Finding your audience

3 years ago | Team Contract (Member)

This is perhaps the biggest challenge I'm having. Perhaps some of you have it as well. I've been doing a lot of research lately on what it takes to find your audience. My efforts are honing in on several key factors or step as proposed by a few different posts on the topic:-

1. Identify what your work might be similar to.
2. Find out what kinds of people like said work.
3. Find out where they hang out.
4. Target that community and engage with them through building a relationship.
5. Build your fan base one reader at a time through interaction and communication.

I'm still having trouble with step 1. It seems to be falling in a crack between comics and novels, yet not quite superhero to follow that trend either. I keep slugging at it, but still puzzling and frustrating.

How are you all making out? And for those who have achieve an audience, what advice can you give?

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Responses

  1. tkjarrah (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I think the biggest factor is time, more than anything else. It's come up previously that web serials require a lot of investment, and it's really hard to get people invested right from the beginning. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's hard. Beyond that, it really varies. Some people find self-promotion helps, as do review swaps. Personally, though, I do think it's just time. Unless you're mathtans, eventually your audience will find you.

    Silversmith, an urban fantasy mystery serial - https://silversmithserial.wordpress.com/
  2. mathtans (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    *snickers* Hey, wow, I've made a name for myself as an outlier. ;)

    But yeah, in my mind, finding your audience is the hardest thing. Part of MY problem is I've spent a bunch of time wandering down dead ends... for instance, who else would like a story about math? Maybe other math teachers? Nope - from what I can tell, they're not into fiction. I wasted time pitching myself there. In fact "fiction + math" is a pretty tiny wedge in terms of the already existing book publishing I've found (beyond elementary level stuff). I should probably simply bite the bullet and approach some prior authors. But for all my complaints, I haven't had the courage to do that, in large part because I know my art is lame and I'm worried the answer will be "I don't know who buys my books". I haven't even approached web authors like the guy who personifies "Scandinavia and World". Maybe that's something you could try though, approaching authors rather than their community.

    Bizarrely, time travel seems to be an even smaller niche (by comparison, at least one person liked my math on Wattpad). I've only found one other serialist doing it, and have had no pull from anyone on his group (I think it's his style they like, maybe). What I should probably do is publicize on this time travel FB group I've found -- except again, they seem to be into NON-fiction, and some of them seem a little... bizarre. All of this to say, keep kicking at it. I've been at this for over five years now, but lack the courage to follow through with anyone else already in the industry, so maybe that's a thing. More content probably helps too.

    Writing a Time Travel serial: http://mathtans.wordpress.com
    Writer of the personification of math serial: http://www.mathtans.ca
  3. unice5656 (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Hmm, I really don't understand what you mean by "falling in a crack between comics and novels". Could you describe in more detail what you're writing and what you view your target audience to be?

    The way I see it, there are two ways to find your readers. Start with a large, general readerbase and find the small percentage that wants to read what you're writing, or start with a small, focused readerbase where the vast majority will want to read your writing.

    If what you're writing doesn't have an established niche, I'd say the first route is the way to go. Start on a site that has a large readerbase (RRL, FictionPress, etc.), tag your story as appropriately as you can for your readers to find, and write a killer synopsis that hooks them in. Even if only 1% of the readers on that site end up liking your story, that's hundreds of readers.

    Chances are, you may not know where your target audience hangs out, but if you find a reader, he/she will know where your other readers hang out. Encourage people (hopefully in an amusing and not annoying way) to rate, review, and recommend your fiction to others.

  4. Team Contract (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @unice5656

    What I'm writing is basically a comic book in prose form, set out in novellas. This is the story format. Like Spiderman or Wonderwoman, it revolves around a central character with a circumstance/power and then action based stories which are each self contained episodes.

    I'm figuring (and I could be wrong here) that people who read those kinds of stories would enjoy what I write, however, I'm guessing people who read comics read for the art as well. So there is a bit of a disconnect there. What I don't know for sure is how many comic readers would read a comic in prose form.

    On the flip side, when looking at a number of the superhero prose serials, they are actually not in the same classic comic book format. They mostly seem to be YA/teen/highschool dramas with a twist. The twist in this case, being they have superpowers. But its the same story structure as say twilight. So in the end, two very different creatures.

    I'm trying out Royal Road and it seems to be the wrong kind of stories on there as well for my readership. Again a lot of first person highschool dramas with a twist, which seems to be extremely popular right now. I guess I got to keep looking for that reader base. I'll look into fiction press. Thanks.

  5. unice5656 (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Hahaha, RRL doesn't specialize in YA, but a lot of the stories are written by people in high school, so... yeah.

    What you'll find is that RRL readers are very familiar with Chinese/Korean/Japanese-style light novels, which I would describe as what prose is to manga. Westernize that, and it could be very close to what you're writing. Don't give up there!

    If you want to link any of your story listings on other sites, I can help you make it more attractive to potential readers. On a site with thousands of stories, you need a very hook-y synopsis to get interest. There are also word limits for your summary on places like FictionPress.

