In the end, I had twelve respondents to my survey on fanworks exchanges
. (If you haven't taken it and feel you'd like to, please do go ahead: I won't close it.)
I really, REALLY had to fight the urge to pimp it out to other comms and beg for more responses; as I said, I am a social science geek who loves surveys, statistics, and data. However, coming up with a "representative sample" of fandom on my journal is just impossible. And no matter what I like to pretend, I am NOT a legitimate researcher!
So, anyway: 12. Thank you to that twelve! (And to the thirteenth person who expressed her opinions in the comments.) The results of the survey are naturally skewed, as all of the respondents came from my flist, and let's face it: you guys are most definitely a better class of fan than the average rabble! However small and skewed my sample was, I did draw a few conclusions.( Take a gander, if you're interested. )CONCLUSIONS
: To me, the most telling piece of data is the revelation that NO ONE from this survey cited receiving a gift tailor-made to their interests as their most enjoyed aspect of the exchange. While a few people admitted they expected their author to adhere pretty closely to the scenarios they provided, most people were just happy to receive a gift that showed a little effort on the author's part. This is good news for those of us who stress ourselves out trying to come up with a story to please our recipient! The fun comes from taking part and having a batch of new stories to read, not in receiving THE PERFECT STORY. Everyone gets stressed out participating in an exchange, and so giftees are likely to be understanding so long as an author tries their best.
From what I can tell, the important rules to follow for fic exchanges are these:
- It's important to be specific in what you will or won't write in order to avoid an awkward matching.
- When making a request, be specific about what you don't want, and give several options/scenarios for what you DO want.
- Read your recipient's request thoroughly, and make an effort to include at least the characters they like and to avoid at all costs the things they don't like.
- Effort is the key point, so even if you can't come up with an idea that perfectly matches everything on your giftee's request, start writing your story with enough time to polish and perfect before turning it in. A well-written story that misses some of the marks is better than a hastily cobbled-together one that matches the request exactly.
- When you get your gift, be sure to say "thank you" and provide a list of aspects you enjoyed. If you're so inclined, it's OK to exaggerate a little; if you prefer to be completely honest, get creative in your praise! (More enthusiasm is better.)
- If you want to complain about the gift you received, be careful where you do it: remember, you're talking to fellow fans who know how stressful writing for someone else can be! Unless your story was clearly a rush job that included details you specifically asked your author to avoid, people aren't likely to be sympathetic to your whining!