"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pen and Prosper Brings You the "Back Story" Behind Fan Story *With Creator Tom Ens

Please join me in welcoming Tom Ens today. I'm sure you'll become a fan of FanStory.com, as you read about the many services and offerings for writers today of all levels and genres.

Q. Welcome, Tom. Can you tell my readers a little about who you are and your background?

My name is Tom Ens, I'm the founder of FanStory.com, FanArtReview.com and FanMusic.com. All three are communities for artists. FanStory.com is the community for writers.

Q. You started FanStory more than a decade ago. What was the inspiration back then and your creative vision?

There wasn't a specific vision. I was looking for a place to share my stories and there simply wasn't a good place. The feedback I was receiving was from family and friends. I didn't like bothering people to read my work. And I was never sure if they were just being nice or meant what they said about my writing.
So being a web developer I created a website and invited other writers. The feedback from this new website was much different. It was honest and I learned a great deal from the comments I received.

Q.  How has FanStory evolved over the years?

The development of the site never stops. I think the biggest change is with the writing contests and poetry contests. I'm not the type of writer that can just sit down and write. I need to have that nibble in the back of my mind. I need an idea that is itching to get on “paper”.

The contests were developed to help writers find that spark. They do have cash prizes but that was never the real motivation. The goal of the contests is to present an idea and see what comes of it. A good example is the contest we just announced. The topic is: Driving down a partially lit road, you (or your character) notice something moving in a trash bag on the median...

If you are having trouble finding something to write about I think this scene can inspire. The fact that there is a cash prize is nice too. We now have well over 50 contests every month and two new writing prompts daily.

For "Poetry Contests" please see: http://www.fanstory.com/page/poetry_contests/poetry_contests.jsp
For "Writing Contests" please see: http://www.fanstory.com/page/writing_contest/writing_contest.jsp

Q.  What’s the most popular feature or service associated with FanStory?

It's still the feedback. We've added many features over the years but the heart of the site hasn't changed. Writers are looking for feedback, good detailed feedback.

What has evolved from this feedback is a community. When you are reviewing or getting feedback you make friends. You become a fan of writers. And readers become fans of you. You get to know people online with similar interests.

So the social network feature has been a big focus of the site. Making it easier for a writer to stay in touch with the fans that he or she gets on the site and also keeping fans up to date on what is going on with writers they are following.

Q. Can you walk us through a typical day?

I still am the host of FanStory and the other sites so as you might guess most of my day is spent answering questions and helping people. I'm still the developer of the sites. So I'm always working on improvements. The next version of FanStory is always being worked on.

Q.  I see you’ve won a few industry awards. What has been your proudest accomplishment thus far?

It isn't the rewards. And it isn't anything I accomplished. I think it is a letter I received from the first author that wrote to tell me that he was published and he attributed it to FanStory and the reviewers. I was so happy for the author and so proud of the community.

Q.  Do you come up with all the contest concepts, or is it a collective effort?

My well of contest ideas is pretty much dry! The community comes up with the ideas now. Frankly, I think they do a better job than I ever did. :)

Q. What has surprised you about your experience?

The number of FanStory.com authors being published. I mentioned the first author being published. That hasn't stopped. We've announced three authors being published in just the past thirty days.

What I'm also seeing is that the FanStory social network feature is bringing together writers and publishers. At least one publisher has an account and the publisher is reading what is posted and looking for talent. This publisher alone has published three books from FanStory writers this year. This is, of course, very encouraging. I think it is a natural extension of what the site provides.

  Complete the sentence. Success is:  ...Doing what you love well.

Readers, please share your thoughts or questions.
Any of you out there already familiar with FanStory.com?


  1. I think that FanStory is a wonderful idea. I've been there a few times but not recently. I need to hop over there!

    Thanks, Jennifer and Tom, for sharing the story behind the story. :) Very inspiring.

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksNovember 1, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    Thanks, Karen. We appreciate your time and visit. :-)

  3. I did hear about the site before, I also do have on my own blog a special page with - Short Stories - (in developement) with an opportunity for readers to write their comments.

    Only although I do see a little improvement, in general - compared to some of my other blogs - writer's currently don't seem to be that much inclined to write comments.

    So I currently don't (yet) feel that inclined to actually sign up for such a site, or know if I would feel that much 'At Home' on such a site.

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksNovember 3, 2012 at 2:43 AM


    You won't know unless you try and see. :-) Thanks for your thoughts today.

    1. Yes, possibly when I get more - Fans -
      for my Short Stories.

      Btw. while I haven't attempted to write any Short Story for a while, yesterday I actually got some inspiration for writing something new again. (after reading about a technique from Ray Bradbury)

      So one of these day's I might be putting up a (series?) of new Short Stories about the: 'The Rockstar Writer', written as 'Footstep Fiction', (partly real and partly fiction) possibly also with some hyperlinks to posts about actual events that you can find on some of my (other) blogs as (real) - Back Story - (and also a link to my tiny little Vision ebook that also has to do with the Music Business)

      ('I know the Anticipation
      is incredible; it's a big step for me, and a
      small step for the Stampede of Wild Fans'

  5. Thank you Tom and Jennifer for this information. Many of my friends use FanStory. Feedback is important and contests are fun.

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksNovember 3, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    Thanks, Linda. BTW Congrats on having your poem chosen for the poster project! You are rockin' this writing thing, girl. :-)

    And it's true; FanStory has many fans among writers.

  7. I joined FanStory about five years ago and found it really helpful, I also enjoyed the work from other members. The feedback was encouraging. I came back and paid my two year subscription! I find the postings to the site somewhat lacking lustre, I get the impression the postings are automated from a computer to encourage the likes of the writer to comment and help ratings. I would like to have faith in such a site but, not possible. Please I welcome your comments.