Questions and Answers

General Questions

What are member dollars. What can I do with them?

Member dollars/coins are the currency of Use your member dollars to buy certificates that will reward bonus member cents and/or points to reviewers. They can be earned by writing reviews on posted work. So the more reviews you write, the more you can promote your own writing, and the more feedback you will receive.

Click here to view the shopping list of certificates.

What is a recognized work?

Most writing never makes it past the available release page. A poem, for example, is placed on the available release page when it is submitted. This is the "Review Period". The readers hold the precious stars that determine if this poem will have life. That "life" is "recognized". Recognized means it will appear on all the appropriate listings and also the site search engine.

A story, poem, script or book chapter is considered for this status after it has received fifteen reviews. Once eligible, it is considered at the end of the day.

When recognized, the work is moved onto the category listings and the ribbon shown here is displayed by the work in the author's profile. The author will be notified by a private message.

The site picks stories, poems and books by looking at the ratings and the members that commented.

What is the All Time Best recognition?

Each night we look through poems, book chapters, and stories that have received excellent reviews and consider them for the "All Time Best" listing. If a work is selected to be on this listing the author will now receive a notice by private message. It's rare for a work to be selected for the all time best listing. Less than 5% of all work submitted reaches this level.

Work that is on the all time best listing has an upgraded recognized ribbon. Only work that is recognized is considered for this status.

Why should I write reviews?

There are many reasons to write reviews.
  1. By commenting you are placing a "vote" as to whether you feel the story should be promoted to the category listings (fantasy, sci fi, all time best, etc..)
  2. You support the author. Authors enjoy reading feedback on their work. In most cases that is the only "payment" they ask for.
  3. You will be ranked. Your profile will show you how many points you need to take the next position on the ranked reviewer listing.
  4. You will earn member cents for each comment. They can be used to purchase stories and books for sale. You can also buy certificates
  5. You will earn points. Points earn blue stars that are shown in your signature and your profile.
  6. Comments are public. You will become known on the site and your feedback will carry more weight.
  7. If you are an author commenting on other stories, your comments will often mean more comments for your work. It also helps you in the rankings since your popularity rating will grow.
  8. And lastly, it's fun! The authors you comment on will read your feedback. Sometimes they will even make changes based on the comments you made.

How many stars should I give something I read?

Writers are generally interested in improving their skills and impressing the audience. You, as a reader, should try to write an unbiased review of the work. You are encouraged to be critical. Always state what you liked and did not like (state both). Compare the writing to the top authors you have read when making a judgement of how many stars to award.

The site offers a six star scale for ranking work. Here's a guideline:

Six Stars (Exceptional: Simply Outstanding)
Five Stars (Excellent: Enjoyable and no revisions needed)
Four Stars (Good: Adjustments needed)
Three Stars (Below average)
Two Stars (Below Average: Needs lots of work)
One Star (Poor: Major revision required)

When writing a review we encourage you to give feedback to the author. For a story or book chapter try telling the author both what you liked and what you didn't like. If there was a section of the story where you found your interest wandering? Did the story grab your interest? Was the dialogue believable? Did the characters seem real? Would you recommend it to someone else?

For poems you can tell the author how you thought it flowed. Did the rhymes seem forced? Did the structure make sense? Did it draw on your emotions? Did it present strong images? Would you recommend it to someone else?

Most of all, be honest. Look at the rating guideline (above) one more time. Don't be afraid to be honest but also sensitive to the writer. That's why we suggest that you point out what worked and what did not work while keeping the rating honest.

What is a "Six Star"

Writers on can rate a work with six stars. Six stars are reserved for exceptional writing. Each week you have six "Six Stars" that can be used.

The "Six Star" rating is reserved for exceptional work. If a work maintains a rating that averages over "Five Stars" the work will be shown with a Five Star plus rating (shown to the right).

How do I know if a book or story is good?

