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What's in a name, part two ... or is it three?

November 16, 2007
Posted at 11:33 am

Wow. That's all I can say.

Wait a minute. Of course that's not all I can say. Who am I trying to kid?

Before I changed my pen name from Beating Off Bob to Lubrican, I got dozens of emails from people who said, basically: "Ick! I don't like your name."

That played a big role in changing my name, along with other factors that have already been discussed in previous blog entries.

So, imagine my chagrin, when I got hundreds ... yes hundreds of emails, saying things like "I thought it was cute," and "I liked it because it was clever," and other nice things.

Richard Nixon was right. There really is a silent majority.

Of course, there were other comments too, about the new name. "Reminds me of an oil can," was one. Somebody else said they looked it up on the internet and got pages and pages of stuff related to "personal lubricants". Apparently, a company in Germany uses that name too. Of course, they deal in lubricants.

Now you might think I'd pout a little bit about this, but that's not the case at all. If you read the single story that's still in Beating Off Bob's directory at SOL, you know why I chose the name, and what it means to me. That was true of the previous name too. I'm not so thin-skinned as to be all torn up about the fact that people now think of me as an oily smut author, rather than a dirty old man smut writer.

I think there is a lesson in all this, and it goes back to that silent majority.

They're silent.

At least until something comes along that stirs them up a bit. Then, when they make their feelings known, things are better illuminated.

I know from the mail I get that the readership at SOL is surprisingly intelligent and discriminating. I use the word "surprisingly" because it surprised me, when I realized it. Like you, I have some preconceptions about people I don't know.

Never a good idea, folks.

Anyway, the lesson in this is that you shouldn't be so silent. On average, I get feedback from about ten percent of the people who read one of my stories. I can live with that. Some of the rest of them vote, and that gives you some idea of how they feel.

But the fact is that, while I do this for fun, the feedback I do get is very important to me. And it's not important just because people stroke me and say nice things. That's fun. No doubt about it. They also give me good ideas for future stories.

But others tell me what they don't like, and that's just as important, because sometimes that critcism can illuminate flaws in a story, or maybe the thinking process that went into building a plot. Sometimes it helps on the next story, or maybe even a story that's a long way into the future.

If you've been reading my stories for a long time, you probably noticed that the later ones are better crafted than the earlier ones. That's no accident. And it's the result of comments by people who did not remain silent, or just go on to another author, or story.

I also get mail - lots of it - from people who aren't all that thrilled, generally, with the majority of erotic fiction that's available on the internet. They say things like "Thank goodness I finally found somebody who can write."

I don't say that to toot my own horn. My work speaks for itself. The reason I say that is because those people, and others, by speaking out to me in the past, made me a better author. They taught me things.

You guys out there are the customer. The customer is NOT always right - that's a whole other blog entry - but the customer will never get better service it he doesn't sound off when he's not happy.

So sound off. Stop being so silent. Again, I'm not necessarily talking about me, here. I get enough email that I'm happy, and sometimes have to spend time answering it that could be used in writing. I'm not complaining about that, I just try to be truthful.

What I'm saying is that, when you read a story you think is good, write to the author. Tell him what you liked about it. And, if you weren't impressed, write to the author and tell him about that too. Don't be mean. Just tell him why he lost your interest, or how you think something could be improved.

You are the author's mentor, in many ways. If you want the quality of erotica to get better, you have to take an active part in that. Just reading isn't active enough. Even voting doesn't help that much, in terms of helping an author to get better.

Speak your mind. We authors do.

Thanks to all of you who were so supportive about the name change. That means a lot to me. And it motivates me to be better.

You know, the more I think about that "personal lubricant" thing, the more appropriate it seems.

Good sex is usually all oiled up ... isn't it?