Soliciting votes on Jukepop

So, I've been writing The Men in the Black Coats on Jukepop in an effort to finally nail down how I feel about the site. Today, I had band camp (last year of it, yay), and I gave a bunch of people printed-off flyers that I made this morning (nothing special, just the title, a description, a request for votes, and the full URL). Today, I got back and logged on to see how many people were actually doing it. Out of the entire band, 1/4 of them created accounts within the hour and voted up every chapter. I don't even think most of them read it, since it murdered the average time spent reading, and at 8 chapters, that's 80 votes. On one hand, I'm happy, because I am now at the top of the JP30 eligibility list, but I also feel kind of guilty because I only got it because I had a bunch of friends go in and click the vote button. Should I feel bad that I did it in a way that a lot of people would consider dishonest, or good that I got the votes? 'Cause I'm kinda conflicted.

I think you should feel dishonest, but I also think it's a failing of Jukepop that it encourages that. People have reported how they did much the same thing by spamming requests for votes on Facebook and the like. You're not going to be on top without playing that game, and I think that's pretty lousy.

It basically means that it's largely your ability to market and farm social media, as opposed to talent, that really puts you on top. Having talent helps, but yeah. Votes thus have no value as a metric for quality, which may be misleading to those who look to the rankings. It is, however, good for Jukepop, because it's more people visiting and that's more along the lines of what Jukepop probably wants... so the system will continue as it is.

I'm betting half or more than half of those in the top 30 are doing much the same thing. That's why I'm not a big fan of Jukepop.

Ha ha, you're not the first. The author of the story that was #1 for a long time set up a booth at his college and gave out candy in exchange for people sighing up to the site. It's basically doing Jukepop's marketing for them...which isn't a terrible thing. If anyone of those people do actually start reading the story, and maybe even get into web fiction in general, then great.

That formerly #1 story wasn't rated very highly here on WFG, but nevertheless, I don't think it would have been able to sustain that high rating as long as it did without some genuine fans who kept reading and voting over time. And now Jukepop has more of a reading mass, it's harder to game the system in that way. The current top story has 6701 votes and the 30th on the list has 629 votes. "The Men in Black Coats" has 101 votes, so it's actually quite a ways from the top.

I think the strictly honest approach would be to give out the story description and URL and let people vote or not as they wish. Or even just say: "If you like the story, please vote!" Which isn't that far from what Alex did.

If the votes aren't honest then you haven't earnt them. Its that simple.

One of the things I like about top web fiction is that there very little reason for a reader to vote. They do so because they wish to.

Yeah, I think that I've made my decision: no more Jukepop. From now on, after this serial ends (I give it another few months), I'm going to go back to wordpress. I like it better.

I no longer feel bad about what I did after hearing about the entire candy-for-registers thing, which is pretty bad (all I did was explain the system and ask friends to read it, they're the ones who chose to not read it). I'm kinda wondering who it was. Was it Watchmage of Old New York? Because that's the only one I can think of that's both here and there.

Also, at least I didn't do the dummy-account method, where I make a bunch of dummy accounts and get the votes up that method. I'll bet there's at least one person that did that.

Leaving the morality of 'spamming people for votes' aside, I think you're only hurting yourself here.

Honestly, it saddens me see that you appear to worry more about your ranking and the amount of votes you've got instead of the fact that, as you put it, those people didn't even read your work.

There is nothing wrong with promoting your work or asking your friends to vote/review/buy/spit on your work. Professional authors, traditional and independent, do it. So on that front you should be happy (I know quite a few authors who do the equivalent of writing a novel, locking it away in a gosh-forgotten vault, and then wondering why no one has read it).

However, I think you should consider the following: at the end of the day, those votes are ephemeral. It is okay to want to get to the top as soon as possible, as fast as possible; but you should also strive towards building a group of loyal readers that will not only get you to the top, but also, keep you there.

It wasn't Watchmage. Watchmage is awesome and totally earned its spot.

What was it? I can't think of any others. Also, is Watchmage actually that good? I never got around to reading it, but it sounded interesting.

It was White Leaves. It was the leader in votes on Jukepop for sometime when Jukepop first started. It had a cool premise but the writing style was weird and I couldn't get into it. Other reviewers on here felt the same way.

I haven't read that much of Watchmage but what I read was good. The author casanders is cool and participates in these forums sometimes.

Honestly I think every voting system follows that form of promotion, and it the success levels just varies. I know I've seen some raffles run on Rafflecopter use voting for a website as a way to earn an extra entry. People post on Facebook asking friends to vote for their this or that on contests and awards. I've had friends email me their Jukepop story to read when I'm sure the real reason they did it was because they wanted more votes. If the visibility of your product (blog, book, etc) depends on votes, people are going to email it to their friends and relatives. And honestly if a family member wants me to vote on something for them, I'm going to do it.

Hopefully people you send your writing to, actually read the thing, and in an ideal scenario will pass it along to some friends of their own. But a lot of times people are just going to hop over and vote.

