Why Silent Readers Are Dangerous to Writers

This is a repost from WoodWitchofSuburbia’s blog over at AFF.  I think she put forth a great message for the writing & reading community all around (& really, the entire art community in general), so I just want to help spread the message here too.  Please do check out her fantastic fanfics here too!  ^^


I’ve been around the internet for a long time, in fact most of my childhood was spent on the internet. At 23-going-on-24, I think it’s safe to say I have quite a bit of experience with internet communities, how they function, and what good and bad there is in the online community.

When I was younger, the idea of “silent readers” was not as common as it is today. The fanfic community was alive and well, full of conversation where the authors of the stories were able to be involved with their readerbase and know who was reading their story and what was good or bad about it. The fanfic world was thriving, constantly growing. Today, I would say the fanfic community is struggling to stay afloat. Not because there’s no one willing to write fanfiction anymore, but that nobody chooses to say anything when reading.

It’s all too often that I hear people saying that author’s begging for feedback are only doing so because they crave attention, as though this is a bad thing. Of course they crave attention, they spent a good chunk of time writing this piece of prose for no feedback. An author can’t know if anyone is enjoying their work, if it’s worth continueing, if no one tells them what they liked or even disliked about it. Readerbases have become very entitled in the fact that they want people to keep pumping out fiction for them without having to give anything in return. That’s not how this process works. No one wants to talk to a brick wall.

An inactive readerbase is a useless readerbase. 

When I write, most of my motivation to continue comes from the feedback I get. In fact, I have a fanfiction that I put lots of time and energy into called EXO Planet: Tree of Life. It’s over 60,000 words with Twenty Three chapters as of today, December 16th 2015,  has a map and floorplans of the places I’ve created for the world with a complex set of mythos and a history involved. I’ve published this fanfiction to both tumblr and asianfanfics.com and to be honest, I don’t even want to continue it on AFF. No one responds to it, no one pays attention. I have no reason to care about publishing new chapters here because as far as I know, no one even cares about it. On tumblr, I have a rather active, anonymous readerbase that is always asking me questions about the world, the characters. Always telling me how much they enjoy reading, how they reccommend it to their friends. To this day, I’m still flattered that someone told me I was their favorite fanfic author. These comments made me so excited to update, it kept the story fresh in my mind. Because I was able to converse with my readerbase, they actively became involved in the story and created ships that I made canon simply because I knew what was going on. They even told me about their crack-ships within the fanfiction! I felt like a regular JK Rowling. I even did audio ask sessions where people would ask me something and I would record myself talking about the subject for up to 30 minutes, and they LOVED it, and because they enjoyed it I enjoyed it.

However, in time, my readerbase on tumblr became more and more silent. There are times I don’t even know if anyone has read the new chapter. It’s incredibly frustrating and as much as I love this story and desire to complete it as we’re nearing the end more and more, knowing that I probably won’t get any response for doing so just makes me… indifferent.

I have this problem where I constantly start things and then never finish them, especially with fanficiton/prose. Because of what has happened with EXO Planet, I think I can conclusively say that most of my issue with finishing things is not because I’m just lazy and don’t care, but actually because I feel like there’s no point in finishing it. I get bored of updating only for myself. I wonder if the idea is bad, if it’s worthless and that maybe I should move on to something bigger and more interesting.

Readers don’t realize how much they contribute to a fanfiction simply by responding to it. Art, both written and visual, is meant to be responded to, and when you don’t? That’s the death of creativity and a descent into lonesome madness, to be quite honest.

So next time you think about being a silent reader, try to imagine yourself screaming in a crowded room and no one looks up, because that’s what it feels like to create something precious that no one cares to respond to.

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9 thoughts on “Why Silent Readers Are Dangerous to Writers

  1. This is so true! And I think it applies for almost everything, not just fanfics. I feel the same for my translation/recaps project. I’ll doubt if I should continue investing so much time and effort for something that barely gains the attention of people. Afterall, I’m doing it for the readers and if there are no readers, there is no point in doing these in the first place.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha…just bookmarked your blog because it’s right up my alley for daily news feed. XD Drama recaps are pretty a “necessity” (okay, I exaggerated) in my life since I don’t have as much time to watch dramas anymore (so I really need to pick & choose). Unfortunately, sometimes, I’m one of the guilty people for not commenting! Sometimes, I feel the the blogger & the readers who do comment have already covered on all basis and I don’t really have anything of value to add to the discussion. ^^” But, I do drop by & say hi once in a while just to let the bloggers know I read their blogs! ^^

      Haha…unless you’re just using a blog as a personal rant/vent channel like me (aka “everything blog”) XD, then yep, it’s definitely quite demotivating without readers (especially if you’re doing something that’s specifically to garner attention & to open discussion platform for the wider audience). But, remember, it really takes time to accumulate readers sometimes. So hang in there! ^^

      Liked by 2 people

      • Haha, I know what you mean there. When I was on a drama hiatus, all I feeded on were drama recaps. It’s nice enough to drop by to make your presence known every once in a while 😛

        Yeap, I know. I’ll hang in there and one day… my blog might finally catch the attention of more people and spread the love for c-drama and entertainment 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG! Can’t believe it took me forever to notice that you are a blogger too!! Shame on me 😦 Your blog is so much fun and makes me want to write about my life too now xD I passed most of my class reading your posts instead of focusing on a veryyy boring class. Thanks 😉 Definitely subscribing now hehe.
    Also, about the silent readers thing. I personnally feel like even the number of views is an encouragement to write, even if those are from silent readers. Of course, I love having comments, but I can understandand that some of my article are super boring (and not worth many comments xD). Now I comment more and more on other people’s articles I like, but I used to be one of those ghost readers too hehe.

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    • Haha…well, now you know. =P I don’t really update often and the contents aren’t all that interesting (sometimes I just update so that friends know what’s up with me lately since I recently moved a couple of provinces away), but still glad to know that it helped you to stay awake through your boring class. XD
      *high five* I agree with you personally about just knowing the number of views is an encouragement. In fact, sometimes it gives me less pressure “to impress” when people are not commenting (especially when I write fanfics).
      lol not sure if I’ve subscribed to your blog yet, but I definitely have it bookmarked for a long while now! ^^

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      • xD I didn’t even know the city Annaheim before (when I googled, it said I misspelled and send me to the US …) Hope you are enjoying your time and adapting well to life there. It is definitely a big change from Vancouver. Although I am from the other side of Canada, I did visit Vancouver before and really enjoyed it. I wish one day, I can visit the Alsama too..
        HAHAHA. I rarily read fanfics, but I am sure yours are good/creative ^^

        ps; I like using wordpress reader to follow all the blogs I like at once. You can try that out too, it is easy to use.

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      • Wow, for some reasons, I’ve always thought you’re my neighbour from the South. Awesome to know a fellow Canadian blogger who’s enthusiastic about C-ent! ^^
        lol Annaheim is a rural place, but everyone’s been really nice (heck, even the university here teaches farming). Plus most of my family & extended relatives actually live this province, so it’s good.

        lol I tried…but I ended up going back to my bookmark instead. XD I did just follow you just to give myself another chance at the wordpress follow. haha..I’m really not tech-savvy at all.

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