If you are new here and looking for something great to read your best bet is to read the work on the category listings (shown on the toolbar to your left). Stories, poems and completed novels will only be added to the major listings (such as fantasy, sci fi, all time best, etc..) if they make the grade.

But probably the most unique and fun part of is taking a chance on the new listing. There is a listing for poems and short stories. Anyone can post here and you will find some of the best works online and.. yes.. some of the worst.

If not feeling risky, feel free to read the comments prior to reading a story. For the most part "spoiler" information is clearly highlighted.

In addition, look at the authors signature. If there are icons below the authors name this indicates they have won a writing contest or reached a certain authorship level. It also shows you how active they are on the site (ranked reviewer rank). This is important because most active authors will respond to the comments you write and sometimes even make changes based on them.

All authors are ranked once they write six or more stories or poems. If the author is highly ranked, the signature will show that rank. The ranking is complicated but primarily based on the rating of stories and books that the author has active on the site. Use the rating as an overall guide to judge the quality of the works the author makes public. If the ranking is not shown on the signature you can check the authors profile for this information.

Some stories and books have the Seal of Quality. Stories selected passed through a rigorous review process in order to earn the seal.

Using the information from the authors signature, the past comments on a story, poem or book, as well as the descriptions, you should be able to have a good idea of what you will be reading.

What is a Seal of Quality?

The Seal of Quality tells a reader that a story, book of poetry or novel is enjoyable and written at a professional level.

A group of readers and professionaly published authors sit on the Seal of Quality Committee. They read and discuss every work brought before the committee. When completed with the discussion they write detailed feedback to the author that requested the review about the work. Each member also votes on whether the work should receive the Seal of Quality. If the majority of the commitee votes for a seal to be awarded it will be. When awarded, an announcement is made on the news page.

The great majority of books placed before the committee are rejected. But authors are encouraged to keep trying. For an author there are many benefits. Posts that have earned a seal are placed on the Seal of Quality Listing and are promoted by the site. In addition, an authors status is raised to professional. This allows the author to sell books and stories on the site for member dollars.

If you think a story, book, script or poem should be rewarded a seal you can nominate it by purchasing a Quality Seal Request certificate from your profile page and using it on a story or the first chapter of a book. Poetry must be in a book of at least five chapters.

For poetry, only request for completed books of at least five poems with a coherent style and a minimum overall count of 100 lines.

Before you use this certificate have you verified the following:

For prose
  • Minimum word count of 2000 words in a single story or an aggregate of 2000 words for short stories and/or flash fiction combined into a book;
  • A novel is a fully-developed work not an excerpt, partial or 'in-progress';
  • The novel or story collection is in a book marked 'Complete'

For poetry
  • The book consists of at least five poems with a coherent style and a minimum overall count of 100 lines;
  • The poetry collection is in a book marked 'Complete'.

To request a review use the Seal of Quality Review Request certicate on the first chapter of your book. Click the "Promote This" button for this book on the first chapter to use this certificate. If you are denied and wish to request a second review use the request on a different chapter in that book.

What are warnings and how can I report abuse?

Every member is important to works hard to ensure that the site is enjoyable by all members by enforcing the terms agreed to by members when they join.

If a member violates the terms warnings are sent via Private Message from the site host. The topic of a warning will include the word "Warning". If a member receives two warnings from a site admin it will lead to an automatic system ban based on computer identification. The site administrator has an option to ban a member without warning where appropriate.

All the terms of the site are enforced. These are specific areas where a member can report a problem.

Personal attacks are not permitted. If you feel a review (or a forum post) is a personal attack you should contact the administrator. If it is a personal attack the administrator will delete it. The member that made the attack will be warned. In the case of a comment only report personal attacks on the author. Attacks on the work - even harsh attacks - are permitted. If a comment is not a violation of site policy but is offensive to the author, the author has the option to remove the work from public view. That will, in turn, also remove all comments from public view. Normally authors are required to leave works up for three weeks but if offended by a review the work can be removed from public view prior to reaching that three week period. Authors should be aware that doing this will also impact the authors rating and ranking since the work will no longer be considered.

