There's an author out there on the great interwebs -- one that some have probably ran into at one point or another. No, I'm not going to name-names, or the fandom. That's not my style and it doesn't matter beause I'm sure, even if you haven't met him, you've met someone like him.
You know the type: Established in the fandom for a year or more, reasonably talented, consistent updater with plots that don't really sink claws into you, but you'll read anyway if you're bored or just desperate for moderately good fic.
Oh yeah, and he's a jack-ass.
He always seems fairly normal up until chapter four or five in his story. Then the snippy little author notes start: Why didn't I get many reviews on my last chapter? Did I do something wrong? Please tell me. Then, evividibly on the next chapter: Oh thanks for the reassurance, guys. Was having a big crisis there, but I feel a whole lot better now. :D
And he's normal again for another chapter -- maybe even two or three. But now it's like he's gotten that taste of power. His fic has picked up steam and maybe he's feeling a little heady with power.
Let's talk, guys. I'm really doing this for you and I need to know what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong. Reviews like "That's great" aren't helping. When you review tell me what you liked and didn't like and give examples. K, thanks.
A sizable portion of the readers follow through with these instructions and give the boy what he wants: A greater number of reviews, and in higher detail. There's nothing wrong with it. It keeps the author happy, his rapidly expanding ego still inflated, and the readers still get regular updates. Win-win.
Only, this is where the author notes get extreme. Now he's not only doing the normal stuff -- thanking his beta, bitching a little about how hard this chapter was to write, mentioning a line or two about how school sucks -- he's also including long end notes. They vary anywhere from a half page to two pages in eye-tearing italics (or if he's feeling particuarly blunt, bold). And they include all of his reasonings from the character choices. Think of it as preemptive arguments. Now that he's gotten his readers to give detailed reviews, he's making sure to counter any arguments he sees coming. Instead of, you know, letting the character's actions speak for themselves he's saving all the explanations for the end.
Then the worst thing happens: He makes a misstep. All authors do it. I've done it. But now our mystery author is getting thirty fairly detailed reviews all saying the same thing, and none of it is good.
And the author blows up:
The next chapter opens with a scathing retort en mass (helpfully, in italics).
I know that most of you didn't like the plot twist in the last chapter. I have my reasons, you know! I would think that you guys would have more faith in me. I know where I'm going and if you can't trust my writing then I don't even know why you're reading this story. I'm doing this all for you, and life is really tough right now and (insert general bitching and complaining about real life). So thank you for reading and especially to (three of the thirty reviewers who didn't complain about the plot twist.)
At this point, if I haven't already checked out of the story I probably would have by now. The mystery author asked for detailed reviews, didn't he? He asked, only a few chapters ago, for our likes and dislikes so he could improve the story. Now he's got what he wanted, and it's not the end of the world to get bad reviews. Maybe he should be grateful for the replies he's getting.
Only it seems I'm in the minority because not only does the author get even MORE reviews, but some of them are apologizing. As if they were the ones who did something wrong. The author wrote a shitty plot twist that doesn't make any sense, and the readers are conned into apologizing for telling the author how it is.
This is both the endpoint and the begging of a vicious cycle. Author is normal for a few chapters (or as normal as you can get with page-long notes detailing every character decision), until something ticks him off. He takes it out on the readers -- names names of people who are doing it write -- and sits back for the 'proper' feedback to come in. Sometimes there's even a rant on the author profile page to highlight the 'best way to give a review' whatever that is supposed to mean.
So my question is, why do people put up with it? The writing is decent, yeah, but I don't appreciate being bitched at even if the writing is solid gold.
These types of authors have really got the cart before the horse. I know I must sound like a complete hypocrite considering my last chapter of Another Brother is standing at 109 reviews, but... for goodness sake, people aren't required to review your writing. I'm not talking about gift-fic here where it's common courtesy to reply, but for an archive like fanfiction.net, no one has to tell you how prettily you were able to string together sentences.
I think authors who treat reviews as some kind of payment are Doing It Wrong. I get put off real easily by that type of behavior, but for some reason... it works. It's accepted and while there sometimes can be backlash from the fandom, more often than not the authors who pitch a fit are often rewarded positively.
So what do you guys think? Experiences and reactions you'd like to share? I only ask that no one name names of specific authors in the comments. Above all else, let's stay classy.