February 2, 2017

How To Set Up A Fanfiction Library Part 1: Pre-Organizing and Downloading

Ah, Fanfiction. Both a blessing and a curse. There are those who casually read it but then there are the hardcore, download it, read it more than published novels, have a phone filled with fanfict books and a full binder of fanfiction bookmarks on their browser of choice. This is a love letter to you. I love you maniacs and I am one of you [ONE OF US! ONE OF US!] so I understand THE STRUGGLE of organizing your massive fanfiction collection, dispersed among the interwebs that they are. I am going to teach you how to organize, tag, and get your fanfiction in a gleaming line that even the most devout ‘real’ book lover would admire. This will be a three part series and this one is how to get your ficts into a coherent collection and downloading stories.


[[Disclaimer: this post does contain affiliate links that will pay me if you buy something. Please be aware.]]

Fanfiction Archives and Headaches

As it always is on the internet, there is not just one way to get your fanfiction fix, there is a PLETHORA. Almost every fandom have their own sites, archives, forums, tumblrs, livejournals and voodoo rituals that you have to shake shimmy and dance through to read a fict. God forbid your fandom is rather old and the source material hasn’t been updated since the 90s or earlier.
Naturally this leads to trying to make a system of bookmarking the link to that thread you follow or the fict that is only on that special livejournal group or saving that chapter of a fict you really like and hoping it was saved via the Wayback Machine so you can read the rest if the author updates it. Phew. It can leave a fan tired and restless and willing to give up but don’t worry. I have a solution.

Organization

Before you know the way of the downloaders, grasshopper, one must know how to organize. 

It makes sense to know how you are going to be reading before you grab what you are going to be reading. Plan you must. 

So the question you must ask yourself is where am I going to be reading ficts most of the time? 

Do you have an e-reader like a Kindle or a Nook? Do you read on your phone or laptop? Do you plan to be one of those people that print out ficts they like? Answer this first and then we can really get into things. 

e-Reader

Most people, for e-Readers, have a Kindle. That's fine and pretty cool since you can send books to it. That said, Kindles require their own format, AZW and AZW3 to support text reflow but they also take TXT and PDF even if those formats don't lend to text reflow. 

Most other e-Readers take mobi or ePub, the latter of which is an open format for eBooks. 

In the next segment, I will talk about Calibre and how to format your books so no matter what format you get it in, you can just edit it to be put on your eReader. 

SmartPhone

Aside from using the app for a site or going to their mobile page, a good chunk of people read on their phones. It's easy to see why since it's right there and always on you instead of carrying an extra device somewhere. 

For iOS and Android, there are plenty of eBook readers out there and most, if not all, take the ePub format. 

Here is a good list for iOS and and here's one for Android. I actually use Moon+ for reading myself since I am on Android. 

Laptop/Netbook/Desktop


The world is your oyster if you choose to read on a computer. That said, this is more in terms of organizing your folders. Choose a central place to dump all of your ebooks and a place to organize them. A folder on your desktop is fine and then deeper into your file system - like in a Dropbox folder or something - is where you really organize. Because I use calibre, it's completely out of my hands so everything is organized by Author Name. 

Printing

Well, that's one way to make sure you have something to read. The obvious downside is that printing is pretty expensive and paper is a medium in which things are pretty easily destroyed. But if you need that drarry fict to get you through the apocalypse, I recommend using either paper with holes on the side to put in a biner or putting them in a translucent sleeve and putting that in a binder, ideally one that zips up. 

If you are underage and reading smut, first of all, don't. Yes, I did that in middle school but seriously, it will be found. Even if your parents aren't the snooping type, unless they are sharing ficts with you, do not print it out and leave it at home somewhere. Download it onto your phone as a text file and lock it with a password. Same for if you have it saved in a word doc somewhere, password locked. Even better, save it to the cloud and make sure no one has the password. There are far more options than I had as a pre-teen - take advantage of it.

Keep Track

Okay you have an idea of where you will be reading but before we get into downloading - patience grasshopper - we have to figure out what we are downloading. 

Before you get all up in arms, it's just a spreadsheet. Yes, a spreadsheet. 

So I keep track of all the books ficts I have read via a speadsheet I made on Google Sheets since I am too poor for Office. 

I am getting ready to reorganize it now but the basic things it should have in it are:

  1. Title
  2. Author
  3. Fandom
  4. Ship
  5. Category [M/M, Gen, F/M, F/F, etc]
  6. Tags
  7. Word Count
  8. Chapter Count
Aside from the above, a column for commentary won't go amiss nor would one for a summary if that's what you want. 

I know this is long and annoying to compile but if you have a big library like I do - 300+ books and that's the SFW stuff - it's a necessary evil because if you get a workflow going and one thing is screwed up in it - the app you use is gone, you have no internet, you switch computers, etc - the whole process is screwed. This is your failsafe. 

There is two ways to go about this: 

If you are new to saving ficts and are making a library up, you can just add it to the spreadsheet as you go. 

or

If you are a seasoned veteran, then you can dump all your books into calibre and have it create a list after you have organized it in there with all the information you desire. Information on how to do that is here.

Fanfiction Downloaders

And now we have arrived to the downloaders, the thing most wanted. 

There are quite a few downloaders out there. Here are the main ones I actually use in order of usage 

  1. FanFicFare
  2. FanFictionDownloader
  3. Squee!Book
  4. Pocket
  5. FicSave
  6. Story Master
  7. Word 
Odd list, in a way but let me explain. 

Since I am quite a heavy Calibre user, FanFicFare tops my list. It supports a wide variety of fict sites and the formatting is pretty good. 

FanFictionDownloader is for the occasional site that FanFicFare doesn't support like AdultFanFiction - not that I am reading much from there. 

Squee!Book is a lifesaver for journal and blog sites. It's basically you copy and pasting in the story and it formats it for you and spits out the story. Also useful for DeviantArt ficts. 

Pocket isnt' so much a downloader but an article saver. I use this for tumblt and the occasional DeviantArt fict. I use this to save it and to remind myself to download it later. Also useful for old sites that are not hosted on journal or blog sites. 

FicSave and Story Master rank the same to me. If I can't save it via the above methods, I use this. 

Rounding out the bottom is MS Word or any Word processor. Select all, copy, paste into a blank document and save it in a format you can chuck into calibe for conversion. Not helpful for FFN since the right click is disabled but whaddaya going to do? /shrug

Duly Noted is Evernote which I am not even going to link to since they let me down so much for locking down a lot of the free tier [and making the paid tier so damn expensive]. If you have a paid evernote account, it is a good place to save ficts to for offline reading. 

In any case, that is all for right now. Stay tuned for the next part where we talk about where to download from, the plus and deltas of each major archive sites and what is this calibe thing I keep mentioning. 

Have another website I didn't mention? Want to know more about spreadsheets? Have a question? Let me know in the comments below or @ me on twitter @ZeroGravInq!


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Maira Gall