Whither Tumblr

So in the webcomics world a lot of cartoonists use tumblr to post and share lots of artwork. For that reason when I think of Tumblr I think of it in terms of people posting and resharing artwork... not as a text medium at all. Which means I don't particularly think of Tumblr as something that would be particularly useful for webfiction... however, it seems there are a few webfiction authors who are using Tumblr for stuff.

The question is, are they using it for posting and resharing artwork? :-)

"Everyone"(1) keeps talking about how social media is supposed to be a great way to increase readership, and the webcomic people I know who use Tumblr apparently do wind up getting new readers out of it, but using Tumblr to promote my webcomic is out because I'm not an artist and why would someone reshare clipart? There might be a reason for me to use it if there were also a strong text-sharing community, but Tumblr seems to thrive on brevity, so I don't see much room for people who write over there.

Has anyone used it specifically for webfiction? If so, how? And how is it working out?

I'm using Tumblr to post webfiction related artwork and sketches. It is limited in its effectiveness only because I don't have a lot of followers. That said, I do try to think about the tags attached to the images such that people who save tag searches might discover it later. (Specifically I use the "fairy tale" family of tags because there's a decent sized fanbase for that.) It does translate into clickthroughs, but not always. (Having just come back from a fan convention, I'm picking up a lot of random viewers from a post with a complex hierarchy of tags.)

WRiters have it harder. I've found one or two prose folks through Tumblr, but more or less the kind of stuff that gets anywhere has to be very contemporary and appealing to the young audience that Tumblr caters to. ( A lot of high-school/college aged types use it for blogging, similar to Livejournal, but with far more impact because of the tag system.)

If I had more time, I'd be building up my tumblr base by following a few bajillion people and also posting really awesome artwork/comics. I may consider the comic part down the road (an intro sampler comic to my webfic) but not until I finish the current serial.

For your reference, my tumblr is plumgirl.tumblr.com :)

I use Tumblr for time-wasting purposes and also to follow my fandoms (mostly TV shows and the like). I think the only writer-type person I follow is Gabriel Gadfly, and he writes poetry, which is a bit more friendly to the Tumblr format. I see fanfiction for my fandoms, and my distaste for fanfiction aside, all that text just looks very unattractive in Tumblr's format. The narrowness of the post boxes makes everything really dense and smooshed together. I always find it very annoying to be scrolling through and getting to a giant post with a mile of text. There is a "cut feature" but in my experience, that's a great way to not have your post read at all. Tumblr strikes me as a very image oriented, short-attention-span friendly setup. It's for when I'm bored or procrastinating and I just wanna laugh at captions of Animals Talking in All Caps or oogle pictures of Kit Harrington and Alfie Allen.

That said, it takes all kinds. People using Tumblr may just be looking to pass enough time that they'd be open to stopping to smell the roses (aka read some text). You could drum up some interest by just posting links to your site, like a glorified RSS feed, especially if you did use some eye catching art (either by editing stock photos or commissioning artwork like people do for Project Wonderful ads) because it does really take a nice image to catch the eye as one is scrolling. If I managed to update my site more than once every few months I certainly wouldn't think it would hurt to use my Tumblr to say "Hey, you, take a moment from reblogging Game of Thrones gifs and read my stuff." It's a free site, at the end, so you really don't have anything to lose by trying it out.

Tumblr is better for snippets than anything else. Maybe if I put up snippets and passages of things I like and then linked to them, that would generate interest to longer passages in a tumblr-friendly way.

I did wind up creating a tumblr account (ubersoft.tumblr.com) because I discovered something it did that I actually want to use: it allows me to link to my podcasts so that people with tumblr accounts to stream and reshare those.

Podcasting isn't quite as immediate and attention-grabbing as art, but it's something.