New web-novel format question!

10 years ago | Lizzy (Member)

Hi everyone!

My co-author and I have decided to take the plunge and begin posting our work of fantasy fiction online as a serial novel. We've already written the first 39 chapters, so for awhile anyway, the availability of content and the speed at which we write won't be an issue. Our chapters range from 1500 to 6000 words each.

The question is this: In your experience what works better - 3 times weekly updates of about 1000 words, or weekly updates by chapter? Do readers seem to have a preference?



Read responses...


  1. Linton Robinson (Banned)

    Posted 10 years ago

    6000 words is WAY to much for somebody to read at a single online setting, I would say.

    I would try to keep things under 1500 words, if I were you.

    Is there a rush to get the whole thing posted and over with? If you post 1500 words a week, that's 78,000 words in a year.

  2. Dary (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    I post an average of 3,500 a week, with chapters ranging from 2,500 - 5,000 words, and not had any problems. That's an average of 10-15 minutes reading a week. (unless I post two chapters, in which case these figures are doubled!) And analytic trending suggests new readers are quite happy to spend long periods of time reading in bulk.

    So I don't think word count is that important.

    But maybe it depends on your audience?

  3. Lizzy (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Thanks for your feedback!

    The important thing to us is to post the story in meaningful chunks. I don't want the reader to be flipping back and forth trying to remember what's going on if we cut them off in the middle of the action.

    To further complicate it, the narrator changes with each chapter so posting the chapters as a whole will make the narrative smoother and less arbitrary, I think. Still... worried about the length and infrequent posting causing readers to lose interest. I wouldn't want to post more than a chapter a week because that wouldn't be a sustainable pace.

  4. Dary (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Weekly should be fine. It worked for Dickens et al and still works today in the form of serialised radio drama, TV shows and comics.

  5. Linton Robinson (Banned)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Agreed, weekly is a proven, workable schedule.

    I understand about continuity. I would say work with it to try to keep chapters short... every format has its own optimums.
    Keep in mind that since your narrative switches back and forth anyway, you have an advantage in that you can alternate "chunks" between chapters. If there are different voices, does it matter if chapter 19 comes between chapter 18a and 18b? If so, there you are. If not, it's worth fooling around to streamline.
    I look around the web where you can track the number of readers of online stuff and there is a very definite fall-off for chapters or sections over about 3500 words.

  6. A. M. Harte (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    A lot of authors go by weekly schedules (myself included) although I tend to keep my posts around 1,500-2,000 words. That said, I do read serials which post longer chapters, and I don't mind the length.

    As long as you stick to a regular schedule, readers will keep returning.

    Qazyfiction: fantasy fiction with a sinister edge.
  7. Lizzy (Member)

    Posted 10 years ago

    Thanks everyone for the input! I think we will go for posting a chapter a week, except for the odd extremely long chapters which will go up in two parts.

    Can't wait to get the website set up and the last round of revisions cleared up!

  8. A. M. Harte (Moderator)

    Posted 10 years ago

    @Lizzy Great! Look forward to seeing what you've got. Let us know if you need any other questions answered. ;)

    Qazyfiction: fantasy fiction with a sinister edge.


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