Re: Free Ad Space for your story: crafting your forum signature

#1
Whether you're new to Royal Road or a salty veteran, if you are an author then you need readers.  Waiting around for people to find your story via a search or landing the timing on the front page with your latest chapter release might snag a couple readers but to truly be successful you need to market your story.

Royal Road does offer an option to purchase some ad space on the site to promote your story, but they also offer a completely free advertising tool.  That tool, is your forum signature!  When you're active in the forums, you just click the little checkbox that says "Display your signature under your post?" and BOOM, free advertising.  The more active you are, the more often your personal ad banner will be shown to people.

Regular community support like welcoming new people or offering your opinion on the best writing tools becomes another chance draw more readers in.  Sure you can chime in on the self promotion threads or suggest your story in genre or recommendation threads, and you should, but your story will gain a lot more traction through repetition.  You don't think that major companies like Coca-cola or Nike rely on a single commercial to rake in the profits do you?  Of course not, they hit you again and again with commercials so that their products are at the front of your mind when it's time to buy.  Likewise, when forum travelers see you active and see your personal ad banner over and over, they'll think of your story when they are looking for the next interesting thing to read.

TLDR Wrote: Edit your sig: https://www.royalroad.com/account/signature
Copy/Paste/Edit this code into the code view:
Code:
[align=center][table][tr][td][url=THE_URL_ADDRESS_TO_YOUR_STORY][img=107x160]THE_URL_ADDRESS_TO_YOUR_COVER[/img]
[b]YOUR TITLE[/b][/url][/td][td]

[/td][td][b][size=5]My mini headline[/size][/b]
[i]My mini blurb, keep it to under a paragraph, just a couple lines to grab attention.[/i][/td][/tr][/table][/align]



So now you know how powerful having that space can be.  But just how do you create your signature, I hear you say?
1. Creating a New Signature
You might not know where to even get started, so first go to your settings page and scroll down the left side until you find the Forum section and click on Edit Signature.

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https%3A%2F%2Fwulongti.com%2Fimg%2Frr%2Feditsigscreen.jpeg

You can type whatever you like here and it will show up in the forum as your signature, however there are some traps to watch out for.

2. What you see is NOT what you get
The editor doesn't actually include the tools for Forum code but that's what gets processed in your sig when displayed in the forum.  Even if you enter forum code in the code view, it won't display it as such in the preview.  So this could mean a lot of trial and error on your part to figure out exactly how what you enter will get processed.  It IS possible though to try and get what you want in a forum post, then switch to the code view and copy/paste what's there into the code view of the signature editor.  This might be the closest you'll get to a What You See Is What You Get experience.

3. Forum Output
When your signature gets output in the forum, the section where it lives has a MAXIMUM size of 200 pixels no matter how wide the page is.  It will also automatically shrink any contents so that they don't end up too wide to fit.  Any images or text that you put into your signature that ends up taller than 200 pixels will trigger a vertical scroll bar to show up in your sig.  This can be fine so that people can see the full thing if they want, but you should always assume that no one will bother to scroll your sig.  Best to keep everything within the container size to avoid it, if possible.

You can see in my signature below that I've limited the contents to under 200 pixels to prevent the scroll bar from showing up

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4. The Code View
As mentioned before, the preview in the signature editor won't reflect what shows up so it's best not to pay a lick of attention to what it tells you.  Just click on the code view button all the way to the right:
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This is the code view for my (as of this writing) signature:
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Some things to keep in mind that even in the code view every new line you make will be treated in your signature as a line break-- even the ones after the open or closing tags So try to keep everything on a single line unless you WANT a line break.  So what's going on in this code?

First I've added an "align" tag. This will make sure that everything inside is centered within it's container.  It won't center your table on the page though :/
Code:
[align=center]


I've found that not ALL forum code works, there's a lot that gets stripped out so things can be tricky.  There is also a maximum character count so you might have to be selective about what goes into your personal ad space.
Next, I'm creating a table.  The reason for this is so that I can have a "cell" or container for each of my 3 stories and have them next to each other instead of stacked.  The tr stands for "table row" and the td is "table data".  If you think about what a spreadsheet looks like, the rows are the cells going across and the data is the individual cell.  You can't define columns, so each td in your row creates another column.  We'll be keeping it simple though.
Code:
[table][tr][td]


I'm then adding a url tag so that the readers can click on my book cover and text.  It's better to link to your story's main page rather than the first chapter to give people a chance to read your blurb.  Note that I'm still keeping everything on the same line here.  You can find the url to your story at the top of your browser.  Just visit your story main page and copy/paste the url from there.
Code:
[url=https://the-url-to-your-story]


Now for the book cover, note that I'm controlling the size of the image and limiting it so that when displayed, I won't go over the 200 mark.
Code:
[img=107x160]https://www.royalroadcdn.com/covers-full/33577-i-was-reborn-into-a-fantasy-world-as-a-magic-robot.jpg?time=1592997288[/img]


How to get the url for your book cover?  If you go to your story main page, you'll see your book cover.  Right click on it with your cursor and select "Copy image link" (or path or address depending on the browser).  If you're trying to do this on mobile, you can long press on the cover and get the option "open image in new tab."  From there, you copy the url from the browser's url bar.
https%3A%2F%2Fwww.royalroadcdn.com%2Fsupportatta...1607506133https%3A%2F%2Fwww.royalroadcdn.com%2Fsupportatta...1607508644

