How to get more views on your Literature
This article is an exploration of a common question on DeviantART in the Literature community; "How do I get more views?" If you read all of this you win a pony.
Lately there has been a lot of discussion around the site about ways to expand the literature community and the visibility of literature on the site. It has been noted that a lot of people believe that site changes by the DeviantART team will help them get more attention for their work. It has also been noted in the past that when new features are instigated (such as more html, better thumbnails and stash) that people often interpret whether or not they have a direct positive effect on their own views as a way of telling if the new feature is worthwhile or not.
It has been suggested that the community and individuals therein should themselves take more responsibility for creating opportunities and maximising potential. So this article is to explore the questions, Do people know what they want? How can they get it? and ultimately whose responsibility is it to achieve your desired goals?
I spoke to some of the writers who are currently receiving a high volume of attention to help shed some light on this matter.
Firstly, you need to identify what you want out of DeviantART. There are a million reasons why you could be here, have you actually taken the time to consider what yours are? Here are some of the most popular ones to get you started;
I want my work to be seen by a lot of people
I want my work to be seen by like minded people
I want help to progress and evolve as a writer
I want to advertise my work and potentially move into the profitable side of writing (by that I mean perhaps gaining a fan base on DeviantART and then self publishing a book and encouraging your fans to buy it?)
I want to make friends
I want to read and be inspired by other great writers and let that inspiration encourage my own work
Identifying what you want out of this site is the first step to getting it. Personally I want a lot of people to see my work, I want to be inspired, I want like minded people to see my work AND I want to make friends. I want it all. There's no shame in being greedy and wanting more than one thing, as long as you take the time to work out what it is you want and which of those things is the most important to you.
The next thing to do is work out your limits. There are some questionable ways to gain favourites on your works. Giveaway of points in exchange for favourites, purposefully staying within the realms of generic statements that appeal to the widest audiences or leaving messages on people's profiles asking them to read your latest work. These are all possible avenues to take if all you want is favourites, but if you are considering these options you need to consider why. What does a favourite mean if you have to beg, barter or pander to get them?
I am not saying that these actions are wrong. It's about working out what is right for you. If you choose to do things the 'easy' way though you will get a transitory readership that doesn't necessarily establish a connection with you as a writer. So how long will they stick around? Is that important to you? It's worth considering what kind of readers (and therefore favourites and views) you actually want. Is it a numbers game or is it about making connections?
There are no wrong answers, but it is necessary to consider it because if you want deep meaningful connections but you choose actions that are counter-productive then of course you will not achieve your goal. So as well as considering what you want, you also need to consider how you want it.
I joined DeviantART at a time when the literature community was divided between academic and technical writers and emotional writers. I wanted my community to be welcoming to all so I started a chatroom, I ran competitions, I got to know my readers. I left for two years and came back a few months ago, most of my watchers had left DeviantART in my absence and I had to start again from scratch. I have been at the very top and the very bottom here at DeviantART, and I know what works for me.
I found that the best way to flourish in the literature community is simple, make friends. If you have a thousand deviations in your message center and you only have an hour which ones do you pick to read? For me, I choose to read the work of my talented friends first. There are two parts to that sentence. 1) TALENTED. Literary art is a form of art, if your art isn't good then you can't consistently expect a huge volume of fans. 2) FRIENDS. I read my friends work first because I care about what's going on in their minds. So logic says, make friends.
So before we move on, is your work any good? "Good" is entirely subjective, of course. I don't personally judge a piece of literature based on how many spelling mistakes there are, but some people do. Before you hit submit have you checked that what you are trying to express has been communicated in the best way for your audience to understand and enjoy?
Is your idea unique? It might be a broad subject (like love) with a unique set of imagery. It might be something abstract and new. What makes your work worth reading?
Did you proof read it? Whilst spelling mistakes, grammar and punctuation issues don't make your piece 'bad' it can be an obstruction between you and your audience, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to enjoy your work so that the most people possible can, right? So take a minute to check for obvious mistakes. I am really poor at this and have to focus really hard on it and still make tonnes of mistakes, but that one minute proof read catches more than you think and can clean up your first impression on your reader.
WHY? If you have an unusual layout with indentations or no capital letters; why? Its fine to do both of those things (I do!) but only if you do it on purpose. If you choose to do it because it's the right thing to do to reflect the meaning of your work. Don't drop capital letters out of laziness or because it's currently trendy. You don't need to be trendy, you need to be yourself.
Lastly, would you read it, enjoy it, recommend it to a friend? You always have your Scrapbook gallery if not. You can edit it in the future or just keep it there as a record of something you've written without everyone having to see it. You know that expression "You're only as good as your last game"? If someone came into your gallery and clicked this piece at random and read it and decided whether or not to invest any more time exploring your gallery based on this piece, would they? If this piece doesn't exemplify your capabilities as a writer, then put it away for now.
If you want meaningful connections between people and your work then you have to invest in those connections. You need to get to know people and let them get to know you. You have to talk to them about their work (it is, after all, one guaranteed shared interest you have with all other writers on the site!). You'll quickly get to know which of your friends have spare time if you need something proofread or an in-depth critique and which ones have less time but give you as much as they can. People are valuable, and you have to treat them as such.
