A Writer’s Guide to Using deviantArt

If you’re a writer who’s looked at deviantArt, you know that the site was never meant to accommodate writers. And the site has never shown much interest in developing features to help the growing writer community there. But there are just some things you can’t do on wattpad that you might really want to do, and deviantArt is actually a good way to do those things if you’re willing to put in a little effort.

deviantArt has several areas that allow you to either share your work or connect with readers and the deviantArt community: the Gallery, Scraps, the Journal, a status post feature, Communities, and Groups. Users of wattpad and some other favorite writing sites will be familiar with some of these, but we’re going to spend a couple of posts looking at these features and what they can mean for writers.

I’m going to be using a pair of site-specific terms as we move through this. deviantArt calls its users “deviants”. (If it bothers you to be called a deviant, then deviantArt is not the right site for you. It’s okay.) It calls each post made to the Gallery and Journal “deviations”. (It’s a theme. Get it? *wink*) Where relevant, I’m also going to be linking each of these sections in my own account for those who want to see how that area actually looks and works.

The main feature of deviantArt is the Gallery. It’s great for sharing standalone stories (and poetry, if that’s your thing). It’s a bit more challenging if you want to post a serial story. deviantArt has no internal mechanism for linking related deviations, so you have to be willing to create your own breadcrumbs to help readers move through your story. Each deviation has a space for creator’s notes, where you can share a summary of the story or chapter (although it posts below the deviation) or your process in creating that story. If it’s part of another project (even if that project is off deviantArt), you can link out to the original or larger project.

The site also offers a folder system in the gallery, so you can group stories together by type, genre, story world, character, etc, and a deviation can be in multiple folders. If you’re writing a serial story, you can add all of the parts into a folder, and then tell the folder to organize itself oldest to newest to keep the parts in order. Readers can then use the built-in navigation tools to move through the story. (To see this in motion, check out my serial project Chasing Normal. You can also see how I handled the breadcrumbs for people who encountered the story outside the folder.)

Because deviantArt is home to all manner of artistic deviants, you’re not just limited to sharing your stories. If you’re an illustrator or design book covers, you can share those, too. You might choose to use them on your stories. (Again, see Chasing Normal to see how this works.) Or you might choose to organize them into a folder of their own to show off for comment.

(I maintain a folder for my story and audiobook covers. You’ll notice that, where appropriate, I’ve linked to the projects I made the covers for. If I had a premium account, I could set up the folder so that story covers were separate from audiobook covers, but that’s really more than I need.)

If you want to share a work in progress, or maybe you create a little bit of story that you don’t want to lose, deviantArt has a special gallery called Scraps. These deviations don’t get shared with your followers, but they’re publicly available to anyone surfing your account. If you have a work in progress or a scrap you want to keep tack of without sharing it with the world, then there’s Sta.sh (accessible through the green Submit button for logged-in users). What makes Sta.sh really cool is that you can work on stories there privately, but it also gives you a link if you want to share it with a select group of people. When you’re finished, there’s a button to publish directly to deviantArt (gallery or scraps).

The Sta.sh feature has one other cool use. For obvious reasons, writers can’t benefit from deviantArt’s Print shop, but they can use the Premium Content feature, which allows deviants to attach a high-quality Sta.sh file to an existing deviation. People wanting to access that file pay to download it. (I haven’t used it yet, but I have some ideas I’d like to play with.)

This is a lot of information, and we haven’t even covered the community-facing features of the site. Those will be covered in the next part.

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