We all know what it’s like: you write a fic, you’re proud of it, you upload it, and then… crickets. It’s discouraging when no one seems to be interested in a story we labored over and that we’re excited to share. Our first thoughts are often that we’re terrible writers, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Here are five reasons why your fanfic might not be getting any reviews—and what you can do to fix that!
1) It’s a work in progress
We’ve all been burnt by fanfics that have us checking our emails hourly, waiting for the author to update, but they never do. Life got in the way or they moved on to another fandom—the list of reasons why fanfics are abandoned is endless. So if you’re posting a work in progress, especially if you’re new to fanfic or are writing for a fandom you’ve never written for before, then readers might be wary of reading your fanfic. It’s often a self-fulfilling prophecy of course. Since people are wary of reading a work in progress, less people comment on them, which means they are more likely to be abandoned.
So what can you do?
If you’re writing a work in progress and you’d love to have a lot of comments on it, then it can help to update regularly. It may take a while, but once people see that updates are coming in fast, they will be more likely to read your fic. So if the first 2000 words of your Lord of the Rings length fanfic epic don’t attract any comments, don’t be disheartened—sometimes it can take a while for readers to trust a new author!
2) You aren’t commenting on other’s fanfics
Fandom is all about community—it’s about geeking out collectively. If you aren’t reading and commenting on other people’s fics, then you aren’t engaging with the fanfic community. Here is an article on why you shouldn’t be afraid to comment on fanfic. If you read other people’s fics and keep leaving lovely comments on them, then those fic’s authors might want to find out who you are. I know I often check out the profiles of people who’ve commented on my fics. This often leads to me discovering their fanfic! I don’t read their fics and comment on them specifically because they left a comment on my fic, but because I found their fics through the comments they left on my fics. Making friends with other fic author can also help improve your own writing which leads us to the next reason.
3) Your fanfic needs help
Yes, one of the reasons your fic may not be receiving comments may be that some aspect of it isn’t working. However, the good news is that fandom is very generous in helping writers out. After all, fanfics often form the backbone of many fandoms, so there are a lot of fans out there who want to encourage fanfic writers. If you really do think the problem is with your writing, then you may wish to find a beta reader—someone who will look over your fanfic and make helpful suggestions about your plot or who will simply fix any mistakes.
Other fanfic writers can also make excellent beta readers. You can read each other’s fics and encourage each other!
4) It’s tagged incorrectly
This is a fairly straightforward problem to fix. You want people to find your fic, so make sure that the tags you use on Ao3 are standard tags. Check what tags similar fics in your fandom have. Also, keep in mind that you might think it’s spoilery to tag every trope in your fic, but once your fic disappears off the front page the only way people will find it and read it is (a) if it’s recommended to them or (b) if you’ve tagged all your fic’s tropes. Someone wants to read a fanfic in which their favorite characters are in a fake relationship? You’d better make sure you’ve got your fake marriage fic tagged correctly so that this person can find it!
5) It’s a gen/friendship fic
These fics actually appeal to a large number of readers, but they often get lost in the void because people don’t know about them. If you’re wondering why other people’s gen fics are popular and yours isn’t, it’s probably because readers learnt about those fics by being subscribed to the author. Basically, they got an email notification about the fic. So what can you do if you don’t have a load of subscribers who are reading your gen fics and recommending them to their friends? Well, this is a tough one, but it may be worth considering which shippers may be interesting in your gen fic. Shippers aren’t just in it for relationship fics, many also love a good friendship fics. If you have a friendship fic that may interest certain shippers, you might want to let them know your fic exists. Don’t tag your fic incorrectly, but do consider advertising it in the pairing tag on Tumblr or posting it to an archive dedicated to that pairing—with a note that it is a friendship fic, of course!
If your fics aren’t getting any comments, then I hope you found some of the above mentioned suggestions useful or at least gained an understanding of why some fics seem to get all the comments, while others, which are just as good, attract only a few.