Welcome to Writing 102. You should be 1/3 to 1/2 way done with your first draft at the time you read this. In Writing 102 we're going to cover the basic nitty-gritty that needs to take place NOW  in your process. We'll cover deciding how you will publish, tailoring your manuscript to market, and the most common issues that plague you while you write. Today we begin with finding a fanbase.



Today we learn the difference between self-promotion and attention whoring. Pay attention!



  
 

Whenever you publish a novel you can hope people will randomly stumble upon it, but you'll need a push. You can't rely on just your friends and family buying it (trust me, they're the least likely to read it anyway) so you need to begin a fanbase in such a manner as new fans can be added all the time.

Welcome to free writing. There are many sites for this, from the more upscale niche sites such as literotica.com to fanfiction and slashfiction sites, to the high-brow sites for general fiction and poetry. I'm not talking magazines, magazine stories are published stories and we're not worried about that yet.

Choose a site that posts stories close to what you write. Take some time to find out what the site is about, who is on it, how popular it is overall, and what sections are most popular. Start by googling "free online stories" or "free story sites." why free? Because free reaches the most people. Then browse to see what categories they have, and look at story view numbers to see what is the most popular (aka most likely category to get traffic). Look for sites that don't have dead links, that are updated regularly, and let you sort stories by vote score or number of views.



Here's a hint: if the site has 95% of its stories  putting pop culture characters into gay sex scenes, run screaming


  
 

The last step to finding a site to post your stories is to read a few. Read some of the top voted, read a few of the average-scored, and read one or two of the piss-poor-rated of you chosen category(/ies). Are they up to your standards? If not, move along. If yes, you found your site. If you're on the fence, go to Alexa web traffic analyzer to see if it's worth it. Heavy, constant traffic means more site views and could be the deciding factor. Having your book sold at a bookstore is great, but Walmart is better. sure, Walmart sucks ass but it has insanely high foot traffic which means more views of your book, which means more purchases. Same principle here, more views are better.

Now that you know where to go, what do you do? Well first off, before you post anything, read stories, write feedback, look to see if there is a forum. Talk with other authors on there and readers, get known. Learn what forum threads on the site you can use to promote your story for site viewers. 

Once you have established a community presence with other authors on the site, it's time to favorite/comment on stories you do like. It forms basic partnerships. Favorite someone and they will always look over your profile to see what stories you have, and usually favorite you back if you have any.

Now is the tricky part. What do you post? I tell you now, if this novel you're working on is the first thing you ever wrote STOP. Put it aside and return in six months. Why? You need a body of work to really learn your strong and weak points, and to discover your voice and style. Without several aborted novels and tons of short stories, you can't. Real writers rely on these failures to help springboard them to success.


 
Be glad that as a writer your failures will be so much simpler and less visible


  
 

You can use a fully-written short story to post on the free site, or you can take the old abandoned ones and finish them. Simply take the lessons you learned in Writing 101 and use them to reformat and rewrite those abandoned projects. Pick one that has a strong start that grabs you as a reader, then flesh it out to the end. If you have no old stories put your book aside and write out 5-6 short stories under 40,000 words to post once you resume writing your novel.

No matter if you use a a finished old story or write a new one there are some basic rules to adhere to when writing on free sites:

-Keep in line: if 90% of the stories on a site are 10,000-20,000 words, do not post your old novel of 100,000 words there. Blend in, and do as the other guys do.

-Follow the rules: erotica sites have non-erotic categories which are low-view, but you can put non-erotica in them. Some free general fiction sites have an erotica category, but do not allow explicit sex. Know the rules of content and what you can and can't post, and pay attention to view counts.

-Know copyright laws: In short, my friends, copyright in almost all countries works this way: once you write it, it's yours. All this means is that when your work is stolen, and it will get stolen if it's good, it's your problem to fix it. So put in the the copyright date and your name in the story, or post only first-drafts with errors, or put in a different opening sentence than you desire. You may legitimately publish this one day through a publisher and at that time it's their problem to go after thieves. On free sites it's your issue so make it identifiable enough you can prove it's you work that has been stolen.

