Comments on Comments

Okay, I admit it. Chris and I are posting the latest Eerie Saloon story one chapter at a time, about four days apart, in the hopes of getting comments from our readers.

And it doesn't seem to be working. We're averaging 2.4 comments per chapter, and that includes a few response comments that I've made.

At the same time, I happened -- it wasn't a deliberate comparison -- to post an old shot story of mine, "Habeas Corpus." In three days, it got as many hits as the first chapter of the current Eerie Saloon story has gotten in two months, and more kudos than any three parts of the current story. It has, I admit, only gotten two comments.

I have to ask, what's going on?

I'd like to think that Chris and I are going to be flooded with comments when we post the last part of the current Eerie Saloon story, but, sadly, I don't expect that to happen. We'll get some comments, but not near as many as we'd like.

I realize that people are more likely to read a short piece than a longer one. A second reason for posting the Eerie Saloon story one part at time is that people are more likely to read a 125K chapter than what may well be the 1M+ entire story.

And, yes, they are more likely to read a complete story than a chapter.

But, I think, that part of the problem is the way people think of these sites and these stories. Big Closet is a free site, and these stories are free stories. The authors do the work, and the readers -- including me -- read it for free.

Somebody once defined writing as staring at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood appear in your forehead. That's every writer's blood, the readers are getting for free. Blood and sweat and tears -- and time.

It's a pretty good deal -- for the readers.

Maybe I'm just venting, but is it fair to the writers?

In science fiction fandom, there's an old tradition of apas (Amateur Press Associations). People send letters to a designated editor, who compiles them on a regular basis (often monthly) and sends a complete set to each participant. It's like a Yahoo list that uses snail mail and the source of such e-mail abbreviations as LOL and IMO. Some apas have gone electronic, but some still are still done on paper and are distributed by the U.S. postal system.

One feature of a lot of apas is minac, which is short for minimum activity. A participant didn't have to send in a letter for every issue, but he or she had to contribute a minimum of, say, four pages every six months, or
lose membership in the apa.

I'm not saying that Big Closet should go that far.

But it would be helpful to us writers for the readers to think of the site, not as a free site, but as a site where the readers were expected to pay by providing feedback -- comments -- on what they read.

End of vent, and I bet I get feedback on this.

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