John's Guide to Getting Reviews
Or more accurately, the do's and don'ts of asking for/getting reviews.
So I wanted to help new authors to this fandom get more reviews for their work. Sue me, I wanna help you all. I was partly inspired by Serena Kenobi's Spock's Rules for Reviews, (which is brilliant!) I decided this fandom needed one too.
No offense to anyone. I'm guilty of nearly all on the list.
"Morning, boys!" I said as I bounced into the homely flat of 221B. The consulting detective lounging on the sofa drawled nonchalantly, "John, another one of my fans broke in again."
I gave him the stink eye as I heard the doctor's footsteps rush towards us. "Actually, I was shamelessly inserting myself here for John."
Doctor Watson pounded down the stairs and came to a halt next to me. He stared at me for longer than was actually necessary. "Yes, miss-?"
"Adi," I said smoothly, "I'm not one of those rabid fangirls who bother you," I always was such a great liar, "but I do need your help with something, Doctor Watson."
"Ask away, Adi," he said politely, smiling that butter-melting smile, "Sherlock, out. I have a patient-"
"Oh no!" I said quickly, "I'm actually here on behalf of the writers of Fanfiction dot net."
"Ah, yes," Sherlock said as he crossed the room (don't stare at that lovely arse Adi, don't-), "The website that allows the pathetic to cater to the whims of the even more pathetic. Tell me, how do you all not get sued for all the copyright infringement you commit?"
I scowl at him, "We do nothing of the sort. We are all writers, and some of us are exceptional. The rest of us are brilliant."
"Which category do you fall in?" John asked kindly, as he sank into his armchair. (I need to get that Union Jack pillow, but damn, Sherlock will notice.)
"Neither," I said, "I'm just bleh. Anyways, John, I need your help. The writers of the Sherlock Archive-"
"The WHAT archive?"
Wow. No wonder people ship them. They talk simultaneously sometimes.
"The Sherlock Archive," I carried on, ignoring the fact that John looked as if someone had put a stick up the roof of his mouth, preventing him from shutting it, "It's where we write about you guys. Stuff we hope/imagine/wish would happen to you. It helps us through the long years we have to go without you."
"That is just insanely creepy on so many levels." John said, looking at Sherlock. "Did you know about this?"
"I do not bother my hard drive with such trivialities."
"Yes, boys," I snap, "All I really want is for John to give people some advice on how they will get more readers and hence reviewers for their stories. You don't need to know about what sorta Johnlock or Mystrade or Sherlolly we write."
"Yes John," I said calmly, "Some of us, not me personally, hope to see you and Sherlock, or Mycroft and Lestrade as a couple. I for one am more for Sherlock and Molly."
I think the only reason I wasn't thrown out of the flat was that Sherlock was worryingly gleeful that people thought Lestrade and his brother were a couple. And so, dear readers, after a long discussion, which mostly involved John looking disgusted (and mildly interested; he wanted to know about Mary Morstan) and Sherlock asking about the many intricacies of fanfiction and tumblr, I finally managed to compile a short list of the do's and don'ts of asking for/ getting reviews.
Sherlock was no help at all, but you all should hug John Watson. He's a bloody angel.
1. Make sure you proofread at least twice. Readers don't appreciate it if you have bad spelling. Proper punctuation as well as spelling is like a blessing for readers. You want them to read your story, don't bug the readers with confusing or no punctuation.
John: Bad grammar is a big turn off as well. Adi tells me the proper word for an editor is a beta. Don't hesitate in getting one. Ask a friend, but a stranger might be more inclined to point out flaws than a friend.
Sherlock: I can be your beta for the blog, John.
2. Don't beg for reviews. It's natural to ask, but honestly, it's just immature if you put up signs that say that you need a specific number of reviews or you won't post a new chapter.
John: Isn't reviewing just an added bonus? I mean, I got 1895 viewers on my blog, but not nearly as many comments. You shouldn't hold back chapters. You might get more reviews as chapters progress.
Sherlock: Here's an idea, why don't you all spend your time doing something useful? Like writing a real book?
Me: Another idea. Sherlock, why don't you just go sit on the sofa all quiet and just look pretty?