If a reviewer is writing generic comments on your work and other works in a small period of time you have the option to contact the site admin to request removal. If it is apparent that the works are not being read the admin has the option to delete the reviews. The reviewer will lose the points and member dollars earned. The reviewer will be warned.

In addition, an author can receive a warning if:

An author posts a story, poem or chapter as "New" when it is a revision (even if heavily revised). The work will be removed and the author warned. Revisions are encouraged but only on the original publication.

Copyright violations will result in an immediate ban and may lead to further legal action. Only post it if you wrote it.

To contact a site admin click here.

How do I become a ranked reviewer?

At every qualifying reviewer is ranked. The top five reviewers are recognized with special icons. To become a reviewer you just need to write comments and earn points which are used to calculate your rank.

A three month rolling window is used so all members - even new ones - have a chance for the top spot.

Top reviewer signature icons.

    The hawk awarded to the fifth ranked reviewer
    The owl awarded to the fourth ranked reviewer
    The raven awarded to the third ranked reviewer
    The bat awarded to the second ranked reviewer
    The #1 ranked reviewer Grim Reaper

The next question, What are blue stars and levels?, contains additional information on points and reviewing.

What are blue stars and levels?

Each time you comment on a story, script, poem or book chapter you earn points and member cents. Points go towards your reviewer level.

The site keeps track of your level in real time. Each time you write a review you will see what your reviewer level is and also how many points you need to reach the next level.

In addition, when you reach specific levels the site will update your signature. Reaching level 14, for example, updates your signature and profile with a blue star to show this milestone. Every fourteenth level (14, 28, 42 etc...) you will earn another blue star.

How do I protect young readers?

The site contains thousands of stories of varying content. Some of the stories contain adult content.

The site follows and supports the Internet Content Rating Associations guidelines for labeling content. All stories are rated by the author and the ratings viewable by web browsers and software developed to protect younger readers.

If you are concerned about a child viewing adult content you should, at minimum, turn on the browsers parental controls. Or (recommended) purchase parental control software.

Every story has content ratings built into it. The Internet Explorer browser has built into it content controls. You can preset the parental controls from the browser by entering the content advisor in Internet Explorer. After the controls are set your child will be able to freely browse the site but will not be able to view content that is rated higher than what you set. Stories are ranked from 1-4 for violence, sexual content and language (one is less - four is more). You can, for example, set "3" for language but "2" for violence.

In addition, the site has an adult section which requires readers to agree that they are over the age of 18 and not offended by adult content. This protection is in addition to the content advisories.

What are certificates and how do I use them?

First, let's look at the base question.

What Are Certificates

Certificates are used to encourage FanStory reviewers to review your work. The first certificate you will place on your work is called a "Base Certificate". A base certificate places your writing on the available release page. It also offers a base amount of member cents and points to reviewers.

That leads to the question: what are member cents? They are the FanStory currency that is used to buy these certificates. So if you write reviews you can earn member cents. You can use those member cents to buy a certificate for your own post.

The available release page is sorted by member cents rewarded. The works that offer the most member cents to reviewers are listed higher on the page. So the work rewarding the most amount of member cents is in the first position. The work that is offering the next most is listed second - and so on.

Now your base certificate does reward member cents. But not much. So you will likely want to reward more. To reward more member cents you use a "Member Cent Pump Certificate" This certificate simply increases the amount of member cents your work rewards. Each use will normally move it higher up the listing bringing it to the attention of more readers.

That's really all there is to it. First, add a base certificate, next use bonus certificates (normally the member cent pump) to raise that position to a level where it will receive notice.

And how do I use them?

First, get one with member dollars. Write reviews to earn member dollars or buy them here.

Next, use the certificate. Simply view your story, poem or book chapter and click the "Promote It" button on that page. It looks like this: .

Click here for a full listing of certificates.

If I post my story here do I lose copyright to it?