  6. Team Contract (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @Unice5656

    As yes, anime-prose! That's exactly what it is! In some ways, my stuff follows that same anime format on a macro level, i.e. lighter character based episodes that culminate into a major plot and series finale by episode 26. But maybe for anime of the 80's and 90's generation, which was my era. Stuff like Bubblegum Crisis and Ghost in the Shell. Royal Road seems more modern with VR and MMORPG stuff like Sword Art Online (which I liked by the way).

    I'll definitely take you up on the offer to re-do for blurb for the readership of the site. You can find my stuff on http://www.oncegiants.com or http://royalroadl.com/fiction/7654

    Just shoot me an email at oncegiants@gmail.com with your thoughts. Thanks for the help!

  7. mooderino (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    There are a lot of people looking for stuff to read on the web but most (from my limited experience) have a strong idea of what they like and they want more of the same. Something a little different or unusual has a much harder time finding an audience, even when it's well written (and adversely, if it's about something that fits the popular mould, then it can be written super-crappy and still pull thousands of views).

    Having said that I did think your story might suit spacebattles.com which is a big site with all sorts of forums, but in particular a creative writing one that might be a fit for your story. There's a bunch of fanfiction on there but also an original fiction forum that seem pretty busy. I'm not sure, don't really use the place myself, but maybe check it out?

    https://forums.spacebattles.com/forums/original-fiction.48/

  8. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @mooderino - Whaaaaat! I've never even heard of that forum but so many folks from here seem to be on it already. Well, I guess I can get out from under the rock I must've crawled under.

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  9. Team Contract (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @mooderino

    Hey thanks for the tip! I'll go check that place out. I think you're also right that popularity seems to have a greater effect on reader engagement than writing quality. I'd like to think that my stuff is written fairly competently, although it's in need of a line edit.

    But I wonder if my style of prose is becoming a bit outdated as well. I mentioned earlier, first person POV seems to be all the craze these days. I still write in 3rd. I wonder if people are immediately turned off by that, as I know its a bit true for me when it comes to 1st person, although I am starting to get used to it.

    @knifleman

    That's a very good observation. Time is a great equalizer and a reminder to keep at it not matter what. Great inspiration there. Thanks!

  10. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    With my erotica, I was already part of a couple forums for a few years, before I posted anything. I mainly went to those forums specifically because they had Story sections. Even then, I posted stories on them for a couple years before I even bothered posting to my own blog, and to actual erotic story archives. So, you could say, I already was in the perfect place to post my stuff, since I had already gone there with an interest in the topic in the first place before I got started. And from there, some readers cross posted stuff, or recommended other sites to post on.

    That said, I find myself in a similar conundrum in that I don't really have anywhere to post my non-erotic stuff, because I'm not really part of an active story community elsewhere. But I guess all I can say is, seek out and join other communities that already revolve around the subject matter you want to write about, and after getting a feel for the atmosphere and the culture, then maybe try and post your stuff. That may take a while, but it's kinda better than just shotgunning your stuff cold everywhere.

  11. unice5656 (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @Team Contract I sent you an email; hope you find it helpful.

    That spacebattles site looks really confusing.

  12. Dary (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Fast-paced, action-driven serials seem to be the norm, and I'm writing something that's slow, introspective, and requires people to read between the lines... The problem is that my set-up would likely appeal more to the sort of reader that prefers the former, while the reader who prefers the latter may well be put off by the set-up XD

    It's no coincidence that one of my favourite movies (and inspirations) is Lars von Trier's Melacholia, which attracted a lot of hate when people went in expecting an action/disaster movie about a rogue planet heading for Earth, and instead got an allegory for depression that concludes with the (literal or metaphorical, depending on how you interpret it) end of the world.

    It also doesn't help that, despite writing something most people would judge to be fantasy, I'm not really a big fan of fantasy fiction. I go looking for writing communities amd everyone's talking about Brandon Sanderson, whilst I'm here researching a lost race of Cornish giants whilst looking for alternative translations of the Nag Hammadi scriptures :S

    tl;dr I stacked the deck against myself before I wrote a single word

  13. Qorvus (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I've been at it quite a while and am yet to find out any answers to those questions :)

    Its been a year since I started the whole webfiction thing and it hasn't really gained any traction yet. I've come to the conclusion that my focus isn't what people want - which is short fiction. I love writing short fiction but the audience isn't really there.

    So I have recently started up a serial (Echo of the Ages) and that has seen a slow build - people are even reading it. The first chapter is already the most read thing on my site. Who knows, I may even get an audience one of these days :)

    Author of a collection of SF/F short webfiction - http://talesfromathousandworlds.com/
    Echo of the Ages - Epic Fantasy Serial
  14. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @Qorvus - That's an interesting observation. These days, attention spans seem so short, you'd think short fiction would be the in thing. (I assume you mean short stories.) I've had some readers tell me their favorite things I've written are some of the occasional Flash Fiction pieces I've done, despite having several novellas and longer stories with more going on available (although some readers like those more, too).

    On the other hand, I think there's something to be said for doing long form series. I've noticed with myself, even though I might only have the time or attention span for something short most days, I find myself drawn to the idea of a series more (be it reading or writing). I guess most readers for these sorts of things prefer the idea of an investment; they want to get to know and follow a group of characters over multiple adventures, or at least one long one.

    On the other hand, I don't know if after a while a series might get so big it intimidates people with it's length, so, maybe there's a trade off.

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