A WAY WITH
READERSHIP ON YOUR TERMS
By Steven Savage
Archives available at The Way With Worlds Home Page
Last week I semi-ranted on why pandering was bad for your continuity. It got a reaction from many readers, mostly positive. So, much like Webbing Your World 4, I decided to add one more section to this column before we return to writing about your continuity.
Namely, how to get readership for your original continuity or your variant continuity.
Yes, if you write in a big, existing, popular continuity, you will get readers. Let's be honest - when there's an established fan base, they'll pay attention to themes they like, and you can't blame people for that. Folks are going to read what they like, and you need to accept that.
First of all, keep focus on the importance of being a writer: producing a good storyline that expresses your ideas, and connecting with people. Argue all you want about the artistic ego, but in a way writing goes beyond ego. If you focus on your ego, you may miss those creative and connective moments. (Yeah, it sounds kind of mystical, but I'm that kind of guy).
So, you want readers. You want to connect. Let's take a look how.
Well, yeah, that's kind of obvious. Find sites that host stories.
However, I will bet you haven't looked deep enough on the net to find all the archives your work can go at. There are an amazing amount of sites, some big, some small, that will archive fiction. Surf around, ask around, look around. I am constantly finding new sites, even big ones, I never knew existed.
However, keep in mind copyright issues and control, depending on your future plans. Some sites may want certain rights, so read Terms of Service carefully.
GET A WEBSITE:
It seems kind of obvious, but a website is a good home base for your fiction. Also, with proper metatags and using search engine registrations, your site has a chance of being found by people. If your goal is to be published on the internet, a website is sort of a necessity.
As I've mentioned before, make sure your site is accessible, readable, and fun. A site is a utility. Enough said.
There are arguments I have heard about the internet and copyright - and I've never heard any satisfactory conclusions about how internet publishing affects copyright. I myself am careful to post copyright information and copyright my stories at the copyright office. Others have told me the latter is not necessary, yet others say copyrights are meaningless on the internet. Its your call.
There are sites out there with their own specialized search engines and link lists - its what they do. I detailed a few in Webbing Your World, but there's always more I'm finding. This assumes you have a website as mentioned above.
Many of these sites vary, but most of them have as a goal or subgoal the purpose of providing connections to other sites. They vary in size again, but it is a way to get your site logged - and since many are searchable, people looking for specific sites will likely find yours if yours fits their taste.
Some of these links may want banner swaps, link exchanges, etc. See what they want first before you're required to place an unwanted banner prominently.
LINK AND BANNER
Myself, I've started trading links to my own original project, Xai, and other pages. Why? It's a case of "you scratch my back I'll scratch yours" and promoting people with a similar vision. Everyone wins.
Also, I like this method as you get to meet interesting people and discover fun stuff on the net. In short, you get to make new friends and read cool stuff. You may even pick up a reader or two as you make contact - and become a reader yourself.
In the case of banner exchanges, remember people have different ideas of how and where to display banners.
There are mailing lists to archive stories, send stories down, and get feedback. Search for them. You'd be surprised what's out there - check out http://www.onelist.com/, http://www.topica.com/, and others.
Lists vary in their purposes, so never assume that one list functions like another. You don't want to use a beta readers list for promotion nor an archival/mailing list for an unfinished project.
Also, you may find some lists rather overwhelming in their output - be warned, and get ready to clear that mailbox.
When you have readers, learn how to retain them:
You can get readers for your original continuity or if your work is in a more obscure vein. It just takes time - but it's worth it if you're writing what you enjoy.
Well, I've talked about sites that have links, so here's two you may want to check out - even if they don't fit what you do, they're good examples of what to look for:
Anime Web Turnpike - If you've got an anime or anime related site/series, they have a place to register - and to search for like-minded sites.
Scifisource - I just found this friendly gem. Its a link database for Sci-fi links - including fiction, with a focus on quality sites. It's growing, and they even need editors to help them out, so it's a chance to get involved!