No. You retain rights to your own material when you post your work on You are free, and encouraged, to sell your work to others, publish it with others or do whatever you wish.

What is FanStory Registered Copyright?

For any FanStory post an author can receive a registered copyright certificate identifying the author as the copyright owner of the work. In addition, FanStory provides date and time stamp protection as well as other means to secure the copyright personally to the author. The FanStory copyright symbol demonstrates that this protection is in place. This feature does not register writing with the U.S. Copyright Office or any other countries copyright office.

How is writing recognized?

As soon as your first short story, poem or chapter is commented on you will have a rating. The work you posted will have a rating. And you, as an author, will also have a rating. Your author rating is a simple average of all your works. You can see the exact rating (for example 4.12) but other visitors will only see the number of stars earned (in this example you would have four). Stars are shown in your signature and on your profile.
All authors that qualify (have written two stories, poems, scripts or book chapters) are ranked. How well you rank is a clear measure of how you are developing as an author. There are rankings for the year as well as an all time ranked author listing. So each time you post watch your ranking. It will go up or down based on the comments written on your work.
The Recognized Ribbon is another goal for authors. When you release a work it shows up only on the available release page. Stories, poems, scripts and completed novels will only be added to the major listings (such as fantasy, sci fi, etc..) if they make the grade. To be considered your work must have fifteen comments and must receive very good ratings by reviewers. When your work earns a ribbon the ribbon appears next to it and on the page where it is displayed. In addition, if your work continues to do well it may be selected for our "All Time Best" listing.

 All Time Best 
Work that is recognized may achieve this status if the reviews continue to be strong. Each night work that has been recognized and has received 26 reviews is considered for this status based on the reviews written during that day and in the past.

 Seal of Quality 
A very difficult but rewarding goal is to earn the Seal of Quality. Stories, poems, books and scripts selected to receive this seal passed through a rigorous review process. The committee also replies with feedback for the author (regardless of whether or not it is accepted). When you feel you have a work that is seal worthy you can nominate it (with a certificate). A committee of up to twenty professionals discuss and vote on the works put before them. Members that earn a seal are considered "pro level" on the site. Work that is recognized is featured on the site.

What is a professional level author?

To become professional level author on FanStory you must earn one Seal of Quality.

To request a seal you should:

  • Post a story. Post a book. Or create a book of poems. To create a book from existing work in your portfolio choose the "Post" menu above and "Create A New Book" option from the "Post a Book" menu item. Next, locate each post you want to add to your book in your portfolio and click the "Add To A Book" button.
  • Use the seal request certificate to request a review by the committee.

Regardless of the outcome the committee will send you a private message with comments about the work. The committee is made up of accomplished authors on the site and published authors.

Authors that have earned a seal have a quill added to their signature and profile showing that they have reached the professional level.

An author with an upgraded account can set the price to charge for a story or book. If a reader purchases the book or story the authors account will contain 80% of the funds made. The reader will have a copy of the story/book in his/her bookcase.

For every seal that you earn your level will be upgraded. For example, if one book contains a seal you will be a "Level 1" professional level author.

What is a Lock and Key certificate?

This certificate allows you to setup a writer's workshop for a story, poem or chapter that you write. It includes a private room with a forum. The story and workshop area is only available to members that you invite (by sending a key). They can help you with the story until you mark it as finished. At that time it will appear as a available release available for comment by the public.

You use the lock and key certificate when you post (not after you post like most certificates). Once used, your work will be available from your lock and key workshop area. A link brings you to the private team room that you can use to send members keys. It is also recommended that you use the private forum in this room to welcome your readers. If there is something in particular that you are looking for help on you can request it in the forum.

It is easy to release a lock and key story or poem after the workshop work is finished. The work will appear as a new release on the available release page no matter how much time was spent editing it under lock and key. All the comments that were written under lock and key will be still be available from the comment page but only to the author. Comments made under lock and key will never an impact an authors rating or ranking. Members that commented while it was under lock and key can comment again when it is public.