With the image added, we finally get to hit return and add a new line.  Here I've added the name of my story, wrapped in bold tags.  You may need to shorten the title if it won't fit properly.  We don't want to rely on just the book cover since sometimes the title can be hard to read when squished down to this size, or some covers forget to include a title at all.  We just want to make sure that it's inside of that url tag so that it's clickable for the reader.
Code:
[b]Automata Prime[/b][/url][/td][td]


We don't want more line breaks so be sure to close out all the open tags on this same line.  Note that above, we've added a new opening td tag.  we'll add a line break here, plus one more, and then close it out.  The reason for this is because when displayed, the td container will end up getting a single space inside of it and we can use that as a spacer so that the next cell isn't smashed right up against the first one.
Code:
[b]Automata Prime[/b][/url][/td][td]
 

[/td][td]


Again, we're opening the next td on the same line as the closing one so we don't get an extra line break in there.  It's possible that you only have one story, so this td would be a fantastic place for you to add a mini blurb or some attention grabbing text about your story.  If you have more than one, then you might want to repeat the above steps to add additional books to your sig.  On your last line, be sure to properly close out all of your open tags, to include the tr, the table, and the align.

I've created this code sample for you to use to get you started.  Just copy and paste it into the code view of your signature editor and adjust as needed.
Code:
[align=center][table][tr][td][url=THE_URL_ADDRESS_TO_YOUR_STORY][img=107x160]THE_URL_ADDRESS_TO_YOUR_COVER[/img]
[b]YOUR TITLE[/b][/url][/td][td]

[/td][td][b][size=5]My mini headline[/size][/b]
[i]My mini blurb, keep it to under a paragraph, just a couple lines to grab attention.[/i][/td][/tr][/table][/align]


I hope this helps and you find it useful, as always, feel free to reach out if you have any troubles and would like me to look over your code for you.  The more present you are in the forums and active in the various threads, the more successful your advertising campaign will be.  I wish you good luck and many happy readers!

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P.S. -- The preview of a forum post will put things that are in CODE tags in a nice little box like a block quote, but when you submit and it actually gets displayed it switches to that inline pink style.... which is super annoying.  I've pestered Kanadaj about it but nothing will change since I'm probably the only one that cares.  Hopefully it will copy/paste properly for you... and I can't NOT use the code tags because then the site will try to run/display the code instead of show you the text...

Re: Free Ad Space for your story: crafting your forum signature

#6

Asviloka Wrote: Is there any way to force the columns to be the same width as each other? Right now they're aligned very asymmetrically and it kinda bothers me.

If we had access to proper html, then yes.... but sadly we're SUPER limited in what we can do, we don't even have access to all the BBCode options available for tables so we can't even get a top aligned cell (which super bugs me).

In your sig, each cell is trying to be as thin as the widest thing inside of it.  When I inspect it, I can see a   in front, and 2 behind "High fantasy murder mystery", so I'm thinking that in your sig code you must have some extra spaces around the bold part.
If you want to force your table cells to be 'at least this wide' then you can add an image at the top of the cell that has 0 height but X width... but you're going to hit the max character count most likely and there isn't currently a way to say "no bigger than this" :/

Kana (the site developer) has teased that we'll be getting actual HTML in the forums for a while now, even if it's severely hamstrung like what's available in the story editor, it would still be better....

Re: Free Ad Space for your story: crafting your forum signature

#8
Thank you! This was extremely helpful, and it is even easy for people who don't understand coding. I usually struggle to do all the fancy effects like this on other websites because I don't understand and it gets messy. I am really thankful that you made the sample code for us and also explained each step. This is altogether an excellent tutorial and I am very thankful for that.

Re: Free Ad Space for your story: crafting your forum signature

#10

AlmondMilk Wrote: Thank you! This was extremely helpful, and it is even easy for people who don't understand coding. I usually struggle to do all the fancy effects like this on other websites because I don't understand and it gets messy. I am really thankful that you made the sample code for us and also explained each step. This is altogether an excellent tutorial and I am very thankful for that.

I'm so glad that it was helpful for you! ^__^



YuKurogane Wrote: There we go! Thanks

Nice. Glad you got it figured out :D

Re: Free Ad Space for your story: crafting your forum signature

#19
Personally I don't like seeing people's signatures that much. It's like being spammed by a thousand colorful ads, "click me click me!! PLEASE click me", in every thread, in every post. There are already subforums for free advertising. If there was an option to disable (other people's) signatures I'd use it. Respect to the authors who have fictions but don't put them in their signatures! I know I'm probably in the minority here, but I think seeing it is quite ugly.

Re: Free Ad Space for your story: crafting your forum signature

#20

arashifufu Wrote: Personally I don't like seeing people's signatures that much. It's like being spammed by a thousand colorful ads, "click me click me!! PLEASE click me", in every thread, in every post. There are already subforums for free advertising. If there was an option to disable (other people's) signatures I'd use it. Respect to the authors who have fictions but don't put them in their signatures! I know I'm probably in the minority here, but I think seeing it is quite ugly.



I see where you are coming from. But, the way I see it, there are wayyyy too many stories in Royal Road. And we cannot read all of them. At least those who are actively inviting you to read their stories, they must be confident at some level to want a second pair of eyes to go through their stories, which increases the chances of their stories being actually good. Also, an open and inviting attitude might indicated that they may be more receptive to any comment or critique or available to answering questions, if I want to interact with the authors in their comment section. Who like to shout into the vacuum?  
peolaughing

Plus, signatures show that the author is actually putting some effort into their work and their story, which increases their chances of putting effort into their writing as well. There are a couple more reasons. I wouldn't wanna bore you with those. But, personally, I like it very much, and I think it is very creative. 
peoapproval