Disclaimers. That little ‘warning’ at the beginning of your story that supposedly keeps people from bringing the wrath of God down on your head if some curious teenager comes across your story and, God forbid, gets off on it. Hehehe… a teenage boy wanting sex. That’s just CRAZY, right?
The thing about disclaimers… I really have never used them. Not once. Mostly because I only post my stories on my own website, on Nifty, or on a site where it is understood that it is filled with erotic material. Obviously, I don’t want anybody making money off of my stories or plagiarizing my work, but as far as going out of my way to tell people, “Hey! Don’t steal my stuff!”… I don’t do it. I wrote it for free. It’s available online for free. People can come see it any time they want to. If I was making an actual living off of my writing, then a copyright notice might be necessary. But for the time being, that’s not the case. Somebody sharing my story online can only draw more interest to the other stories I have online. So I don’t worry about it too much. If I find someone going overboard (Like they have a complete mirror of my site somewhere and are taking credit for every story on there)… then we’ve got problems. But I’m doubting that’s going to be a problem.
However, if you just want to be safe, and you WANT to put a disclaimer at the top of your story, there are five things below for you to think about.
#1 – Keep it short. Don’t drag on and on about copyrights and ownership. Don’t advertise every story you’ve ever written. Don’t address the reader with five paragraphs of witty banter. Be friendly, but be brief. Say hello, introduce the story, leave a website and email address, and be done with it. I’ve seen some disclaimers go on for so long that I actually got bored and went to read another story. So don’t do it. Keep it short, keep it simple, and let the readers get into the story.
#2 – Don’t insult your audience. I see this a lot, and I just find it plain unnecessary. Don’t say something like, “If you’re under 18, go away! You’re not wanted here!” First of all, that is not going to deter a teen boy from wanting to read and look at porn. So that’s a waste of typing. Second of all, if you’re writing a high school love story… chances are you just spit in the face of HALF of your audience. AND you have now made them nervous about contacting you, even if they loved your story. Face it, there are boys under the age of 18 who are sexually aroused by the kind of stories you write. If you want to put an 18 or older claim in your heading… that’s up to you. But don’t insult them. You’ll lose points before they even read your first sentence.
#3 – Don’t preach or give your views condoning any kind of sexual behavior. The people reading your work haven’t come to your story, “Jimmy Gets Gang Banged in the Locker Room”, to learn moral values and social graces from you. They are not asking you to approve of or to condone anything. Don’t preach safe sex in your disclaimer. If you want to make that point… then do it with your story. Not in a disclaimer. If you tell everyone to wear a condom in the disclaimer, and then write a story where NOBODY wears a condom, then you’ve made that statement pretty much useless. If you don’t agree with adult/youth relationships… then why are you writing an adult/youth story? If you have a point to make, that’s what your story is for. Don’t do it in a disclaimer. And don’t try to make your audience feel bad before they even get to read what you have to say.
#4 – Don’t badmouth your own story. If it’s your very first story, then great. You can tell people that. But don’t say things like, “It’s my first time, so it might not be very good.” Don’t tell them that. Because a lot of people might read that and hit the back button so they can go elsewhere. Don’t tell them it might suck, or let them know if you hate it. Even if you’re worried about how people will receive it, don’t give them any reason to doubt you in the disclaimer. Let THEM make that decision after reading what you have to say. Also, don’t tell people “There’s no sex in this chapter.” I never EVER do that. Because if you post in a place like Nifty… that’s EXACTLY what a vast majority of the people there are looking for. Put that in the disclaimer, and they’ll back out so fast, it’ll make your head spin. Give them a chance to start reading. Sex or no sex… maybe by the end of that chapter, they’ll be fully invested in what you have to say. And they’ll want more. Give your readers a chance to actually read. THEN they can make judgements on how much they enjoyed it. Don’t do it for them.
#5 – Last, but not least… invite people to give you feedback, but DON’T demand it. Don’t be nasty about it. Don’t think that you can manipulate, guilt trip, or force, anybody to send you an email telling you what they think about your work. I can guarantee you… a lot of them won’t. A lot of people will read your story and keep going without saying a single word. And as an author, it sucks. I know it does. But it happens. Nothing that you can say will change that. And by trying to make people talk to you, you’ll just come off looking like a jerk. Again… never insult your audience. You don’t want to make them feel bad for not worshipping the ground you walk on. Me? I add a simple note to almost every story that I post. “I hope you enjoy it! Feel free to let me know what you think!” And that’s it. If people want to write, great. If they don’t, great. I just keep writing and hoping that eventually, they’ll appreciate all the hard work I put in and will offer some feedback and some inspiration for me to keep going. So welcome some interaction between you and your readers, let them know how to get in contact with you, and let the cards fall where they may.
Also, if you’re one of those people who change your email address every two months because… I don’t know… you feel ‘bogged down’ or whatever the reason is that people do that CONSTANTLY (Hehehe!), get a separate email for your writing, and leave it alone. Your readers aren’t going to track you down every few months to tell you they like your work. Get something stable and stay there. I’ve had the Comicality@webtv.net email address for 14 years now. If somebody reads the first chapter of “New Kid In School” tomorrow, they can still use that address to find me. Very simple.
That’s it for now. Best of luck on writing your stories, folks! This has been “Comsie Talks”! And remember… your STORY should be your first impression on a reader, not a lengthy disclaimer.