At the beginning of 2021 I launched Synthmark which is a collection of short stories I’ve written and I’m continuing to write. I’m doing it for fun and because I need a focused creative outlet.
The aim with Synthmark, beyond the fun and enjoyment, is to build an imaginary world through short stories. Normally I would draw a map and use that as the structure as well as a portal to draw readers into the world. But this time I decided to do something different.
Each short story will be a portal into the world of Synthmark. However, I’ve long believed that writers have the hardest job out of all artists to attract new fans. That’s because it takes more effort and commitment to read a story than it does to look at a picture.
Look at a picture. Do you like it? Yes. No.
That all happens very quickly.
It’s the main reason I’ve focused on maps for so long. Maps are an easy way for me to make images and gain attention.
But I was inspired by something I saw on Instagram and couldn’t resist trying to build a world through short stories.
Worldbuilding through short stories and images on Instagram
Zombie Inspiration finds apocalyptic images, usually involving zombies, and writes flash fiction on their Instagram channel.
Flash fiction is super short stories. In Zombie’s case they’re usually around 100 words.
“I can do that.” I thought.
Then as usual the dreamer and perfectionist take over and I’m writing 200-600 word stories, designing the artwork myself and building a website, email list and who knows what else.
This is the Synthmark website:
Zombie Inspiration publishes daily, I’m aiming for fortnightly. This will damage my reach in the Instagram algorithm. But meh, Instagram won’t be my only channel and trying something against the grain is all part of the fun and experiment.
SEO is no good to me here.
SEO is usually a superpower for me when building a new website.
It inspires what content should be created for the site and helps to drive long term visitors to the website.
But SEO will be no good to me when it comes to distributing my stories. Because no one is searching for Synthmark or my characters and stories.
Going against the grain is fun, until you take out one of your main superpowers.
There are a few things I can try, and I will of course follow all the best practice for user experience, site architecture and the usual good stuff I would normally do for a website to rank. Because if I do a good enough job, in maybe 5-10 years time people might search for Synthmark, and I sure want to be at the top of the SERPs if they do.
So I’ll be relying more on social networks, community groups and other websites to get the word out about this project.
Once the Worldbuilding School redesign has launched I’ll publish a case study about Synthmark, and promote it to the email list.
Behind the scenes on Tumlr
I will test short form, behind the scenes type content on Tumblr to engage with fans and build in public. There are a couple of reasons I’m picking Tumblr.
- You can use your own domain name – THE MOST IMPORTANT.
- Built in community and community engagement (ask/submit feature)
- Built for micro content and long form content.
- Great with images.
I’ll be using https://behind.synthmark.io as the URL for the Tumblr Blog. So if Tumblr decides to shut my account, change the rules on me or go bankrupt then no worries, I can quickly set up a WordPress install and redirect the links to the new URL structure.
Sure that would be a pain but I think the benefits and the experiment outweighs any future pain.
Go and read the stories
If you like cyberpunk or the 80s then take a read of the short stories.
You can also sign up to the newsletter where I publish the stories first.