not your typical annihilatrix (furiosity) wrote,
not your typical annihilatrix

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Self-promotion in fandom: when does it become fic-whoring?

A little over a year ago, I had just written my first Harry Potter fic (it was The Last Mudblood, a Neville-centric genfic with a "Voldemort won" premise). I knew no one in fandom back then, I had just begun actually producing something (as opposed to merely pointing and laughing and sekritly thinking I could do it all sooo much better >.> -- hey, my only exposure to fanfic for months before that were GAFF and deleterius, d'you blame me?). And the thing was -- the bunny had bitten so hard that I spent most of the previous day writing the story, and then I found that (curiously enough) I was interested in what other people would have to say about it! The thing with me and fiction is that I write for me, unless I'm writing a request/birthday fic, and the majority of what I write never gets posted anywhere, because, well, writing is something I've done for years even before I started writing fanfic in '99. I like feedback as much as the next person but I don't write in order to get feedback -- I post when I want feedback.

I digress. Bottom line, I had a story, and I was interested in feedback. So I posted it to my LJ and posted a link in nevillosity (and spammed the hell out of #dotr, mu ha ha). The very next day, the Snitch had linked to painless_j's search for fics with a "Voldemort won" scenario. I read and re-read King Draco's code for the search and The Last Mudblood seemed to fit, at least to the best of my judgement, but I was extremely apprehensive about linking it because, well, I think that reccing your own fic is pretty lame. After seeing that other people had cheerfully linked to their own stories and clicking around the other themed lists (and realising that it was meant as a resource and not a rec list), I finally convinced myself that it wouldn't be too skeezy to link to my own story. I did sit there staring at the Post Comment button for quite a while, and then debated deleting the comment after clicking the button.

And since then, I've often resisted making mention of my own fic when searches came up -- it just makes me feel ooky. Part of it is that I hate most of what I write and part of it is that based on my limited experience, fandom is a meritocracy and if something is worth reading, it'll be noticed on its own merit. Eventually. The Last Mudblood, although not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, did get Niffled back in May. The point is I think that generally the "good" stuff (quotation marks because good/bad is subjective) will be noticed -- but if you're new and no one knows who you are (or where to find your fic), it might take some time. I am not a very patient person at heart, but I've spent half of my life teaching myself to exercise patience even if I'm not feeling particularly patient. In my experience, patience will get you much further with people in this fandom than the absence of patience ever will. I know, it's unfair and so very oppressive; I know that some people think their innate brilliance should be recognised immediately and their first contribution to fandom (be it fic, art or meta) should propel them to heretofore unreachable heights of intrawebs popularity within hours. It doesn't work like that, though. :P

Cutting to the chase -- it makes me uneasy when someone constantly whores their fic.

There are levels to this -- I have no issues with someone linking to their fic from their own LJ entries, saying, "hey, I wrote this yesterday/last week in case you didn't see it" -- sometimes we miss stuff on flists and such links are helpful. Plus, I'm a firm proponent of "It's your LJ and you are entitled to post what you like; if someone doesn't want to read, they can scroll or defriend".

I also have no issues when friends send me links to their fics over IM or in chat -- Reorx knows I spam a few of ya'll enough with links, snippets and moaning. It can get annoying when someone begins to rely on you for their fic feedback and gets shirty when you don't respond OMGNOW, but luckily, I've been spared such behaviour (maybe because people who know me realise I would never tolerate it) but a few friends of mine have had such troubles. Demanding feedback is lame, especially so when you're pestering your friends. Most people generally do not demand feedback from strangers because they realise it's impolite. It's even more impolite to do it to your friends, because those are the people who are supposed to be your first priority when you choose whether to be polite or not. Just saying.

I have no issues with cross-posting. We all have to start somewhere, and cross-posting is one of the surest ways to gain a readership on LJ (though there are levels to the cross-posting too -- I used to cross-post like mad when I was totally unknown but now? I'd die before I cross-posted in more than 2-3 places, and I don't tend to cross-post at all anymore). Plus, cross-posting is not personal; it is done to communities with often large readerships and doesn't put any pressure on a single person to react to the link somehow. So those people who bitch about the stupid newbies cross-posting to 9 comms at once? Give the newbies a break. They're not doing it to piss you off, they probably don't even know you exist, and they probably simply don't know any better. When they find out (and find out they will, if they hang around LJ fandom long enough) that cross-posting like mad is considered poor form, they'll more than likely be absolutely mortified all by their lonely, without added snark from disgruntled oldbies, trust me. ;)

