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Fanfiction Writing Tips - How to Get More Reviews

Fanfiction Writing Tips: How To Get More Reviews

Usually I’m not one to encourage people to write purely to get reviews. Yes of course, we all love reviews – especially the ones that flatter our egos. What’s not to like about that, right? Truthfully though, reviews and comments can make us better writers. Getting a comment or review, whether it points out what the reader did like or did not like about your work, is very helpful.

I’m sure many of us have written a chapter to our latest fanfic and posted it wondering if we made the right choices with the characters or if the story was going in the right direction. Reviews and comments tell us what works and what doesn’t. Even if you post completed stories rather than one chapter at a time, the feedback from a reader can be invaluable before you write your next fanfic.

Recently a friend of mine decided to get over her fears and started posting her stories online for the first time. I was very proud of her because she really was terrified that no one would ever read her work or that she’d never get any reviews. As I reassured her, I realized that there actually is a method to getting more reviews, something I’ve discovered over the past couple years.

 

Post a lot.

It may seem pretty simple, but there’s nothing like simply having lots of stories out there to generate lots of reviews. Remember every time you post a new story (or a new chapter on a story), you will end up at the top of most searches on sites like fanfiction net. People are searching these sites every day for new stories to read and the more people who read your work, the more reviews you will get. It’s all about the numbers.

Post often.

Like I said above, every time you post something new, you end up at the top of the list on most sites and more people see your work that way. But you can also get more reviews by simply posting often, even short chapters, one-shots, etc. I’ve found that when I take too long to update, my readership (and therefore my reviews) drop off. People don’t always want to invest their time in stories that aren’t ever going to be completed. Posting often shows readers that you’re committed to the story and that they can expect a conclusion to it. It’s that commitment that will make them more likely to give you feedback, since they’re invested in it almost as much as you are.

If you can’t post often, then post consistently.  

Let’s say your real life is so busy that posting every day or even every week is just not going to happen. Even if it’s not that often, posting consistently will show your readers that you are committed to the story and to seeing it through to the end. Even if all you do is post once a month (but you do it every month), your readers will feel comfortable getting invested in your story. Once they’re invested, they will review.

Post on multiple sites

I recommend fanfiction.net to everyone who’s just starting out with fanfiction as I’ve found it the easiest to use for beginners, but it’s not the only site out there. There is also Livejournal as well as many sites dedicated to individual genres, movies, tv shows, etc. Do a search online for your chosen fanfic and post on other sites you find dedicated to just that storyline. You’ll find a whole new group of readers and reviewers.

Don’t be shy, go ahead and ask.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come to the end of a chapter or story, to find a small comment from the author asking for reviews. Sometimes they are silly (“free cyber cookies!” is one of my favorites) and sometimes they are sincere (for instance, the author asking for specific feedback), but they always catch my attention. They usually get me to go ahead and write a review, too, even if I was thinking I was in too much of a hurry to do so. Being straightforward definitely has its advantages. Just be sure to keep your requests short and polite.

While I always tell people to write for themselves first if they want to be happy with their work, getting reviews and comments is a great way to know how we’re doing as writers and what we might need to improve upon.

What about you? Got any tips that you’ve discovered to getting more reviews?

Got a fanfiction issue, question or problem? I can help! I am now offering fanfiction consultating/coaching services to anyone, in any fandom, writing any type of story. If you’re interested in a consultation, just email me at Moki@mokisfanfictionblog.com to get a free evaluation and find out what I can do for you.


More on Moki’s Fanfiction Blog…
Hurt/Comfort Fanfiction, Why Do We Hurt The Ones We Love?
Moki’s Latest NCIS fanfic “The Cavalry Rides Again” – chapter 7

More Fanfiction Writing Tips…
How Writing Fanfiction Prepared me to be a Freelance Writer
Fanfiction Tips: Writing a Good Action Scene
Fanfiction Tips: Keeping Your Characters In Character

Want to know every time I add a new post? Be sure to subscribe to Moki’s Fanfiction Blog!

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  • Penny

    I am not a writer but am an avid fanfic reader and (at the risk of being shouted down) I must admit that I prefer to review only when the story moves me to leave my feedback and or because the author requests specific feedback. I will not leave feedback just because the author asks – what’s the point if I don’t think I have anything relevant to say? It seems a little desperate to me.

