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This is particularly aimed at those who have written/published a series. So, a lot of my ideas involve serious commitment over several short volumes, To make one ultimate story. However, while much of the story is up to my whim, there are certain points I want to hit that are crucial to the story. For example, the main antagonist of one of my ideas is a demon queen of questionable age. Her bodyguard is always by her side, and, well, in any fandom, shippers be shipping.

Since I don't want to cave into my fan's pressure like Rooster Teeth and their RWBY fiasco, I want to know how you guys take fan input.

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    Sorry to ask. Who is Rooster Teeth? What is the RWBY fiasco? – a4android Feb 7 at 3:53
  • @a4android Rooster Teeth is a company that makes a lot of shows, including a couple anime. RWBY is one of them. What I call the RWBY fiasco, is they folded under fan's pressure, and made a relationship canon, cheesy fight included, when a ship was being teased that was much more...realistic. Now, disclaimer, I do not have a problem with LGBTQ+, for those that know what I'm talking about. – Kale Slade Feb 7 at 22:04
  • Thanks for the clarification. Anything to do with LGBTQI issues doesn't appear to be a problem in your question. – a4android Feb 7 at 22:23
  • Well, the relationship itself is a lesbian relationship, while the relationship I was rooting for was straight. See the potential for the overly charged criticism? – Kale Slade Feb 8 at 16:06
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Of course, you're always welcome to ignore fan feedback. However, beta readers can be hard to find and it's a rare privelege to have so much feedback, so I'm assuming you're asking this question because you want to learn something from fan feedback.

The television shows and comics I watch that handle fan feedback well generally seem to follow the following guidelines:

  • Pay attention to the emotion behind the fan reaction. Sometimes fan anger can be a sign you did something right. Readers want their favorite characters to be happy, but they care about your work because bad things can happen. However, if they're angry at the tone of the story as a whole, that might be a warning sign. If they're confused, that's probably not great. If they're bored, that's really, really bad.

  • Don't taunt (and try not to outright insult) your fans. If there's a fan-favorite ship that you don't want to use in your story, don't have them almost kiss. The LGBTQIA+ version of this is called queer-baiting. For a less shipping example, sometimes I get frustrated because the female lead is too much of a damsel in distess. If she turns into a badass for a couple of episodes but then, plot twist that was an evil dopplegänger and she goes back to being a weakling, that won't go well.

  • Don't copy fan ideas exactly. Make sure you have some unexpected twists. If it looks like you always take the fan-favorite approach, fans will start to wonder why to bother with your work. Clearly they can write it themselves.

  • In general, if you do react, react to what fans disliked you doing or liked you doing, not what fans wished you did. If a plot arc doesn't resonate with your fanbase, that's very useful feedback. You can investigate further and find a way to improve. If fans are confused or bored, and you think the underlying issues will be addressed on the next installment, you can hint that things will get better. Maybe they'll stick around longer. Things fans say they wish would have happen are mostly, well, wish-fulfilment.

If you're meeting fans in-person, though, the right reaction is a thick skin. You can emphasize that it's your story, or that surprises and setbacks are an important part of a story. If you suggest the story will go the way they suggest but have no intention of letting it do so, you'll end up upsetting them even more later.

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Thank them for their input. Smile, and ignore it. Let me give you an example. Anne McCaffrey refused to listen to any suggestions from her fans about any of her series. Partly she seemed to fear possible litigation if she used their ideas. (This does ignore the fact that ideas aren't copyright and she could have used whatever ideas her fans gave her with impunity.) McCaffrey effectively pre-empted any fan feedback. This certainly would cover any fan wants for a series. Whether it covered fan critiques is another manner.

However, if a fan wants to criticize your series. Either again you can smile and thank them for their input or suddenly discover you need to be somewhere else in a hurry. Depart, with a smile and a heart full of relief. If it's written, either in print or online, just don't bother to read it. This will only hurt your feelings.

Take a leaf out of Isaac Asimov's book. The third of his three precepts for becoming a writer included "Develop a thick skin." Do thou likewise.

While it is nice have fans of your writing, there is no need to cave into their whims, desires, and their likes and dislikes. Although if some of their wants do lead to interesting possibilities, you are at liberty to develop them especially if they greatly enhance your series. Developing them thoroughly is a way to neutralize any claims you have "stolen" their ideas.

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You don't have to listen to whatever your fans are saying. Sure, you might not get very good reception from your fans for it, but if you enjoy it, who cares what they say?

If you feel that your fans have some good ideas or not, you can choose to change your series based on their opinions.

But just remember, this is your story. You can choose what you want it to be.

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You decide who your target audience is and what your goals and priorities are, and then you go from there. Keep in mind the contemporary trends: the globally declining IQ, short attention span of the instagram and twitter dwellers, and the saturation of mass media with cheap, trashy content, spiced up with expensive graphic effects. Do you want to cater to that crowd? Or do you want to pick and choose your audience? It is up to you, and only you can make the decision of whether to pander to fan pressure. If it is legitimate according to your consciousness, then consider it. Otherwise do not. I would not.

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