In the years that I've been writing online, I have been introduced to such a wonderful group of loving and supportive people. Fans of my stories, who read and respond whenever they can, and it truly is an awesome feeling. I have to admit wholeheartedly, that I NEVER would have been able to make it this far or this long without their constant encouragement and support. It's what makes what I do possible, and every story, in some way, shape, or form, is dedicated to all of them for that simple reason. However, there is a huge community of extremely talented authors out there who haven't gotten that same level of support, and don't have that strong a foundation to stand on. From what I've seen online and heard from many of my writing colleagues...it's becoming a growing problem. And I certainly hope that we can improve on the situation before some of our important voices get discouraged and disillusioned as to their welcome addition to online erotica.
Feedback is probably one of the only things that we writer's have to burn as fuel when it comes to putting out story after story, chapter after chapter. If the emails stop, we begin to slow down, maybe even burn out. It's a feeling that the work we've put in was somehow unappreciated, or just completely ignored. It's the equivalent of writing love notes on pieces of paper...and tossing them into a well. The whole purpose of expression is to be heard, and unfortunately, when you're online, the emails we receive are the only way to tell if anything we said had any effect at all. So authors are just as dependent on the reader's words as they are dependent on the author's words. It's a symbiotic relationship, believe me. It's 'encouraging' to have an attentive audience. It thrills them, and makes an author want to put that little extra 10% into everything they write. It may be a direct expression of the heart and soul of the writer, but it's made publicly available to you so it can 'entertain'. So it can be disheartening to put work out there for people to read and not get any recognition for it. Sometimes, 'silent applause' isn't enough.
I do hear from people pretty regularly, and appreciate every last word. But there have been some other stories that I have discontinued too because of what I felt was a lack of interest. It wasn't done as some sort of punishment or anything, it's just hard to get revved up for a story when you don't know if people are even going to give it a second look. Trust me, it takes a looooong time of planning, wording, writing, editing, and posting a story that most readers burn through in 25minutes. And at the end of it all, you want to be proud of what you've accomplished with it. The only way to do that, is from receiving feedback. It doesn't even have to be GOOD feedback, just something to say, "Hey, I read it from beginning to end." Constructive criticism is always a welcome form of attention too.
Basically, if you read a story online, and something about it catches you or draws some kind of emotion from you, drop a little line to say so to the author. I know about things being busy and you may not have time to write a 'term paper' on it...but a little note to an author to say thank you can go a long way. It doesn't have to be much. Tell them about a particular part that you liked, or that made you laugh, or that touched you in some way. If there was a part in the story that you can relate to, mention that. If there was something you didn't like, or that confused you a bit, mention that too. Let them 'know' verbally how you felt about it. It can really help a lot of authors feel that their talent is actually being appreciated, and it really helps them to grow. Which in turn will improve their writing ability and make better stories for you to read.
Not big on words? That's ok. Just write a few lines to say hello. All it takes is, "Hi, great story, I enjoyed it, I'd love to see more." You'd be surprised how those few words from people can truly touch an author's heart. Some might answer you back, some might not, (And some may try valiantly at answering but just SUCK at it, so it takes forever! Hehehe!), but you can bet that whatever you sent them had some effect. That little push can create a momentum like you wouldn't believe. And tell them a bit about yourself too if you want. One of the things that has always made me smile is seeing the variety of people who read my stuff. From other countries, other cultures, different ages, different races, different languages, different sexes...it's amazing to see that a 13-year-old boy in Kansas can get the same enjoyment out of a story as a 65-year-old man in South Africa. That universal appeal is just as encouraging as anything else.
So, to wrap this up, you're getting incredible stories of love and romance for free. Give a little something back to the people who put their heart and soul into bringing some of those emotions to the surface for you. I know that it can be weird writing to someone you don't know,but it can be weird writing a story and having it read by people you don't know also. So we're nervous on both sides of the spectrum. Just send them a little something to let them know you read it and liked what you saw. Authors NEED that support if they're gonna keep producing quality work for everyone. It's an important part of creating a work of art, so support your faves. Remember, it's the only payment that an author gets for the time and effort he puts forth to make it right, and it's an awesome feeling to know that someone out there is listening.
(Nifty is a great place to get noticed, and there are also others like the DaBeagle's Doghouse, IOMfAtS website, Gay Authors, and right here. Having all of your individual stories posted in one specific place is a good way to give readers a good look at your work. I also have a moderated "Library" on my website if you'd like to post it there. All great places to try out if you're searching for feedback among family.)