Jan. 24th, 2017

dreamflower: gandalf at bag end (bag end 2 by <lj user="danae_b">)
[livejournal.com profile] wneleh over at [livejournal.com profile] fanthropology pointed me to this article: Steps to Achieve Fanfiction Fame by Marisha Aziz. The article was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, advising aspiring fanfiction writers to choose the most popular fandoms, find a well-loved 'ship, and use popular tropes in the hopes of becoming famous, and maybe even rich.

I decided to be a little more practical in my comment to the article, and point the way to become well-known within the your fandom. It's a rather "tortoise v. hare" approach, but it has served me well. Here was my reply:

Or there is the longer and more certain road to fanfiction success (and it will never lead to money or mundane fame). But it will slowly and surely gather you loyal readers and recommendations, and is less likely to embroil you in flamefests and 'shipping wars.

Step 1: Choose your fandom based on your own love for it and for the characters and source material. Study the canon closely and learn all the facts you can, even if you prefer to write Alternate Universe. After all, you need to know what you are changing and why.
Step 2: Read a lot of really good fanfiction to see what genre appeals the most to you. Choose something to specialize in, but remember you might want to occasionally branch out.
Step 3: Get an idea, find a gap that needs filling, or try to figure out what might have happened on the path not taken in canon.
Step 4: Write a story. Do your best. Make good use of spellcheck and grammar check. Edit the heck out of it to find errors the autocorrects will not. Find an experienced author you respect if they have the time and inclination to beta it. Follow her/his advice. Edit the story again.
Step 5: Choose an archive to post your story, maybe more than one. Make sure to write a decent summary about the story. Do NOT put "I suck at summaries." Read and review the stories of other authors. Do NOT ask them to read and review your own. That is rude.
Step 6: Update your story fairly regularly, and post any one-shots you write promptly. This will keep you on the front page.
Step 7: Reply to reviews and thank the reviewers, even the ones who only post a smiley face or say "good story rite mor". Ignore trolls. Thank those who offer con-crit, even if you do not intend to follow their advice, assume they mean well.
Step 8: Engage in forums and discussions about your fandom. Be polite but firm in stating your opinions.
Step 9. Expand your audience by finding more places to post.
Step 10: Repeat Steps 1-9. After a few months, you will have a lot of new friends and some will become old friends after a while. After a few years, you will find that more than a few people know who you are. You will gather kudos and likes and comments and reviews and recommendations, and people will seek you out for advice.

However, you are unlikely to get asked to erase the serial numbers on your story for mainstream publication, and if you go this route, you probably won't want to.

What advice would you give along these lines?

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