Go here to hear this meta read aloud by the wonderful knight_tracer!
In podfic meta discussions, it periodically comes up that some people want to leave feedback on podfic but just aren't sure what to say. This post is an attempt to give some new ideas to anyone who would like to expand their repertoire for expressing their thoughts about podfic. It is not meant to pressure listeners to leave feedback if they don't feel comfortable with that. Hopefully it will work more like a toolbox, providing tools that people can use to help them accomplish their pre-existing goals more easily and successfully.
The format was inspired by this post about femslash, and the content was inspired by this post about vid feedback.
Five Ways to Give Great Podfic Feedback
1. Say you listened and enjoyed
This may seem too simple to be worth saying, but it's actually a huge deal. It's not uncommon for podfic artists to put hours or days of work into a piece and then not hear back from a single person who listened to it. Just knowing that a piece was heard and enjoyed can mean the world to a podfic artist. If you are someone who usually comments before listening to a piece rather than after, those comments are the perfect place to mention past work by that podfic artist that you've listened to and enjoyed, in addition to the note that you're downloading their new piece.
- I was just listening to the first half of Tintagel yesterday. Not done with it yet, but enjoying it very much so far! Thank you! (chinawolf to dyaoka)
- Wow 7 hours? I'll definitely be downloading! Oh btw, I loved your reading of 'My Homework Was Never Quite Like This' :) Looking forward to listening. (jennacorinth to juice817)
2. Describe your listening experience: where you were, how it made you feel
Podfic is like sending your voice out to take all these journeys with people, and it can be really neat to hear back from the listener about what the journey was like. You can talk about what you were doing as you listened and how having the story interacted with what you were doing. Did you laugh? Smile? Sigh? Did you listen multiple times? How did the listening experience make you feel?
- Harmonic Function which made breaking down and unloading boxes at work ever so much more interesting, though I think I wound up blushing a little more than I signed up for. You did a fabulous job with it, as others have attested to above. Similarly, I listened to Rebuilding Babel while waiting for someone to open up the office as I was locked out. That day the secretary had gotten sick and I wound up sitting on the porch for an hour and a bit, and thoroughly enjoying it […] And finally Who's Left and Who's Leaving got me a layover/delayed flight in Atlanta which is always appreciated. I was perfectly happy that my plane was delayed an extra hour as I got to continue listening. (rhea314 to fiercelydreamed)
- You had me laughing in the middle of the street! Which is in part the story, but it's part your reading too. You conveyed all of the levity and the sense of fun of this story - thanks for sharing! (cantarina1 to reena_jenkins)
3. Comment on the reader's voice and style
Tell the reader if you find their voice melodic, soothing, sexy, exciting, warm, rich, comfortable, tender, sincere, expressive, sweet, gripping, wry, funny, cute, confident, vivid, enthusiastic, dry, clear, steady, dreamlike, sensual, lyrical, smooth, easy to listen to, charming, no frills, calm, intense, controlled, nuanced, intimate, joyful, delicate, sly, polished, or natural. If you think the reader is well-suited to the story, if you find their accent cool, if you like the rhythm of their reading. If you think they differentiate character voices well. If you felt like the reader was having fun and that made it fun to listen to.
- I lovelovelove how sweet your voice is. :) (dyaoka to elsewhere_kels)
- I love the energy you put into your readings! It draws me write into the story without needing much preamble and your character voices are so full of life. (cantarina1 to kiwiana)
- I think you have this really unique dry, understated humour in your readings, it's something about your voice and inflection. It's special, I don't know anyone else who can pull this off, and I adore it. I love your pacing, too. (lian_li to fleurrochard)
4. Highlight specific parts you liked and why
Say if you liked the music/sound effects, if there were specific lines or specific scenes that stood out as funny or interesting or emotional or just really well-acted, or if you have read the story before and listening to it showed you something new or different about how the story could be interpreted. If the comedic timing in specific parts was awesome. If there is a specific skill, like reading drunk characters or singing or doing kid voices, that you were particularly impressed by. If their voice for a specific character stood out.
- I love the way you read J2 - your Jensen point of view in "B & P" is spot on - perfect. No matter how many times I listen to the beginning, particularly when Jared is asking "what about YOU?" and Jensen is completely, obstinately not listening is hysterical. No matter what's going on when I'm listening to that part, it always makes me at least smile. (cookiemom6067 to pennyplainknits)
- Then we get into the major dialogue between the two of them, and...it's FANTASTIC. The first "Logan? Are you okay?" struck me hard with how much I could hear Veronica in your voice. And then there were a lot of moments that hit me with how much she sounded like a teenager, like"Y'know, I really don't?", for example. God, and your Logan--SO GOOD. I love the conviction behind "I refuse to be okay", and then just...you are spot-on with the ~DRAMA of this kid. You do a really good job with like...loosening up your voice, too, and then just GOING FOR IT with the ups and downs of his speaking patterns. I was super impressed, seriously. There are a lot of great small moments that I wrote down, like "Would and did" and hi that "all...the...time" was PERFECT AHH. (swiiftly to podklb)
5. Tell your history/relationship with the reader
Say if you get excited when the reader posts, if the reader has introduced you to new stories or new fandoms (reader as reccer), if they have inspired you to create podfic of your own, if you have a playlist for their stories or always use their stories to comfort yourself or have talked about their readings with friends. If you would jump for joy at them reading one of your stories (if you're a writer). If you feel like they are a friend after having listened to them tell you stories.
- Thanks to your vlogs and your podfic I am intimately acquainted with your voice and there really *is* something intimate about being so familiar with the voice of a complete stranger. Having them whisper in your ear and tell you stories at night. (dodificus to cinderlily)
- I love to curl up with stuff you read -- I find your voice so comforting and joyful. (foreverdirt to villainny)
- I've got almost everyone of your Supernatural podfics, They make up a good chunk of my podfic library. I love your voice and you always choose such awesome fanfics to use. Whenever I see you have posted a new one, I always get all giddy and excited. I immediately download and listen to it. (princess2000204 to chemm80)
Of course, although these are different angles to approach thinking about feedback from, when you are writing your feedback you don't have to stick to just one. You can pull from multiple categories and mix and match to create an awesome piece of feedback. You can also draw on what you know about reviewing other forms of performance. If you feel comfortable talking about theatre or TV or movie acting, the same language you would use to describe those performances can be applied to a podfic performance and make for beautiful feedback.
There are a couple things you might want to avoid: "I usually think podfic is weird, but..." and "sorry if this is creepy, but..." It doesn't feel good to hear that listeners dislike your chosen art form, even if it's embedded in a compliment about this particular instance of it. And it's not creepy to tell somebody you enjoyed their artwork in the way they intended it to be enjoyed, which means no reader is going to be creeped out that you loved their voice, and if they chose to read sex scenes, they're not going to be creeped out if you found those scenes sexy.
So, there it is! Hopefully this will be a useful resource that helps and inspires listeners who want to leave podfic feedback. (For those who want systems to help keep track of the podfic they listen to and remember to come back to it, there are some tips here.) Remember that the five ways listed above are just ideas, not a rulebook. Be creative! Be spontaneous! Be sloppy! To most podfic artists, any feedback is great (and rare) and whatever you put in your comment will be loved and cherished by the recipient.