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Old August 16th, 2013 (2:02 PM). Edited August 30th, 2013 by Nolafus.
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Nolafus Nolafus is offline
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    The best and worst ways to advertise your fic!
    We’ve all been there. Our fiction is lost in the sea of threads and we want to make our story stand out from the rest. We want to be noticed, adored, and praised for all our wonderful writing techniques, but as we see our story sink down the front page overlooked by all the other fics. We begin to worry no one will know whatever our wonderful story is about. One thing that might generate more views, and in turn, more feedback, is advertising. Before you go crazy with the advertising, there are a few things that you should know first.

    Arguably the more important side of advertising, there are some things you should avoid doing at all costs. Even if you think you can pull it off this one time, all you will be doing is turning people off from reading for fic. I repeat again (just for clarity) DON'T DO ANYTHING ON THIS LIST! This portion of the list was written by my friend, An-chan, on “The BBS Magazine” forum. Top 5 Worst Ways to Advertise Your Fanfic

    In some ways, the life of a fanfiction author is easy these days. The internet makes it quite easy to share your creations, and it's just as easy for others to respond to your stuff with their feedback. Many sites even let us know the page view count, so we know just how many people were interested enough to click on the story's title. Sharing is, in a nutshell, very easy.

    The downside of this, of course, is that there are a lot of fanfics out there. Some of them are very polished, some of them not all that much so. Some of them are incredibly popular, some are practically void of all attention. Every writer wants to get at least some attention, and it can be quite difficult to distinguish yourself from the mass. So, you do what real world authors have to do to get attention. You have to advertise.

    There's many ways to go about advertising your creations - this applies to fanfics as well as art, let's plays, fan music, AMV's, what have you. Some of them are good and effective. Some of them aren't.

    Here are a few that pop up every now and then, but that should never be used by anyone.

    #5 Massive banner in your signature

    To get one thing straight right off the bat, your signature is the best place to advertise anything of yours. It follows you wherever you post, letting people find your stuff more easily. It is, essentially, the perfect space for a stylish banner advertising your main fic, or main fics, if you have several.

    However - and this is a big however - moderation is always necessary when it comes to signatures. You might think that a bigger banner will grab people's attention better. In a way, this is true, but large banners are likely to start attracting the wrong kind of attention. If your banner is massive, it can be a little obnoxious, especially if you post a lot and people keep having to scroll over the 300x500px banner of a drawing of your main character. This effect becomes twice as bad if the banner is animated in some way. For instance, if it flashes, or sparkles, or has some kind of choppy animation on it, it's going to start really rubbing people the wrong way. Yeah, it captures their attention. It also usually annoys them for that specific purpose.

    And then you have the ultimate advertising trope, used by copious amounts of companies all over the world: bright colors. People are more likely to look at something if it's bright red or yellow, because it will catch their eye. This may work for sale fliers and traffic signs, but in a signature it has "annoying" written all over it. See this brightly colored, massive banner a couple of times in a row in a thread, and you already want nothing to do with the person whose signature that is.

    #4 Mentioning your fic in every review you write

    You may have heard that being active is a good way to get attention. It will give visibility to your elegantly constructed signature, authority to your name, and in general just make you more well-known and well-respected. This is especially so if you review others' work, because good reviews will make people think you are helpful and nice and will probably make them more likely to return the favor.

    But then there is the question of how to point them to your work, especially if you have several fics in circulation and want feedback on a specific one. You could come up with the idea to mention your fic in the review, just to sort of gently nudge the other writer in its direction.
    Yeah, don't do that. It never works like you'd want it to. Or, well, how would you like to receive a review along the lines of "I think you should reconsider how you handled issue X. You can check my fic, The Ponyta Chronicles, to see how I dealt with it" or "wow, I really like your main character! She reminds me a lot of my main character, Charly, from my fic The Ponyta Chronicles. You should check it out" or "I usually write fights like this but it's interesting to see it done another way, you should check out my fic to see what I'm talking about". It's unrelated, and it doesn't make you want to read the fic mentioned. It makes you want to roll your eyes and move on to the reviews written by actual readers - the people who read your story for your story, not to compare it to theirs.

    In general, it comes off as sort of pretentious. You have to be a really famous and respected author to pull it off, and if you are a really famous and respected author, it's likely you're not going to try to pull this except in some very special cases.

    #3 Thinly veiled advertisement threads

    So, if hidden advertisements in your reviews are out of the question, how about posting new threads? You could ask everyone how they deal with some kind of issue in their writing, and introduce your own solution as you ask. Perfect. This way, no-one will be put off, right? And right you are, people seem to be a bit more interested in your writing now. Your views have gone up, but there's no new reviews yet. Time to turn the thread-posting to eleven, right?

    Wrong! This sort of thing might work once or twice, but after that it's just going to start pissing people off. Especially if you abandon each thread after making it, or always respond with examples of your own work, no matter what anyone else posts. No-one is going to think it's a genuine conversation thread after that. They are going to know it's self-promotion, and after a while, it's going to start to annoy people.

