I am haunted by all the editions of books that are prettier than the ones I already own.
Not enough roles for black women in Hollywood? Let’s make some!
1. Thandie Newton/Alice Walker, 2. Amber Riley/Aretha Franklin, 3. Kerry Washington/Vonetta McGee, 4. Lupita Nyong’o/Grace Jones, 5. Mo’Nique/Hattie McDaniel, 6. Oprah Winfrey/Mary McLeod Bethune, 7. Regina Hall/Moms Mabley, 8. Teyonah Parris/Assata Shakur, 9. Viola Davis/Shirley Chisholm, 10. Jurnee Smollett/Eartha Kitt
Somebody has to write the scripts first! But I LOVE this list. So much!
I’m just going to comment, real quick, on this because an author of a story I’m following did something really annoying.
I hate when authors beg for comments on their work. It’s like this: If you’re not getting the comments you want, it’s not your readers, it’s never your readers; it’s you. And you need to ask yourself a few questions.
1. Are you updating too frequently or not enough?
Sometimes writers are eager to get their work out and update every day. Not only are readers not necessarily coming back every day, but new readers typically aren’t going to comment on every single chapter. They’re going to read up until the latest chapter and comment there. And if your work is complete, readers will either assume that you don’t need a comment for encouragement and not comment at all, or will, again, leave a comment after the last chapter. I think I’ve commented on one story for every chapter, and that’s because every chapter was fucking brilliant on its own, offering something scandalous enough to make me want to say something about what occurred.
Other times, you may not be updating frequently enough and people forget to keep up with it, even if they’re subscribed. I’m subscribed to a few stories over on Fanfiction.net and I can honestly tell you that there will be an update about 6 months to a year later that pops up in my email and I’ll completely ignore it either because I can’t remember what the hell it was about and/or I’ve moved on from that fandom.
2. How long are your chapters?
Some people actually write chapters that are two paragraphs long or only feature one scene. That means that nothing is happening and therefore nothing’s worth commenting on. I’m not saying that chapters need to be 30-50 pages long, even though I’ll admit to loving those best, but if you’re an infrequent updater who only gives me five paragraphs a chapter, then your story isn’t really giving me anything to comment on and I’m going to get bored pretty quickly.
3. Okay, sometimes it is us readers.
I don’t comment as frequently as I’d like. Part of that is because I don’t have much to say, especially if I’m waiting for something to happen and it doesn’t.
Sometimes, I want to see where the story is going. I’ll comment if the writer has a really unique premise, because if it’s presented well after only one chapter, they should absolutely be praised for that, but it’s rare in certain fandoms.
Some of us are shy. Personally, I suffer from social anxiety and fear of being judged, and I get nervous when people talk to me, even online, so I rarely speak my mind, even just to comment.
Then, some of us have learned to not say anything if we have nothing nice to say. At one point, I contemplated starting a Tumblr page for my fanfiction reviews, because I write them for myself, but not everything was praise, and I never want to discourage a writer from getting better. Few fanfiction writers are seasoned and I think that should make fanfiction spaces safe for those who are still budding. So, chances are, if your story isn’t great, I’m just not going to say anything at all and move on.
These aren’t even all the reasons you may not be getting comments, but I sort of went on a vocal rant and forgot half of my thoughts before deciding to write my frustration at comment-beggars in my personal journal and then deciding to put it into the universe, hoping someone will read it and not be offended but might be a little more understanding about why they’re not getting comments instead of stomping their feet like petulant children, or falling into depression, and deciding to hang up a story because they think it’s not being read.
If comments really are the way a fanfiction author gets paid, then you have to remember that your readers are your fans, not your employers. We don’t owe you comments. If you’re writing for you and just sharing, then accept whatever you get with grace. If you’re writing for popularity or to improve your skills, then you need to step up your game because not getting comments should be telling you something. And if you’re really doing it for the skills, then don’t ask for comments, but start with your concerns. Hey guys, I’m not getting as many comments as I thought I would and I was wondering if the few of you who are reading had any suggestions for improvement. And by the way, I’m grateful to all the authors who actually do that, because there are a few.