I don't really see there being anything more dishonest about getting some extra votes for your Jukepop story then say, if someone posts on their facebook page asking friends to vote on their photograph or short story that's in a contest. (Arguably the latter is worse, as in a contest there are losers, and on Jukepop there really isn't.) But the latter does not seem dishonest to me. Dummy accounts and multiple votes when you're only supposed to have one, I consider dishonest. Asking friends to throw you some extra votes? I can't really consider that wrong as I would certainly throw votes to friends and family if asked.

Perhaps I'm misremembering Jukepop (I've never really gotten into it) but a vote is essentially a thumbs up isn't it? Or similar to a like on facebook? It's not dissing another story and doesn't even serve as a review. *shrugs*.

So hey, maybe I just have low moral fiber ;-), but I certainly don't think what you did is anything to feel bad about.

And heck, who knows some of those people who voted for you might actually end up reading it and enjoy it :-)

I'm guessing about half of my votes stem from the two online roleplaying communities that I'm active in. I don't know if those people vote just because they like me or if they actually read the story, but I hope it's the latter. I post small snippets of future chapters over there every once in awhile, or ask them for advice on stuff I'm not familiar with. Laser temperatures or US governmental structures, for instance.

Honestly, I don't believe you can afford to neglect social networking as an author of web fiction. Maybe not even as a writer of print novels.

None of my RL friends and family read it. Not one single person. Some have taken a peek when I told them about it, then never came back. I hope it's their limited understanding of English rather than lack of interest. My dad, for instance, knows about 5 words of English. :P

And I'm not even telling my mom because she's a religious fanatic who would panic at a certain keyword in the first chapter. I'd never get to hear the end of it.

@ Chrysalis...

As one of the more successful authors of web fiction right now... I really don't do the social networking thing. I hate facebook, and I don't get Twitter (though I occasionally search it to see what people are saying). Periodically I (or one of my fans) will comment about topwebfiction or nudge people to come review my work here. That's as far as the social networking goes.

In short, I disagree strongly with the sentiment "I don't believe you can afford to neglect social networking as an author of web fiction." I'm making a (modest) living writing my serials, I've got a total audience of maybe 20,000 between the two serials, and I never really touched the social networking sites. I didn't even put a lot of stock into topwebfiction - and when I did, it was more to just remind my audience it existed, after I'd naturally reached the top, after a chapter. (ie. "If you liked the chapter, go vote. Link here:")

Personally, I think social networking is a distraction from the key aspect of writing - the writing. Can it help, in moderation? Sure, probably. But moderation can be a hard thing to come by, in this world of distractions and an internet filled with a billion ways to procrastinate. Many of us are novices or relative novices (I am) and we're just trying to figure out the right habits and style and all the niggly-piggly little details. Getting caught up in tweets and faceblat wall comments or whatever is a mistake, imo.

I see far too many authors in certain discussion channels who don't have an established audience or concrete grounding of work who're already fussing over stuff along these lines, when they should be focusing on other stuff.

Look, take it from me as a guy who 'made it', on a level. If I was sitting in front of two buttons and one read 'get 5 more readers' and the second one read 'write 250 more words', I'd be mashing that second button... because writing well and writing more is going to get me more readers in the long run. If I'd never picked up that initial audience that snowballed and my audience was sitting in the low hundreds, I'd still be writing more, because audience was never my goal so much as producing a finished work was.

@ wildbow...

I actually agree with that. I don't define social networking as using Facebook or Twitter. I refuse to use them, myself, simply because they (in my opinion) eat up too much time with too little benefit.

You've done the kind of social networking I'm referring to. You connected to the readers without using Facebook. You've signed up as a reader on that Wormverse forum roleplaying game and responded to some Worm related questions people had on there (you probably got more new readers from that one site than you're aware of, myself included). You're active on WFG, that's also networking. You respond to requests from people who donate, and for awhile you were very active in connecting to readers who commented, as well.

In short - you wouldn't have that kind of audience if you'd never done any social networking. Many readers care about you, not just your story (I've actually heard this from more than one person).

I'd press the write 250 more words button, myself. No, in fact, I'd prefer a third button - edit 250 words because commenters pointed out the story isn't working the way I wanted in a specific chapter. I'd never have been able to improve my writing without reader feedback.

And interaction with readers is a form of social networking.

My general guideline is "do the kind and level of social networking you actually enjoy."

That way it doesn't feel like work. Also, that way it isn't wasted time. The direct returns from social media are usually quite low.

Yeah...I kind of noticed you rocket up to #1. (I've only been keeping such as close eye, because for the first four days of the month, I was #1 :P).

I try and let the JP +votes be as natural as possible - I haven't advertised to my existing audience, or encouraged them to go vote - I republished on JP to try and get new readers, and so far, I've pulled in a few, so I see it as a gain.

Deleted original comment - misread Chrysalis' comment.

Nagging goes a long, long way. Just a comment following a chapter that says "Hey, maybe go vote? It makes a difference?"

