Furry Writers' Guild Forum

How do you gain more online readers?

I want to increase the number of watchers I have on FA/SF.

How do I do this?

The obvious answer is “Write more”, but that doesn’t seem to really work - any time I upload a new story, I might get 2 new watchers at most. The same holds true for publications - I get a few, typically from my novella, but I’m always trying to publish more so “Write more” is sort of redundant here too.

Are there any other suggestions?

I don’t really have any suggestions beyond the obvious. When I was posting regularly to FA, I would pick up a couple watchers with each new piece, and things didn’t really escalate beyond that until I started the Thursday Prompts. (And then once I stopped posting the prompts, I think a lot of people stopped paying attention.) Writing the Furry Writer’s Guide to FA probably helped, too. Given how many furry readers tend to be writers, anything you can do to help or appeal to writers will likely help gain you some readers.

What I would add to that, though, is to keep in mind that watchers don’t necessarily translate into anything else. I know I was expecting that a high number of watchers might mean at least a decent amount of sales for the stuff I was selling, and that just hasn’t happened. I have a precious (and beloved) handful of my watchers who really are interested in my work and are interested in buying things as well, but for the most part, the audience I’ve garnered on FA seems to just be interested in reading what I post for free. Which is absolutely fine, of course – readers are appreciated wherever they’re found, and certainly I wouldn’t be interested in buying commissions, say, from every artist I watch on FA – but I made the mistake of hoping for more. And I know there are furry writers who have far less activity and fewer watchers on FA, and yet seem to be pretty successful in terms of getting people to buy and read their stuff.

So I guess that’s my warning – the number of watchers you have can be a nice ego boost, but maybe not much else in practical terms. There are a lot of variables involved in being successful as a writer in this fandom (or anywhere, for that matter).

Furry, as I’ve noticed, tends to operate in niches. A lot of furry readers tend to want to read about a couple of specific things, and that’s it. If your work doesn’t happen to fall into that niche, then it becomes a bit harder to gain, not watchers, but active readers (going along the same lines to what Poetigress said).

Wish I could be more help.

Yeah, I’m going to go with the sentiment “Watchers don’t mean much beyond an ego boost.” Don’t focus on it. One you’ve seen a talented author who has posted 5 novel length stories in installments, posting an installment twice a week, and he has thirty watchers, you realize that watchers means nothing. Write for yourself, write well, market yourself aggressively and take advantage of all available media to get your work out there.

Parallel selling comes into play really well here. "Oh, you read _____ by ______? If you like that, then you’d love my book/story, ________. They have ___ and ____ similar aspects that you’d probably enjoy. .

Also, the way Kyell Gold tends to get a lot of attention is he hires really well-known artists in the fandom to illustrate/advertise his works, in addition to being a great writer. But I know I’m one of many who will say that I only read “Out of Position” because I saw Blotch’s cover art for it in their gallery. Stuff like that is a huge help.

Which is fine, if you have that kind of money to be able to hire the really well-known artists in the fandom, or if you have a publisher that can afford to pay for them. If you don’t, you’re SOL on that count.

But yeah, art does help, annoying as it may be that this is such a visually-oriented fandom. :confused:

Though there’s a problem with that. Because of the size limitations, publishers highly discourage new/non-extremely-prolific authors from getting their own cover artwork. In most publisher contracts, the cover artwork is not something the author is supposed to concern themselves with, and sometimes the author gets no say in it.
It works for Kyell because he’s so established. I think Sofawolf got the artwork for his first few novels. I think his husband is on the Sofawolf staff, if I remember correctly, so that sort of helps. Makes Kyell a really bad example.

What DOES help is if you’re someone like Rukis or Ursula Vernon who write and do all their own artwork.

Which brings back the sad point that a lot of furries don’t have the attention span for something that takes as long to look at as words. Art you can look at and be done appreciating in a few seconds.

True. But one can commission regular art depicting characters/scenes, or “cover art” for online stories, which would be more of a suggestion relating back to the OP.

What DOES help is if you're someone like Rukis or Ursula Vernon who write and do all their own artwork.