    If a story is very good and I appreciate the time, effort and talent, I’m more than happy to say so. If I feel the story is lacking somewhere and I have an idea or two that may help, I’ll say that, too but many writers seem to have the opinion that when it comes to reviews, it’s all about quantity not quality.

    And I really, really don’t like stories where writers ask “what should happen next?” My response – go write your own story! Sorry if that’s harsh, just offering a differing opinion.

  • Mokibobolink

    Hey Penny, thanks for the comment and no, you’re not going to be shouted down. I’m just as interested in hearing from avid readers of fanfiction as I am in hearing from those trying to write great fanfiction.

    I totally understand what you mean about someone constantly begging for reviews and suggestions on where a story should go. Yes, that can sound a bit desperate and certainly if you feel you have nothing to say, you shouldn’t feel forced to review.

    Thanks for offering another point of view.

  • http://www.sensue.net/ Sensue

    I read your article and the comments, and I will say… I don’t think that those tips work, as much as I’d like to believe it will.

    I think in order to get reviews, you must give reviews. If you aren’t reviewing other people’s work, and you ask for reviews, no one is really going to be interested because they don’t “know” you.

    Most of the time, I get the most reviews from my online ‘friends’… and you become friends by communicating with people online: IMs, Social Media, Blogs, LiveJournals, and yes, even FF.net reviews, C2s, and Forums.

    I also think that the story must be ‘completed’… there are tons of stories out there that aren’t, and the majority of the reviews end up being, “When are you going to update the chapter?”

    I don’t think that that truly counts as a ‘review’, in my humble opinion.

    There’s tons of ideas and ‘myths’ related to how to get the most reviews… but, I’m one of those purists that believe that if you write a truly great work of fanfiction (and complete it), people will review.

    If you don’t, people will read a few sentences and pass it by… simple as that.

    :)
    Well, this is my opinion anyway… You’ve sparked a discussion though, so good for you!

    Sensue

  • Mokibobolink

    Thanks for the comment Sensue. Interesting how so many people disagree with me on this, but hey, that’s what this is all about. I was never trying to say that people shouldn’t write great stories. But it seems to me that there are lots of great stories out there that get passed over for reviews when the author is brand new to fanfic and is looking for feedback. These tips were designed to show people that it’s not impossible to get reviews, or that you “need to know people” to get them (two things that I’ve heard from newbies).

    It’s always really great to hear from everyone, even when they don’t agree with me. It helps me to know what other opinions are out there and what new posts people will want to see. So even if you don’t agree folks, feel free to let me know. :)

  • Stacey

    Whether people agree or disagree with you, Moki, I’m sure that they appreciate the opportunity to freely put forth a different view. Good for you for not only providing the forum to do so but for welcoming ALL views!

    Perhaps a more apt article would have been “How to get more GOOD reviews,” because, let’s face it, who wants 30 reviews if 20 of them are bad? Or even, “how to WRITE a good review.”

    Obviously the best way to get reviews is to write an interesting story to the best of your ability – and seeking the help of a good Beta if you are not confident in your characterizations or grammar. (Moki’s writing tips on this blog are very useful for would-be writers like me.)

    As a reader, I certainly agree with Moki, that the updates need to be frequent, if not regular. I lose interest in stories very quickly if I have to wait weeks or even months for an update.

    I think another way to get reviews is to reply to each review you get. Although time consuming for the author, I love to get a review reply as it lets me know that the author has appreciated my review and not just taken it for granted. It’s also a nice way to start the online friendships Sensue refered to.

    I agree with Penny that constantly asking for reviews does seem a little desperate, especially when the author already gets a decent number of reviews and still asks for more.

    A good summary is also important – if the summary doesn’t catch my interest, then I won’t read the story and could be missing out on a wonderful read. Surely if an author can write thousands of words in a story, they can write a good summary.

    I think I may have waffled for far too long. Keep up the good work, Moki!

  • Mokibobolink

    Hi Stacey and thanks for the comment. :)

    I think you’ll be happy to know that after getting feedback up here, I did actually start writing a new post about getting “constructive” reviews (which is really just a fancier and clearer way of saying “good”). Not only that, but I have already put in notes about replying to reviews, working on a great summary and more. Great minds think alike, eh? ;)

    I should have that one posted shortly, and I can’t wait to see what everyone has to say about it. You guys truly are a mine of information!