My usual guy was on vacation, I dropped to maybe 150 or so votes for Worm/Pact on Topwebfiction. Then I mentioned it to my audience, and I'm up to 1k for Pact. Helped maybe by the fact that half my chapters lately have been wham chapters.

Addressing the topic of whether to try out social media specifically:

I spend a lot of time on social media both before and after writing and ultimately it's helped me a lot. I've met a lot of incredibly valuable people who have given me great advice and helped me a ton every step of the way both with writing and as a person. And when I started writing my serial a bunch of my web friends became my major initial writing audience. Though, the conversion rate is pretty brutal: I get like a 100 unique visitors to my web serial on a good day (like 50-60 average) and I have over 600 twitter followers and 280 tumblr followers. So most of those people aren't there for the writing and that's cool with me. It's nice that some of them were.

I think if you like social media (and I like social media) being out there and sharing your passions is great and it can be helpful. It shouldn't be like a weird action plan you set up before you do anything. But I feel like it can be a real positive experience if you go into it wanting to have fun, meet people, and exchange culture. Make some friends, tell some jokes, learn a few things, enjoy it. Don't go in there just to shill though, but shill when it's natural and I feel like if people like you as a person they will most definitely give your writing an honest shot and give you good feedback.

I lead a lifestyle (and have certain related brain patterns to boot) where I can't put all my time into writing, it's impossible; but I have a lot of time where I have no choice but to idle while waiting for important IRL stuff to go down, and I can spend that time messing around on social media. So I think of it as promo, and a de-stressing tool, and meeting really great people, and hey if they read what I write when I've got time to write it and if they go down to vote or something, that's cool. Some of them like me enough they egged me on to make a patreon and then contributed money to my patreon.

So I'd be making $0 and I don't think as many folks would be reading my story if it wasn't for that. I especially think for people writing with difficult premises and in niches within niches, like what I'm doing, it can't hurt to try to find like-minded people to share that with.

@ wildbow, in response to your second comment.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a successful science fiction author. Among other things he mentioned that he actively avoids social media of all kinds. Because he prefers people care more about his writing as opposed to him. Not to say that he neglects marketing, but that will be for his books. His advice was that the writing was wildly more important and everything else was secondary. (Not quite the topic of conversation I know, but I thought it was relevant.)

P.S. His son is a fan of yours Wildbow.

I've been posting chapters regularly on Jukepop for 18 months or so, I'm probably doing alright. For what it's worth, the handful of decent reviews I got on this site did more for my votes than any nagging of friends in real life ever could. I absolutely exploded to the top of the charts for a while. Settled down a tad since then, mostly because I've been concentrating on the book collection of the Hobson & Choi serial and kinda neglecting promoting the original serial.

Social media also does you alright, though spamming the same few Twitter followers can get a bit echo-chambery.

I think there is more of a reading/chatting community building around the site now, which is cool to see and is probably a great help if you want to get traction. Obviously, like any community (I imagine Wattpad is similar), this involves sitting down and reading/commenting on other stories, engaging with the authors, etc, and you may well feel this time you could spend writing.

"Honestly, I don't believe you can afford to neglect social networking as an author of web fiction. Maybe not even as a writer of print novels."

I work for a publishing house and I can tell you you're absolutely right about that point. There are no 'buts' or 'ifs' for us; social networking is as important as writing the book itself. Generally speaking, we believe that any and all kinds of social networking are an important part in the life of a traditionally published author. That includes using Twitter and Facebook, book signings, interviews, reviewing other writers' books, public readings, etc.

Do they hate it? Some of our authors do. It's only natural. Writers write, right? Why do they have to do something else?

The thing is, those in the publishing industry love books, we really do, but we're also a business and we want *and* need to make money. To do that, we need to sell our product (your books). The best and perhaps the only way to do that is to make sure our customers know the product exists, that it is something good, and that it is something they want.

And we do it gladly. That's why we have a marketing department. But we also have thousands of books that need the same attention. Some of these books will sell zero copies in the lapse of six months, representing a loss for us; some of those books will sell three times more than what we anticipated, covering the costs for the books that 'failed'. Wanna guess which books are more likely to fall into the second category?

There are exceptions, of course. Some authors will make it big with little or no social networking at all. However, for every author who gets 'lucky' (I don't like using that term), there is another whose greatness will be discovered fifty years after they are dead. And for every one of those, there will be ten whose works will never be read at all.

Now, I know that has nothing to do with Web Serial Novels. Apples and Oranges. But I believe the principle is very similar.

Do you just want to write? Then I suggest you write the best thing you can. If someone finds and likes your work, then great.

Do you want to write and be read? Then I suggest you write the best thing you can AND do anything you can to let your potential readers know that your work exists, that it is good, and that it is something they want.


"If I was sitting in front of two buttons and one read 'get 5 more readers' and the second one read 'write 250 more words', I'd be mashing that second button.."

Uhmm, all I can say is this: