The Twilight Fandom: Choosing Your "Net"
So, thus far in these articles, we’ve discussed presentation and beta’ing, but now it’s the inevitable time to get technical, so let's talk about posting. You should be asking yourself: where? That’s right. You have OPTIONS.
Pastiche's Power Knows No Bounds.
Also, this article is especially timely. I began researching this topic before FF decided to go haywire this past week, and one of my key topics was where to post T, M, and NC-17/MA stories. In light of the recent tumult, that topic gets an additional discussion at the end.
Anyway, we commence:
FF is pretty much High Tara in the fandom universe. It is a database and archive, created in '98 by a student, Xing Li. As of February 16, 2009, Twilight was the fourth largest fandom on FF with 64,165 stories posted. FF is simple. Anyone over 13 years of age can get an account and post… “whatever.”
Features & Functions:
1. The ROLL. When you click on the "Twilight" category on FanFiction.net, and you see the list of the 25 most recently posted stories, you are clicking on the "roll." It is the massive spooling cyber-wheel upon which all stories get a front page feature until more stories come along and bump them to the back pages. The roll is simultaneously the most democratic and tedious way to find new stories—even as it remains absolutely essential.
2. Story Alerts. A reader subscription via email. Story title, chapter title and number, summary, and author name are listed for the reader in the mail.
3. Story Favorites. A reader loves your story, chooses to “add to favorites,” and it gets listed on the “favorite tab” on her profile page.
4. Author Alerts/Favorites. Same as above, except with authors.
5. Communities (C2s). Members can create story collections for a particular interest, a contest, or a specialized favorites list that other's can subscribe to as well.
1. Speed. You can post immediately on FF. There is no validation process.
2. Word-of-Mouth. When a story goes “big” on FF—a story goes BIG. This is due in part to the "favorites" function on profile pages. One person favorites a story. Someone sees their profile page, reads the story, and favorites it, too. And so on and so forth. Eventually reviews burgeon, reaching high digits, and more people take notice and check out the story and so on and so forth. The KABOOM hits.
3. Community Subscriptions. A great number of readers like to rely on others to collect stories for them—especially when they trust a particular reader and don’t have the time to find new stories on their own. Thus, communities (C2s) are a key story access point for many readers. Access C2s by searching through the “Communities” category on FF or by seeing the community tab on a particular author’s profile page—and then you can subscribe and receive stories automatically. Some of the more popular C2s on FF (beside the contests) include “The Human in Them,” “Good, Completed Twilight Fiction,” and “Graphic Lemons.”
4. Contests. C2s also allow for popular contests to occur. For example, the most popular C2 for Twilight happens to be a contest, “The Dirty Talking Edward Contest.” The C2 feature allows contest holders to collect the stories in a single place, list the rules on the C2 profile page, and finally, conduct a poll to determine winners. Meanwhile, readers can subscribe to receive the entries. Contests are great ways to introduce new authors.
1. Size. I like to call the FF Roll the place where good fic goes to die, because seriously, for a brand new author with no preexisting FF buddies to spread the word, gaining readers and reviews takes FOREVER—even if the story is GREAT. The story is one out of 65,000 after all.
***This problem has led to a new regular feature on TLYDF: The 50 Clicks Dumpster Diving Challenge—we’re sending authors straight to the FF Roll to highlight new stories. See the post below.***
2. Quality. Because anyone can post on FF, fewer readers use the roll to find new fic.
3. Banned Content. MA fic is banned. Fics with real-live actors—banned.
Twilighted was created by real live ladies who wanted to create a site for mature, quality Twilight fan fiction. (Ladies, you rock.)
Features & Functions:
1. The ROLL – validated stories are easily found under the “Most Recent” tab listed at the top of the screen. Featured stories include title, basic information, summaries of almost any length, and possibly a fancy banner, too.
2. Validators/Twilighted Betas – you cannot just “post” a story on Twilighted. All stories must be accepted and approved for grammar and content, and then all subsequent chapters must be validated prior to posting. Your Twilighted beta will post your story after she reviews it.
3. Story Favorite – Unlike on FF, a story Favorite on Twilighted functions as an ALERT. No one else will be able to see your favorites on your profile, but like with FF, you will received an automated email when an author updates. Click the “submit” button to get this going. (I think a LOT of people don’t know this feature exists. I had been using Twilight for three months before I figured it out… so yeah, be sure to “Favorite” on Twilighted, too!)