  • SupernaturalGeek

    It’s a very interesting debate and I must admit that until I started writing, I was guilty of reading and not reviewing. However once I was in their boat I realised just how important reviews are to the author and now I always leave one when I’ve enjoyed a story.

    Likewise I have always answered every single review I’ve ever had (except the anon ones). Granted I was never one of the uber-successful writers, so it didn’t take me hours, but I just always felt that it was the polite thing to do when someone had taken the time to let me know they enjoyed what I’d written.

    I agree as well that it is a nice way to ‘meet’ people. I struck up a real friendship with one person and now we are genuine best friends in RL, to the point that my husband and I went to stay with her and her family in America last year (I’m English).

    I do have to say though that the whole begging-for-reviews thing does make me less inclined to leave one. Same as summaries that state the story is better than the summary or emphasise things like ‘Hurt!so-andso’ or ‘Limp!so-and-so’. I always took nearly as long to chose a title and come up with the summary as I did writing the story; it’s what is going to attract people to read it after all.

    I wonder if the reason why a lot of people simply read and favourite is that they don’t truly realise how important reviews are to a writer? I know I genuinely never did until I was on the other side.

  • Mokibobolink

    Hi SupernaturalGeek and thanks for dropping by!

    Yes it is amazing what great friendships can get started this way. It was because of a friendship started via a fan message board that I too made the jump across the pond to visit someone I’d never met in RL (though I went from the US to England).

    I know what you mean about not realizing about leaving reviews until being a writer, though I also know that part of the reason why I didn’t leave many reviews is that I didn’t think I was a good enough writer to give my opinion. Pretty silly huh? Boy if I’d known then just how much even the tiniest feedback helps an author, I would have written a lot more reviews. I’m trying to make up for that now though and do my darndest to leave them whenever I read something.

  • Lanna

    I’m pretty addicted to reading and writing fan fiction, and getting reviews can really brighten up my day:)

    I find leaving a chapter at an interesting point or sentence can help as I think recieving 10 reviews for a first chapter is pretty good.

    Also the friendships I have made over these sites have sometimes been stronger than some at school, but this also means that some people will definatly read and review and others will read and review because this person has.

    Although I’ve never left one, sometimes flames can be good, the can keep you down to earth and sometimes being brutally honest can actually improve the writing. If you recieve 30 reviews and 20 are bad, and you listen to what they have to say, the next chapter you write recieves the same 30 reviews maybe 15-25 will be positive.

    I do agree that posting regularly can gain more reviews (something I’m not very good at) I’ve read very good stories with 1000’s of reviews (no joking)

    Probably the most important thing I have found is that the better the summery and the title, the more views it gets.

    but this is what I think and it may not all be right.

  • http://twitter.com/trekkiebeth TrekkieBeth

    Fanfic is an occasional thing for me now, but I used to read it all the time in high school and I even wrote a bit too. For me the number of reviews received seems to depend on a two-step process: getting people to click and making them want to respond. Both steps are equally important.

    The more people you can get to click, the more reviews you’re likely to get. Unless you’re a well-established writer that people will read just because they know your name, the first step can be tricky. I mostly use LiveJournal for fanfic, so the first step involves really selling the fic in the community where you post it. You really need a catchy title and an interesting summary (like Stacey and Lanna said). As a reader, I also like for posts to have clear information about the length. I also like to choose an appropriate LJ icon so it functions kind of like cover art. (Probably not necessary, but it can’t hurt.)

    The second step is to actually write a good story that people will want to respond to. I write about my favorite pairings, so people usually respond when the story feels emotionally satisfying to them. I also always ask for feedback, because you never know how many people will be on the fence about whether they should take the time. As a reader, I’m more likely to leave a review in that situation if the author requested it.

    I’m sure that writing often and making friends with other writers will also increase the number of reviews, but I’ve never gotten that advanced myself.

  • Mokibobolink

    More great points Beth. I haven’t used LJ a lot for fanfic, though I’ve read stuff up there when it’s been recommended by others. I do like the fact that you can make the post a lot more interesting with an appropriate icon. In that way, it’s a lot more interesting than ff.net’s rather cold set-up.

