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What Readers Teach Us

You know what I love about the internet? The transparency of information.

Writers used to work in a void. We typed stuff up, we sent it out, and mostly it got rejected. Eventually an editor bought it; we got paid, it got published, and we basically never heard anything about it ever again. Sometimes a fan letter or two would roll in. Sometimes a story got picked up for a reprint anthology. But mostly? Nada.

Compare that to the reader responses to DSF stories. Omigosh -- feedback! Feedback on a published story, by actual readers. How cool is that?

And the disparity of the feedback hilights something I first noticed back when I was reading slush for Jim Baen's Universe. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all story. Some readers love what other readers hate, for the very reason that the first set of readers hated it. At JBU, we had about, oh, nine slush readers ranking stories on a 1-10 scale. We almost never agreed.

If a story got ranked 8 or higher by two or three readers, we passed it up to Eric. A story that pleased five of the readers was extremely rare. I think there was only one story during my entire time at Baen's that made seven of us happy.

This ought to tell all you aspiring writers out there something about submission strategies. Your goal should not be to please every reader. If you try to do that, you will fail. Instead, you should strive to please a focused audience so thoroughly that they will advocate for the story in the face of opposition. That's how you get through the slush pile.

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
nancyfulda
Feb. 2nd, 2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
That as soon as your story moves beyond bland, you're going to take sides</u>

Oh, well spoken!
pingback_bot
Feb. 2nd, 2012 10:18 am (UTC)
Linky linky
User aliettedb referenced to your post from Linky linky saying: [...] t her to write vs what she actually writes. -Nancy Fulda on Readers, Feedback and Good Stories [...]
bondo_ba
Feb. 2nd, 2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
I love that about the internet. Still trying to break into DSF, but Every Day Fiction is also great for that.
pingback_bot
Feb. 3rd, 2012 01:13 am (UTC)
February 3, 2012 Links and Plugs
User charlesatan referenced to your post from February 3, 2012 Links and Plugs saying: [...] (podcast). Advice/ArticlesNancy Fulda on What Readers Teach Us [...]
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

nancyfulda
nancyfulda

Publications

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The Death and
Rebirth of
Anne Bonny

and other stories

amazon | kobo | barnes & noble | iTunes | Audible







Backlash
a novelette

amazon | kobo | barnes & noble | iTunes | Audible







That Undiscovered Country
Jim Baen Memorial
Award Winner


paperback | kindle | nook | PDF | Other





Movement
2011 Nebula Nominee

Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, March 2011

paperback | kindle | nook | smashwords





The Breath of Heaven
Stories from Distant Worlds

paperback | kindle | nook | smashwords






In the Halls of the Sky-Palace
Jim Baen's Universe, June 2009

kindle | nook | smashwords





Backlash (novelette)
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, 2010

kindle | nook | smashwords





The Man Who
Murdered Himself

Phobos Award Winner

kindle | nook | smashwords





Dead Men Don't Cry:
11 Stories by Nancy Fulda


Paperback | kindle | nook | smashwords | DRM-free






Nothing This Fun Could be Good for You (article)
Available at:
Clarkesworld Magazine





Like Rain From Silver Skies
Available at:
Basement Stories





Knowing Neither Kin Nor Foe
Available at:
Beneath Ceaseless Skies


Nancy Fulda is a 2012 Hugo and Nebula Nominee, a Phobos Award winner and a Vera Hinckley Mayhew Award recipient. She is the first (and so far only) female recipient of the Jim Baen Memorial Award. Her fiction has appeared in a number of professional venues.

Nancy Fulda is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

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