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When Feedback Doesn't Come

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, July 7, 2018
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A couple of days ago Banes gave us a wonderful article on the issue of who to please- yourself or the audience, and how that can go very right or very wrong.

So that got me thinking that we should also talk about the dreaded silence. You update a page, and wait with bated breath to see what your readers have to say, how it impacts them, how the development in the story makes them think or react.

And you get nothing.

The comments simply don't come.

This can potentially be very demoralizing for a creator, especially if update after update, there are no comments to look forward to. That's when the backup you got regarding being your own number 1 fan comes in. That's when the importance of creating a story because you need it to be told, rather than as an easy grab for popularity and traffic, comes into play.

But that may not be enough if your reassurance that you are doing things right hinges on how much of active feedback you are receiving. You may love what you do, and love your own story, but be very anxious that you're dropping the ball and not doing it credit. How can you possibly continue then, if you feel that you're doing a disservice to the very thing you love enough to invest all this time and energy in?

The truth is that a great many more reasons exist for not getting comments under your pages than your webcomic's quality or appeal:

1. Your comic might not yet be discovered enough

Let's face it- there are a ton of webcomics out there, and more are created every day. It's very hard for your audience to find you. A big element of not getting the comments you're hoping for is that the people who would leave them haven't found you yet. But the good thing in this is that when they do, they'll binge read you and leave you a pile of comments on several pages!

The thing to remedy this is to simply BE DISCOVERED. You can advertise your comic, make attractive banners and get your webcomic reviewed and showcased. Here in DD we are all about helping you be discovered, so make use of our forums, and the instruments we give you to be showcased, such as making FYC pages for the DD awards, using the new #twitter_feature (PQ me to get yourself a slot!) and get yourself featured in our front page. You can also participate in group activities and projects or make fanart of characters from webcomics similar to yours, and thus get yourself noticed by similar audiences.

2. Your audience might be following and reading your comic, and just lurk

I generally tend to comment on people's new updates, but there are a lot of webcomics where unfortunately, I am a regular reader who also lurks, and very rarely, or never, comments. Which is terrible of me, but not a unique behavior. The reason a reader who likes your comic enough to regularly come back for updates and read, might simply be they are too tired to comment. They just want to get the next installment of the story, and move on, and are simply too tapped out from their own day and their own concerned to stop and give you feedback. That doesn't mean they won't faithfully come back again and again to see where you take them with your story, that they won't recommend it to others or even help promote it. They are your silent force, the ones who support your webcomic by their traffic and their recommendations, even if they never show themselves.

3. The update might be such that the readers don't know what to say.

I remember a few times when I updated with a very impactful scene, turn of events or element in Without Moonlight, I waited hungrily for comments on it to see how my audience took it, but… I got nothing. Or I got comments that weren't focusing on that or where too short and unsatisfactory in communicating to me what the reader felt or thought about it. That can be so immensely frustrating- but it's a good sign actually. Usually it means that the reader has so many emotions, or feels something so profound they don't feel able or ready to express anything about it. I realised that when I sought out one of the most faithful and enthusiastic fans of Without Moonlight and asked him why he had only written an exclamation point under the particular page where something pretty violent and unexpected was taking place. He replied that it felt like such a punch in the gut and such an overwhelming rush of emotions and thoughts he didn't know what else to say on the fly.

And that is a very valid reason. The nature of the internet is such that we don't linger around at a page like we would in an art gallery, swirling our wine and waiting to be approached so we can discuss what we're seeing. It's a very quick, hit-and-run affair and often thoughts about what we have seen articulate themselves when we have long since left the webcomic's page, or even the computer itself! So when we have the opportunity to write a comment as a reader, we just don't, because nothing comes to mind, exactly because the update was so good.

As creators we need to consider this as a possibility before we self-flagellate.

4. The update might be pedestrian, and not much can be said about it.

There are some updates that are simply transitional, absolutely necessary, but really only serving to get the story to go from one scene to the next. They may not have much for a reader to comment on, or much food for thought on their own. This might mean that you should consider embellishing them with other elements beyond the story, such as lush backgrounds or interesting layouts. It might still not bring forth the comments, though for sure it will bring your readers back for the next page, and the next.

What should we take from all this?

That you should power through the lack of comments, and trust that they will come. And if you absolutely need to, ask for them actively, in private, from people you know will be truthful to you and supportive, even if they tell you that you need to add things to your mix to make it spicy enough to elicit reactions- or truthful enough to tell you it's so spicy that words are hard to come by.

And remember- nobody can talk about something they don't know about. So make sure people find you. Use what you can- like the Duck's tools to get people to see you and enjoy your work.

Get your twitter feature, be active in the forums, participate in community events, and get the interaction you need.

comment

anonymous?

PaulEberhardt at 10:11AM, July 8, 2018

Great article. If asked for tips on webcomicing, "don't fret if you get few or no comments on your page", because as you pointed out that doesn't necessarily have to mean that something's wrong with what you did (although I'll grant that it can, on occasion). I suppose a lot of the silence is because not everyone always has the time to check on their favourite comics every day, sad as it is. In a way it also confirms the point that it's better to do your comic mainly in a way that you like instead of what you think your audience expects, for the simple reason that a certain lack of comments logically shouldn't bother you that much.