Click here to buy a lock and key workshop certificate with your member dollars.

How do I become a ranked author or poet?

The final top five ranked writers from each of the four rankings for this year will receive this customized plaque.
The site ranks all writers. The rank is primarily based on the ratings of the writers work. On every qualifying author and poet is ranked. The top five poets and authors receive special recognition.

To be ranked, an author needs to write, six short stories, six scripts, six poems or six book chapters that do well. Rank is primarily determined by looking at the authors overall rating (based on the reviews on his or her work). How well an authors writing is received is also considered. For this the site looks at the number of reviews an author's writing is receiving although the primary factor is the quality of the ratings with six stars being an important part of the rankings.

At the end of the year the top five ranked authors of short works, writers of novels, and poets are rewarded specially engraved plaques based on their position for the year. One way for an author to measure his or her skills is to compare their placement on the listings to other authors.

The Top five poets signature icons

    The Panda Bear goes to the fifth ranked poet
    The bear awarded to the fourth ranked poet
    The third ranked poet bear
    The second ranked poet bear
    The #1 ranked poet Polar Bear

Top Authors of Short Works signature icons.

    The Panther awarded to the fifth ranked author
    The Tiger awarded to the fourth ranked author
    The Cougar awarded to the third ranked author
    The Lion awarded to the second ranked author
    The #1 ranked author lion

Top Authors of Novels signature icons.

    The dog awarded to the fifth ranked author
    The Labrador retriever awarded to the fourth ranked author
    The Bulldog awarded to the third ranked author
    The German Shepard awarded to the second ranked author
    The #1 ranked novelist

Top Ranked Poet Listing | Top Ranked Author Listing (short works) | Top Ranked Novel Listing

For details on your ranking check your status page.

How do I add an audio reading to my work?

The symbol shown here is displayed next to a story, poem or book chapter when it contains an audio recording. There are also special listings for poetry readings and short stories/book readings that contain audio.

To add a recording you use a software program to record your voice and when submitting your work follow the online instructions for adding it to your publication.

Should I reply to the comments made on my work?

Yes! If you reply your readers will know that you are reading the comments. If they don't see replies they are not likely to comment in the future. A quick "thanks" goes a long way. You can also contact them via private messages but those are private and others will not know you are reading the comments. So for specific questions feel free to send a private message but we recommend doing this only after you replied.

How should I format my scripts?

Prior to posting your first script the site recommends writers understand how to properly format a script.

Posting online offers some challanges with formatting. Using the "spacebar" or other means of spacing will be lost when a work is shown online. To address this editors offer "tags" that can be used to format your script.

Click here for instructions on using our advanced editor to paste a script that is already formatted.

Click here for instructions on formatting your script for using our tags for script writers.

Click here for an example script (PDF Format). Read the dialogue in the script for more details.

In addition to the special script tags writers can also use the standard tags (for italics and bold) in their script. Directions are available in the next question.

What type of writing is supported?

Short stories, poems, scripts and novels can be posted. Books can be created one chapter at a time and will be shown on the available release page when created. We offer support for small scripts (one act with many scenes) and larger scripts (many acts).

Multi-Author books allow any author on the site to add a chapter to it. These are often used for competitions or special topics since they organize writing well.

How can I put the text in my comments and stories in italics?

The first thing you should do before posting any work is to make it plain text. When you paste your writing into the editor the instructions that you give your word processor can be picked up by the site. These instructions will often be picked up incorrectly and cause formatting problems. Some of these problems you may not see - but your readers will. So don't risk it. Convert your text to plain text. You can read the instructions here.

After converting it to plain text paste it into the standard editor. This will leave you with "clean" text that does not contain any formatting instructions. The "Italics" and "Bold" you may have added in your word processor will be removed.

If using the standard editor you can use html markup to add special formatting to the text. Here are commonly used instructions.

