Kitayama might be taking a picture of this (mousapelli) wrote,
Kitayama might be taking a picture of this

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Fandom, Let's Talk About Fic a Moment, Shall We?

Here's a little timeline for you:

2008 - 5 Times Miyata Didn't Believe in Love - 20 comments
2009 - Nobody But You - 20 comments
2010 - At First Sight - 27 comments
2011 - Party Don't Stop - 6 comments. Hm.
Debut Happens
2011 - Communication - 7 comments
2012 - Say Say Say - 4 comments.

All of those (except 1 Nisen) are Tamamori/Miyata, same pairing, same fandom, in a common fandom pairing, no rarepairs, no crazy kinks or anything weird. See that precipitous drop in commenting? Right as we get to debut and we have an influx of people and fandom should be getting a swell of writers and fangirls and excitement?

I've been trying to hold off posting about this because I'm already cranky from end of school year, and I know I'll just come off sounding like a comment-whoring jackass, but when a perfectly serviceable main pairing confession/get-together fic in a band-specific exchange gets 3 comments (which is exactly what happened with Say Say Say), then I have to say that we are once again totally overdue for The Talk.

You know the one I mean.

Commenting on fic makes authors happier. Happier authors write more often and encourage new authors to write, and then everybody has more fic. You can say I'm wrong or that I just want attention, but I've written in dozens of fandoms and I can tell you 100% the fandoms with the most active commenting have the most active authors. And don't tell me it's about size, because it's not. Hikaru no Go and Loveless both had/have totally respectable fic/comment ratios, just to pick two. Kisumai(/ebi/jrs) isn't tiny, and it certainly didn't get tinier over the last 5 years.

also, okay, I do want attention, fine. That's why I post things on the internet. It's not that I will stop writing when nobody says "thank you" or "I liked this," obviously, but did I write longer and better fic back when I got more comments? You bet. And after putting in so much effort for my Fic2 fics and having it turn out like Say Say Say, did I take a break and think really hard about putting energy into new things because I was discouraged? Yup, for sure.

And I'm a seasoned, reasonably self-confident author. New, nervous authors need more support if you want them to stick around, improve, and produce fic regularly. Authors with busy lives/school/work need impetus to put their energy into writing.

Lurkers make authors sad, and sad authors don't write as much, or bother setting aside time and energy to write at all. Here's the thing, guys, lurking is not invisibility. We can see you. There's LJ stats, there's counters, I can see accidentally via my stupid clicky pokemon, how many people are clicking into a fic, vs how many people say thanks. The generally accepted figure for how many people comment out of how many people read/downloaded/did whatever on your post, in any fandom, is about 10%. Right now I'm at ~2%, sort of, and that's better than pretty much all the kisumai authors I can name. It sucks. It's not encouraging. It doesn't make me want to plan new stuff or get excited.

And maybe you clicked a fic you didn't like, or firefox crashed your tabs, or you read on your phone and couldn't comment, there's reasons people don't comment, sure. But not EVERYBODY is busy/had drama/hated it ALL the time. And if you had enough time to read the whole thing, you really don't have the 10 seconds it takes to type "I enjoyed this" and then click a button? Unless it was like a je100 drabble, but that hasn't exactly been a hotbed of authorial support either lately.

The comment that drives me the craziest, and I hesitate to bring this up because it probably means I will stop getting even this, is that at least once every week or two, I get a pm that says "I read all your stuff all the time and i love it but I never comment because I'm too shy!!!" Oh, fandom, why. It's the internet. No one cares who you are. If it worries you so much, comment anonymously! Create a sockpuppet account! Like, it's nice that you at least say that one thing the one time, but see above, how steady commenting creates a community where authors produce better fic more regularly. Lurking produces nothing but posts from me about how frustrating it is to write when everybody's a lurker.

This is why Kisumai(/ebi/jr) fandom has so few fic-producing authors. It's because everybody wants to lurk. But you can't all lurk, all the time. We used to have a bunch of new authors trying stuff out, at least a couple fics on the comm a week. Now we have a fic/fanwork comm, and there's next to nobody posting. When I repost fics to the comm, I get like 1-2 comments out of it generally, despite the influx of random people it directs to my journal.

Guys, it's so bad right now that everybody I've talked to in the last 2 weeks about this, all longtime authors, have all said I shouldn't even bother posting about it, there's nothing anybody can do about it, I'm wasting my time and should just accept that our fandom sucks. It didn't used to suck, and I don't have to just accept that. This can totally get better again!

We need more authors. The authors we have need encouragement. If you like reading fic, you've got to learn/remember that the reason LJ works for fandom is that it encourages community exchange, and if that didn't matter, then we'd all be on or Ao3, just in archives.

tl:dr - here's what you can do right now:
1. Comment on what you read, even if it's just "Thank you" or "I enjoyed this."
you don't have to be witty or have awesome insight or anything, just say if you liked it. I swear to you, this makes everybody happier.
2. Write something! You really can! It takes practice, and we all had a first fic once. If everybody is too shy to post, soon we'll be down to zero authors. Fandom has to refresh itself, because in case you haven't noticed, we don't have a plethora of established, regular authors just hanging around at the moment. If you can string 3 words together, we'll probably love you.
3. Stop lurking. We can see you, you aren't hiding. You're just making fandom sad.

And if all this post did was make you think I'm a jerk, I can't stop you. If it makes you happy, you don't have to ever comment on anything of mine ever again, I'll live. But here's some people and things you really should comment on, especially if you've already read them and done nothing:

Reveals for Fic2, the all kisumai exchange, which was full of good and varied fic, and was not well-commented on at all. In particular the fic I received, Hesitation, is Miyata/Tamamori and deserves way more than the 2 comments it has. 2! Fandom, I am ashamed of you.
Here's a handful of fics I got for my birthday, all of which deserve comments and love because they were good reads. All kisumai except 1 Yara/Yamaryo.
Here's the Fanfic tag for kismyshowtime, full of authors who I'm sure would love some encouragement or just a thank you.
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