If you’ve ever been to a website that features an archive of submitted short stories, you’ll notice that certain story submissions and their authors attract a great deal of reader feedback and attention, while others hardly get noticed at all. So, what exactly is the magic element that attracts a great deal of reader traffic to some stories, while others remain unknown, unseen, and unappreciated?
The magic element is promotion.
Hopeful and novice writers often make the mistake of assuming that the simple act of posting their short story online will be sufficient to attract readers. Yet they fail to put themselves in the place of the reader. When faced with a large archive of posted short stories, the average reader will often look to the best rated, or most recently posted, short story. Some websites will merely showcase a random sampling of stories from its archive. Yet you’ll notice that, in some cases, there are posted stories that aren’t necessarily the best rated, nor are they the most recently submitted – yet they keep on getting an abundance of daily reader traffic. How do they keep bringing them in? The answer is that their authors are getting out there, spreading the word, and letting other readers on other websites know where their short story postings can be found. A few tips on what they do:
Tip One: Post Links To Your Story
Easier said than done, right? Well, actually it is quite easy. All you need do is to go where the community of readers and writers are. Do a search for online Groups and Forums that are set up specifically for people who love to read and write short stories online. Join those groups – which usually entails little more than registering a username and password – and then start letting your fellow group members know where they can find your posted stories: “Hey, guys, check out my newly posted short story at this link…!”
Posting links to your story also helps your short story to get better coverage on search engines. But first, make sure that your chosen story submission website is one that is set up to properly showcase your short story on search engines. To do that, simply do a search for your short story posting and see how it displays on the search engine. Ideally, you would want the author by-line to show up alongside the story title in the search listing, since your by-line is ultimately your branding mark as a writer.
Tip Two: Going Viral – Spread The Word On Social Networking Websites
As a writer, you should realize that a social network website can serve as a crucial weapon in your promotional arsenal. Websites, such as Facebook or LinkIn, allow you to set up friendship networks or to join Groups consisting of members with similar interests – in your case, groups with an interest in literary fiction.
On such websites, you can set up your own profile page as you concentrate on amassing a network of friends and contacts. Those contacts then follow your various postings and links. Again, you want to post messages to your network contacts and Group members along the lines of, “Check out my short story posting at this link…!”
Tip Three: The Value Of Excerpt Marketing
As you work to increase your social network of contacts and groups on these websites, you should take care to start posting choice excerpts from your story submission, accompanying it with a link. Again, check that your chosen story submission website is properly set up to attractively showcase such links on social network sites, providing your title and author by-line in the posted link. This strategy is what I dub Excerpt Marketing. The key is to pique the curiosity of your network friends with your excerpt, and to get them to click on the link that brings them to your posted story. For such purposes, choose a brief story excerpt that can stand on its own, that provides a hook, and that’s punchy.
You don’t have to stick with just one excerpt from your story, either. If it’s a strong short story with a great number of punchy, interesting passages to choose from, it will furnish you with more opportunity to provide a series of excerpt posts, with links, for that story to your network. Think of it as serializing your short story through a series of brief excerpts. But again, make sure that each excerpt is strong enough to stand on its own.
Tip Four: Suggesting The Story Submission Website To Your Social Network Contacts
Now that you’ve done the work to promote your short story submission to the social network that you’re building, you might want to consider whether your chosen story submission website has its own page on the social networking site that you’ve joined. Moreover, you would want to know whether the story submission site has a policy of promoting its participating writers on such a page. If so, then you might consider suggesting this page to your social network contacts. Invite them to choose that page as their favorite. They, in turn, might suggest that page to their own contacts, thereby increasing your prospective reader audience beyond the reach of your own immediate network. In such cases, you’ll have a web of contacts whose pages will contain various and interlinked references to your story submission site and your specific story posting. All in all, an excellent way to keep your posted story fresh in the minds of your contacts and their own extended contacts.
Tip Five: Extend Your Author Brand With More Story Postings
Keep in mind that your author by-line is your brand. If a reader likes one of your story postings, then it is likely that the next time they visit the story submission website, they’ll look you up as an author. Thus, it helps to have a regular schedule of story postings in order to give your fans a reason for coming back from time to time to check for updates.
When you post more short stories, you also have a further reason and opportunity to provide another fresh round of announcements, postings, and links for your social contact network, once more extending your brand as an author worth checking out.
Tip Six: Don’t Be Complacent
This last tip is the most valuable tip of all. Before, you might have scratched your head, wondering why the writers who amassed the largest fan base and the most reader traffic for their story postings were not necessarily the best. Well, now you know. Unlike the vast majority of writers who submit their short stories online, these writers weren’t complacent with their posted stories.
They understood that, in the end, submitting your short story online is only the first step to getting read.