So how do you make friends? The first way is TALKING :
. Giving and graciously receiving critiques can open up lines of communication between people who are passionate about language. Invaluable friends to have! Chat rooms
. There are a couple of literature chat rooms but often they are quiet, you don't have to talk about literature! Just go and say hi and ask someone how they are. You never know who might end up being a great friend, not just to your work but also to you personally! Forums
. I don't know much about the forums I'm afraid (never enough time in the days!) but a lot of people use the DeviantART forums to communicate and discuss their art. Commenting
. Even a simple "I really like this" can make someone's day and they are far more likely to respond to a comment than to a favourite (it's sad but it's true!) Does this take a little bit more time? Yes, but think of it as a potential investment in the reciprocated interest in your own work. Some (not all!) of the people you comment on will go explore your gallery as a result and you might make a friend there.
Another way to make friends is to participate in your community. Events
. The literature community is full of them! Word wars, Poetry slams, interviews. You can keep up to date with events by watching CRLiterature
and in particular IrrevocableFate
's impressive Lit List which puts everything going on in a simple easy to use list format. Competitions
. Entering competitions can be great fun but if you happen to place in the competition then you get more exposure... but more than that have you considered checking out your competition? Reading other entries to competitions not only helps you shape your work to be unique (and a potential winner) but you might find something inspirational or someone fantastic. Volunteering
. There are groups and projects to run, competitions to judge, chat events to host. You can get involved. You don't need to run a new small project by yourself to be noticed as a valuable member of the community. Why not join an active literature group that is already running and see how your unique perspective can contribute to your community. If you contribute to your community people will be drawn towards you and that in itself increases the chances of your work being seen (but it's also just great fun!).
So the question to consider is, right now how
do you promote your work? Forget about the creative writing process, forget about the content or the technical skill. What happens after
you hit submit?
The important thing to remember is that DeviantART is an ART site, and artists are responsible for their own brand (their work, themselves). Creation and promotion are two separate skills, I struggle with the latter but I work hard at it because it is equally important. It's great to be able to create something amazing, but it's also up to you to get people to take a moment to notice it.
There are tools you can utilise to help promote your work, all through this article I've had quotes from writers discussing how they do it, but here is a summary of some of the most popular techniques to start establishing a fan base (once you have one, maintain it, but that's another story!)
Let's start with the two biggest features literature can get. DD's and DLD's. DD's
. I heard from neurotype
that she only gets 5 - 10 DD suggestions a week. DD's are given every single day of the year. No single deviant can be featured twice within a six month period. This is a huge opportunity for lesser known artists to get site wide promotion, and yet so few suggestions? When was the last time you suggested a DD? Have you ever received a DD? If not, have you ever suggested your best work for a DD? Did you even know you can do that? There is no shame in being your own best advocate of your work. YOU know better than anyone else what you are good at... but if you don't want to suggest your own work then try suggesting other people's. People are always so excited to get a DD and so grateful to their suggester you could make a friend... and maybe one day they might return the favour.
Other tools you can utilise are more day to day ways to promote your work and have less limits and you can actively do them yourself. Groups
. Speaking of groups, there are many. You can go through the groups page and look for the literature groups that best suit your needs. There are ones that are genre specific, or ones that feature anything but have big audiences and can get you seen by them and everything in between.
The last group I am going to mention (although there are LOADS to look out for) is TheShelfLife
. It's a small group but what they do is collect links of all published books (including self published I believe) from DeviantART writers. So if you have a book, get on the list. It takes five minutes! Preview images
. I don't use them personally but using a preview image to draw more visual audience members in to reading your work can be a useful tool to get them TO your work, but remember the literature itself still has to do the work.
At the end of the day, this article mainly reflects my own personal belief and it isn't going to work for everyone, but it has worked for me twice (in 2007 and in 2013). I think the best thing anyone can do to promote your work is for you to invest your time in doing so.
Yes, there are things I wish that the DeviantART team would instigate to make things easier for the literature community. Of course there are. But there are hundreds of small communities within DeviantART and they have to balance a whole site worth of needs as well as keeping the whole site operational, current and progressive. As The Rolling Stones once said "You can't always get what you want but if you try sometimes, then you just might find, you get what you need".
I would like to thank PrussianPersephone
for taking the time to share their insight about their work with us. Thank you guys!
I hope this article has given you a lot to think about. I think in the main there are some big questions for each reader to consider, either privately or in the comments. To make it easy I will re-list the summary questions from each section of the article above and I would love to hear your thoughts both on them and on the comments from the other writers.
Questions for the readers:
What do you want out of DeviantART / What are you on the site for and then how do you want it? (What are you willing or not willing to do to achieve your goals?)
Is your work the best that you can make it; conceptually and in the way its presented (spelling, grammar, punctuation)? Its okay to ask for help, but have you made the initial effort with it?
If you make unusual choices (with spelling, language, punctuation, layout, etc) then are those choices relevant to the meaning of the work? Is it appropriate? Is it necessary?
Would you recommend your work to a friend if you hadn't written it based on the finished product alone (not including artist's comments!)
Is your piece a good example of your skill as a writer / If someone read only this piece what would they think of your skills as a writer? Do you use your scraps gallery?
Who is responsible for getting your work seen?
How do you promote your work after it is submitted?
Do you engage in critiques or commenting?
Do you engage in chatrooms, events, competitions or forums?
Do you volunteer to help the literature community become the kind of community you want? Do you participate in literature groups?
Do you suggest DD's and / or DLD's?
Do you watch and communicate with the literature community volunteers and active community members?
Do you think that preview images would help you draw people into your work, and if so do you think that your work would get the favourite or the image?
Do you think that you can do more towards getting your work seen before asking for more features from the deviantART team?
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