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Forum: Author Hangout

As a reader, there is nothing more frustrating than...

TestSubject001
Updated:

contacting an author with a question, and not getting an answer in response, or wanting to discuss some of the themes and such of the story. Just a generic thank you or something in response. I know you guys don't get paid for this, so I shouldn't expect you to be "nice". If I were in their place though I would be complemented that someone wanted to discuss my story with me.

Do you authors really get that many feedback that you don't want or can't discuss your story? Or do you think it is just a personality thing for some authors?

KinkyWinks

I don't get that much e-mail but I know that some of the writers do, and it seems that it is the same questions over and over. My Pen Name is Catman and if you want to discuss one of my stories I'll try to have the time.

Jay Cantrell

It isn't simply the amount of email we get.

You also have to factor in the fact that for many of us SOL is way down on the priority list.

There is no way I can reply to every email. I get to about 1 in 10 if I'm lucky.

It probably makes me a dick but email is what I do when I have nothing else to do.

That said, I prioritize messages with a question (that doesn't require much explanation) but I can't even ensure I get to all of those in the spare minutes not consumed by family or job.

Replies:   sejintenej
Switch Blayde

@TestSubject001

I think authors with ongoing, long stories get more emails to discuss the story. Often the reader wants input to the direction.

Since I don't write epic stories, that doesn't apply to me. And since my stories are complete before posting the first chapter, I simply say, "That's not the story I wrote."

I would love to discuss my stories. Way back I created a Yahoo group for that purpose. Readers join the group, but don't discuss it. I've even had a few instances where someone tried which caused others to tell me to delete them from the group. Too many emails.

The other problem is, I don't remember most of my stories. I guess that goes hand-in-hand with being able to discuss an ongoing story.

However, I respond to all emails.

Ernest Bywater

@TestSubject001

This has come up several times in the forum threads, and been heavily discussed. It comes down to authors and replying to emails is sort of like that song - some authors do and some authors don't.

I write mostly novel length or longer stories, I also respond to all emails I receive, but I've given warnings in my blog et, I can go several weeks before i respond to all my story accumulated emails, thus don't expect a quick response. Like most authors, I have other things I have to do with my time and replying to story emails is one of the lowest priority items.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
John Demille

@TestSubject001

Do you authors really get that many feedback that you don't want or can't discuss your story? Or do you think it is just a personality thing for some authors?


I reply to every fan-email that I get (admittedly, very few messages).

I send feedback whenever I can, but if I don't get reply back, I never send feedback to the same author again. I figure they're either not interested in my feedback or they're too busy and my feedback would take from their time.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

This has come up several times in the forum threads, and been heavily discussed. It comes down to authors and replying to emails is sort of like that song - some authors do and some authors don't.

Despite the other opinions, Ernest's is the most spot on. I have a hard time imagining any amount of email from a story being so overwhelming that I couldn't personally respond to each, especially for most of us, it's our only real payment—responses from our readers—something traditionally published authors almost never receive.

I not only respond to each email, but I tend to go on at length—so much so that many start out by saying "You don't need to respond … but I just wanted to say …"

However, many authors simply want to be left alone, while others only want to respond to the 'right kinds' of responses.

Essentially, over time you slowly learn how each author responds to feedback. Those that are eager for it, feel free to offer any suggestions, critiques of praise you want. For those slower to respond, or who say 'That's the story and that's it', you generally don't offer suggestions, whereas for those who don't respond at all, you simply don't waste your time with.

It would be nice if there was some SOL table where you could determine whether authors desire feedback or what kinds, but it's really hit or miss.

As for Switch's "I can't remember the details of my stories", I frequently have to refer to my story timelines, specifically to remember what happens in each specific chapter. After 16 published stories, it sometimes gets confusing remember who said what in which chapter. 'D

Replies:   Switch Blayde
sunkuwan

I don't normally email authors, thinking that they probably heard it a hundred times already.

I only contacted 2 authors:

1. An Author asked his readers on his forum for minor story ideas on his lengthy novel. Nothing that influences the main plot but would fill out a sideaction in the plot.
So I mailed him with a rudimentary outline of the minor villain and his motives and left gender/race/profession etc. for the Author.
The Author replied and thought it was a good idea. I dont know if he implemented it yet or if he ever will, I have the story currently on hold until the next segment is finished, but I am happy about the whole thing.