    <B> example </B> - Will make words placed between them bold print. example
    <I> example </I> - Will make words placed between them print in italics. example

So you just surround the text to be formatted with the starting and ending tag. Don't forget to add both the starting and ending tags.

Your readers will not see the instructions but rather the results (the bold and italics).

You may not want to learn html. The advanced editor is available by clicking the link "Switch to advanced editor" when you go to submit your writing. It's much easier to add formatting. Again, first convert your text to plain text and paste it into the editor. Instead of using tags shown above you can use the toolbar that is part of the advanced editor to add formatting. It works just like your word processor.

I'm in print. Can I advertise my book here?

Yes, you can advertise your books free of charge. Each book you add will be shown in your profile You must be the author or co-author of the book to list it. It must be sold on Adding your book is simple. Just click on this link which is available from your profile.

How do I convert a short story or poem into a book chapter?

    1. Create a book

    2. After you create the book the site will prompt you to either A) add your first chapter or B) add existing work to the book. Choose the second option.

    3. From your portfolio locate the work you wish to add to the book.

    4. Click the "Add To A Book" button. Select your book from the list.

    5. The site will bring you to the edit screen. Specify a chapter number and save it.

    6. Continue at step three for each work that you wish to add as a chapter in this book

What do I do if I get an unfair comment?

Generally, nothing. Everyone will receive what they feel is unfair reviews. You are posting to the general public and not everyone will enjoy your work. The site strongly encourages tough and honest comments even when a reader disagrees with the majority of the reviewers. While reserves the right to remove any content, it rarely does so.

But there are protections built into the site. For example, your story, poem or book chapter average (shown in red stars) is not a simple average. Like competitive events (such as figure skating) the highest score and lowest score are not included once a work has received ten comments.

If you feel a member is being unfair you have the option to to mute that member. View that members profile and click the "Mute" button. Members that are muted do not have the ability to contact the author that muted them and can not review their work. Only six members may be muted by an author in this fashion.

But the best protection you have against unfair ratings is to have a large number of reviews for each work you post. That gives the site more information to use when calculating the number of stars to show for your work. It also uses these comments when determining your overall author ranking.

Your overall author rank is calculated not just by looking at the averages of the comments on your work (although that is the largest factor) but also by looking at your popularity and by looking at the individuals that commented on your work. That said, the more ratings you receive the more accurate your rating will be. "Unfair" ratings are a negligible factor in both an individual story rating as well as an author ranking when an author is supported by many comments.

Lastly, reviewers should be aware that all comments are made in public. The large majority of authors and reviewers read these public comments. The community as a whole will be aware of the reviewers that are not rating honestly.

The only time you should contact a site administrator is if A) a review is a personal attack or B) a review to your work is a clear "revenge rating". A "revenge rating" is a comment that is written by another author to "pay you back" for a negative review. Even if no action is taken the site will track complaints of this nature.

Post with confidence that everything that can be done to make your story rating and author ranking accurate, is done. The site is aware of the nature of a public system on the internet and was built to support it.

What type of writing can I post?

Any original work that you think the readers would enjoy and that you wrote. We welcome poetry, fantasy, fan fiction, science fiction, essays, biographies, war and history, mature content and many other forms of writing. It is important that you properly rate them for sex, violence and language.

Can I delete something I posted?

Yes, locate it in your portfolio and press the disable button. Any comments you received on a disabled work will no longer count towards your author rank or rating. It will remain in your portfolio as a disabled work (so only you and the site admins can see it). At this point you have the option to release it again or to delete it permanently.

Disabling a work is useful for something that you released and immediately regretted doing so. It gives you time to edit it without anyone being able to review it. But keep in mind the original release date stays the same.

A work can never be "reposted" again. Even heavily edited writing can not be presented as new. This rule is for the benefit of our readers (so they don't read a "new" work to find that it is just an edited work) and to keep the "playing field" fair.

But since disabled works are treated as "deleted" by the site it is an excellent way to "wipe out" past mistakes.

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