Introduction

4 years ago | lavendardoll (Member)

I'm new to this site so I thought I would drop in and introduce myself. I'm Akirs and I write fantasy fiction. I've been writing for many years, but the last few I've been focusing on a novel. I've edited numerous times and finally submitted the novel to an editor. In the meantime, and so I don't drive myself nuts with the waiting, I decided to begin a serial on my blog as a way to generate interest in my writing and build my platform.

I'm completely new to this writing format, though, and I'm finding it difficult to get started. I have the story, and I've already written for the next few months. I just don't know how to launch it. So I came here to look for ideas. Thanks in advance!

Looking forward to reading some different points of view from the community!
Akira

Akira Washington's Blog

Read responses...

Responses

  1. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Hi Akira, welcome to the fold. It's always good to have more established writers who are serious about what they're doing. Which isn't to say all writers aren't welcome, but the more professional writers we get, the more we elevate serials as a whole.

    I don't think there are any magical ways to launch your story, unless you've got an audience already. You have to set up the site, make sure everything works, is clear and easy to navigate, you need your backlog (good on you for having one), and you've just got to get going.

    I think the best thing a writer can do is calibrate their expectations. At least part of the motivation for someone starting a serial is to get readers, because, you know, why do a serial online if you don't want any? But getting readers is a pretty slow process. This is probably why publishers like to get authors who have established audiences already. Chances are good you're going to write for a while without getting any feedback or comments, or it'll be a small handful, people dropping in to raise their biggest bits of criticism and then disappearing for a stretch.

    Another note on expectations: Writing a serial is hard. Be prepared, because writing a novel is pretty forgiving - you can lose a day here to do a thing with family or because you're feeling under the weather, make it up later. Writing a serial, if you want to hold to your schedule (and you really, really should) isn't nearly so kind.

    I've had a lot of my readers start serials inspired by my work and then give up due to a lack of confidence in what they were creating, a lack of commitment and because they were a little too optimistic in terms of the audience they'd pick up and the ensuing disappointment crushed their motivation.

  2. AGreyWorld (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Readers don't pile in when you start and stick around for later if they like it. Unless you already have an audience to launch a serial with (as I expect someone like Wildbow will likely do with his next serial) then you don't particularly have a launch as much as an appearance.

    You start, and post your serial on places like here. It takes a few weeks for it to get accepted during which you have zero readers.

    When it's on here you will get maybe one or two pop in a day, more on some days and fewer on others. They will read a chapter if you are lucky and likely move on. After a few months some stay, they start reading every upload. Occasionally they might bring a friend. Someone writes a review. Someone votes for you on Top Web Fiction... continue for months.

    Readerships build up over time, they develop organically and only the very lucky and people that hit just the right mark in quality and subject (genre or whatever) get a decent quantity of readers.

    But its a long-haul and slow process. People stay when you are consistently bringing out chapters once, twice a week. When the story is constantly extending, developing. When your characters are consistently good, relatable and challenged. You may well get two, or three novels worth of material before you get a readership that satisfies you - so you have to ask, what are you looking to get out of this?

    I'm pretty happy having the maybe 100 people who read my chapters each week. I'm honestly shocked that I can gather that much of an audience and it is enough for me to full-fill what I want to get out of the process. And from what I can see, this is in-line with some of the more successful serials at the same age. Would you be happy being one of the people that does well and, after 9 months work having 70 readers? What if you only had 10?

    But yes, 'launch' doesn't really apply. Create a Wordpress site - start posting. That's it! Launch complete, now work your socks off for that feeling of elation when someone makes that first comment...

  3. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Well said, Greyworld. I think you've accurately described the 'appearance' of a serial.

    I'll add that it helps if you get involved with the community. Even before Chris accepts or denies your serial for Webfictionguide, you can start building a rapport and a kind of credibility here by reading and reviewing other works. Not always easy, when you're busy, but it serves a triple purpose of putting your 'face' on the site, leaving the door open for others to reciprocate by reviewing your stuff, and it helps you to read other serials and see what they do right and what they do wrong. Critiquing a work forces you to clarify your own thoughts on the subject. Even as someone with some experience under your belt, there's always room to learn, right?

    Getting involved on other writing sites helps as well. When I talk about writing on Reddit, invariably people ask about my story, and I can then provide a link guilt-free (without looking like I'm plugging it).

  4. alex5927 (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Yeah, finding readers can be (pardon my language) a bitch sometimes.
    Welcome to Web Fiction Guide, by the way.
    Anyway, back to what I was saying earlier. Readers are usually picky, and if your story doesn't immediately grab their attention, they move on. My suggestion is to keep it going. If you run it for 300 chapters/episodes/whatnot, you will gain more readers than if you only go for eight. Also, advertise. Be extremely self absorbed, act like your story is the (again, pardon my language) shit, and other people might pick up on that. Not a lot, but some, and that's all you need for a while, and then word of mouth kicks in.
    On an entirely unrelated note, you should check out the link in my signature and read the serial I'm starting in a few weeks. It'll be the shit. :)

  5. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I'll admit, I don't know so much about gaining new readers. I do have some tips on reader retention, though. Some of them are pretty basic, so don't be offended if I point out something that seems common sense.