Or if you’re friends with artists who can do the work for you for free/low cost. Sadly, most of my friends and followers in the fandom seem to just be writers. :slight_smile:

Quality cover art makes a big difference outside the fandom, too.

From my experience, Sofawolf and FurPlanet do a great jog with the artwork for all their novels. If you look at their tables at any con, all the books look great.

Yes, of course. But again, in terms of helping to get more watchers online, I’m talking more about commissioning art of the characters and such – things that the author has control over, in other words – and not so much about publishers’ cover art. And again, it’s a nice thing and can pique people’s interest in your stories, if you have the cash for it.

Sofawolf’s I agree with. Furplanet, however, I have some issues with a few of the books (mostly about the fact that some of the covers are just way too smutty). Other furry publishers…they have some work to do.

Teehee. If I might add my two Zimbabwean dollars…

I have commissioned a number of pictures of my characters and it does not seem to have increased my readership one iota. Luckily, I commissioned them for my own gratification and not for publicity purposes. And even after having payed, I still find it very special to look at a picture and say, “That’s her!” It would have been nice to have had more readers, however.

Thing is I’ve tried this.

I’ve written journals about writing and editing.
I’ve written journals about realistic considerations of anthros in a world.
I’ve written journals on recommending stories - typically free, online stories.

These get no attention.

Hell, I even post asking what my current readers would like to see me write, and the only response I receive is “What’s wrong with what you write?”

Then I look at other authors who have 400, 900, 1000 watchers and I just don’t get it. I asked one author and he said his watchers didn’t shoot up until he started posting fursuit/leather stuff - so it’s unrelated to his writing, period.

And as Poetigress pointed out, I’m SOL in terms of money to commission artists.

One reason I want watchers is because I want to do a kickstarter next year for a collection of short stories - the KS is merely to generate money for the cover/interior art. Sure, watchers may not translate to anything else, but the more watchers the more people are likely to see the KS in the first place.

Maybe submissions instead of journals? I know a lot of people ignore FA journals, or at least nuke them more often than submissions. sigh But yeah, I hear you. I don’t get it either.

This matches my experience. I don’t have all that many watchers on FA, but I got most of them when I was doing SPACE HOUNDS! an online comic strip featuring photographs of my dogs wearing duct tape space suits. Some of my SPACE HOUNDS! fans were clearly into the plot and writing in the strip, but most of them seemed to just enjoy seeing pictures of cute dogs.

When it comes down to it, making money from fiction is really hard. It’s hard if you submit your fiction to traditional publishers, and it’s also hard if you try to go straight to the readers through Smashwords or FA. There are things you can do to increase the chances of readers finding your work and taking it seriously, but there’s no simple trick to increasing readership.

Something that seems to work well is the long-running serial with multiple characters and pairings and some juicy cliffhangers, especially if you can get readers involved by letting them vote on what happens, or saying ‘ten comments and I’ll post a bonus chapter’. Check out Gruffy’s ‘Hockey Hunk’ series on SoFurry for a good example.

I’ve tried to do that but I only managed to sustain my story for 9 chapters!

One thing I’ve definitely noticed, at least in regards to posting on FA, is that how you upload is just as important. Stories with a thumbnail garner a lot more views (and resultingly, more watchers) than those that have no thumbnail. Even if it’s a generic one, or one you use for everything you write, it still will set your stories apart from other ones on FA. On top of that, the file type is also important. Unfortunately, FA doesn’t display text unless you upload in .txt format.

I also highly recommend checking out Poettigress’s The Furry Writer’s Guide to FA, which she linked above. It’s extremely useful.

I can’t help but feel that I’ll start making people mad if I start putting non-Submission-type stuff in Submissions. Because I would get irritated with people using the Submission queue as a blog.

The only other suggestion I’ve been getting is “Keep writing and putting stuff out there”. I am writing - with intent to publish. Right now I’m working on a Short story collection. If I split my time to write free stuff just to post online, that’s cutting into the for-publication writing time. But the publication stories don’t seem to bring in any watchers either - because I greet each watcher I get and ask them how they found me.

“Get a twitter.” I have a dedicated author twitter. It has 30 followers - a fourth fewer than my FA. I retweet journals. It hasn’t helped.

It feels like no matter what I do it’s just Not Enough.