3. Please, please don't say "My first fanfiction!" or "banged this out somehow at 3 am I have no idea what I'm writing" or overall advertise the fact that your story is your first, not beta read and/or you want people to go easy on you. Just have confidence in your writing.
John: What Adi here is trying to say is, readers want to read a good story. They might have been searching for a long while for a good story. Now, if your summary casts a doubt on your story by saying you aren't sure because it's your first, some people might just skip ahead and go to another fic. Your story might be good but you might not get readers.
Me: It's quiet. Where's Sherlock?"
John: Probably sulking in his room. I'll go get him. Try not to mess up the next point.
4. Write a clear summary. Sometimes, I like it when the summary is some sort of quote from the story, something that captures the reader's interest. Remember to write any trigger warnings in the summary if there is material like that. DON'T say you aren't good at writing a summary. That just casts more doubt on your writing skills.
John: Also, remember to make sure there aren't any spelling mistakes in your summary.
Sherlock: John, did you throw out the foot Molly gave me yesterday?
John: It was starting to stink, Sherlock! What were you trying to grow in there?
Me: The Sherlolly fic forming in my mind just died a painful death.
5. Don't lie or threaten. Don't say I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN IF YOU DON'T REVIEW. It's rude. Or say something like "My cat/rat/brother/three headed dog called Fluffy died and so I need your reviews to feel better."
John: That is a bit of emotional blackmail. You make the readers feel guilty and more or less compel them to review. They should review on their own free will, not be bullied into it.
6. Don't be afraid to experiment. Readers always love a more different story than the rest. As long as the characters don't lose their original 'characteristics'/ personalities that define them, I'm always up for a good AU.
Sherlock: You have too much time in your hands.
Me: Where's John?
Sherlock: Unclogging the skull from the toilet.
Me: I don't want to know.
7. Don't rant. It's just plain annoying reading through a huge A/N in the first chapter. Unless of course, you have reasonable causes for it. But readers just want to get at your story, so maybe put the A/N at the end? However, as always, trigger warnings should be in the summary or up top.
John: That's pretty self explanatory.
Me: Skull out of the toilet?
John: Yes, and now safely hidden.
Sherlock: *bored* In the cupboard under the kitchen sink.
8. Please ensure that you have archived the story properly. Don't put M rated stories in the K+ section, or the T section. Readers may filter through for specific ratings as well as characters. It's supremely frustrating to find a Johnlock fic even though it's tagged Sherlolly. At least, you could say 'Sherlock and Molly friendship, with a dash of Johnlock' in the summary and tag the story as a friendship, so those of us who have the Sherlock and Molly archive bookmarked *me* can easily identify it.
John: Uh…Don't attempt to sell your story through another pairing?
Me: Good, John, really good. I think you are getting the hang of it.
John: Can we move on? All this talk about Johnlock is making me uncomfortable.
9. Be a perfectionist. A great story gets more reviews. Don't be afraid to chuck out a draft, even if it might hurt a bit. Post a chapter only when you are confident. Also, don't diss your story. I myself tend to do this a lot. It's just silly. We are all learning here, and fanfiction is like our crutches.
Sherlock: Underestimating oneself is actually more harmful than being over confident.
John: Wow that was actually helpful.
Me: *sigh* I can listen to you talk all day, Sherlock.
10. Some readers like it when they get a reply for their review. This sets up a personal touch to it. We all are here to connect with like-minded people are we not? So why not spare a few moments to thank the person who spent a few minutes to comment on your story?
John: That being said, Adi, not many people have the time to reply personally.
Me: A simple acknowledgement will do.
Sherlock: Are we done yet?
So that's it, guys! Remember, the first rule of fanfiction is to have fun. Like I said before, this whole entire thing was done in fun, but I hope you found it a bit helpful. If not, you can pelt tomatoes at me. Or just pass this by, whatever strikes your fancy. I myself try to stick to this checklist, but you know me. I can't stick to lists for an extended period of time.
Okay, dear hearts! I'll see you soon in my regular fics!
P.s: I'm sad because Sherlock didn't let me take the Union Jack pillow. Review? :P