No, really, how do you get people to read your fics?

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by arkham618, Apr 29, 2007.

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  1. arkham618

    arkham618 Jedi Master star 1

    Apr 27, 2007
    Seriously, guys, I've posted an entire screenplay and the first segment of a prose fic and nada. I read through the educational threads for newbies and followed all of the recommendations: placed links in my sig and profile, introduced myself in a few threads, advertised for a master. Net result: zero, zip, and zilch. What am I doing wrong?
  2. JadeSolo

    JadeSolo Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 20, 2002
    Patience, grasshopper...

    Honestly, sometimes it's just tough luck. A few people get lucky and get a horde of readers from the very beginning. But there are also those who have been around for ages whose fics still get only two or three visible readers when they deserve many more.

    It can take a while - once people get to know you, they'll drop by your story. And if you want people to know you, read their stories, participate in challenges, and stay active.

    Best advice I can give: make the effort to support other users, and they'll return the gesture.
  3. Persephone_Kore

    Persephone_Kore Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 19, 2006
    Welcome to the boards.

    First off... well, you may or may not listen to me since I get what I consider a perfectly reasonable amount of feedback, but depending on the story that might be only one or two comments. *grin* (Which, ah, reminds me I need to put in a response where I got one lone absolutely gorgeous review that may have been longer than the story. [face_love] I let it sit for a while so as not to look like I was bumping too fast.)

    Okay, on to the actual content. Even when you do everything right, sometimes a good fic gets overlooked. Sometimes a fic sinks down a few pages and then gets half a dozen replies after the first person finds it and comments. Sometimes it never gains more than a few faithful readers, depending on the type of story and how broad its appeal is or isn't. And it's still worth it.

    Somewhat paradoxically, to get the most people to click on your story, you need to have something that is both broadly appealing (thus potentially a common topic) and at the same time unique to you. I don't advise worrying about this too much unless it's a matter of deciding between stories with equivalent appeal otherwise. If you have an idea you love, write it.

    Looking at the stories you've posted, I do have some ideas why they aren't getting comments. For one thing... it's easier for a newcomer to the boards and really for anyone starting a new story to gather readers if you start with small bites. The readers don't know you -- they may come to love you, but they're readier to spend a few minutes on an unknown than a few hours, to taste a nibble than to sit down to a seven-course meal. A complete one-shot, a short chapter -- these can average more reviews simply because they're often easier to read and react to.

    "A Sinister Enemy" may be excellent (I should be in bed and don't have time to check), but was probably a rough way to start. Screenplays aren't the easiest form to read, for one thing -- the format is designed to be performed. Posting it all at once may have daunted some readers who might have tried it otherwise. And... well... calling it PT Redux is likely to get clicks from people who liked the PT and found it interesting, but then you indicate that it's for people who didn't like the PT. This may be cutting into how many people keep reading.

    "Children of the Force" has only been up for several hours, so people may well still pick it up. All-OC fanfics are somewhat more difficult to get readers for because a lot of fanficcers are in it for the characters they already know and love, but it's not impossible.

    For additional promotion opportunities, I suggest PMing your story details to the keeper of the New Stories index and (when applicable) the Completed Stories index in the appropriate erea.
  4. arkham618

    arkham618 Jedi Master star 1

    Apr 27, 2007
    JadeSolo: Yeah. It's just frustrating to put so much work into a project and watch it sink down the board with nary a comment.

    Persephone_Kore: It didn't dawn on me until after I had posted A Sinister Enemy that not only should I have broken the text up into sections (which I did, so as not to choke people's browsers), but that I probably should have spaced them out more, temporally. Unfortunately, by the time that thought crossed my mind, it was too late. I can go back and edit out all but the first section, but then I'd have a bunch of empty posts, which would probably look like I was obnoxiously upping the thread to generate more views. It's a catch-22 at this point. Is there any way to have a thread deleted, in part or in whole?

    As for Children of the Force, there's nothing that can be done about the bias against OCs, I suppose. It doesn't make sense to me, personally, as it's the universe that I find interesting, moreso than the characters (which I see primarily as vehicles for particular archetypes). But I understand how many readers would prefer the more familiar aspects of the franchise.

