are pointing out one thing (and by “a lot” we mean more than three)? Are people upset because you got a street name wrong, or are they offended on a larger scale? Try to look past your initial defensiveness and genuinely ask yourself if they have a point. They may not, which is fine, but if you’ve made an error, or if you’re being offensive, it’s on you to evaluate and apologize if an apology is necessary (for example, are you using native/aboriginal people in a wise, spirit-guide kind of way without any other character development? Are you appropriating anything? Or is this just a wank thing that you’re better off ignoring?).
These days, everything you’d like to know is available on Wikipedia, Google Maps, Flickr or some other social media, so you don’t have a lot of excuse for getting basic things wrong (weather, landscape, language spoken, things like that). We live in a global community, and that makes it relatively easy to at least get a feel for the place you’re writing about. And you should be doing your research—if you’re relying on a place’s reputation and the stereotypes around it without researching it at all, and without looking into the culture of the place, then you can expect negative comments, and you’ll deserve them.
In the future, when writing about a place you’ve never been, try to avoid specifics. If Natasha Romanoff is going to Cairo for a hit, you don’t actually have to put a lot of effort into that (although some of us have spent hours on Google Maps and are undoubtedly on government watch lists). You’re writing fiction, not the traveler’s guide to whatever location you’re using.
Additionally, every fandom’s locations is an AU (Sherlock's London is not Luther's London for example), so there's a subjectivity to the canon, as well as the biases both the author and the reader bring to it. Even if you're born and raised in London and write a Sherlock London-based fic, you’re still likely to get a comment saying, “Have you ever even been to London?”
In the end, it comes down to doing your research and making sure you’re not being stereotypical or offensive (and this is where a beta really helps). But if you’ve done your research, and you feel that you’ve made an honest effort to understand both the location and the culture of the place you’re setting your fic, well. Accept that you can’t make everyone happy and keep on writing!
Short answer? Yes (but we have caveats!). We need to be very clear that demanding more comments, or doing something like withholding updates until you get what you deem to be the “acceptable” amount of feedback is completely unacceptable, and we are in agreement here that it has made all of us discontinue following fics we were interested in otherwise when we’ve come across that behavior.
However, there are some authors who have notes that say “all feedback is love!” or “feedback welcomed and appreciated”, which is fine. You could even be cutesy (“The author lives on feedback”), and while we find that a bit nauseating, it doesn’t make us back-button. You can remind your readers that they can leave a comment and that you appreciate them, but being pushy about it is absolutely bad form.
If it makes you feel better, anon, you should remember that there are a lot of reasons people don’t comment, the biggest one on a serial fic like yours being that people might be waiting until the end (because, admittedly, they’re afraid of things going downhill, not sure if it’s worth the comment yet, don’t want to feel pressured into commenting on every chapter…).
You’re also in good company—all authors wish they got more comments, but blackmailing readers never got anyone as much attention as they wanted (and definitely has lost them readers). Unfortunately, you’ll need to make peace with the fact that, if you’re extremely lucky, 2% of your readers will leave any kind of acknowledgement that they were there (whether it be a comment or kudos, if you’re on the ao3). Realistically (and we did do some number-crunching, here), the ratio of hits-to-comments is about 1%. There’s also the kudos feature on ao3, which is great, and people are way more likely to leave kudos than comments, but even then your ratio is still going to be terrible (it might bump it, at most, 0.5% higher).
You should also remember that a lot of people are reading fic on their ereaders/iPads/tablets now, which is fantastic for getting a fic out there, but not great when it comes to commenting. Just because people aren’t commenting doesn’t mean they’re not telling their friends, or reccing you (even without commenting—it’s amazing how often that happens). People don’t comment for a number of reasons—shyness, laziness, didn’t like the fic, downloaded it to an ereader…
You could invest a lot of time in finding out just popular/well-received your story is by using a hit-counter, searching for you work across various social media sites and in search engines, and then note how many of the people who are talking about your fic who didn’t comment. You could do that…but we don’t recommend it. It would be exhausting, and you could spend that time writing, not undercutting your own self-worth.
It’s far more rewarding to have a relationship with your readers, to get them invested in the process. Use your social media of choice to let people know if an update is going to be late. Post teasers, complain that you’re going to kill character X if a scene doesn’t start coming together, post polls. You might find that people feel more involved and talk about it more, and you may end up with a few more readers (one of whom might actually comment!).
In the end, though it’s fantastic and rewarding and fulfilling to have your work gain any kind of notoriety, don’t confuse your hits/comments with quality. A lot of authors feel like their best work is often overshadowed by crack or id-fic or porn, because that’s what people want to read. At the end of the day, as trite as it sounds, remember that you’re writing for you, because you have a story to tell, because you love the fandom and the characters.
Unfortunately, working in a canon where the language (or dialect) isn’t native to you always makes things a little difficult. There are always going to be things that you, a non-native speaker, will not be able to pick up without a native-speaker’s help.
The best way to respond would be to say, “Thank you! I appreciate you helping me with this!” and then go find an American beta to nitpick you. If you feel comfortable enough, or you’ve noticed it’s one person repeatedly commenting, you can even ask if they’d be interested in helping you in the future.
