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Rated: ASR · Article · Writing · #357186
You've heard it said what to do TO get read, now read what NOT to do.
There are several entries that give excellent hints on getting read. I’m going to do a twist on the positives and list some of the things that I and others dislike.

1. Use that short cut language referred to as SMS (short messaging system). The proliferation of cellular phones with limited text entries has led to the use of numerous abbreviations such as u for you and b4 for before. I have no problems with the use of this spelling on cellular phones or if you are speaking on chat lines or games. I also will make no complaints with the use of this nonstandard spelling in journals. However, Writing.Com is place for formal writing and communication with a wide range of ages and tastes. If I see any signs of this kind of spelling in the brief description of the piece, any posts regarding the piece, or within the piece itself, I will not read it. Disclaimer, I can tolerate limited use of the spelling in a fictional piece that uses the spelling to illustrate something about modern life.

2. Don’t use capitals and punctuation. Along with the nonstandard spelling is omitting the use of capitals and punctuation. Same as above. With limited exceptions such as poetry, I will not read the piece. And yes, I allow for mistakes, it is when I see what looks like a consistent omission of standard use of capitals and punctuation that I will avoid that piece.

3. Don’t use your spell checker. If I see a writing piece with many errors, it detracts from my enjoyment of that piece. Again, I realize that mistakes happen. However, I type almost everything I write in my word processor before transferring it over to Writing.Com. If you don’t have access to a spell checker, do your best. I just know that misspelled words will lose you readers and will lower your ratings. I will still rate an interesting piece a 5 even if it has a few spelling or grammatical errors; I know others that are not even that forgiving. Oh, and I am aware of most British type spelling variations. Sometimes even those variants catch me off guard and slow me down as I try to reassure my internal spell checker that the word is really okay.

4. Waste your brief description. Don’t use your brief descriptions to ask someone to read and review the piece. That is understood. Use that 90 characters to give something interesting to get me to go to that piece and read it. Believe me, you don’t have room to waste in trying to give a hook to gain the readers’ attention.

5. Excuse yourself with ‘spelling and grammar don’t matter.’ They do matter. They matter to me. They matter even more to others. If you want readers, they had better matter to you. If you ever want to be published, they had better matter to you. I am not your mother, your friend, or your teacher; I do not have to read what you write. If you do not care to write in conventional ways that do not bug my sense of editing, then I do not care to read what you write.

6. Write in long chunks of solid text. Please, please, please, don’t. Use paragraphs (short paragraphs!) and put blank lines between paragraphs. I can tolerate indentations to indicate paragraph breaks, after all, I read plenty of books with solid text, but online is different than the pages of a book. Blank lines between paragraphs vastly improve the ease of reading and help keep my eyes from feeling overwhelmed and strained. I have closed more short stories that go on and on for pages of unbroken text because I am just not up to dealing with such massive quantities of text.

7. Refute and attack reviews. If someone takes the time to give you a review, do not spend a massive amount of time trying to defend yourself or say how dumb the reader is to not understand what you wrote. Brief explanations of what you meant are fine, but lengthy justifications and attacks are not fine. I’m going to steal a saying from another industry, “The reader is always right.” Not that they really are, but if you have to explain a great deal, or to rail at them that they didn’t understand something, it is your problem, not theirs. You have the job of explaining what you mean. Individual readers can massively misunderstand your intent. However, they do not need to be attacked. Which brings me to my next point:

8. Don’t say thank you. If someone takes the time to give you a review, say thank you. Even if you hate what they said, as long as your reviewer was trying to stay within the constraints of politeness, just say thank you and move on. I have heard someone mention that they didn’t respond to reviews because they didn’t know what to say. Say thank you. That is all that it takes and it leaves a good feeling with the reviewer and they just may keep returning to read your work.

9. Whine about not being read. Don’t get on the various forums and whine about how no one reads you. It is acceptable to use the various forums to make pitches for yourself, however, if I see someone come on and whine how no one ever reads them, or that everyone hates them because they are from Borano, no, I’m not going to read that person. In a similar vein, when you do introduce yourself and ask for readers, don’t put yourself down. If you don’t think what you write is worthy of reading, why should I go read it? Included in this whining is thinking you are not read because of the color of your suitcase. I have heard the exact same complaints of not being read from authors with blue, yellow, and black suitcases. The color of the suitcase does not matter in getting yourself read. It is the work that is in those portfolios.

10. Think sponsorships are the only way to be read. Don’t think you aren’t read just because you can’t afford Sponsorships. I won’t knock the sponsoring system; it is a great way of gaining readers. However, it is not the only way. Use the various other ways such as contests.

Will you ever be read enough? No. Look how many people belong to Writing.Com. There are 38,000 authors and more. In the end you will accumulate a small body of readers that enjoy your work and you, theirs. That seems to be the nature of online communities. Work to gain that group of faithful readers and be happy. Never forget all of the stories of wonderful authors that weren’t discovered until they had struggled many years to get their work published and read.
© Copyright 2002 ElaineElaine (elaineelaine at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
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