2. I was reading a lengthy multi-novel story and was a bit hesitant if I could finish the current novel.
The story was a coming of Age story and it was going into a direction with a side plot point that left me unsettled. With drugs and prostitution in an otherwise happy go lucky Highschool and College relationship drama CoA Story.
The Prolog of the 4th or 5th novel had a scene where a girl was fucked by a guy, nothing out of the ordinary but in the previous novels it was established that the girls on that bed were drugged up. No names were mentioned and it was a Prolog for the future.
The thing that got me so riled up was, that I didnt know who the girl on the bed was, the age and hair color could have been the sister of the protagonist.
The thing with Future Prologs is, that you think about the end and not the road. I didnt enjoy the chapters I was reading afterwards because I speculated who that was on that bed. I even began to skip sentences.

So long story short: After chapter 6 or so, I stopped and contacted the Author, explaining my current issue and just asking if it is the sister or not. He replied, I got my answer and I could enjoy the rest of the novel.

Replies:   TestSubject001
TestSubject001

Your responses were actually an amalgamation of my thoughts on the subject. Some like it and make time for it, some don't, and some like it but don't have time for it. I kind of understand the not wanting to follow the direction that a reader suggests that's for sure. I was chatting with an author and he kept sending me feedback that another reader was sending him. He made clear to the reader he had no desire to go that way, but after every chapter, the same response came up.

I just get frustrated when I send a question for clarification on a specific element, relationship, or history of the story and I don't hear back or only get a thanks response.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
TestSubject001

@sunkuwan

2. I was reading a lengthy multi-novel story and was a bit hesitant if I could finish the current novel.
The story was a coming of Age story and it was going into a direction with a side plot point that left me unsettled. With drugs and prostitution in an otherwise happy go lucky Highschool and College relationship drama CoA Story.


I've done that a few times. I don't want to read something that changes up halfway through the story.

Crumbly Writer

@TestSubject001

I kind of understand the not wanting to follow the direction that a reader suggests that's for sure.

I fit into the camp where my entire story is fully written and thoroughly edited before I ever start posting, so I'm not able to change the plot on the fly (it would require my rewriting sections and then having them reedited, etc.). However, I'm normally happy to answer questions and consider alternatives or improvements to the story. Often, some suggestions become major story elements in a new story/sequel. However, if a reader suggests something which won't fit the plot, then I'll kindly tell him that it run counter to the current plot line.

Generally, when someone suggests something, I'll tell them whether I incorporate it, how I did, or if not, why I was unable to. But I tend to be the exception to the rule. Often, 'suggestions' consist of "why not have X sleep with A, B and C". That's fine for a stroke story, but is more difficult to manage in a plot-driven story.

StarFleet Carl

@TestSubject001

Do you authors really get that many feedback that you don't want or can't discuss your story? Or do you think it is just a personality thing for some authors?


If someone sends me a feedback on a blog post, I tend to just read them, especially since those can be about all sorts of stuff that's not relevant to my story.

If someone sends me a thank you on my story, I'll at least respond to the first e-mail from them. I've had a running conversation with a couple of readers as new chapters were posted, but due to Real Life (tm) - as in, the 60 hour or so per week job that pays the bills - it can sometimes be a couple of weeks before I can get back with someone.

Unlike many of the authors here, at this point I only have one story on the site so far (albeit it's become a LOT longer than I thought it would be when I started it). It's about all I can do to maintain a couple of chapter buffer ahead of what's posted, as I also didn't finish it first. Which did mean I was able to take an idea from a reader and put it into the story (and I gave him credit for that idea as well).

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

As for Switch's "I can't remember the details of my stories", I frequently have to refer to my story timelines, specifically to remember what happens in each specific chapter.


I wasn't talking about chapters, but stories (mostly short stories). Hell, I wrote my first one 17 years ago. I never had a good memory, but as I age...

Ross at Play

I can understand life making it difficult for some authors to answer all the emails they receive from readers.
Not answering emails feels a bit discourtious to me: allowing them seems like an implicit invitation.
I suggest authors who aren't prepared to answer all emails consider using the new option of allowing comments at the end of stories instead.

Replies:   Grant
Grant
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I suggest authors who aren't prepared to answer all emails consider using the new option of allowing comments at the end of stories instead.

Why?
Emails are for private communication with the author. Comments at the end of stories are for public viewing/discussion with other readers, and the author if they feel so inclined.
They are very different mediums, with different purposes.

