Engaging readers off-site

5 years ago | D. D. Webb (Member)

The last two days I've been getting a slew of hits from the forums on Spacebattles.com, where someone plugged my serial in a general recommendations thread and then there ensued a discussion of it.

Now, it seems I recall Wildbow (a person whose webserial practices it is obviously wise to emulate) mentioning going over there under similar circumstances to do a little promotion. I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts on this. For my part, I've never been a member of that community and I can't help feeling it's a tad churlish to just bust through the wall like the Kool-Aid guy to talk about my stuff. On the other hand, if it's already being talked about, what better time to offer some input? On the freakish third hand, I'm not exactly certain what input to offer--whether anything I say would be useful or appropriate at this point.

So basically I'm opening the subject to opinions. What do you all think about this?

The Gods are Bastards Cowboys! Demons! Elves!

Read responses...

Page: 12


  1. J.E.Hixon (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    I would really like to hear from other people who have experience in this. there seems to be a really fine line between promoting and getting in trouble for spaming.

    Author of The Unseen War

    Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the story.
  2. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 5 years ago

    In a number of those cases, they were mentioning my serial too, and often talk would turn to, "Hey, are superhero serials a thing, now?" I'd stop in at that point to make suggestions as to other serials they might want to read.

    Additionally, Wildbow would often step in to answer questions about his serial that people had raised or dispel misinformation.

  3. ClearMadness (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    @J.E.Hixon: Most forums have sections dedicated to self promotion or sharing your work you can use.

    @ D. D. Webb: I'm curious, what's a slew? How many hits have you been getting approximately?

    Author of The Iron Teeth, a online dark fantasy story.
  4. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    I think it'd be okay to just introduce yourself casually and just offer to answer questions. Maybe put a link to your work in your signature (if the site allows, if not, in your intro post). Don't be pushy about promoting yourself, just sort of "make yourself available" as it were.

  5. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    I think it's totally okay to join in into reader discussions on the spacebattles forums (or any public forum, really.) It's not self-promotion if people are already discussing your story without your involvement.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  6. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    I participated on some threads over on Space Velocity/Sufficient Battles, starting a discussion thread after some readers suggested I do so. I joke about the names because the two forums essentially have identical focuses, communities, leadership and style. I dropped some word of god and clarifications now and again, stuff that helped foster discussion and encouraged people in the fandom.

    I will say that I eventually had to back off from that particular fandom. Just had a meet with some fans yesterday in Ottawa and Space Velocity came up in discussion, and others echoed my point of view - it's a very critical and somewhat entitled fanbase. They're quick to turn to criticism and rip stories apart, but they do it in a very nonconstructive way. People are actively encouraged to review things in a toxic/asshole sort of way. I got ripped into by some people there for answering questions from fans (because it invalidated their fanfiction), and personal attacks against me were common-ish during my stay there (often relegated to PM). I remember a couple of times where I'd get PMs saying, "I want to give you some criticism, is that ok?" and when I said no, that when people had to ask it was invariably the unhelpful sort of criticism, they just went, "Well, I'm going to give you the criticism anyway..." (and it was bad)

    Toward the end of my visits there, a review of the opening of Twig popped up, overly heavy on the personal attacks against me and making assumptions about who I was and what I was doing; again, very much the asshole/toxic/over the top approach to criticism of a work, sometimes in an attempt to be funny, though I don't think that one was. I commented that that stuff in a review made the review suffer insofar as it wasn't balanced enough for me to find the legitimate criticism amid the attacks, and the forum moderators jumped in to back the guy and double down on the assumptions & add a few personal attacks of their own. The person who wrote the review ended up reaching out to me and saying that yeah, they were wrong, the review was overly harsh & lost something in that harshness, but the damage was done, the thread became a shitstorm after that, if you'll excuse my French, and I lost a lot of respect for a lot of members of that community/for that community as a whole as I watched it happen.

    I sort of gave up on the community then, after I realized how frustrated and unhappy the general atmosphere was making me. Not something I enjoy doing, steering clear of an area where I know some of my fans are.

    I say this only so that you know to take anything valuable away from that community that you can... but if you see things trending that way, don't wait as long as I did to walk away.

  7. D. D. Webb (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    @ ClearMadness So far I've had about forty hits from that page of the thread. It's not the first time TGaB was plugged in their general recommendation thread, but it got a lot more attention this time, I think because a couple of readers stepped in to actually discuss it, answer questions and defend against some of the hostility Wildbow mentioned.

    And thanks, Wildbow, for that heads up. I'll probably pass on introducing myself over there, as I have very low patience for that kind of behavior. And honestly, while my exposure to that community is quite limited, I'm willing to believe it. The previous time TGaB was mentioned in the general rec thread there, someone chimed in with a wildly irrational and frankly rather disturbing criticism that made me take a step back.

    This sort of touches on one of my biggest fears when it comes to promotion. The webserial community is remarkably civil and friendly as online cultures go. To really grow readership, though, it becomes necessary to reach out beyond this cloistered little corner of the internet... And while I do want to grow my readership, I'm anxious about opening it up to the general toxicity that seems to lurk everywhere else.

    The Gods are Bastards Cowboys! Demons! Elves!
  8. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    I'm glad in a way that my advice to be wary wasn't ill-founded and that your experiences fit in with mine. As I wrote my post, I was sorta wondering if I should say the backlash I saw was due to people getting upset over just how prevalent Worm was on Spacebattles for a while. Oversaturation leading to issues, you know?

    But if you ran into that weird overcritical hostility right off, then yeah, it's probably not just me & my specific situation.

  9. ClearMadness (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    I never been able to penetrate those two forums and get any readers from there, and now maybe I should be thankful of that. Fourty or so readers doesn't seem like that many anyway. Thanks for the info.

    Author of The Iron Teeth, a online dark fantasy story.
  10. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    I got some readers from a discussion on there a while back. Nothing recent, though.

    If my story was so prevalent that people were being strangely overcritical of it, I'd go celebrate. :D If random internet people hate your work, you've arrived. Look at all the hate J.K. Rowling and E.L. James are getting, and how much money they're making...

    Just ignore the haters. That's what literally all the successful people out there are doing.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  11. D. D. Webb (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    E.L. James gets hate for producing poorly-written porn that glorifies domestic abuse. Who the heck hates J.K. Rowling?

    The Gods are Bastards Cowboys! Demons! Elves!
  12. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Yeah, but after hearing what my fans said at the Ottawa meetup and after what D.D. Webb said, I'm more inclined to just think they're weirdly overcritical in general.

  13. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    You'd be surprised how many people hate Harry Potter just because the series was / is popular and prevalent everywhere.

    p.s. Fan meet in Switzerland? Ottawa is so far away. :(

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  14. Dary (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    One of my uni lecturers absolutely despised Rowling/HP and would go off on rants about them (and speculative fiction in general) whenever the opportunity presented itself. It's not an unusual opinion in those sorts of circles, really.

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