While the 2014 FKFicFest wonderfully brought us 9 writers re-energizing our favorite characters in 9 bright-new stories, I've been worrying and failure-analysis-ing over declining readership in general and a precipitous drop from the beginning to end of the fest in particular. The first few stories released easily garnered over 100 hits each; the final few stories released just crept over 55 hits each. The 2 most commented-upon stories won 6 unique-reader comments each; 3 got 5; 1 got 4; 3 got 3. Again, there's a distinct bias toward the earliest stories released. And all forms of acknowledgment are down overall from previous years.
I want every FKFicFest writer to be read and to know it, to be appreciated and to feel it!
So I've fretted over whether I'd put the stories in an ineffective order or made impossible matches, or whether we should switch from an over-time release schedule to all-on-one-day. (And of course this year saw the fewest players yet, with all the many possible reasons for that.) Every factor may well have played a role, but the over-time release seemed the most telling. On the AO3, many readers seem to skim the latest "Recent Works" across fandoms only; they don't, naturally, continue scrolling down to discover later releases with earlier dates. I mustered all the FK-specific readers I could with promo posts on other communities and ForKni-L (and here), but it just doesn't compare with those eyes across fandoms. Must we switch to all-on-one-day release? It looked like it.
Then skieswideopen shared her observation that some other ficathons that release stories over time have begun urging their writers to update the publication date from the loading date to the release date on their stories as soon as they're released! This bumps the later stories to their rightful places on that vital AO3 "Recent Works" list, giving every story a fair shot at those cross-fandom eyes. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! I backdated all my own fanfic to its genuine original antique email-list-posting dates (more or less) when I loaded it to the AO3, but it simply never occurred to me to forward-date anything. (Indeed, forward-dating made things invisible on f-lists on LJ back in the day, so I'd learned a lasting lesson to never, ever forward-date.)
So we'll want to consider both of those possibilities — all-on-one-day release, and forward-dating from posting date to release date — if we do decide to play again next year.
(I'll keep fussing about how to improve the rest, but it's very nice to have a way to address that factor, at least.)
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