"Some Guy With A Blog" vs. "A Real Thing"

Soooooooooooooooooo I suggested in another thread that we should have social media buttons on this site, of the share/like/tweet variety. Probably just the big ones: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr. Maybe Digg, but the listings here just don't seem very diggable. This isn't the sort of thing to be dugg.

Now, it might seem odd that we'd want people to share the listing here and not the actual story, but there's a matter of context. It's hard to make a weblit site look like anything other than "some person who put up a blog" to someone who doesn't grok weblit. There's the self-publishing stigma, there's the fact that it's not a familiar publishing medium to people, there's the sense that this is something that anyone could just do for themselves and therefore it doesn't count...

On the other hand, web portals/directories are very common and well-known. They tell people "This is an established concept. This is a real thing. This is not just something somebody threw together."

So, yeah. I think getting sharing buttons on the entries would be a good idea. I also think that a "Read From The Beginning" link that's more prominent on the listings would also be a good idea... we should all make it easy for people to jump to the beginning, but the fewer clicks it takes someone to get where they need to be, the better.

(Actually, come to think of it, there needs to be a more prominent link in the listings in the first place... is it just the thumbnail? No matter how natural or intuitive it seems to one person to click on that to get the site, it's not going to be that way to everyone. Put the word "Link" or "Site Link" or "Click To Enter" under it and the listing becomes way more useful.)

But, the long and the short of this is that I've been planning to do a big advertising push for Tales of MU in the near future, bigger than I've done in a while and possibly bigger than I've ever done... now that I've had the thought about social media, I'm planning on making half of the ads direct to the listing here instead of the Tales of MU page, at least initially. If I see no benefit I'll stop doing it, but I have an inkling that it will improve things. I'll get fewer hits from the ads that target the listing but I imagine it will result in more readers, because there's a gloss of legitimacy, there's a context, there's the message that says "Web Fiction: It's An Actual Thing!™"

And anyone who doesn't find the entry for Tales of MU appealing will still have discovered the WFG.

I wonder if anyone else has any thoughts or any relevant experiences relating to this? Has anyone else tried advertising their listing?

Yay AE, doing the market research for us!

That said, either this website needs its own social network presence, or we need an aggregator on the socials. I've kinda tried using the page for Dream Fantastic that way, I've made as many stories with FB pages faved by my page as I can, and posted a few reviews of stories not connected to DF, but an actual FB page for web novels that is maintained would be awesome. Hell, I'd do it.

Hi Alexandra,

We did advertise the Guide a lot, when we first opened. Unfortunately, it does seem rather difficult to interest people in a directory if they don't already have an interest in what the directory is listing. Something we have discussed -- more than once -- was setting up a fund that authors can use to advertise their genre-specific story in a way that would target a receptive audience and still cross-promote WFG. Unfortunately, there was a lot of politics around doing that -- particularly from people who didn't like some of the reviews they had received here. As I didn't want to end up funding it all myself (which I'm not even in the position to do, now), the idea pretty much died on the table.

In any event, I think you are probably right about the benefits of investing in the commons. A high tide raises all boats, and all that. As you seem pretty effective in your advertising campaigns, I'm definitely interested to see how it goes.

I'll see if we can do something in the short-term to address your concerns about the link prominence on the listing, if that will help you feel more confident about linking to your listings.


I'll see if we can do something in the short-term to address your concerns about the link prominence on the listing, if that will help you feel more confident about linking to your listings.

Ah, good, thanks... I should read all the replies before I start replying, since I'm active in multiple threads. I just entreated you passionately about this in another thread.

I'm more than willing to do this myself with my own money and share what I learn... I think given the politics that will be unavoidable, a common fund is probably a bad idea compared to making it clear to authors that they can benefit by doing this.

As far as the effectiveness of advertising the guide itself, if you ever want to try that again you might try making a landing page that concisely explains the concept, and displays three random listings: one featured one that you're sure is putting the site's best feet forward and two more random ones just to show off the diversity. With a click to refresh. Oh, my God. I hate to throw another feature request/idea at you, but where's the "random story" link that you can click on and then hit f5, f5, f5? The internet loves random. It doesn't understand weblit but it loves random.

We did have a random listing link, at one point. I don't remember taking it out, but I don't see it anywhere now. Hmmm. I'll look into it.

And no worries about the reply ordering -- I've been relying on my RSS reader to show me what's up, and I keep discovering I'm answering posts without prior context. So, we're both doing it. ;-)


Okay, I've added a prominent "Start reading now . . . " link to each listing, as well as a "jump to another listing" link. Let me know what you think.


I like it, but I notice you've got them set to go to the first actual chapter (which makes sense for the start reading now link), but I wouldn't mind having the screenshot show, and clicking on it go, to my landing page. Suggestion, make a "home page" and "first post" data field in the submission section, with start reading now going to first post, and the ss, as well as the link on the right hand side of the listing before its tags, go to the home page. For some, it will be the same, for some, it will not.

Some of the older listings are a bit spotty in this regard, but we've been trying to be more consistent about going to the first page of the story, unless there is a good reason to go elsewhere (an index for short story collections, the home page for blogfic, etc.). The reason is that, by the time the user clicks through from the listing, they've already decided they want to read, so it's only frustrating if they have to click through more boilerplate to get to the text.

Basically, we try to put ourselves in the shoes of a reader, and pick a page that they would expect to click through to. If they want to go to a different page once they arrive, most sites make it pretty easy to get to home pages.



I have to admit this is why I don't use WFG more. Going to the first page a story without any preamble doesn't make me click the index or landing page link, it just makes me hit the back button and not read the story. It's not so much of a problem from the WFG itself because there's preamble there, but TWF and novelsonline both click you through to the first chapter without any preamble unless you click info.

Speaking as a reader that just doesn't work for me and from conversations on Twitter I know I'm not the only one.


Hi Becky,

I know it probably won't make a difference for you, but there is an "info" link on every TWF listing, that will take you to the WFG page for the listing. However, I'll give it some thought in the new design.


Personally, every author should have a very obvious landing page link on every page, so if you get randomly linked to any page, first last or in between, by someone, you can find the about page right away. But thats me.