Re: How do you guys get readers?

Hello Royal Road and thanks for having me.
I've heard good things about this place so finger's crossed.

So, I feel like an old man at 33 now that I suddenly decided to start sharing my writing with the world and have found the whole social media, self-promotion, interacting with actual people even over the internet, well, let's just say I'm struggling.  For me it's not about making money (at least not unless some miracle happens ha) but I just want people to read and enjoy my work.  I have my writing on wattpad and here, and a few other places, but meh, nobody is paying any attention really.

I mean, it's completely free and I can't even give it away!  I need readers, critiques, feedback, in order to improve my writing and get better.  I'm sure I am not the only one struggling with this, so what on Earth is to be done?

I believe I have a really good read here, especially when compared with some of the stuff I'm seeing online.  Terribly written romances by 14 year old kids getting thousands upon thousands of views while my fantasy book dealing with power, corruption of the church, suicide, slavery, oppression etc. gets nothing... it's disheartening, I have to admit.  I saw a "book" on wattpad today comprised of nothing but text talk and memes... with over a MILLION hits.  What?

I'm trying to stay positive because I am writing and it is SO much fun, but this last piece is missing.  I want to share.

So how do you guys go about getting readers for your work?  There's got to be more we can do here than just sitting on our own forum isolated from our reading community.  Surely.

Re: How do you guys get readers?

I've been in that same boat for a long time, too. Unfortunately I don't have a surefire answer to help get you readership, but I can give you a few pieces of advice that may help you accrue some attention.

-Keep in mind that you only have five chapters uploaded here on Royal Road. I can't speak for other sites that you've uploaded your works to, but ideally, you want to upload a maximum of one chapter per day here. This is because every time you upload a chapter, your story is placed at the top of the "Latest Updates" list, and spacing it out with one a day is an ideal rate to keep your story there as much as possible. Always remember that it's a marathon, not a sprint.

-Royal Road greatly favours certain genres, namely, fantasy/isekai/gamelit. These genres get far more attention than any other on this site; if you write outside of those genres, it will be tougher to obtain as big a following as some of the other stories out there.

-Forum participation can be a huge help. A few things you can do to "passively" promote your work are to include a snazzy link to your literature in your forum signature, find threads that discuss genres or themes that your story shares and contribute to those discussions, or perhaps even participating in review swaps (where you read someone else's story, leave an honest and thoughtful review, and they'll do the same for you).

For example, I was super active on the forums for the first two months when I started posting my stories, and I shared my first book as much as possible (Soulless (Apparently), the one that happens to be in my signature as of this post), even doing review swaps whenever I had the energy to do so. As a result, that story got an average of 2,600 chapter views each month, but compare that to my other stories which I haven't promoted at all – those only get an average of 500 per month.

I hope this advice can help you at least a little bit. Best of luck with your writing.

Re: How do you guys get readers?

One thing not explicitly mentioned is how important your synopsis is. When people follow that link in your signature or find you on 'latest updates', your synopsis is what should draw them in to actually start reading. 

Your current synopsis could be summarized as 'bad people doing a list of bad things, read at your own risk'. Is there an overreaching theme, a goal, maybe even a plot? Is there a main character or group of mc we'll follow? You may not want to spoil anything, but this is where you really need to convince people to start reading. Writing a good synopsis is an art in itself though, akin to an elevator pitch. Sell us your story, you have one minute.

Re: How do you guys get readers?

Considering the fact that my story only has 34 followers, I may not be the best person perhaps to give advice but here is my take anyway:
  • Updating daily will probably get you more views. Stack up a few chapters before first posting your story, so you can update daily for at least the first three or four days. This means that you will be on the 'latest update' list more often. From there on, it depends on your schedule and free time. Others are able to maintain that routine and thus get more views. Other (myself included) update less frequently: I personally update once every week, which means I get less views but it also means I can maintain my sanity.
  • Most people will not read your work unless you have at least 20-25 chapters. Because a lot of authors drop stories, readers wait until there is a good stack of chapters before reading a work [a) because works that are 20+ chapters get dropped less, b) there is already a good number of pages to read instead of waiting]. So, you will just have to motivate yourself to keep posting until you reach 20+ chapters, and then you will begin getting more views. There are exceptions, of course: some stories 'explode' with only one or two chapters. But those are the exception, not the rule .
  • A good synopsis and cover picture help a lot in attracting readers. Your synopsis must be short, grammatically correct (if you cannot write a proper synopsis, readers will be discouraged and won't bother reading your story) and engaging/catchy. Cover picture is also of vital importance. The first thing that (most) people notice when scrolling down the screen and looking for stories is the cover picture of each story. It is no coincidence that stories with a professional-looking cover art get far more views than stories with no cover art. You don't have to be a professional in order to find a good cover picture. On Google you can find more than a couple sites that offer copyright free images (such as Pixabay).
  • Ask and offer review swaps. Yes, this mean you will have to spend time reading and reviewing the works of other folk, which you may not want to do. It is fine. Not everyone has the free time or patience to do this. But if you do, it will help elevate you in the ranks and attract readers. Readers are more like to read stories with reviews.
  • Participate in the forum. People will eventually get to know you (kinda) and will look at your profile, or at the very least click the link under your post. This will help attract at least some readers to your story. To be perfectly honest, this is one of the reasons that I decided to write that post. At least some people will check my profile or see the link in my signature leading to my story, and hopefully this will lead to more readers.
  • As others stated, certain genres are more popular than others on RR. That doesn't mean that if you write science fiction or noir fiction, you shall not get any readers, but you will certainly have to struggle a lot more.
But really, the best advice that I can give you is this: keep writing.

