How much should we interact with our audience?

3 years ago | t4nky (Member)

So, I know that I already messed up by splitting my fanbase. However, I still have a quandary. Since I have an audience, how much should I react with them? If I respond to everyone's comments (up to two a week so far,) will that kill discussion? If I don't respond to everyone, will they start to feel left out?

"An uneducated man may rob a rail car. An educated man can steal the railway."
https://nowhereislanduniversity.wordpress.com/

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Responses

  1. TimNoel (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I honestly don't know. Personally, I will respond to every person until (hopefully) there are too many to feasibly do that. Many authors do this and it in no way harms their community (See comments on SgL's story Tales of the Big Bad Wolf. She (he?) replies to just about everyone, but in a way that encourages discussion. If someone asks a question, try answering it, (without spoiling) but also ask a question back. Make your comments section into a dialogue, and I think the readers will start to as well.

    And sometimes, messages don't really warrant a reply. Not necessarily bad messages, but messages that just don't need a response.

    Chrysalis Experiment Series 1 complete! http://www.TimNoelFiction.com
  2. t4nky (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Ok, thanks. I just worry.

    "An uneducated man may rob a rail car. An educated man can steal the railway."
    https://nowhereislanduniversity.wordpress.com/
  3. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    It's nice if your audience wants to interact, though a comment just to say "First" doesn't strike me as anything worth replying too. But don't be afraid to try and make it a community as well as a story to read.

  4. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I don't get more comments than you do, despite not splitting the reader base. They're all in one place. Discussion still doesn't happen, I'm not sure why - though I did get an email from one reader (yay!) who told me they prefer not to comment in a public place. Maybe others feel the same.

    I wish I could help, but the secret to sparking discussion eludes me as well. I post a comment of my own after each update, often with questions or something to encourage discussion, but... said discussion doesn't happen. I've only ever seen readers respond to one another 2-3 times in a year. And most readers I respond to don't have anything more to say afterwards. Oh well.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  5. Tempest (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I try to respond to any comment that I feel warrants a response. Rarely do the readers actually interact with each other.
    I do know Ties has decent success with it, but then there are a lot of puzzles in his serial. Its all very nebulous outside of some very firm lines. That may actually have something to do with it. The readers know something but the fine points are still up in the air.

  6. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Some aspects of my serial is pretty nebulous as well. I think it has more to do with overall number of readers, maybe? The more there are, the bigger the chances of getting a few who like to chat in comments.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  7. DrewHayes (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    As a general rule, unless someone has a question about technical aspects of the site (posting schedule, where certain links are, etc.) I try not to get too involved in the comments section. The best threads I've gotten were all based on debate, usually how super-powers would fair in certain situations, and I think my presence would sort of kill the fun since I could just answer the question. Plus, I like to promote the comments as a place for the readers; I get my say in the entries, they get theirs in the comments.

    Maybe this is the wrong way to do it and in three years I'll regret the crap out of the decision, but so far it's worked okay. I'd just say do what feels right for your own community. Everybody has a different one, and what's best for their growth is bound to vary from site to site.

    Super Powereds & Corpies
    http://www.DrewHayesNovels.com/
  8. mathtans (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    "Since I have an audience"... okay, so we're already out of my area of expertise. (I kid, I know 3 people is still an audience, even if they're often silent.) Regarding the 'left out' remark though, I'd say that if you make it clear (even generally) that you are reading the comments, you're good. People understand about not wanting to spoil revelations or nail down plot points that need to stay open, so long as they're aware of your interest in what they have to say. Plus look on the bright side - if there's little discussion, there's no chance for it to suddenly veer into politics, completely derailing the topic at hand.

    Writing a Time Travel serial: http://mathtans.wordpress.com
    Writer of the personification of math serial: http://www.mathtans.ca
  9. Chris Poirier (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    When I was doing Winter Rain, initially Sarah Suleski got the comments going—she was helping keep me motivated. Not much later, another couple of friends joined in, then I picked up a couple of true fans. At that point, the discussion usually happened pretty easily. Don't know if it helped or hurt, but I also usually had at least one or two angsty comments to make about the schedule. :)

    Anyway, if you are having trouble getting comments going, my best advice is to get some friends to comment. Maybe you can do something reciprocal with another author or two. Find something to actually discuss—something meta to the story, perhaps—and others may well join in.

    Chris

  10. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    My friends don't read my story. None of them. :( Otherwise, I'd totally recruit them to get comments going - sounds like a great idea.

    In their defense, most of my friends don't speak or read English very well.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  11. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    At two a week, I'd respond if it feels natural, but I wouldn't force myself to respond. I think an important thing in dealing with feedback (and with donations as well) is letting readers know they aren't just shouting (or tossing money) into a black void. It's a fact in life that, generally speaking, you gain more than you lose by putting yourself out there. That includes writing and dealing with people online.

    My own difficulty with audience is that there's more people than I can reasonably interact with, and the negativity tends to build up quite a bit. It's hard to draw a line and deal fairly/take in meaningful criticism without the negativity getting to me. I've seen a lot of online content creators crash and burn for much the same reason. I'm not at that point, but it definitely gets to me some days/weeks.

  12. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Wildbow, whenever any negativity drags you down - go to Amazon and read the one star reviews for your all time favorite stories.

    Negativity is just one opinion of many, and you can't please everyone.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  13. t4nky (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Something to note: only one person I know commented on my web serial. It was my grandmom. She told me to quit. To this date, it is the only negative comment that NIU has received.

    "An uneducated man may rob a rail car. An educated man can steal the railway."
    https://nowhereislanduniversity.wordpress.com/
  14. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I generally comment if someone addresses me directly with a question, or says something want to comment on. Often I thank people who submit corrections, but not each person individually.

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