If you’d rather find someone you’re more comfortable with, you could post an inquiry to your journal/tumblr/twitter asking if someone would be willing to beta specifically for Britishisms in an American-canon fic. Some fandoms have beta-finding communities, you could try searching there, or see if anyone you’re interacting with in fandom would be willing to taking on beta duties (you might be surprised how willing people are when they realize you want a copy-editor, not a storyboard reviewer). You could also update the most recent fic to include an a/n to see if any of your readers are interested in helping you, or a note inviting “american-picking” (although there must be a better term for that…) and be willing to edit your fic according to whatever comments you receive.
If you, for whatever reason, decide that you don’t care, consider leaving an author’s note in your American-canon fics to the effect of, “I’m British, so there are likely going to be Britishisms in here!” It acknowledges that you’re aware of the situation, but also lets people know that you’ve no intention of “fixing” them. Regarding the comments (and we’re assuming, here, that they’re commenting on the story as well!), ideally you would respond with something including, “I appreciate you pointing all of that out, but I’m going to leave it as-is!”.
In the end, no matter which way you go, remember to be to be honest and polite, because though writing is personal, and our instinct is to be protective of it, these people who leave you concrit are likely just trying to help you with something they undoubtedly find jarring (here at fandomemilypost there is a wide range of how high and low our tolerance levels are—some of us can’t read it at all, some of us can get through it if the story is good enough, and some of us don’t particularly care or even notice). These commenters, by and large, don’t mean to be offensive or belittling—and even if they are being rude, that’s no excuse for you to return in kind.
Posting a fic is a big deal, and it is enormously, terrifyingly personal. We have all been in the situation where we’ve wanted to take things down; had that moment of sheer, blinding panic. And while it’s not without precedent, and authors of popular fic remove their fics for various reason, it is in rather bad taste.
But! While we understand your panic, and have experienced the same feeling ourselves, we agree with your friends and want to remind you of a few things, the most important of which is: only about 1% of people who read any given fic will leave feedback of any sort.
Beyond that, there are a lot of reasons why people aren’t leaving instant feedback. People can being opening the fic and saving it to read later, or sending to their e-readers. A lot of people also wait to catch up on the fic that gets posted until the weekend. Remember also that a lot of people don’t read fic within the first hour or so of posting—depending on your fandom and when you’re posting and what time zone your in, it could be hours until the majority of your fandom is at home and ready to read a fic. There’s the matter of your visibility, as well. Did you try to cross-post to fic comms in your fandom (though be careful with that—if your fandom has multiple comms crosspost just to two, otherwise people will feel spammed)? You can also use other social media sites in order to help potential readers find your fic (otherwise it’s only people who are following/subscribing/friends with you who will find your fic in any event).There are dozens and dozens of reasons why you haven’t had any comments, none of which have anything to do with the content of your fic.
Our best advice? Leave it alone for a week, and let a weekend pass. At the end of the week you might feel a little more Zen about the whole thing, but acting quickly never did anyone any favors. If you still don’t feel confident or comfortable about it after waiting, you could put it under f-lock (or, if you have an ao3 account, there is an “orphan your work” option that we recommend). But, and this is important, don’t stop writing.
We would hate for this experience to be one that lingers and makes you hesitate to hit the “post” button in the future, even if this isn’t your first posted fic. You can find a beta, or ask your friends to help you, post a entry asking if someone would be willing to look over your fics in the future. Learn from this and keep writing, and remember that while comments are fantastic, and that we as writers love, adore and cherish them, they are not the final word on how “good” a piece is, nor should they be the measure by which you value your own work (and we know—that’s easier said than done).
Good luck, and keep writing!
The wonderful thing about the internet is that it’s a pretty big place, and you can go for years without running into an author you dislike. When that does happen, though, our advice advice for handling it is simple: don’t read their fic, and focus on the parts of fandom that have been and still are amazing.
As tempting as it may be, publicly complaining about this author will gain you nothing except misery. People will respond to your complaint, and you may find some sympathizers, but you’ll also find people who disagree. The end result will likely be that you spend more energy on maintaining your dislike publicly of this one author than you’re spend enjoying your fandom, and really, what’s the point of that?
Try instead to think about the authors you like, and how happy you are to rediscover them when you have a fandom in common. Try to remember that for every fic you hate, there’s someone else out there who is eating that fic up with a spoon like it’s ice cream with whipped cream and hot fudge on top.
It also may help to remember that writing for a fandom involves an investment on the part of the author, you have to like the characters, have a story you want to tell with them or about them—this author you dislike is enjoying something you enjoy and wants to participate and interact with the canon you love.
On a more proactive note, if you’re bored with what’s being posted, why not write something yourself? If your fandom has a kinkmeme and you’re not a writer, prompt what you’d like to see more of (if no kinkmeme exists, why not start one?)! You can make gifsets, vids, fanart, or if you’re not inclined in those directions, why not make a primer post and pimp your fandom out to get new authors in the fandom? You can start a rec comm to pimp out authors you like, and if none of those suggestions for active participation appeal, go on tumblr and reblog all the wonderful things that other people are creating over there! There are dozens of way to participate, but absolutely none of those should include publicly complaining that a certain author is writing for your fandom of choice.
In the end, the truth is that there is no one person who is worth losing a fandom over. Like we said at the top, your fandom doesn’t change inherently because someone you dislike starts participating in it. It’s still the same place, and you can either ruin it for yourself by dwelling on your problems, or you can make it amazing by focusing on the brilliance that still exists.