Re: How do you guys get readers?

Best advice I can give is to keep writing consistently and updating often, review/read/comment on other people's fictions, and hang around the forum. 

Tracking where I get users from reveals that most come from the Latest Updates page, and then Followers pages, but after that, I'll get people looking at my fictions from comments on other people's fictions, posts in the forum, or from reviews that I've written. 

I'll also post on Twitter that the next chapter's up, but I'm honestly not sure if any of my reads have come from Twitter XD

Re: How do you guys get readers?

Edit: First I said I don't use tropes, but I guess I do use a few, it's very hard not to, but I do try to avoid them as they feel too cliche a lot of the time, but honestly you bring up a good point.  I couldn't even tell you what tropes are popular.  I want to write the story I want to tell, not the story people necessarily want to hear.  I am tempted, however, to throw together a quick romance and throw it up into the world like my disgusting, half-digested bacon and eggs, simply to draw attention to

Re: How do you guys get readers?

Every single element of storytelling is a trope... Why do people keep misunderstanding trope vs. cliche? Cliches are tropes that are widely regarded as banal and boring by pretty much everyone (but some people like cliches even so). A trope is just.... everything. Every literary device or story point or element of creating fiction. The division is pretty clear.

Anyway, I get new readers by busting my ass being active on social media and doing stupid promotions and writing a ton of content. It's paying off slowly but all I can say is that if you really, really want to get a lot of readers you have to work for it like it's a fulltime job. Not just the writing--if you're super lucky you'll get a big hit on here but only if you have a xianxia rational LitRPG--but the promotional work too. Also don't use Wattpad lol

Re: How do you guys get readers?

Lots of advice on here that's frankly... not that terribly useful. Posting on the forums? Please, that'll get you at most a couple of views, maybe you can beg for a review swap. It's time that could be better spent actually writing.

Here's a simple list:
1. Write for your demographic
Each site tends to develop a niche. Royal Road's is 'Isekai/Gamelit/Cultivation/Power Fantasy' Stories in those genres do well. People who like those kinds of stories come to this site. 
People who want Romantic Murder Mysteries go elsewhere to get their fix.

2. Post frequently
The more you post, the more attention you'll get. The view system works on a per-chapter basis.

3. Try to look professional
Get cover art. Pop over to Fiverr with fifty bucks if you need to. Write a compelling summary. Keep your formatting sensible. Your spelling and grammar and actual writing skills are important, but not as much as some people would suggest. 

4. If a story isn't working two months after posting the first chapter, give up
If it's not working, then it's not working. Drop it. Move on. 
Start a new story with new ideas and do better.

5. Learn how the system works
Figure out the algorithms, the optimal posting times, the places where people go for recommendations.

Source: I write web serials for a living. Been on RR for just over 6 months. Two stories currently in the top 100 by rating. 

I made a lot of mistakes posting my first story on here. Then I learned from them.
I made different mistakes on the second. 
I'm not going to repeat the same mistakes with the third. 

Re: How do you guys get readers?

Could try hypnosis, Blackmail, or a revolver and a hankie too. What do I do to attract readers?  Um, that would be nothing. I put the stories up before the intended audience. I go away, save for responding to readers comments. I don't "swap" for fake reviews, Don't offer coupons, hold block parties, or anything else.  If the story is in front of the wrong crowd it doesn't get read. Stories that received blank stares when put before romance reading teenage girls on Wattpad get read here and do quite well. I've no reason to believe the opposite would also be true, but I am not a romance writer.

I do participate in the forums, for whatever my two cents is worth, And look at stuff I like to read. I don't expect I will be mesmerizing people into reading things they don't want to read anytime soon. I suggest my own work only to people who are looking or asking for exactly what I write. Then leave them be.

Re: How do you guys get readers?

People can make a living if they're good at sales. There's a lot to it.

Specifically to self-publishing, you really should try to figure out where your potential customers are. Where are the spots online where the people who like books similar to your book hang out? If you're writing the kind of thing that you like to read, you should have some ideas. It's probably going to end up being some combination of reddits and message boards, possibly discords. Sign up for them and learn the local social norms.

Then, promote your book as much as you can within the social norms. Since r/litrpg lets you do a post promoting your own works twice a month, make sure you post there to promote your litrpgs twice a month. Different reddits and different forums will have different rules. You don't have to hang out on them enough to be a regular, but you want to have a read on the room so you can pitch your work effectively.

A good pitch to a receptive audience is only going to net you so many reviews and follows. The next step is to learn how Royal Road's internal promotion systems work so that you can get as much as you can out of those reviews. The other big thing is to have a stockpile and come out of the gate fast. As RavensDagger suggests, if you don't get traction within two months of posting you're probably never going to. Two months of prep work before you start posting will be much more effective than two months of trying to salvage something that isn't working.