4. Author Favorite – Functions like a story favorite.
5. Ratings – You can rate stories on Twilighted from 1 to 10. This will result in a rating out of five stars. Does this tell you what the best stories are? Not really. Most popular stories have 5 stars… as do many unpopular stories. And for new stories, a single bad rating can give a really bad impression to other readers.
6. Ribbons. Twilighted validators/betas on occasion will decide to highlight a story for its exceptional writing by placing a blue ribbon on its summary page. I personally adore this little feature…
7. Round Robins. If you are going to collaborate with another author, you can both assign your names to a story.
1. Quality. The fact that validators take the time to go through and review stories means that the quality is inevitably higher on Twilighted. A large number of discerning readers use the Twilighted roll as a way to find new stories because of the higher standard.
2. Content. You can post on Twilighted what you cannot post on FF, e.g. NC-17/MA and real-live actor stories (AKA Rob stories). *Note: incest and pedophilia are banned from Twilighted, so take that stuff to your LiveJournal if you feel like you have a Nabokovesque tale to tell.
3. BANNERS…! Perfect, wonderful, artistic, enticing banners. (Yes, I like them.) You can post a banner or square graphic, giving readers a visual insight to your story. I’m of the opinion that you shouldn’t even post on Twilighted without a banner. Stories with banners get more attention—as they should.
4. Collaborations. Twilighted lets you have multiple authors on the same story with the Round Robin feature, so you both get your names alongside the reviews. This solves the problem that occurs on FF, in which both authors collaborate on a story, but one author has 800 reviews for the story while the other has 250.
1. Size and Limitations. No story on Twilighted has over 2k reviews. In contrast, stories on FF in the Twilighted fandom have reached over 10k reviews. FF is simply bigger, with a larger number of readers.
2. Posting Speed. Because Twilighted stories rely on betas to review, validate, and post them, the time at which they hit the roll is not in your control. Also, the betas are real people with lives, and while some betas are super fast, others are not as fast.
Rambling & Thoughts
Rambling Thoughts is a strictly canon site. No AU, no all-human; also, no rating beyond PG-13. It only accepts new authors for limited intervals. Once you’ve submitted story and it’s accepted, it takes a while to get posted. Thankfully, once you are posted, you are free to post on your own. It has a smaller readership than the aforementioned sites; however, if you are a canon writer, small is good because you get a devoted readership. Nice, eh?
Live Journal.com (LJ)
LiveJournal is a virtual community where Internet users can keep a blog, journal, diary—or fan fiction archive. TLYDF is going to cover LJ more in depth in another article—but know that your individual LJ page is your own page. You can restrict who accesses it. It is yours. Yours. Yours. Yours. The obvious disadvantage here is that it’s harder to find, but if you are linked with related communities, e.g. JacobxBella shipping community or let’s say… a gift exchange, you will connect with a wider circuit of people. Cool, eh?
K or T or M or R or NC-17—Which Site Do I Choose for My Rating?
This is simple. If possible, post everywhere you can. The more places you publish, the more eyes will get to see your story. That being said, if you have an NC-17 or M (M is defined as age 16+ on FF) fic, you will benefit from being published on Twilighted. There are several reasons: First, the default setting on FF Roll is K-T, thus M fics don’t show up unless you click “M” or “All Stories,” but on Twilighted, the NC-17 fics always show up in the roll.
Second, as many of you became aware this past week, FF technically does not accept MA or NC-17 fics, i.e. fics with explicit content (see GinnyW post). In fact in 2002, FF banned Mature Adult (MA) fics, causing a great exodus of fics to external adult sites, e.g. equivalents of Twilighted.net and LiveJournal accounts and communities. Now, does MA content continue to exist sub rosa on FF? You betcha. Is FF going to delete M fic any time soon? Hah. HAH. I laugh—long and hard. FF makes money off of advertisers. Cutting M fics would probably make it unprofitable. To stay profitable, FF relies on users to report extreme abuse. Why? Because it’s cheap. Now, is there a possibility that FF could delete all M? Sure. But there’d have to be a viable, consolidated legal threat—so, it’s unlikely.
Still. Rules are rules, so if you have a fic with mature content, and you’re worried… back that baby up by publishing on Twilighted or on a LiveJournal account.
Pastiche’s Pen Tip: Turn off the ad blocker on FF. How? On the home page, FF has no actual “help” section. But there is a beautiful and often ignored feature: the ad blocker. Roll your mouse cursor over “Help” in the upper right-hand corner (but don’t click, “roll”) and then click to get three days ad-free.
Pastiche is hilarious as hell and quite possibly the Second Coming. You know this by now. Find her here.