    They will be put off by you and your fic. They will want nothing to do with your character Charly or her three-legged Ponyta with a tragic past of abuse and woe. People who might have been interested in the story are now completely uninterested in even trying it. So, effectively, you have done the opposite of advertising.

    And that's never a good way to get reviews.

    #2 Messages to random people

    It's been a week since you posted your first chapter. Your thread is getting buried under other threads, pushed down from the first page and then even the second page. You can't double post, and all your other methods of advertising have been fruitless. There's hardly any reviews. And you're desperate.

    So you go pick out the people who give the best reviews, or the most of them, and you start sending them messages. "Hey, have you read my fic, The Ponyta Chronicles? You should read it and let me know what you think ok? The link is my sig " After all, these are nice, respectable people. They're probably going to fulfill your wish and read the fic as you have asked. Right?

    Well. They might read it. Some people are generally benevolent like that. But keep in mind, these people don't you know very well, if at all. You're not likely to endear yourself to them by sending them requests out of the blue, especially if you've never reviewed their work. They're going to get the PM or VM or whatever your preferred method of communication is, look at it for a moment, and be some level of annoyed. I mean, how would you react if a perfect stranger walked up to you and asked you to spend hours of your time to do them a favor without offering anything in return? You'd be weirded out. And you'd probably say no.

    #1 Breaking the rules

    So, you had a giant banner. It didn't work. Why not make it even bigger? Sure, there might be rules about banner size or the amount of banners you're allowed to have in your signature, but screw that. You need attention. So, you make a banner twice the size your old one. You make two banners twice the size your old one. You add in sound that can't be turned off. You add in five animated arrow-gifs to point at the banners. Now, someone has to notice it. Right?

    Your self-promotion reviews didn't work, either. Why not chuck out the pretense and just post everywhere promoting your fic? It doesn't matter what the thread is about. It doesn't matter if your post fits in at all. You need those pageviews, so you can just post links to your fic anywhere. Someone is bound to click on those. Right?

    Your meager and respectful messages to other writers didn't get you the attention you wanted. Screw being polite. Why not just send as many messages to as many people as you can? That way, there's got to be someone who's interested. And if they're not interested the first time, try again. And again. And again. Eventually they'll click on your link. Right?

    Or maybe you could go post on other boards with your link? That'll get you a bigger audience. Posting the actual fic there would take too long, and then you'd just have lots of untouched threads. It makes more sense to just post links. Lots of them. Lots and lots of links. Links everywhere-

    Congratulations, you've officially lapsed into the realm of breaking rules to get attention. It will probably be no surprise when the attention you inevitably gather this way is way, way negative. You'll be banned from sites. You'll get warnings and infractions. You'll make enemies instead of friends, and you'll officially become known as that one person who exploded all over the forum or even the whole fandom with their drama. You'll be famous, alright, so in that sense, your advertisement has worked. But I doubt it'll make anyone read your fic, much less comment on it.

    After all, you don't post in fics when the author will no longer respond. Like, for instance, if they've been banned.

    At this point, some of you may be going "okay, I see your point. These are bad ideas. But what is a good way to get attention, then?" The answer to that, of course, is that there is no easy way to get attention. No-one is entitled to pageviews or reviews or loyal readers. Advertising, of course, helps, but ultimately you have to actually go out and earn every single review you get, and every single reader that will start to follow your works because they like what you're doing. It's just like in the real world of publishing.

    An-chan summed that up pretty nicely, but since it was an article about the worst ways, I’ll take the liberty to elaborate more on the best ways to advertise your fic. There are several different things you can do to make sure you get as many views as possible.

    Signature Advertising
    Just like what An-chan said, moderation is key. A small picture or quote leading off to your main fic(s) is perfect for hooking the occasional viewer who is looking for a story or two to pass the time. It’s also a good way to let friends know what else you do around the forum. You don't need a huge, brightly colored picture, or a quote using size seventy-two font. If people are interested, they will click on it. You can’t force people to read it, just make sure there’s something there when they do want to read something.

    Being Active
    This is the biggest help for you, other writers, and the section in general. If you’re active, you’ll make other writers happy, get better at writing yourself, carry more authority with your name, and get more reviews. It’s all a big chain that starts with being active.

    One good thing to do is review others’ work. Even if it’s just a few grammatical errors you find, it’s good enough for a review. If you’re still having trouble, think about what you liked about the story, what you didn’t like, and how you would change that. Even if it’s something small, writers just want to know that people are reading and actually care enough about the story to comment. You’ll also find that picking out the mistakes other people make and smoothing out the wrinkles in a story makes you better as a writer. You’ll learn from other people’s mistakes and learn what makes a story interesting and fun to read. Just make sure you’re nice about it.

    The more reviews you make the more authority your name will carry. People will listen to you more, and a few will read your fics looking for ways to improve. If you’re worried about other people looking at your fics in order to learn, it’s a good thing you spent all that time reviewing other people’s fics learning from their mistakes.

