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What's with 'Proportionality'?

September 10, 2011
Posted at 12:23 am

What's with my story "Proportionality"?

It's wonderful as an author to get thoughtful feedback including what a reader did or didn't like about your story. It's pretty good to get a message saying, "I liked your story. Thanks!" It's nice to get good scores. But it's never quite enough, naturally. So we are left evaluating are work also based on ... downloads.

I've been posting for nearly two years now, and I'm up to 59 stories. Back in March of 2010 -- a year and a half ago -- I posted "Proportionality". It did well enough at first relative to how my stories are usually received. But then something happened. The downloads kept growing. It now has more downloads than any of my other 58 stories. Well, by itself that's not surprising; of course some story has to be #1 on a list. My second-highest downloads total comes from "The Father of Humanity", and the difference is interesting. That story shot into the #1 spot shortly after I posted it, and stayed there for a long time. But Proportionality overtook it and the downloads keep coming. (It's all relative, of course. Many authors would be disappointed to get 7235 downloads for a story).

So what is it about the story? The title certainly isn't very sexy. The description reads: "A man saves a witch's life, and wanting to reward him, she uses a truth spell to uncover his deepest desires. He is mortified when she uncovers his desire for sex with little girls. She devises a unique way for him to fulfill his desire without anyone getting hurt -- and he uses her technique with abandon. Yet her spell has more profound consequences than she intended." Is it especially appealing in some way? Does it maybe present the pedo element in a way that is -- less alarming, somehow?

Pedo stories in general don't get so many downloads (though the ones posted in the early years of SOL got very heavy download counts). Are people keying off the term "witch"? Longer stories might get more downloads as people go back to it on several days to finish it. And while it is long for one of mine (135K) I have 7 longer ones. It's got the 6th best score, though the higher-scoring stories don't have anywhere near as many downloads (Promise to Do Our Daughters is the most-downloaded of better-scored stories, at a mere 3850 downloads).

I could imagine that if someone liked the story they might have just copied it (from ASSTR if not SOL) and sent it around. But that wouldn't show up in download counts. Was the story discovered by some modestly influential person who posted a link to it?

Yeah, it's not an earthshaking question. But I'd be curious as to any insight people might have. Write to