-Pace yourself: Even if you have a fully written short story to post if it's longer such as 35,000 words, break it up into 3 or 4 pieces and post new ones every 7-10 days. You want as much exposure as possible so keep your name on the "new stories list" by spreading installments out. Never post more than one story at a time. I've made that mistake and it doesn't work (you end up paying more attention to one story and fans of the other get pissed off).

-Calm Down & Be Patient: A lot of story sites have a "top stories" category for highly rated stories. If yours appear this will happen: you'll get a perfect 10/10 series of ratings, or 8/10 or 9/10 and then however is third of fourth on the list gets pissed and starts rating that story 1/10. After an initial high vote it will dip. Hang in there, the more real people read it the better the rating will get.

-Don't Be Petty: Sometimes you can figure out who is downvoting, or leaving nasty anonymous comments. Good sites allow you to delete comments and just delete the nasty, personal ones and ignore the poster. I personally know the guy who posts most  of the shit B.S. on my literotica stories. I resist the urge to post his personal name, number, and address and just delete his comments. Of course creative revenge is better. I've fucked his girlfriend while they were dating which makes me feel a lot better. A LOT BETTER. Don't judge: if you wanna write, you gotta live.

-Limit the Author's Notes: Good notes to have are on the story. If it's erotica, a good note may inform what kind of sex there is. If it's sci-fi/fantasy a good note may inform what style, i.e. cyberpunk vs alternate history. Anything more gets to be annoying to readers.

-Never Bash Another Author: If another author steals your work on the site inform the site owners. Put an above-board comment on it such as "this posting is a copy & paste of my story published on this date _________ at this link http://www.__________" Resist the urge to disparage the author or their antecedents. You want readers to remember your fiction, not your temper tantrums. 

-Resist the Upvote Flood Urge: There are a million ways to upvote your story: use proxy sites, have all your friends do it, register multiple accounts. If you do this you will get caught and either banned, have the story removed, or have any and all perfect votes removed. It's not worth it, and you're cheating the readers out of an honest assessment.

-Respond to Your Fanmail: you will get fanmail. Take the time to respond to it, unless it's spam. You never know what friendships you can forge or insight you can gain. Writers need to network and as we're mostly crabby introverts you need to cultivate all the email friendships you can.



This is pretty much how those trolls/flamers look      Credit


  
 
 

Those are the rules to follow, let's explore why you should choose this as your basic intro to marketing. There are many good reasons. One, you can't promote a book that does not exist. Many idiots try, many idiots fail. You can only promote real work. Also part of why you love a particular author is their plots, but mainly their style of writing. This is the free hit from the crack den of your mind, the preview that will hook people.

The main reason is anonymous feedback. When people are anonymous, or just some stupid anime avatar and made-up name on the Internet, they tend to be more honest. YOU NEED THIS. First, as a writer you have to kill off part of your ego. You will be criticized endlessly in your career and you need to get those temper tantrum out of your system now. Second, you also need to learn how to discern constructive criticism. Most helpful negative criticism will say "the author should have ________" and that's the stuff you should pay attention to. Even the poorly worded criticisms may develop a common theme, so pay attention.

For example if most of your criticism says your protagonists are weak, work on them. If it says your plots are too trite, work on conflict. If it says your sentence structure sucks, go back to your grammar guides and memorize them. Now is the time to do this to discover your Achilles heel in writing. Do this before you finish your novel, limiting the amount of content editing keeps the process fast.

No matter how you decide to publish this will get your name out there. You'll begin to build a profile and once you are published you can link to your for-sale work on your free-work profile. You'll have a dedicated fanbase that actually wants to read your work. You'll have a sounding board to test put new ideas. This works, so do it! Plus, the feeling you get when you get your first fanmail...there is no greater high for an author. To this day if I get a fanmail letter comparing me to one of my literary heroes I scream like a teenager and dance around for hours. 



Just remember this is the upper limit of crazy,never get so excited you try to kill Oprah


  
 

There will be other marketing for you, but it can't come until just before your published, and most often after. For now keep up the free posting and establish your presence.

Next lesson we look at choosing how to publish. That will determine future marketing strategies and also how you write, how you pace, and how you organize. For now keep writing, write free stories, write your manuscript, just don't stop writing!