    Ah, well. I guess there's nothing for it but to keep writing.
  5. Alley_Skywalker

    Alley_Skywalker Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 27, 2005
    Welcome to the forums!

    Well lets see what I can come up with?

    Well first of all, the lack of review is nothing against you as a writer! Often times when you?re new and people haven?t seen you around they may skip on by to look for stories of authors they know better. This doesn?t apply to me personally but I know it?s done.

    Also, it may be in type of fic. For example: an A/P or H/L fic is much more likely to gain an audience then an OC or secondary-EU-character centric fic.

    So what can you do?

    --Challenges. Join a popular challenge or twice. For one people will read your fic as one of the entries, especially if it?s a contest. For another it?s a way to spread your name around.
    --Read other people?s fics and review! Yes, it really does work more or less. Why? Because you get your name around and people tend to return favors, especially if you write on a subject that you both like (Which is very probable if you read the same types of fics that you write).
    --Participate in discussion threads. Just kinda good for getting to know people.
    --Advertising in headers. In your title bar include the main paring/characters, genre, timeframe, etc of the fic. Whatever little tidbit you think will attract an audience. It gives someone browsing the boards a quick look at what they may be getting into before they click the link.
    --Maybe try writing a vig /one-shot first before posting a long fic. Sometimes people are more prone to read a short fic just because of time issues. From personal experience, I gained a much larger audience one I started writing more vigs.
    --As far as long fics go...don't update everyday. Wait a few days. Some people read loads of fics at the same time and can't keep up with such frequent updates.
    --Posting times. You'll have to see what works for your timezone but I found that posting in the evening (like after 8), in the early morning (like 6), noon (11:00 - 12:30), early evening (6:00), and on weekdays usually gain more readers that other times...of course this isn't always the case and the morning, noon, and early evening pssting times hold the danger of having your fic plunge to the bottom b/c of all the poeple that seem to be active at this time.
  6. Ace_Venom

    Ace_Venom Jedi Youngling star 3

    Sep 22, 2002
    Disappear for a month or two and people may start clammering for an update. I found that gets me quite a few comments. You'll get readers, but most won't comment. I'm more than happy to write for lurkers.
  7. Persephone_Kore

    Persephone_Kore Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 19, 2006
    You could ask one of the mods if they'd be willing to remove or lock it and let you start over. I don't know what the details are on that kind of decision, but it's happened for stories that the author realized were in the wrong era, for instance. (This may sound strange, but if you're writing a story that takes place across multiple ones, it can be hard to decide where it belongs. And, well, sometimes people just flub the posting. *g*)

    It isn't... necessarily a bias against OCs. For some readers it is, and they think that introducing new characters is rarely done well and almost never a good idea. *wry grin* For others, they don't so much have anything against OCs as they favor and want to read about someone specific already. I don't have anything in particular against... well, most characters... but only some of them make me perk up and go to check out a story.

    And yeah, the main thing is to keep writing. :) And, yes, to interact with other authors and their stories -- finding stuff you like to read is a benefit in itself, and it indicates at least some degree of taste in common with the author. *g*
  8. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 20, 2002
    Yes, if you edit them all out and only want to keep the first post, a mod can delete the other posts for you :)
  9. correllian_ale

    correllian_ale Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jun 20, 2005

    Yeah, it's all in the networking. Meet and make friends with authors with similar story interests; its the best way to gain new readers!
  10. ardavenport

    ardavenport Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 16, 2004
    First, I can't speak for everyone, but my impression is that script format is not very popular. Most fics on the boards are in 'book reading' format and it seems that this is the format most readers prefer. I personally find script and play format very hard to read, and I would only use it myself for a script for a fan film.

    Next, I had exactly the same thing happen to me the first week I posted. Because I started in print zines (many moons ago, when the internet was still some exotic thing that you only saw on a college computer and it might have still being funded by DARPA and we had only paper and snail mail) I have a thing about finishing stories before posting. So, the first time I posted a 33-page story, nothing happened. The first two vignettes I posted got replies, but nothing for the longer story. Really, no replies at all. After ten days I started asking around and a few things turned up:

    - Some people read the boards at work (definitely not the employer I work for), so they can't read long things and they don't want to get part way and then come back later and figure out where they left off.

