I admit it: I haven't made as much progress as I should have since I wrote this. I still watch the steadily increasing number of daily hits to my website with a sense of unrequited contribution. I remind myself that I often visit websites and even click around on them without communicating with their author(s). I further remind myself that far too often when one does communicate with a website, one hears only deafening silence in return (making the effort both wasteful and futile). I further further remind myself that the point of a website is to put information out into the world and inspire steadily increasing traffic, which mine is doing.
Notwithstanding all these reminders, I continue to be a bit crestfallen by how little I get in the way of return communication prompted by my site. There are definitely things to be grateful for, and I am very grateful for them. People are ordering my books. A few brave souls have asked questions, really good questions, for the Q&A. I've even received a few emails thanking me for some website feature and telling me how useful it was. Maybe this is enough and I just need to manage my expectations better.
But I can't quite convince myself that the relative silence is OK. I've said before (here and here) that I'm content to write fiction without reinforcement from others and that's true. I am. I have my characters to keep me company and they're often the best company imaginable. (Literally.) Writing material designed to be useful and helpful to others, though, is a whole different deal. I really do feel in something of a vacuum as I put stuff out there and count on very little but growing daily and monthly page hit numbers to indicate that I'm actually doing something useful and helpful.
My Suit Yourself Essays are a good current example. Only one essay appears on the site in its entirety; all the others are incomplete excerpts. At the bottom of each excerpt is my offer to email the rest of the essay to anyone who asks for it. There's no charge. I explain that I only want to keep track for copyright purposes of where the essays are going. I promise not to use anyone's email for any nefarious (or even mildly annoying) purpose. The essay pages get hit all the time, but in a little over two months, not one person has asked for the rest of an essay. Why is this? Are the excerpts so uninteresting that no one wants to read the rest? Are they so full that no one needs to read the rest? Has no one ever actually read far enough to see the offer about the rest at the bottom of the page? Do people print pages to read later and either never get to them or get to the "If you'd like to read the rest" at the bottom and think, "Ehh, too much trouble?" Are people just clicking randomly and not reading at all? What's going on out there?