fan /fæn/ noun an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc. short for fanatic (thank you, dictionary.com)
Fan counts. Follow buttons. Add to favs. Watch.
No matter what they call it, most sites which allow you to host your manga pages and artwork have some sort of system like this in place. It’s designed so that you can follow someone’s progress and be alerted of updates as they happen by becoming their ‘fan’ and vice versa.
Or, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
…All those fans, never to be seen again.
Readers Vs Likes
The goal of putting your story up online is to reach an audience. You want other people to read and enjoy your manga… Presumably, anyway. You want people to want to click that fan button and follow your updates. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same intent in mind when they click…
In preparation for this blog post, I asked a range of people for some of the reasons which compel them to click a fan button, and some of the reasons they think other people do so for them. These are a few of the reasons I was given:
Reasons why people click a fan button:
- They like your manga and want to follow it
- They are interested in the way you draw and want to follow your work and growth as an artist
- They were asked to
- They feel obligated after being linked to a page
- Their friends with similar followed you so they feel they might be interested too
- They are your friend
- They want a follow back
- They see it as a
There are infinite reasons that a person can click that button. Unfortunately, not everyone who clicks it will always follow up on actually reading your manga. On top of that, various things can get in the way of reading the manga and webcomics you do enjoy. It isn’t always easy to keep up to date.
How many manga are you a fan of on this site? How many of those do you regularly read?
Of course, not every reader will have much to say about your work. The amount of readers who remain silent compared to those who will actively comment to you about your work is usually starkly disproportionate. Sometimes they can’t think of a worthwhile comment. Sometimes they’re too shy to talk to you. Sometimes they’re too busy to say anything.
But they’re there.
A few ways to involve them include:
Start a poll – Who is the most popular character? Who do they think will win the next battle? Who should be with who? Even if they don’t comment, it only takes a couple of seconds to cast a vote.
Ask for feedback – Sometimes readers respond best when they have a question to answer. Ask for opinions on the last chapter, or theories on what is happening in story arcs.
Run a contest – Contests can be tricky. Set the deadline too soon and people will be too pressed for time to enter. Extend it too long and people may forget about it all together. But contests can be a good way to involve readers, especially if the prize on offer is worthwhile.
Online Store – Sometimes, readers who don’t otherwise comment may be happy to show their support with their wallets. If you have the means, why not open an online store? Start with a few small items, maybe even a POD volume of your manga. If sales take off, there’s no reason why you can’t expand later on.
Interactive Omake – “Omake”, or ‘extras’, are something like bonus strips, artwork or author anecdotes dotted between manga chapters. Why not invite guests either to appear in them or send them in for inclusion?
As long as you’re enjoying your work, it doesn’t matter if you have 10 fans or 10,000, but sometimes it’s difficult to remember this. When you see a mediocre manga getting triple the fancount of your work, or when your friends are bragging about their apparent poularity while you’ve only got a couple of fans, it’s very easy to feel down about it. Numbers aren’t everything, but every now and then they can be nice to have.
“Why are they getting all the attention when I work just as hard? If not, even harder!” Under exposure, little to no advertising, niche-y stories…All of these can factor in. A lack of numbers compared to another person does not mean your story is worse! Ask yourself why you started drawing this story in the first place? Nobody draws a manga with the intent for it to be terrible (unless you’re a trollin’). Was it to see a story come to life, or was it to make yourself popular/rich?
If the answer is the latter, this may not be the hobby for you. But if the answer is the former, then you owe it to yourself and your potential readers not to let the numbers get in the way of delivering the best work you possibly can. To get anywhere, you need to get past your insecurities, and get on with the job.
In conclusion, numbers are just that. Numbers. It’s your fans, the ones who come back even every now and again to read your work who count for the most. Isn’t even three loyal fans far better than three hundred “likes”?
Maybe, if there’s a manga you’re reading and enjoy, you could take a minute or so to leave the creator a few words of appreciation for their hard work?
Manga is not a popularity contest. But sometimes, a single encouraging comment can make the world of difference to someone.
ps. I want to credit my associate for ‘volunteering’ to be depicted in the panels. Thank you, loyal associate~.