DoggieDiversity at 11:52PM, July 7, 2018

This has really helped, thank you! My comic has had its fair share of up-time and comments on the day of release, and it's my most recent page that is facing the silence. I guess it's just a matter of continuing further with the story and of course promoting it as best as possible.

KimLuster at 7:29PM, July 7, 2018

It's weird. I still get more page hits on The Godstrain (which was finished a year ago) every single day that I do on Godstrands (the Sequel). Not sure what the deal with that is! :D

AmeliaP at 4:02PM, July 7, 2018

It's a critical important article for everyone online. Feedback... It's all about the audience, popularity and niche. Taking a comic as example here, in Tapas and Comic Fury, I could compare the numbers. I won't say the name of the comic, but in Tapas it has more than one million views and over 3,000 followers (and tons of comments). In Comic Fury, the same comic didn't reach 50 followers. People don't like BL and manga in Comic Fury as they like in Tapas. If I have a lighthearted cute manga version of my story in Webtoon, prob I'd have 5X more readers there. And this same manga version wouldn't be taken seriously by the publishers. What you want to your story will determine the kind of audience you'll connect to. "The truth is that a great many more reasons exist for not getting comments under your pages than your webcomic's quality or appeal" Pure gold.

toondoctor at 8:07AM, July 7, 2018

I'm used to tumbleweed. Been publishing since 2014 and have had very few comments. Not sure if no one like the comic or not. My work is so not what is currently in vogue that I just attribute the lack of feedback to that. Along the way, the comic has become more solid and more fun to develop so I am definitely working for myself, pleasing myself for now. Eventually, it will be discovered, I tell myself.

El Cid at 7:55AM, July 7, 2018

As for me personally, I know that my comic has plenty of "dead air" throughout, so when I don't get tons of feedback, I usually know why! Sometimes, there's just not much to say ("Hey! That's a nice, uh, page there, buddy! Good stuff!"). That's why I've always liked the idea of adding some sort of passive feedback mechanism, like the 1-5 ratings we used to have, or emojis, or something! It would probably do a lot to increase overall reader feedback (though that might be sacrificing quality for quantity).

El Cid at 7:52AM, July 7, 2018

There's a lot of HTGT (here today, gone tomorrow) that goes on here, and some comics turn out to be neglected mirror sites more or less on autopilot. There's nothing more foolish than taking the time to leave your observations and reactions to a webcomic, and funny quips to brighten the author's day, when in fact there's no one there at the other end. So if you're not a familiar face, people may be weary of leaving feedback on your comic if they don't know you're active on the site beyond just hit-and-run updates here and there. Being active elsewhere on the site outside your comic should help with that a lot, and commenting on other people's comics (not in a spammy sort of way, though!)

Banes at 7:32AM, July 7, 2018

Excellent stuff! And great advice!

KAM at 5:38AM, July 7, 2018

Actually the Duck is pretty good for my comic getting comments. Once in a while a comic won't get any, but it's rare. Now my Comic Fury mirror I get comments about once a season, which is weird since the number of hits is greater over there than here. I guess Ducks are friendlier than gators.

KAM at 5:34AM, July 7, 2018

Wait, this site accepts comments???

KDog at 5:32AM, July 7, 2018

Bravo, that's a good point about the sea of automatic updates. It's not possible to schedule a different time, right? I should start just uploading live at different times.

KDog at 5:30AM, July 7, 2018

Great article. Like many, I'm sure, I tend to focus a lot on comments. I used to get several back in the day, but recently it's just been a few blessedly regular readers. It doesn't mean I don't constantly question myself or my abilities. I've accepted my comic is pretty niche, but some of the awesome readers it's touched over the years have been very dedicated. I'll have to check out the Twitter feature. I think my comic was featured once, like 10 years ago, though, so I guess that rules it out. lol

ozoneocean at 4:54AM, July 7, 2018

A fantastic article Tantz!!! One to point to for new creators!

bravo1102 at 3:45AM, July 7, 2018

There's also timing. If you preload the pages, an update tends to get lost in the mass of comics that all upload at once. But have faith in your audience, they will find you. There's also holidays as usedbooks says and then there's real life. Sometimes people are just overwhelmed with the day to day and can't get to the comics until later. Patience. It is so satisfying to see a half dozen comments within an hour of updating, but if your new page goes up at 3 am EST don't count on it. Most people in the Western hemisphere are sleeping and Europeans are at work and away from the internet. It's the nature of the medium. AND LEAVE SELF-FLAGELLATION TO THE EXPERTS! Like fireworks self flagellation is not for the unwary or inexperienced. ;)

usedbooks at 3:17AM, July 7, 2018

One more tumbleweed maker. It's a holiday, so people don't read on the day it updates and sometimes don't comment if late to the party.

agentny003 at 3:04AM, July 7, 2018

I’d like to do an ad for both my webcomics. How does that work?


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