If authors don't want emails, then they turn off the option. If they do want emails then they enable it.
If they can't respond to all emails, or it might take some time then they leave such a note at the end of their stories stating those facts.
It's not the authors fault if people aren't smart enough to notice them, or feel that it doesn't apply to them.

If the possibility of it taking ages to never to get a response to their email will result in stress and trauma to the poster, then better not to post it in the first place.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Grant

Why?

I suggested authors consider it as an alternative - one that was not available in the past.
And why? ... for the reasons contained in the originating post of this thread.

Michael Loucks

I respond to emails, and it got to the point where it was taking quite a bit of time. The simple thing to do was create a Discord server and let all the fans talk to each other directly. :-)

Darian Wolfe

I answer each email and try to gauge my response to the length and depth of the email received. I don't receive many so that helps.

sejintenej

@Jay Cantrell


You also have to factor in the fact that for many of us SOL is way down on the priority list.

There is no way I can reply to every email. I get to about 1 in 10 if I'm lucky.

It probably makes me a dick but email is what I do when I have nothing else to do.


EXACTLY!!!!! testsubject001 seems pretty new so he/she/it probably hasn't read the posts of various readers (including me) that we expect such a problem for authors.

Replies:   TestSubject001
TestSubject001

@sejintenej

New to the forums, sure. New to the site and other sites like it, not so much. I think I made a horrible assumption that if you had time to write you would have time to read your email and respond to it. Guess that was a bad one to make, at least for some authors.

oyster50

I reply to many, but not all, emails. I get a few per chapter that say 'Great job! Keep it up! I sometimes do a quick 'thanks'.

Those who want to discuss the characters or the plot. Often my reply is to discuss why I did it my way or why a character chose the story's path.

I even reply to the 'Geez, why do you even bother?'

In addition to the huge checks I get for writing this stuff, the emails are the best payment I get.

Ernest Bywater

@oyster50

I reply to many, but not all, emails. I get a few per chapter that say 'Great job! Keep it up! I sometimes do a quick 'thanks'.


I get about 20 of these per chapter for every story I'm involved with in any way. When posting a new story I wait until about a week after the last chapter is up, and then go through and reply to them all. Where I have multiple emails from the same person I reply to the last one and thank them for all of their emails. When I did that with one story of over 40 chapters I had close to a thousand emails to reply to, but after the first 30 or so replies I'd been able to clear out over 800 emails because they were of that nature. I've found that process to be very good at reducing the time replying to emails. Also, a cut and paste response for the simple "thanks for the story" emails helps cut down on the time. But some have more detailed questions i respond to, may even answer before the deadline, and some report typos, which I'll deal with as soon as I see them, but may not reply to until the deadlines.

Ernest Bywater

@oyster50


In addition to the huge checks


How do you get your bank to accept the deposit of the three foot by one foot high cardboard checks for fifty cents? My bank won't accept them.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@Ernest Bywater

How do you get your bank to accept the deposit of the three foot by one foot high cardboard checks for fifty cents? My bank won't accept them.


Phone app. Just snap a picture of it, electronic deposit.

Nomie de Ploom

@TestSubject001

I think it depends on the nature of the message sent and the discussion. I've been trying to answer every email I've gotten. I do enjoy the praise on stories, and the constructive criticism (fixing my mistakes not as much lol, but I roll with them).

I think the only one that I honestly don't enjoy responding to is when someone wants to tell me what I need to do in the story next, where it should go. Generally I have a good idea of where I want the story to and I find those ones awkward.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Nomie de Ploom

I think the only one that I honestly don't enjoy responding to is when someone wants to tell me what I need to do in the story next, where it should go. Generally I have a good idea of where I want the story to and I find those ones awkward.


I've a simply answer for them - Sorry, the story is finished and all loaded into the Wizard, just taking it's time to appear.

When you complete the story before posting it makes that sort of issue void.

Replies:   red61544
red61544

@Ernest Bywater

Sorry, the story is finished and all loaded into the Wizard, just taking it's time to appear.

You are too damned nice, Ernest. I would reply, "This is my story. You are welcome to write your own. However, I caution you to read a summary of international laws governing copyright lest you fall afoul with my attorneys."

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@red61544

Several people have e-mailed me to ask whether I mind them writing their own version of one of my stories. Since I'm not (yet!) trying to sell them for money I find it rather flattering and my response is always to give permission provided they let me read their version when it's finished.

AJ

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