• Equestria Daily, Fanfiction, and You: Changing the Pre-reader Process

    With less than two weeks to go until the pre-readers hit their third anniversary on Equestria Daily, it's high time we finally went ahead with announcing some changes to fics and how they get posted on the blog. Of these changes, the biggest one of them is this:

    From now on, the pre-readers will only be providing yes/no replies to stories submitted here.

    What does this mean for you? The answer really depends on how you use this site. Please head below the break for the rationale behind our decision, as well as details for what readers and authors can expect from Equestria Daily moving forward.

    (If you're only interested in what's changing with the submission process and not why, read this next part and then the TL;DR.)

    Here's What's Happening

    • Pre-readers will now only provide yes/no feedback on stories in the queue.
    • If you're submitting a long multi-parter or an incomplete fic, please provide us a summary of your story's general direction.
    • Authors can only have one story in the pre-reading queue at a time.1
    • We're still keeping the three-strike system, which also means we'll still allow stories close to post-quality an extra strike or two as we see fit.2
    • Pre-readers may still provide feedback to stories as they wish, though authors should never rely on this.
    • Moreover, pre-readers have the leeway to pick the stories they want to review from the queue, and always have. We often read stories because we want to see them posted.

    1 Stories by the same author in the queue at press time will not be removed, though any new submissions will be declined until the queue has been cleared accordingly.
    2 Important! Reach out to us if you're concerned about your strikes, 'cause we still want to see you succeed.

    Above everything else, the pre-readers are here for one reason: to recommend stories we think are well-written and interesting to the fandom.

    Tell Me Who Are You (Who Are You)

    If you're a reader, this means we're gonna be posting good stories faster and more frequently. Fics used to be some of, if not the main drivers of traffic on this site, especially after the S1-S2 hiatus came about.

    They're now the most neglected of posts here.

    Part of the problem is that our current review process is so cumbersome that we only post fics two months after they come out. There's very little reason we can't do more to give you readers the stories you want to read in a more timely manner. In the meantime, the Royal Canterlot Library has an excellent collection of vetted, high-quality fics for you to peruse.

    Now, if you're an author, EqD just got a lot scarier. I hear you. We may not have given your stories fair treatment in the past, and by discontinuing feedback we're shedding a critical accountability measure. I don't have a perfect defense of why we're cutting off feedback completely, but if you've read down this far, then maybe I can get you to read a little more.

    What's in the Queue?

    At press time, we have over two-hundred stories with authors waiting to hear whether their stories have passed or not. Despite what you might believe about Sturgeon's Law, few of the stories we receive are so shockingly bad that they just molder. Those are actually among the easiest to get out the door.

    Instead, the queue is 80% populated with stories that are just... there. The problem isn't that they're bad. The problem's that they just don't do many things well, either. It doesn't help that the three-and-a-half-years of stories that've come before have only raised the bar as time goes on. The FimFiction feature box suffers this exact same problem: maybe you can remember even two stories from that box today, but what about those that made it there three days ago?

    Most of the stories we get don't need to be told how to use a semicolon, or that they shouldn't have two different speakers sharing the same paragraph. These stories have more complex needs we just can't meet all at once. And in the three years we've all been here, many of us have dealt with transitions to college and beyond that really make it hard to provide deeper feedback for free (though some pre-readers past and present do take payments to do just that). We don't want to stop giving advice, but we don't have thirty hours in our day to fit everything else in, either.

    But What About Helping Us?

    To address those of you who've become better writers for our feedback -- and I have had the honor and joy of speaking with several of you personally -- we apologize profoundly. Disappointing you has been the largest reason we've held off on making this change, but at this point we've exhausted all other avenues. None of us want novice authors to be left out in the cold, but we really aren't here to be an editing/review service (see above for a reminder).

    Strangely enough? Reducing our feedback system to bullet points last year only made the process even longer and more onerous, since that was an extra layer between our thoughts and what the author got back. It didn't see wide adoption at all. Live and learn.

    If you're an author submitting to us, we need to be the last step on that journey, not a waystation to loop back to. When I mentioned earlier that most of the queue's stuffed with stories that haven't broken apart from the rest enough to merit a post, part of that contingent features unpolished manuscripts that appeared as if the author expected us to clean up for them. As you've noticed, doing that's not very sustainable in the long haul.

    Instead, we'll continue to offer resources like the Omnibus and the Writer's Training Grounds for your reference. Still, we are far from the only organization in the fandom (or the internet!) that's able to help you grow as a writer. If you're worried about finding that perfect group to work with, just join one that looks good and feel free to jump around as your skills and needs evolve.

    At the end of the day, however, the pre-readers need to focus on bringing nifty stories to the readers of the blog. As an added bonus, renewing ourselves on that focus only gives you as authors more resources to draw from regarding all aspects of storycraft, and learning by example works better than you might think.


    • The pre-readers are here to post stories, not give feedback.
    • We want to post stories faster and more frequently. But our backlog is insane, and we have to get it under control.
    • If you're submitting to Equestria Daily, you'll have to be a little more careful, but you'll hear back from us sooner. Send us an email the moment you feel you won't make it on here and we'll do what we can to help.

    I hope you'll be patient with us as we try to get fics back up and running around here. We've done wrong by many of you in the past, and this blog post won't suffice to fix that damage. We hope driving our processing times down will help, though. Done right, the written word has as much, if not more staying power in the mind as art and music, and we'll hardly object (publically, at least) to seeing what new fandom classics and authors can still emerge this late in the game.

    Good luck!