hi! so i just made an archive of our own account and i don't know what to post first. do you have any tips or advice for posting on ao3? do you have any tips for ao3 in general? thank you!
Hi there anon! Thank you for your question!
First things first: I think to a certain extent, what to post first is going to be entirely up to you. Whatever you feel like writing, whatever format it’s in, you should write it up and post it! Or, depending on how long you’ve been using the site as a guest, you can look through other people’s content to pay attention to tagging, author’s notes, formatting – that kind of thing. AO3 is user-friendly in most ways, and you’ll grasp it pretty quickly.
But, I do have a couple tips to help you out on your first run-through (and actually some helpful tricks I think some more familiar users may not know, as well)!
BTW since we’re on the topic, if you use the subscribe function on AO3!!! Did you know about the different ways to subscribe to an author, a series, or an individual work?
You can only subscribe to an author from their dashboard or their profile page! If you are in the middle of reading a particular fic, and you hit the subscribe button at the top of the page, you will only subscribe to updates for that fic. Same deal if you want to subscribe to a series, you must be on the series page. Subscribing to a fic within that series will only subscribe you to that specific fic – you will get updates if that story is updated/chapters are added, but not if a new work is added to the series.
I suspect some people are unaware of this, due to the frequent amount of subscriptions I get on one-shots! (But, idk… maybe there’s just some really hopeful people out there laijefliajelsjf)
Anyway, now, onto the rest of this textbook (it got long)!
NEW WORK vs DRAFTING
When you go to post your very first work on AO3, you’ll go to Post > New Work at the very top to open up AO3′s drafting tool. From here, you can go through and copy over a work from Word or Google docs or whatever writing program you use, or just write up your fic in the post box itself!
Either way you choose, you can then decide to post your work right then and there (Post Without Preview), or if you are still editing it, you can choose the Preview option. This will take you to the work as it will appear once posted; from there you can go back to the editing page, which will now have a Save Without Posting option. Use this if you would just like to save your work and come back to it later. Note: drafts are saved for one month only.
HTML vs RICH TEXT
When you open your drafts/start a new work, the main field for your text has two options: HTML or Rich Text. HTML just shows you all HTML codes in your work. Rich Text is probably what you want to work in while editing, because you’ll only see this bar in that format:
However, sometimes you will want to use the HTML section in order to copy over text from another source that allows HTML format; for instance, Tumblr! I always copy the HTML from my tumblr fics over to AO3 when posting, because it is the easiest/fastest way to ensure the formatting stays intact. Here’s where to find that:
AVOID BACKDATED DRAFTS
This is a pitfall I encountered with my first fic I ever posted. When you create a draft, the date of posting defaults to the date you first saved the draft. So if you are like me and you draft fics way in advance of posting, you need to make sure to update the post date before you actually hit post, or it will backdate your fic – this happened with This Place in the Sky, and it was several hours before I realized it had backdated by a week, and no one was seeing it T.T Learn from my mistakes, younglings
(And if you want to backdate a draft, then you would go in here to alter the date.)
Some people have noticed an issue with AO3 that causes fics to have odd spaces after punctuation (periods, quotation marks, dashes). This is a glitch related to italicizing when you transfer over fics from another source. To avoid having to search your entire fic for those spaces, always italicize the punctuation that precedes/follows your italicized words. For instance:
“No!” – quotations/exclamation not italicized, glitch makes it show up as:
“No!” – all punctuation italicized, now shows up as:
:D It’s just less of a headache to have to comb through and find all the random spaces, I find, when you just italicize beforehand! A preemptive strike.
Let’s look at the variations of line spacing in a posted fic:
And here’s what this looks like in AO3′s Rich Text editor:
Sorry that is so tiny, but notice the clear difference in spaces between paragraphs while editing! There’s no actual correct way to do this, but! The “regular” option of spacing is the most common on AO3, and also the easiest to read. Avoid the no spacing option at all costs! It can be a huge headache to read, unless you are indenting paragraphs (less common on AO3, but acceptable). I tend to dislike the double spacing option as well because I feel like it breaks up the flow of wording, but that’s just personal preference.
HOW TO AVOID DOUBLE SPACING BETWEEN PARAGRAPHS
Frequent posters may also have noticed a thing AO3 does where it will insert double spaces at random intervals, often for large sections of the fic at a time, for no discernible reason. This happens often when you copy your work over from another source. But there’s an easy fix!
On MS Word and Google docs, find the “Add space after paragraph” option, and enable it for every fic you write. When you hit Enter (ONCE) to go to a new paragraph, it will autospace for you (meaning, you should not need to double tap the Enter key).
Now when you copy this over to AO3, it will read ONE SPACE reliably, giving you that regular spacing option up above. Cool news: if you copy your HTML from Tumblr to HTML on AO3, you don’t even need to worry about this. HTML be chill like that
QUICK HTML CODES
Another thing I see people asking is how to add hyperlinks! But also, did you know you can add links, bolded, and italicized text to your summary/notes as well? You just have to put them in HTML, and this:
<a href=“LINK GOES HERE”>Hyperlink</a>
will show up as:
You can easily bold/italicize/add links in the Rich Text editor, but summary/notes are HTML only and you will have to use the above. These are the most useful/common options you’ll need, I think. Try to preview before posting to make sure you got it right (and haven’t bolded your entire summary and the world with it on accident).
LINK BACK TO TUMBLR
There’s an easy way to link your stories to Tumblr (or Twitter) that automatically includes your title, tags, summary, and all other relevant information right in the post! Just hit this button at the top of your fic, once it’s posted – it’ll take you to the Tumblr log-in screen, so log-in and from there you can edit the post. This is what I use to make all my AO3 fic posts on Tumblr \o/
Finally, more of a stylistic note! Be thoughtful when tagging your fic/writing a synopsis. In general, try to be clear and concise, so people can see what they’re getting into at a glance. Tag what’s important to the theme and tone of your fic. This really varies from person to person… maybe you want to tag every single thing your fic encompasses! I find really long tags to be overwhelming when browsing AO3, and prefer simple ones. I tend to overtag more for smut-heavy/PWP than I do for longer, plot driven fics.
Your summary should also be clear and to the point, and describe the content of the fic. You can put any other thoughts in your beginning and end notes; if you are leaning towards saying anything like “sorry this sucks this is my first fic/I am bad at summaries/etc” just leave that out! If you don’t like summaries, use a quote from the fic. You don’t have to apologize for posting, even if you don’t think it’s a Shakespearean masterpiece. You still wrote a fic, and that’s awesome!
This is everything I could think of for the time being…I hope it’s helpful!!