    Skill and Luck
    It will help to have somewhat of an idea of what you’re doing while writing stories to make them a worthwhile read. It takes years to become a master of storytelling and even that might not be enough. Even if you write the most heart-wrenching, beautiful story of how a three-legged Ponyta, with a history of abuse, overcame all the odds and became the savior of the world, you’re going to need a bit of luck in order for your story take off.

    So now that you know what will attract your readers the best, I hope we can organize the mess of fiction advertising a little bit better. I left out the conclusion of An-chan’s article for the sake of elaborating on the good things to do, but I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the article that I feel wraps up all of the ideas very nicely.

    “But, above all, it needs to be fun for everyone involved. You should have fun creating, and your readers - or the people who look at your art or let's play or what have you - should have fun reading. If you guilt, harass, or bully others into looking at your stuff, they won't have fun with it. They'll be annoyed. And then you've already failed.”
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    Relevant Advertising!

    Old August 16th, 2013 (5:23 PM).
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    Put adding "What do you think of this?" polls on there too.

    A lot of the time if I see a new fanfiction that's marked as a poll thread I know that it's someone review fishing.
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    Old August 17th, 2013 (8:34 PM).
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      My personal experience indicates that a quote from your fic in your forum signature works fairly well. It leads people to *ask* you questions when you talk about something related to what they need, and the resulting conversation is key in building up a "name".

      And speaking of that, if you want to advertise yourself in a good way I'd follow the proverbial advice: don't sell yourself, sell solutions to problems. Your fic is a solution to a problem- that of people looking for something to read. Even more, your work on it is also the solution to a problem a reader, or a writer, might have. Is your work strong on character development? Well, show it in the meta- review with a focus on character development, give advice on character rolls, comment on other people's character-building guides, etc. Get known not as Reviewer #183756485 (yes, reviewers are few, but they're still a mass) but as "That Guy With the Characters". Connection to your fic will follow suit.

      (Disclaimer: that's what I did, it worked for me™; your mileage may vary)
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      Old August 17th, 2013 (8:53 PM). Edited August 17th, 2013 by Trev.
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        Lemme just say that getting reviews on your story is incredibly hard in FF&W because it's basically the ugly stepsister of the Creative Discussions section, and it's hard to get a lot of activity in here to get reviews in the first place. It hurts even worse if you aren't writing a Pokemon fanfic. Let's face it, most people here aren't interested in original stories unless they're coming straight from hand of John Green or Cutlerine.

        I can confirm that number #4 is the worse. I see stuff like that one on other people's fics and I'm just like, "Oh my god, please shut up."

        On #2, there's a small error. You said that you can't double-post, but author's are allowed to double post as long as they have a chapter I dunno if that's what you meant or not, just pointing it out.

        Anyway, I hate to say this, but actually having a decent signature and avatar helps significantly. Usually if I see a story written by someone without an avatar/sig, I don't take the story seriously. It just doesn't look right if you have a story without an avatar/sig.

        Adding on that, #5 is incredibly accurate in that pictures help. Just having text links is just really... ugh, I can't even explain it. It just doesn't look good. A nice, moderated picture makes your story much more appealing. I usually am not interested in stories if there isn't some kind of visual representation. If you can't make a banner for you, cooperate with someone who likes to make banners and see if they'll help you.

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        Old August 17th, 2013 (9:39 PM).
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        Nolafus Nolafus is offline
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          Phantom, I don't think that's completely necessary as this is just about advertising, not reviews.

          Solovino, I edited it to include a small note on quotes under the signature advertising section.

          PJBottomz, My friend An-chan wrote the worst ways section and I think she meant double posting without having a chapter to introduce. I guess it's a little weird writing something that states having pictures is really helpful, then having a text link in my signature. It's just the fact that it's an original story so I don't exactly know what to do for a picture//banner. XD
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          Old August 22nd, 2013 (1:57 AM). Edited August 22nd, 2013 by Ray Maverick.
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          Originally Posted by PhantomX0990 View Post
          Put adding "What do you think of this?" polls on there too.

          A lot of the time if I see a new fanfiction that's marked as a poll thread I know that it's someone review fishing.
          I don't get your logic. How does adding a poll to your fic count as shameless advertising? I myself added a poll to my own fic, thinking that whoever didn't review would at least vote. Surely, something as trivial doesn't even count as advertising.

          Some of the five things Slayr231 mentioned in the first post are true, but I don't think anyone in this forum has gone as far as to frantically advertise their fics like in number 5, breaking the rules; at least not that I know of. I'm certain it has happened in other forums, but not in this one.

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          Old August 22nd, 2013 (2:14 AM).
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            You would be correct Ray, The worst thing I have seen on this forum is the over-sized banner, but that was soon fixed. The most common is the PM to users asking them to review your fic. It's not an issue here, but I felt like it was a good idea to have a guide so that people would know what etiquette exists with advertising. It's not meant to solve the problem, but rather prevent it. I've seen just about every thing on An-chan's list minus the complete berserk flip-out, thankfully. On other forums who's rules aren't so strictly enforced.
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