Self Promotion 101: Pimp Your Fic, Part I
My parents raised two computer engineers, an apparel designer, a horticulturist, and me. And what did I, the English major, end up doing when I grew up? Mostly sales and marketing, but I’ve always dreamed of being a published fiction writer. Twenty-five years ago I read a book that said if you write your dreams down, they will come true. So, I did. And I waited. Then I waited some more. Nothing happened. Then, about a year ago, we got a Netflix account and before I knew it, I got sucked into the Fox drama ‘Bones’ universe.
When the current season ended, I had the same reaction that has compelled many viewers and readers, serial game-players and Manga connoisseurs, to begin writing fanfiction. It went something like this: “What?! Are you kidding me?! I can’t believe it! Nooooooooooooo!” Followed by lots of ugly crying.
For days I walked around in panicked circles. “It can’t end like this!” I cried to anyone who would listen. “These two characters are in love and they deserve to be together. We, the viewing public, want to see them get together! The show needs more of this and less of that and perhaps this other character should be resurrected from the dead and the other guy who’s in jail for manslaughter— well that should turn out to be a really bad hallucination from some tainted sushi!”
You know how it goes; you’ve been there. Your experience may have been different, but your passion, your soul’s absorption of the make-believe universe, at some point, compelled you to find a way to become part of that make-believe universe. That’s when you learned about … FanFiction!
So, you read. And read some more. Or, maybe you never read, you just wrote. You wrote in a frenzy of imagined conversations and furtive glances, blistering conflicts and feats of unimaginable valor. And maybe you even wrote about sex. All kinds of phenomenal, acrobatic, multi-orgasmic, love-crazed, phantasmagorical sex. Whew!
So, here you are. You wrote it, or like me, are still writing it. And you want more people to read it. Because, well, you think it’s pretty dang good and so do both of your reviewers, right? So, how do you get more readers to your story? You could yell, but on the internet, nobody can hear you scream … unless you make a video, and, well, good luck with getting people to click on that hyperlink. People don’t like to be yelled at.
So, how do you do it? How do you draw the masses to your brainchild? Well, you put on your nattiest full-length purple overcoat and every single scrap of jewelry you own, you gas-up your bouncy-trouncy ride, and you hit the road. That’s right, you go pimping. You pimp that puppy like she were of alabaster skin, raven hair, legs that go all the way up, hips that just won’t quit, and a bountiful bust-line that could satisfy an army.
Some people prefer to call it gratuitous self-promotion, but lets face it people, if you wanna get heard, or in this case, read, you gotta go pimp your fic. If you’re not comfortable with that moniker, then call it ‘getting the word out about that fabulous story you wrote about a universe and cast of characters that you’ve come to love like your own children or future children.’
Well, I am no pimp-master and there’s more than one way to get the word out, but I do okay. I’ll tell you what ‘I’ do in the first five of ten easy steps for the neophyte, wannabe fic pimp. You’ll have to tune back in next time for tips #6-10!
Tip # 1. Dedicate Accounts Exclusively to Your Fanfic Writing. Maybe you already have accounts under your own name on facebook, twitter, tumblr, a blog, and the like. Create accounts dedicated almost exclusively to your fanfic writing. Be your writing persona on these accounts and let that writer’s freak flag fly, baby! If that means blocking some of your friends and family members, co-workers and your pastor, so you can hang loose, do it! Out of the twenty-five adults in my family, only two are not blocked from my MoxieGirl44 twitter account. One of those is my husband. I have a separate account that I communicate with my family on. MoxieGirl44 is for me and my readers.
Tip # 2. Put Your Profile to Work. Your personal profile on your fic site serves one purpose: to introduce yourself to your prospects and make them want to read your fic. Your profile is a sample of your writing… so treat it that way. Be succinct and direct, friendly and honest. My profile immediately tells the reader that, a) I am in love with the Bones characters and storyline, and that’s what compelled me to write, b) this is my first attempt at fanfic and intended to be of rough draft quality, c) my dream has always been to be a published fiction writer, d) these are my titles and what they are about, and e) I hope they enjoy reading them.
Also, if there is something distinctive about your fics that sets them apart, make sure to mention that. This allows the reader to either self-select or self-eliminate from the get-go. Believe me, this is a good thing. If they are not going to enjoy your writing, you don’t want them reading it and leaving a negative review … simply because what you write is not to their taste. For example, I mention that my fics are PG-13. This makes a difference for some readers.
One last thing: choose a profile pic you really like and never change it. It doesn’t have to be of you, but it should be consistent. This is called ‘branding’. Use it in the profiles of all your social media. You want readers to immediately confirm that they have found you when they search for you on facebook, twitter, tumblr, fandom community sites, blogs, and anywhere else you will be talking about your love of the protagonists in your fandom. It helps to have the same name everywhere you go, if at all possible. On fanfiction.net and Bonesology, I’m MoxieGirl. Everywhere else, because that wasn’t available, I’m MoxieGirl44. But everywhere, I have the same headshot avatar (unless the site doesn’t allow it), so readers know they have found me.
Tip # 3. Create a Provocative Story Description. Be provocative, intriguing. ‘Ron has a crush on Hermione, but doesn’t want her to know. Harry plays quiddich and catches the golden snitch’, isn’t going to cut it. Try, ‘Harry and Ron fall into a dormant volcano that’s about to erupt for the first time in 1,000 years. Will Hermione get to them in time and what shocking secret will she learn if she does? Who finds out about their misadventure and goes to extraordinary lengths to nearly get the trio expelled from Hogwarts for life, dying in the attempt?’
Read the story descriptions of other writers and notice which ones make you want to read the story! Then write a description like they did.
Tip # 4. Direct Your Contacts To Your Fic. A hyperlink to your writing profile or your fic should appear on everything you put out for the (appropriate) masses to see. Make the website address for your writing profile, or your best fic, a permanent part of your email signature, your Twitter profile, your facebook homepage, your fanfic blog, any fandom sites, and on any online articles are media where you make a comment.
Tip # 5. Broadcast Your Updates. Whenever you make a change or post a new chapter, let everyone know! Tweet about it, making sure to include a trackable hyperlink and, just as importantly, a hashtag actively followed by members of your fandom. What’s that? For Bones, it’s #Bones or a variant of those. You can find out what hashtags are used by your fandom by doing a quick search in Twitter using the ‘# Discover’ function on your twitter homepage on the twitter website.
Tune in next time for the next 5 tips:
Tip # 6. Tease, Tease, Tease
Tip # 7. Track Your Following
Tip # 8 Return the Favor
Tip # 9. Above All, Be a Gracious Recipient
Tip # 10. Become a Pundit
See you next time! Keep writin’ fanfic!
MoxieGirl on FF.net
MoxieGirl44 on Twitter