This is the year I intend to promote my short stories. I have them posted on Opinionbypen but without better SEO on them I can’t expect Google to send anybody my way and sure enough, that’s exactly what has happened. When Amazon’s newsletter for self publishing authors highlighted their WriteOn site I decided it was now or never.

When I did a brief tour of WriteOn, I found lots of hopeful authors in almost every genre you could want. Each book was represented by the title, a cover picture and the number of reads, likes, followers and comments.  Several of the titles had over 500 likes and comments. I also saw several with zero reads. That should have served as a warning to me. Much like websites, if you want to attract readers, you have to stand out.

Balance cover

Cover art

Amazon makes participation in WriteIn painless and free. You use your Amazon credentials to sign in, select a forum name and you’re all set. I used Byron S. because I didn’t want to regret it later. Selecting a story for posting was easy. Of the stories I have posted to my website, A Question of Balance is probably the best example of my current work. Copying it from my website to my page on WriteOn took all of fifteen seconds.  Then I ran into the hard part.

WriteOn recommends a cover picture be 1750 by 2750. I wanted to use the picture I have on my blog but I use pictures that are almost square. A little bit of creative editing and I had something I felt was almost as good as the original. I was ready to submit my first story to the community!

By the end of the day I had 12 reads, 3 likes and 1 comment. For a few fleeting hours I was estatic. This was going to be great. Then reality caught up, twenty four hours later my stats were unchanged. This wasn’t good. Even worse, three weeks later my stats were still unchanged.

First Attempt

First attempt on cover art

I don’t give up easily, so I posted another story on WriteOn, A Fascination With Flame. This is one of my very early stories and although it was intended as part one of a three part series, it would give me some indication on how people felt about my early writing compared to my later writing. After five days I had zero reads on A Fascination With Flame. Oh, and my stats for A Question of Balance were still unchanged. This was not working. Without readers, I can’t hope to improve.

A brief amount of time in the shower and I thought I had an answer. I usually look at the cover art first before deciding to read a book. I know it’s a weakness, often the cover art has very little to do with the story but I also know I’m not unique. Changing the cover art for A Fascination With Flame was easy.  By the next day I had 4 reads, 1 like and 1 comment. Cover art is obviously critical to attracting readers.

I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from there but as before, after the initial 24 hours I had no new reads on either story.

Fascination cover A

Second attempt on cover

Is it worth it? So far not for me. I’ve given it a month before writing this post. My stories have had more readers than I would have had otherwise but I gained nothing I was looking for. Amazon makes it very easy for you to participate but the odds are really stacked against you. Consider this, readers will look at four factors before considering your story, genre, title, cover art, and the stats (number of reads, likes, comments and followers). Three of those are static and in my case, the random reads seem to cap after 24 hours.

Unless you have a way to generate readers outside of WriteOn,  links on your Facebook page for example, you will probably be very disappointed. Amazon tries to help by promoting the books that are doing well. This can get you something like a critical mass effect if you have enough readers.

I am considering posting all my future stories oo WriteOn and providing the link from Opinionbypen, rather than posting the stories on my website. Since it’s hosted by Amazon, it serves the stories much faster than my website and provides a larger audience.

I’m going to close this post with a request. Go to WriteOn and read a story, any story, and take the time to make a comment. You don’t have to say you like the story but you could at least tell the writer where the weak points are, kindly. If the characters seem to be without purpose or depth, say it. You don’t have to be mean about it and the writer will appreciate it. I think the cruelest form of comment is to read the story and leave no comment whatsoever, telling the writer only that they’re beneath your contempt.

Of course, after commenting on the story you selected, please feel free to check out my stories. I especially appreciate comments.

© Copyright 2016 Byron Seastrunk, All rights Reserved. Written For: Opinion by pen