Once you are finished writing your story, there are still a few steps. This bit has the most crossovers when it comes to fandom vs. Professional writing. So here’s a couple last minute steps before you go to post your work
Back up your work
I have learned the hard way to back up my work. Remember to save your file every couple of paragraphs. I was once writing a 500 word essay for school, it was due the next morning and my father choose that time to check the fuses. This was sadly before the days of auto-save/recovery. Thus I lost it all and had to start all over once the computer turned on again (Also its a good idea to get a backup battery).
(In case my dad actually reads this – No, you will never live that down 😉 )
I also tend to save my stories on cloud and external hard drives in case anything happens to my computer. Another personal story. When I was in my first year of college we were asked to do a technical illustration. Basically take a photo and recreate it in illustrator. It was a month long project with hours of work in it.
I lost it 3 weeks in because the file corrupted due to switching between two computers with different versions of the program (this was during the early days, Adobe is much smoother with downgrading/upgrading files now). I hadn’t saved any other copies thus I needed to start over. I think I actually physically cried when this happened.
Get a Beta
A beta is the Fandom writer’s version of a proof-reader. This could be a person whose job is simply to read and correct your grammar. It can also be a person who reads and acts like an editor and goes “Now, this paragraph here – you should write it because…”. Its always a good idea to find a beta who also enjoys the fandom because then they can pick up things like character inconsistency and other things that are fandom specific. Thats not to say having a beta whose not in the fandom is a waste- they can still help your story run smoother.
I don’t always get betas for my stories, but it is always a good idea to try. If only to save you that embarrassment years down the road when you decide to re-read your story and find out you used the word teh half a dozen times.
Know your platform
Depending on where you are posting, there are different formatting rules, different things you need to fill out, and different systems of ratings, warnings and filters. If its not an archive specific to fanfic, such as a blog, a livejournal/Livejournal type site, or a social media site like Facebook, Tumblr or Myspace you may have to figure out different ways to post it, link it to other people, and make it accessible.
If it is a fanfic archive, like Fanfiction.net or Archive Of Our Own (Ao3), chances are they have a specific posting profile for your fics that you need to fill out to include tags, warnings, and other information people will use to filter and find the story they want.
Also its a good idea that if its a fandom specific archive that you post only that fandom. You aren’t going to find many readers for your Game of Thrones fic if you try posting it on FictionAlley (A Harry Potter fan archive). Its also good not to tag things if you are in a multi-fandom site that aren’t in the story. This goes for not tagging characters that don’t show up, or couples that don’t really feature in the story. While that might get your story in more filtered lists, its just going to annoy the reader away from reading your story.
Basically just be familiar with your posting place, and put the time to make sure everything is there that you need. Some sites require approval to post stories, or only allow in a certain amount of new authors at a time, thus have a queue you must join.
In the next post I’ll discuss responding to/making comments on fanfic. This is about the end of the original Fanfic Starter Kit I wrote, but I welcome any questions or things people want a post of more indepth.