How to Lose Your Fans
Photo by Christian Holmer
Fans are the most valuable asset your comic can have. One good fan will happily spread the word about your work and one super fan will buy up every collector’s edition book, piece of merchandise, show up at your events, and... this has suddenly gotten creepy.
The point is fans can make or break your work. Without fans you’re pretty much screaming in a crowd of screaming people, each fighting for attention.
As you start gaining a fandom, it’s pretty easy to get full of yourself; after all you’ve succeeded where many others have failed.
Many fans are often too shy to comment, but when they do it’s often because you’ve struck a chord; this is a good thing. This first time interaction is especially important, because depending on how you respond to their comment, they may decide to love you or hate you.
They don’t care about what the rest of your fandom thinks; they care what YOU think. Actually quite often they don’t care how you treat your other fans, as long as you treat him like he’s special.
One snarky reply is all it’ll take for that single fan to turn his/her back on you. It doesn’t matter if his experience comes off as whiney or if his opinion is different from yours, the fact of the matter is that he chose to share something that was personal to him with you. If he does that, you know that you have him in your snares and he’s only one conversation away from being converted to a loyal follower for life.
I’m not saying that you need to bend to the mercy of your fandom and do as you are told; there have been far too many horrible things to come out of such a process. It’s important to have opinions and standards, things that you will or will not do. Just remember it’s all in the delivery. If you can disagree with someone and still make him feel like his opinion mattered then you’ve done way better than most.
In the future, be kind, be firm, and justify your reasoning. If you’re presenting an opinion where you want people to respond, don’t just leave a statement; present arguments and anecdotes. Some will agree, others WILL disagree, it’s a fact of life.
In the end what it comes down to is respect. Every time you interact with one of your fans, keep this question in the back of your mind: “How would I react if someone that I admired said this to me?” It may mean changing the wording or even not replying at all.