I am currently in the process of porting a lot of my older fanfic onto AO3, because I want it all in one place/don’t want it to be lost/want to revise it to be a little more in-line with my current standards of both quality and language use. It’s so quick and easy! I can’t remember why I didn’t do this before!
…oh, right, she says, as the hit counter goes higher without the comments, or even the kudos, to match. Because I feel like I’m screaming into the void.
I come from very comment-heavy fic environments, and like most fanfic authors I have known, I am a little twitchy about “what if this is awful what if I am awful what if nobody likes my shit at all.” So when I have 50 hits and one kudo, I actually feel pretty rotten, which makes me less eager to do the job of cleaning and posting.
This is hence a plea on behalf of all fanfic authors: remember that the people who write the stories you enjoy are not getting paid for their time in anything other than “you did good, have a cookie” comments from people. Please consider commenting if you liked a story. Please consider leaving a kudo if you read all the way to the end. There are stories that are qualitatively bad that I’ve left kudos on, because hey, I read them, they gave me an hour of enjoyment, they deserve a cookie.
We have infinite cookies to give. We should share them freely, because wow, does it suck when fanfic makes fanfic writers sad.
This feels particularly relevant to a lot of chatter I’m seeing cross my dash.
Writing is hard. Writing is scary. Writing takes time and effort and care and love love love. Which is true of any fanwork of course, but fanfiction also requires a significant investment from its audience before it can even begin to be seen. With art or gifsets or any other visual medium, the work can be consumed, appreciated, and commented/reblogged/whatever within seconds. It takes longer than that just to read the description on a work of fanfiction.
But in the same vein, your fanfic writers give you hours of entertainment in return. Whether it’s a smile or a sob delivered in ten minute ficlets or 100k monsters you’re still reading at 3 am, fanfiction will give you a level of immersion unique to the fandom experience. With fanfiction, the characters live forever and the story never ends.
Still, that commitment from the audience means we’re already looking at a sliver of the same attention, without hope of the same scale of interaction and response. That makes what we DO get so very critical.
If you read something, take a moment to click those kudos or likes or whatever. If you liked it, leave a comment, If you loved it, love your fanfic author back and tell them. TELL THEM EVERYTHING I PROMISE YOU WE WANT TO HEAR
Remember that the only thing that nourishes fandom creators are your responses. Your fanfic writers are timid, starving creatures. Feed them. Love them. I said the characters live forever and the story never ends, but that’s only true if the storytellers keep telling stories. To do that, they need an audience. Make sure they know they have one.
I’ll go one small step further. Yes, it’s simple and takes a fraction of a second to leave kudos or like a tumblr post. It’s the thank you button at the end of the story. It’s also wonderful if you leave an AO3 comment or send the author a tumblr ask thanking them or flailing over their words.
But just like the lament I’ve heard from so many artists, writers’ audiences can’t grow without reblogging. I try to keep a relatively balanced blog, combining art, meta, fic, and a little bit of everything I enjoy. But I do try to reblog stories that I love.
Nothing is more exciting for a writer than to suddenly have a lot of mysterious new traffic to an old story, with a fresh crop of kudos and comments from a new group of readers. I have a fic rec that’s mostly stocked with older stories and fandom favorites, but I really love finding stories that I’ve missed, stories that might not have received a lot of attention in the past, or new stories from writers that don’t already have a huge audience.
So go forth and read, leave kudos and comments, but also spread the good words around. I, as a writer AND a reader, will be grateful to you.