    Thanks for chiming in! You’ve made me want to check out fanfic on LJ. :)

  • http://turbidblue88.livejournal.com Annika

    Very interesting article, and it’s nothing mentioned or disussed here that I don’t agree on actually. I’ve never tried asking for reviews, only if specific things work or not and that usually generates replies.

    I would like to add one thing though. Like many mentioned above, the summary is important for people to read your story, but it is as important to get the “right” people to read your story. People that are interested in your specific themes that you are writing about is much more likely to leave a review than people that just like the pairing, I would say.

    Attract people that are more than generally interested in what you are writing about! =)

    Not that I always get that much reviews ;), but it def. gets you better reviews than just “great story, please continue soon!” ;).

  • Mokibobolink

    Yes very good point about using the summary to attract the right kind of readers. Thanks for the comment! :)

  • http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2544085/ Mia

    Hello :) This was really interesting to read :D
    I would really appreciate it if you could read my fanfiction (Twilight).
    Thanks!

  • Florence

    Hello, I was very surprised to stumble upon this site. I’m highly impressed and I just felt like adding few things to what you just said (said very well, by the way).
    For me, I always end with thank you for reading and please review. But I don’t think anyone should ask too much for reviews. In fact, sometimes, specially if the story is already so-so, their ‘ask for reviews’ can be quite a turn off. I really do hate when people threaten you to not continue if they don’t get a certain amount of reviews. It’s irritating and does not make me want to read. (You know… we’ve all seen those: please read and review. I won’t continue the story before I get 5 long reviews). Grrr.
    Anyhow, I’m highly impressed with this article… great site! :)

  • Mokibobolink

    @Mia – So glad you enjoyed the article. :) Well right now my time is pretty tight with work but if you wanted to send me a PM through fanfiction.net (my user name there is “Mokibobolink”) I’d be happy to read some when I get the chance.

    @Florence – Very happy to hear that you enjoyed the article and I love what you had to say on the matter. Thanks so much for dropping by and giving your input on the subject! :)

  • ragcat

    This may be just me, but does there seem to be any correlation between the timing of posting a fic and the amount of reviews you get? For instance, Saturdays seem to be a dead zone; holidays, too. Yet, I seem to get a pretty good response on Sundays. Just wondered if anyone else has ever noticed such patterns.

  • Mokibobolink

    Huh, you know I have to admit that I never really thought about that too much. Though I can recall posting a chapter to a story on Christmas Day (it was a Christmas story) and thinking to myself that it wouldn’t get lots of reviews. Other than that, I hadn’t put too much thought into it. I just post whenever I’ve finished, whatever time of day or night. But that’s a very good point and I wonder now if I’ll think about it a bit before posting my next fic.

    Thanks for the input! You totally got me thinking now. :)

  • Maisieisemailing

    great site it helped me alot!!! I hope that you would read my twilight and percy fanfic and tell me how i did. if you have enough time that is  8D

    It’s called, A Hero in our Midst

  • Ngldinunzio614

    I once wrote a fanfic that got very few reviews in the beginning, but the ones I got were very positive, and by popular writers.  However, it was frustrating to get one or two reviews per chapter while some truly awful fics were getting 10 or 11 per chapter (it was one of the more obscure fandoms).  So…I created three sockpuppets.  They weren’t over the top with praise, just generic “good job, enjoyed it” types of reviews.  The extra “reviews” apparently attracted the attention of the readers, and my real review stats shot up.  Then I retired my socks, because I didn’t need them anymore.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, that’s a very interesting idea and one I’ve never thought of before. Good job on figuring out a way to get an extra foot in the door, as it were. :o)

  • X_lamia

    It’s a good idea to think carefully before taking the sock puppet route. Done ineptly a bunch of sock puppet reviews (such as just using the guest function on FFN and ending up with almost all “anonymous” reviews) can look … suspicious. One writer in a fandom I frequent has ended up with 15 out of 16 “anonymous” reviews on one particular story. Some – even all – of those reviews may be from unique reviewers … but the overall look is bad and it hasn’t helped the story garner any signed-in ones. It has the whiff of desperation about it. If you must use a sock puppet be smart about it … or give up writing to attract comments and challenge yourself to write with the expectation of no feedback – it can be very freeing.



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