    - Formatting is important and shorter paragraphs with blank lines between them make the story easier and faster to read online. You would think that this would mean that scripts would be more popular, but if there is too much of it there at once, then the short paragraph format doesn't help.

    - Eye strain is also a factor for many readers. I only read online for short periods of time even with low vision settings on my computer.

    Since there were no replies at all, a kindly mod let me bump and repost the story in installments. All but one of the installments did get a reply.

  11. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Mar 1, 2002
    I would agree with most of what is said here. Scripts are really hard to get people to read. I won't because it gives me eye-strain for some reason and I find scripts hard to follow anyway.

    The OC factor can be a problem as well. A lot of people are here to read about their favorite characters. It is an easier sell if a canon character is in the story, even if on the sidelines. I had to laugh about the Last of the Jedi series by Jude Watson. She had Obi-Wan show up for a couple of books and now it's all OCs.

    That being said, I think you just need to be patient. I've read the one story and it looks really good. You did post in Beyond and that board moves very, very fast. Before moves much more slowly and you have a greater chance of getting readers. But keep it up. I'm sure they will come!
  12. GraySaberFreque

    GraySaberFreque Jedi Padawan star 4

    Nov 23, 2006
    Get a master, they'll always comment on your stories, and an added benifit, if someone sees one comment, they might spend a minute of their time to check it out.

    I know what it's like to write OC fics, pretty much what I've done is challenge responses with OCs, challnge responses get some attetion.

    Like pthers said, you'll probally get a few dedicated readers of the fic at first, and then they might be the only ones who post.
  13. ardavenport

    ardavenport Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 16, 2004
    Hmmmmm, I haven't thought of OCs as being a problem because I'm very 'meat and potatoes' with my fics. I want to read more about canon characters, so I write about them where my usual meat has been Qui-Gon and potatoes is Obi-Wan. :p But well developed OCs always make the story better.

    But it's true that canon characters in a story will attract the attention of the fans of those characters, so that is one way to get readers. If you have been around for awhile and people recognize your name, then I think all OCs won't deter them.

    The subject line is your friend. An OC name may not attract readers, but if it's an OC Jedi or bounty hunter or stormtrooper, put that in the subject line to get the attention of anyone who might like that. If it's action or romance or horror or crossover or some specific genre like that, put that in there as well.

    Aaaaaah, and I have to admit that while the Last of the Jedi books have gone mostly OC, they still have Vader and Palpatine and it's the OCs against them.

  14. arkham618

    arkham618 Jedi Master star 1

    Apr 27, 2007
    Thanks for the replies, everyone. They've really helped.

    NYCitygurl: I edited the posts. Who would be the best person to contact about having them deleted?
  15. Layren

    Layren Jedi Master star 5

    Oct 28, 2003

    One of your friendly neighborhood moderators :) Their names are in colors at the top of every forum :)
  16. oqidaun

    oqidaun Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 20, 2005
    I've not written a canon character save an Elan Sleazebaggano cameo in months--maybe a year? :D Considering the OC writers network around here, a person wanting to write OC centric stories shouldn't have too hard a time finding readers. But, you need to connect with other writers just like Ale said.

    As I see it, the problem is you've posted too much too quickly. SLOW DOWN. I made this mistake too when I first came to the boards. I was anxious to get my stuff posted and I posted faster than I could get readers. The previous comments about readers having limited time and comfort zones is good advice.

  17. Bale

    Bale Jedi Master star 4

    May 9, 2005
    The comments by others here are spot-on. It has been my experience that the best way to get readers is to seriously read and comment on other peoples' stories. We all have preferred characters, genres, time periods, and yes, authors, but always remember that first and foremost these forums are about supporting each other. Support others and they will support you.
  18. arkham618

    arkham618 Jedi Master star 1

    Apr 27, 2007
    Bale: Yes, I see that in the amount of assistance I've received just these last few days, since I first posted my query. The greatest difficulty I now face is digging through the amazing profusion of fics to find what best matches my interests. It's daunting. I see how newbies (like myself) could easily get lost in the shuffle.
  19. VaderLVR64

    VaderLVR64 Manager Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 5, 2004
    You've gotten really good advice. Everyone faces that very situation when they start posting here. Read, read, read. The more you read and leave feedback on the type of stories YOU like, the more likely you are to get readers yourself.

