Welcome back to Austen Promises and the Writer’s Journal!
The topic of forums is on my mind this week, because I am currently posting my newest novel, To Save Elizabeth, on the darcyandlizzy.com forum. DarcyandLizzy is one of maybe a dozen forums devoted to Jane Austen Fan Fiction. JAFF can also be found on other forums not dedicated strictly to JAFF, like fanfiction.net, An Archive of Our Own, and Wattpad.
In case there are readers who have never been on a forum, let me explain what they are. Forums are places where people gather to chat and share things, in this case, JAFF. People of varying ages and abilities write stories and post them. Other people read the stories and make comments on them. Since writers are also readers, writers will read and comment on the stories posted by their fellow writers. The forums generally have private messaging capabilities and one or more chat rooms.
Some of the writers are hobbyists, some are unpublished other than on the forum, and some are full-time authors like myself. As I said before, they have varying levels of ability. Some stories are full of grammar, usage, and mechanics errors, and some are ready to publish.
I have seen published authors question those who post on Wattpad, wondering why a person would give their story away for free. There are as many reasons for this as there are writers who are posting. Some are there to find readers, some to get feedback they can use to improve the story, and some simply for the social interaction.
For myself, posting on forums (and at this point in time, I’m only posting on DarcyandLizzy) is a way to give back to the JAFF community. Many readers cannot afford to buy books, and so visit forums to read. In general, forum readers are not buyers, though there are a few who try to support us with their dollars as well as their comments.
I used to post on more forums, but behind-the-scenes politics chased me away. Brenda at D&L doesn’t tolerate nonsense, the rules are clearly stated with no hidden/unspoken rules, and I feel safe there, so there I will stay. 🙂
Posting on forums can take time, and that can be seen as a drawback. But, the good, in my opinion, outweighs the bad.
One of the good things about posting on a forum is that you do get that feedback. You can see how many views your story has gotten, which means the number of people who have opened the posts, and possibly read them. Some people keep track of this, and compare to other stories, their own and those of others. It helps the author to determine how popular the story is. I’m not sure how accurate a predictor of sales this is, but it can certainly give an author a general idea of how well it is being received.
You can also ask readers to private message you if they see problems with your story. I don’t always remember to do this, so most of my feedback has been positive. Once in a while, someone sees a problem and pm’s me about it. I always handle it as politely as I can. There’s no point in getting upset because someone pointed out to me something they saw as a problem.
Often, especially if a writer is putting their story in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program and the forum is not password protected, he or she will pull the story from the forum when they publish. They may leave a one or two chapter preview on the forum, but the terms of service for Kindle Unlimited require exclusivity to Amazon, so that’s all they can leave. I’m not in KU, and I’ve only used forums that required a password to enter, so none of my stories have ever been removed from one.
Some readers of this post might wonder where they can find these forums. I’m not going to list all the fan fiction forums here, mainly because there is a specific forum that I don’t wish to promote. I don’t know all of them, anyway, and am not a member of some, though there is one that I’m a member of that I can’t get into. My username and password don’t work and really never have. If you are interested in looking into JAFF forums, a simple Google search for “Jane Austen Fan Fiction forum” should net you a list of them.
Are you a forum reader? Do you post your writing on a forum? What has your experience been like?
Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! <3