Soliciting material for a site

Discussion in 'Fan Sites' started by JediGaladriel, Dec 5, 2002.

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  1. JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 1999
    star 5
    Okay, for some folks this isn't a problem. If your site is to showcase only your own work, then you have no particular need to go around and look for other people's stuff.

    But if you're doing a themed site, you need to find material on your theme, and ask for it, or ask for it to be done. The two things you don't want are (1) e-mail flooding with bad submissions and (2) no new material.

    The best solution is to do an invite only site (though of course that puts a few noses out of joint--the opposite solution is to just take anything, but as long as there's any kind of editorial focus, that's not going to happen), but if so, where's the best place to go looking for material to invite, and what's the best approach to the invitation?

    And what about finding people who maybe haven't done anything that's right for your site, but might have an interest? I run into this with art a lot--I'll see an artist who I really like and think, "I'll bet he could do a knock-down, bang-up job on [X]." But it feels a bit imperious to go around saying, "You know, you should draw stuff that's never going to have much of a home away from my site" (since sometimes it's for the illustrator's gallery).

    And what about turning things down if they've been submitted and don't really fit the site?

    Anyway, the thread is just here to talk about the issues involved in getting content.
  2. ami-padme Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 1999
    star 4
    Some thoughts:

    1) Submission Sections: I don't have a submission section on my site, because, in my experience, you have to go through a whole lot of submissions to get to the good ones. I suppose that in some cases, having my site's guidelines posted might be helpful, but overall, I've haven't found the majority of unsolicited submissions to be very encouraging (though I have occasionally been sent very wonderful pieces). People still send me a variety of things, since my email is posted on the site, so I don't think it's too hard for people who would like to put something on my site to find me and submit.


    2) Turning Down Submissions: Generally, I send a polite, if brief, email thanking the person for sending it, but saying that I've chosen not to use it. If the submission simply doesn't fit with the theme for the site, I say so. If they email again, asking for more detailed feedback (about their fic or art or essay), I'm usually happy to give them constructive criticism.

    That's usually worked well enough. I have had somewhat awkward situations with people repeatedly submitting something I turned down after making one or two insubstantial changes, or sending me a ton of stuff -- "Okay, you didn't like that one, but I have 10 fics! Maybe you'll like one of them!" I don't want to seem rude or dismissive, so I keep telling them (politely, briefly) some variation of thanks but no thanks.


    3) Invite-only: I get the vast majority of the stuff on my site through invites. Generally, I send an email to the author/artist/essayist asking for permission for their piece, telling them that I'll properly credit them (of course) and giving them a link to my website so they can check it out. Generally, when people are looking to archive my fics, I want to take a look at their site, make sure they'll got my name and email in there for feedback, that kind of thing, so that's what I send people when I request their works. That always has worked fine for me.

    As for places to go...? Well, I get stuff here on TF.n (especially from the art museum!), but frankly, I just look everywhere, on all sorts of websites, archives, and lists. You never know where you're going to find good stuff!


    4) Requests: I'm loathe to ask for stuff to be created for my site unless it's someone I know. I've seen lots of wonderful artists whom I wished did work that fit my site theme, but I've never emailed them out of the blue to ask them to do something for me. Even with my online friends, doing those kind of requests makes me feel like a school-teacher handing out homework assignments (especially if what I want is an essay! [face_blush]), so I try to limit those requests to people I know fairly well and whom I honestly suspect wouldn't mind doing whatever I'm asking for anyway.

  3. Kitt327 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2000
    star 4
    There's a submissions page on my website, but in the last year, we've only received one submission through that page... probably because of the small nature of the site's genre.

    The rest I got through a connected mailing list, which is always a good way to meet people and find things to archive.

    Asking people is a lot easier when you write/draw in the genre yourself, because other authors who write similar stuff have usually heard of you.

  4. ami-padme Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 1999
    star 4
    Asking people is a lot easier when you write/draw in the genre yourself, because other authors who write similar stuff have usually heard of you.

    I agree. It helps to be part of the community when you go to different people asking for their stuff. And often, since they write or draw things that fit your board, they've likely visited it or heard of it before anyway, because their interested in the same subject.


    The rest I got through a connected mailing list, which is always a good way to meet people and find things to archive.

    Yeah, I've gotten numerous submissions from people on my message boards. That's been very helpful.


    On the subject of where to find stuff, I sometimes wish it was easier to find essays. I think I've got a good collection, but there really isn't a place I've found to go look for them, you know? I've had a few submitted to me, I've found a few on some websites, and I've gotten in the habit of asking people to tweak good message board posts to turn them into an essay. It's kind of a random mish-mash of where I get them from. (Of course, I could write my own, and help my own cause out a little... ;))
  5. jedi-mind-trick VIP

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2001
    star 5
    I can't really say much else that has not already been said. I do, however, want to stress this point: If you want to use it and it is not yours, you have to email the author/artist and request permission. It sounds so simple but it irks me because I have found many people do not do this. [rant over :p ]

    I only added a submissions link to my site because people were using the contact form wanting to know where to email their submissions :p. So I finally broke down and put up the link. I must say, however, that many of the submissions I get are very good, so I end up rejecting very little. I get quite a few submissions because of the sites that I affliate with: if someone creates art/fiction/etc, most of them send it around for others to post on their sites (with links included).

    As for finding stuff, the best thing I think I can say is to surf the web....look around for stuff. If you see something you like, contact the author/artist. Most folks are very pleased to hear you like their work, and are happy to let you archive it.
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