    Post your story in manageable bits and give your readers time to find it.

    Make sure your story is listed in all appropriate indexes. We've got some amazing indexers here and they'll be happy to help you.

    If you write OCs, get involved in the OC discussion thread. If you're writing Obi-Wan, get involved in THAT thread.

    Put the link to your story in your signature, that way when you leave feedback you've made it easy for someone else to find your story.

    Get a Master. I think that most masters try to read what their padawans post. And sometimes you'll find that other readers sort of follow them. I'm still not sure how that happens, but it does. [face_laugh]

    Be patient. Keep writing and they will come.
  20. BigE

    BigE Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 31, 2002
    This is good advice also. In most cases you have a solid shot at feedback if you participate in discussion or challenge threads where you read each other's works. Plus you may have curious folks who would like to see what else you've written.

    Jimminy, I tried to get a Beta reader and/or a Master way back when I first started with little success. :(
    I managed though. :)
  21. yodas_waiter

    yodas_waiter Jedi Youngling star 3

    Oct 31, 2006
    I don't think I can add much more than: stay positive. It is much more rewarding if you go into this thinking "I'm writing this because it is fun,". I started writing here in December and had an extremely slow start, everyone seemed to avoid my story. I started getting active, commenting other stories and be social but not much changed. It was extremely frustrating and I considered quitting but once I started thinking that I'm really doing this for fun and for writing practice, it became a whole lot easier. Now I've got one faithful reader and nearing completion of my story, something that seemed unthinkable in December.

    So yeah, stay positive. Always look on the bright side of things. Writing the story is the real deal, comments are merely icing, as I've come to learn
  22. VaderLVR64

    VaderLVR64 Manager Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 5, 2004
    I'm sorry it didn't go smoothly for you BigE. I always tell my padawans to PM when they post something and I make sure to read it.

    Usually if I'm the beta for someone I will read that, too, but I might need a PM reminder. :p
  23. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 20, 2002
    The fanfic mods (listed at the top) though if you're in a rush, I can do that as well :)

    As the others said, post in short bits. Even with authors I like, it's hard to get through long posts. Split it up.

    Also, grammar is important. I haven't looked at your stories, but a lot of people just starting out (myself included, if I recall ;) ) have horrible spelling or grammar, and it's just really hard to get through. And spacing: put a blank space between each paragraph. Makes it MUCH easier for readers.

    Getting a beta or a master is always a good idea :) There are links to the Beta index and the Creche (the adoption thread) in the index stickied (with a little yellow thing next to it) at the top :)
  24. KILIK

    KILIK Jedi Master star 4

    May 21, 2005
    What I did was make friends on here that wrote liked what they wrote. Replied to their fics and made friends.

    I'm sure you got some friends in RL that like to read, let them know you write they'll read it.

  25. JadeSolo

    JadeSolo Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 20, 2002
    Also, when it comes to making friends, you don't have to be a social butterfly. I started out following one author's story and made friends just within that thread. In that kind of setting, people may pay as much attention to your replies as they do to the author's actual story. If you've got links in your sig, they'll notice.

    The greatest difficulty I now face is digging through the amazing profusion of fics to find what best matches my interests. It's daunting. I see how newbies (like myself) could easily get lost in the shuffle.

    I've been here a while, and I still find it daunting. There's just so much STUFF. :p This is my method, and I've used it since the very beginning: start with one author. Usually I pick an author by finding something in a thread's subject line that intrigues me. The indexes here in Resource are great starting points. If you really like the story, catch up on other stuff the author's written. Even if it's an old story, post comments or send a PM if the thread is locked. Next step: branch out. Most authors have a loyal core of readers, so check out the stories written by those readers - they're often in the same genre or use the same characters.

    This way, you're not only making friends, but you may also have an easier time finding fics to read.
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