superspy-anon asked: Is it ok to like the (good) smutty writers, but still be depressed at how the non sex fics languish unread no matter how good they are? A sufficiently smutty fic will get faved and followed, no matter how poorly written, and a well written smutty fic will make the fandom explode- a non smutty, brilliant fic will likely go ignored entirely. It actually makes me feel guilty to fave the ones with sex in them, not because of the authors(who know the score), but because of the readers. :(
Is this about something you like getting no hits at all, or is it getting less attention compared to something else? Is something you think is poorly-written popular, and you think it’s because it has sex in it, and something you think is well-written isn’t popular, and you think it’s because it doesn’t, and it’s annoying you? Something else?
Fan writers aren’t required to write what other people want to read, and in turn, everyone in fandom is free to read the things they want to read and not read the rest. Romance in general is a very popular genre. If someone decides that they want to use their time in fandom to read romance, because that’s what brought them into fandom in the first place, that’s okay. There’s no guilt required there. You shouldn’t feel badly that other people are reading what they want to read. You shouldn’t feel guilty. No one needs to read things that don’t interest them no matter how great it is.
Fandom genuinely isn’t a meritocracy. If you get fannish attention, it doesn’t mean you’re better at things than anyone else is, and no one deserves fannish attention because they wrote something objectively great. If something someone’s written happens to hit a sweet spot with more or less people, that’s just how it is. Lots of fan writers prefer not to hit that sweet spot, because that sweet spot is what is derisively called mainstream. Lots of people feel that mainstream means bad, and they’d rather be cool, intellectual, challenging, and fringe. I get that. Each to their own. Lots of people strive to get as much fannish attention as possible, thinking that means something about them as human beings, but it doesn’t.
What we can say for sure is that some things get more exposure than other things, for whatever reason. Whim, really.
There are many roles in fandom, and fandom is a big, giant, sprawling place. Lots of people like lots of different things. One of the biggest challenges in any fandom is to find things you love. AO3 has made that a lot easier to do, but it hasn’t erased the critical importance of the reccer in fan culture.
If AO3 is the publisher/distributer, reccers are the booksellers/librarians who select and arrange the best books they find for other people who share their tastes to find and enjoy. Everyone loves reccers. Writers love reccers, readers love reccers. The more idiosyncratic, the better. Reccers are, I’d say, some of the most powerful and important people in a fandom, and the most valuable. They find treasures and bring them in front of the people who will love them best. They share the things they like because they like them, not because of what and who deserves something. If you find a reccer who likes what you like, your world is a million times better.
If you find things that aren’t getting the attention you think they deserve, rec them so they can find their audience. But don’t feel guilty about what other people do, and don’t feel badly. Opt out of living in a world where we should feel shame for not wanting to read something that doesn’t contain an element we really enjoy, even if it’s well-written. There is no required reading in fandom, thank god. It would suck if there were.
Write what you love, read what you love, love what you love.