a note to all fanfic writers (but especially the underappreciated ones)
First off, don’t worry. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. I’m sure everyone has a fic that you spent SO much time on and yet, for some nonsensical reason, it receives little to no attention and you wonder if maybe this is the day that you’re going to throw in the proverbial towel.
Well, obviously you shouldn’t. Just because something doesn’t get notes/kudos/hits doesn’t mean a fic is bad. Absolutely not. I was doing a really interesting tag meme about fanfic and one of the questions was how much you trust the reader, and the truth is, there’s only so much you can interpret, really, from a bunch of stats. So don’t think that notes = quality because that is not the way writing works.
Having said that, I do get it. I need and crave validation just as much as the next writer, which is why I treasure each and every comment on AO3 and stalk those who reblog my fics just to see if they write something nice in the tags. I was talking about this with the lovely quiveringbunny and decided to put forward the following tips to help you get your work around:
- Tagging is really important. I don’t mean tagging people (see #3). I mean tagging what/who your story features. For instance, if I write an Olicity fic, my first tags are usually going to be “olicitysquee”, “olicity”, “olicity fic” and “oliver x felicity”. Remember, only the first five tags are tracked (I think? Someone correct me if I’m wrong) so if you put this in your twentieth tag, I don’t think it’ll show up on people’s searches of that tag. Remember also that sometimes a character or pairing has a certain name or tag. A Laurel Lance positive fic can be tagged as prettybird, for instance.
- Tag what your story is about. Say if it’s a missing scene, or if it’s fluff or angst or smut. A lot of people decide to click the read more button purely based on that. Tag the episode it’s set in, if applicable. And if there’s a fic drive or challenge or meme going on, tag that too - i.e. Sara Lance appreciation week or the Road Trip Fic Drive. Often the people organising these will do a roundup, so if you tag it correctly, it can mean getting more attention.
- Tag people! :) I, for instance, am happy to read most Arrow fic, especially if it’s Olicity or Merlance or Nyssara. So if you write any of that, go ahead and tag me. But obviously that’s just me personally. See if there are certain people who consistently like or reblog your work. Tag them. I do previews of my fics that are typically 300-500 words long, and I tag anyone who likes or reblogs them. Maybe try that. And if your fic contains a certain pairing or character, then have a quick browse for blogs that promote that pairing or character. I’m thinking the fyeah blogs here, but also take a look at your mutuals and see if there are any diehard fans or certain pairings/characters there too. (Remember to tag people in the body of the post itself, not in the actual tags, because that way you can tag as many people as possible.)
- Write a good summary. Even if it’s just a line, or repeating a prompt, it’s important to sum up what’s going to happen in the fic.
- For the love of all things holy, pleeeeeease proofread your work. Even ask someone else to beta it for you if grammar isn’t your strength. You don’t want people to backclick simply because you haven’t punctuated your dialogue correctly. (And if you need help with dialogue punctuation, click here and I will walk you through it.)
- Make your blog easy to access and navigate around. Have a good and consistent tagging system (haha, that point is becoming redundant now, I bet :P) and also tag your own work with some kind of author tag so people know how to quickly find your fanfic. I tag all of my work as “minachandler” for that very reason.
- Write a masterlist of your fics and update it, reblogging it each time so your body of work is consolidated.
- Cross-post your work. Post on tumblr and AO3 and FFN - make your work readily available to people on different platforms because some prefer one over another.
- Reply to reviews and reblogs and comments. Remember that fanfic appreciation goes both ways. If someone’s taken the time even just to say “this is a great story”, take the time to respond to it. Not only is it nice for the reviewer to feel acknowledged, but it is also more likely for them to read something else you’ve written.
- Speaking of reviews, leave some of your own! Like I said, this is a two-way process. Send an ask to your favourite fanfic author or squee about a fic in a reblog or go on a commenting spree on AO3. Leave kudos and like things too, but try your best to vocalise your appreciation because that is most likely what you want for yourself. And if you build a rapport with other authors, they are more likely to read your work too.
- Lastly, please please please do not be afraid to self-pimp. Sometimes, the only way to receive attention is to ask for it. That is not a bad thing. This is a community where we share our stories and promoting your own is a way of building that community. So if someone you follow is complaining about the lack of pre season 1 Merlance fics and you’ve written two of them, then by all means, pimp away! :)
So I hope this helps someone! (It would be kind of funny and sadly ironic if this post doesn’t get any notes, lolol.) If you’re writing fanfic and you’re feeling underappreciated, don’t worry. Keep writing, and may you be showered in kudos, comments, likes and reblogs :)