There are situations when a comment conversation will veer off onto a subject, and one of the participants will go "Hey, I wrote fic about that!" and link. That sort of fic-linking is, to my mind, perfectly fine because it's on topic -- while they aren't being asked for a link, it's logical to assume that the other person would be interested in a link if they were interested in the subject matter, you know? Those cases are somewhat rare, however (comparatively). Basically, there's a distinction between self-pimping (good) and fic-whoring (bad). I guess what I'm trying to do here is establish a definition -- or, rather, a spectrum on which 'whoring' falls. And now that I've told you what doesn't bother me, I'll tell you what does.

When I see people linking to their own fic in public, off their journals, without being asked to, I wrinkle my nose. When I get feedback on a story that's essentially "great story, now go read mine", I raise an eyebrow and smirk Malfoy-like. When I see someone consistently linking to and talking about their fic everywhere they can possibly get away with, I shake my head and make a note never to read their fic. But even in the scenarios outlined above, one thing can totally change my reaction, and that's the way it's phrased. So, at the end, it's all about the way you do it... but to date, I've encountered many people who can self-pimp with grace and none at all who fic-whore with comparable grace.

I don't think that fic-whoring is acceptable behaviour and so I'm loath to reward such behaviour by giving the person the attention they're asking for. Why don't I think it's acceptable? Because of the expectations inherent in the act of reccing yourself in this way. Essentially, you're saying two things with such a self-rec -- that you believe the fic deserves attention and that you think the person you're talking to should give you that attention. And in the case of the consistent fic whores (third scenario, above), what is it that makes one think that others should care about one's fic and writing process, or whatever? That kind of stuff goes in your own LJ, yo, not in comments to other people's entries (and especially not their fic, unless they asked you to share).

The first expectation is fair enough -- lack of modesty doesn't mean lack of talent. If you believe that your fic deserves attention, good for you, very proud of ya. I direct you to the bit about "patience" above. Gets you further than you might imagine, to be redundant. It's the second expectation that makes me dislike fic-whoring so much. When I get the equivalent to "read my fic now plz", my immediate reaction is And who the fuck do you think you are to tell me how to spend my time and what to read? Bitchy? Perhaps. But I think it's a fair question -- just what is it that makes some people think that strangers ought to read their fic?

Even when it's phrased like "I was wondering if you'd be interested in reading my fic? *linkz*" it doesn't wash -- it's either got to be on topic or it's got to be a private request. If someone's talking about, say, the creative use of Bubotubers during foreplay, and you wrote a Neville/Harry magnum opus where Bubotubers play a seminal role during the sex scenes, it's perfectly acceptable to link your fic (but I would first mention it and then see if the person is interested in a link). You don't just show up on a H/D shipper's journal and spam them with links to your fic in comments regardless of the post subject -- that's just plain rude, I think.

And we're back to the grand old entitlement debate, which I, predictably, don't wish to rehash. Though I do have to mention that I think people who send links to newsletters and then get pissed off when they aren't recced are pretty damn shameless, thanks. I mean, it's not hard to comprehend that the editors rec stuff they like. They don't like, they don't rec. STFU and cope. I don't consider the act of sending links to your own fic unacceptable (though I myself have never done it, I accept that some people feel they have to). It's the 'getting pissed off' part that throws me every time. Do try to keep in mind that just because you're proud of something you wrote does not mean that it's good. I'm fairly proud of A Glass Fairytale, and lots of people liked it, but look how many problems there are with it. But anyway, I digress again. Ya'll know where I stand in the "fandom mollycoddling" debate (and if you somehow missed it, it's definitely not on the "love, bunnies and rainbows" side).

So what it comes down to, for me? I've spent an interesting fifteen minutes out in the hall just now, smoking two cigs one after another and trying to remember the circumstances in which fic whoring didn't irk me, just to have a counter-example, but failed to come up with any. So really, it's about attitude. Self-pimping is essential in many ways if you want to gain a readership -- I'm not saying no one should ever promote their own stuff. It's just there's reasonable self-pimping in hopes of getting noticed, and there's being an attention-whoring twatwaffle.

Take a wild guess which is more likely to be well-received. And for the last time, this isn't about any of you, just general maunderings.

Thoughts? Opinions? Flames? Pie?
Tags: meta:fandom
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