    The web site appearance and editing are good to think about too. A good looking site that's easy to figure out navigation on may not win you new readers, but it may help you retain those you get. Same for keeping to your update schedule. If people don't know when you're going to update, they'll either show up a lot to see if anything new has been posted yet (unlikely) or only check back on occasion, read whatever's new then if they want to, and go. That's less of an issue with you having a backlog, but consistency sticks with people.

    Oh, and if anyone spots a typo, see to it promptly. It may not be an issue with you, but it looks pretty sloppy to have people point out an error and it still be there a week or month later.

    Another thing that helps is if you have a couple buddies that read your work and have serials of their own, or someone with another thing just likes your stuff. If you get someone else going "Hey, here's something I read" on their serial, it can send the occasional people your way. Given that my audience was mostly premade from Legion of Nothing and Worm, having them link to me was essential. Also, those two have had a number of readers who found the other from the link.

    And this is more of a thing for when you have fans, but I find that having a little bit of a sense of community, usually through the comments, can be helpful as far as bringing readers back every day to check on new developments, and it helps the story stand out a little better in people's minds. It makes a story even more personal, in its own way. Readers may do this on their own, but one way you can nudge them in the right direction is to have a comment of your own on a post that doesn't expand or give away anything, but nonetheless helps get people thinking about discussing their own view of it. Wildbow frequently employs this.

    Oh, and having a TV Tropes entry wouldn't hurt as far as new readers. That's one I reader-gaining suggestion I thought of. Perhaps look into similar communities that might like your story and mention it in the forum there. Even game forums.

    Hope some of that is helpful.

  6. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I've lost track keeping up with typos, I admit. There's a hell of a lot of story, and a typo notification comes up for old chapters, like, every 45 minutes, so it's easy to let them by, and then what do you do?

  7. AGreyWorld (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    PG: I love TV Tropes, but I thought it would be a bit cheeky adding entries for your own work. I've just been hoping one of my readers adds something one day. It just seems so much of a fan generated thing.

    Also, I think the site design is more important for new readers! I've clicked on links and not read a story simply because I can't find where it starts, or the page design is just that repellent I immediately flea... A pleasant, simple, professional site that reflects the feeling of your story is going to influence a new reader before they even start reading.

  8. lavendardoll (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Thanks for the warm welcome and the great advice. I can see that i have a lot of work cut out for me, even though I have some posts in the can as it were. I'm looking forward to getting this project off the ground and I'm sure I'll check back here often with tons of questions.

    Thanks so much everyone!
    Akira

  9. Amy Kim Kibuishi (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Hi Akira! You have an awesome name. ;)

    And congrats on passing your book onto an editor! I'm not really sure what advice to give without a blog to look at. The only thing to do, really is just start posting. My webfiction/webcomic motto has always been "If you build it, they will come."

    Posting a link to your book here is a great place to start (the best community of webfiction writers, IMO!), as well as sharing it on any social media outlets you already have. I was really surprised at how the readership grew without much push, and just regular updates. It's great that you have a cache already -- do as much as you can ahead of time! I had my whole novel finished before I started posting and it was still a huge challenge to meet my weekly deadline. Regular updates and interacting with your readers through comments or twitter were key for me, as well as treating every chapter like it's own self-contained episode with cliffangery endings.

    Serializing was incredibly difficult for me because I was so used to working without a deadline. I'm not sure if I can do it again, but I wouldn't trade my experience with it for the world. Interacting with readers was so rewarding, even when it was only one or two people.

    And I'll echo what everyone has already mentioned with keeping expectations realistic. Do it for the joy of interacting with readers and the practice of giving yourself a regular deadline, and I think you will have a good time. Good luck! :)

  10. lavendardoll (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    WOW,

    Starting to read some of your works. I have to say, the bar has been set pretty high. You're all very talented!

    Thanks so much for your welcome and advice. I appreciate it greatly, and I appreciate the opportunity to find such good stuff to read. Before last week, I'd never even heard of this site. I'm super glad I found it!

  11. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    If you ever want something that dances under a lower bar, I'm good for that limbo. Or possibly not good at all. Either way, we all write a bit differently. Different tones, different subjects, different styles, and different preferences.

    So shake what your muse gave ya!

  12. lavendardoll (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Hahaha, Psycho Gecko! Love it!!

  13. SgL (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Akira- If you haven't yet chosen a host, I suggest using a wordpress.com site. THere's a lot more organic traffic in using the fiction/prose tags than posting at blogger.com or self-hosting. And the fantasy community on WP.com is not too bad -- Tor and a few authors used to use the free wordpress.com host and so I think that means quite a few fantasy folks are lurking around. (It doesn't hurt that DailyDot and the formal wordpress community try to support serial novels/prose novels as well.)

    You may, depending on the type of fantasy you are writing, also consider mirroring at Wattpad to find readers. If your audience is generally the young female teen - then it's definitely worth considering.

    A couple of resources not mentioned so far that focus on some of the questions you have (about starting):
    The EpiGuide podcast: http://epiguide.podbean.com/
    Tuesday serial guest blog series: http://tuesdayserial.com/?cat=17 (In particular I think Beth Raymond's post from last week is spot-on. She makes notes about having a higher frequency of posts and finding a particular length that works for readers.)

    I have also a resource post on "Where to list" up at http://theonlinenovel.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/where-to-read-serials-or-list-your-serial/ .

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