Responses

  1. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Patrick, I highly respect the quality of your writing and I hope you're even willing to listen to me after that one rant I made about your donation incentives (sorry!), so here's my two cents. I'm no one special, but I think I know the web fiction community a bit - and I spent months doing research on self publishing.

    I believe you came into this community with the wrong expectations. Web fiction is not the right platform for the goal of making money, and while Wildbow was very successful doing it, he's a rare exception. People read web fiction because it's free, and they're generally not prepared or willing to pay for something that's readily available at no cost whatsoever. The general opinion is that web fiction authors write for the joy of writing and sharing their works with the world. Wildbow won his fans over by asking for very small donations (his first incentive was a bonus chapter for 25$, I believe) after providing a tremendously large amount of story. He was endearingly surprised and excited to get those first small donations, and I think many of his fans like him as much as they like his stories.

    I read your opening chapter a while back and noticed a 'please consider donating' pledge right at the bottom of that story opener. That was maybe a little off-putting to the average reader. Thing is, there's an unwritten rule that says 'The best time to add a donation button is when a reader asks where the donation button is.' :) There's also some luck involved - some stories never really take off, despite being very well written and enjoyable.

    But I believe you could do very well with an ebook. Unlike most of us, you might not even need an editor - just a good cover and an initial push to become visible on Amazon's genre lists. I know a bit about how it all works (and how Amazon's algorithms tick), so if you ever want some more specific advice for an ebook launch, let me know!

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  2. ClearMadness (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Well obviously I'm not the most experienced writer here but I'll point out a few things for you. This is something I've been talking to some friends in the web marketing business about for a while now.

    Site Design: Your homepage is your store front. It needs to be flashy and attractive to lure people in. The sad truth is that without something flashy to draw their attention a lot of people will just leave without reading. They equate the quality of your site with the quality of your writing. Stupid, but true. Your homepage appears to be a table of contents page, with another table of contents on it?

    If your going to use a static front page I would suggest making it an intro page with a synopsis at the top. More art wouldn't hurt. Especially for donation buttons. I'm paying a guy to make me a custom flashy donation button right now.

    Compare your book cover with Chrysalis'.

    For your serial I would suggest posting at:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/noveltranslations/
    http://forum.novelupdates.com/forums/original-compositions.1016/

    The above should get you a few more views monthly anyway.

    Your patreon account could use some work. Your doing it by chapter so even a dollar should get a substantial reward. I would suggest giving 1$ patreons access to chapters in advance, and making this very clear. When someone reaches the last chapter this should be shoved in their face, so they feel compelled to sign up. If only your most hardcore readers sign up it will still be way more than you are getting now.

    I hope this helps.

    Author of The Iron Teeth, a online dark fantasy story.
  3. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    My book cover is actually not in any prominent location on the site, though maybe I should change that. I think the importance of site design is a bit overrated for web fiction. Readers will stick around for the words, not the pretty art. They just need to be able to read the text and navigate easily.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  4. ClearMadness (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Wizard's first rule. If they're sticking around to read your stuff at all you've already won. The point of the site design is to get them to stick around and read in the first place. A lot of people who see a badly designed website will leave without reading. I wish quality writing was all it took but I don't think that's the case. You need to get them excited before they even start reading.

    Also people are lazy. They might not be against donating but they might consider it too much work. Thus you have to motivate them.

    Author of The Iron Teeth, a online dark fantasy story.
  5. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Patrick: One year in I had twice as many page views, but I also updated twice a week, so what you've got seems reasonable for a first year serial. If you change to a twice weekly schedule, you'll probably up your pageviews at the expense of irritating a few of your current fans since you wouldn't be giving them more content, just more cliffhangers.

    My personal theory was that updating twice per week makes people check in more often, making them less likely to forget about the serial. If you find that reader retention is an issue, you might try twice weekly updates, but otherwise I wouldn't.

    Personally I didn't even put up a donation button till three years in. If you really want to monetize immediately, I'd go with an ebook. Most people find that it's easier to earn money from ebook than their serial, but my experience is that already having a serial audience helps immensely.

  6. Billy Higgins Peery (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I'm very happy with my blog stats at the moment. I got a little under 10,000 page views last month, and given the way things have been going in December, it looks like I'm set to match that. There are people out there with better stats, certainly, but I'm content with my neck of the woods. I'm often an impatient, gotta-be-great personality, but Megapulp really makes me happy. I'm proud of it no matter what. Contentment is weird. I've poured so much love and work into this thing. Is this what being a parent feels like?

    Anyway...

    There were a lot of little things that contributed. I've been working hard at this for a year now (I moved to the current site seven-ish months ago, but before that I'd been posting on individual sites for each serial; if I'm being entirely honest I've been taking shots at the "successful web serial goal" since at least 2011, but I dishonestly don't count anything before Kinda Super Gay, because everything I tried before KSG was badly amateurish and I don't want to talk about it).

    I think I built up a bit of good will by trying my best to give to the community. Reviewing taught me a lot about how serials work, while simultaneously getting my name out there and encouraging people to check my stuff out. At the same time, writing both Kinda Super Gay and Godpunk gave me the confidence to know that I can write two very, very different serials.

    But what really got me some views recently were my other publications. I published a short story in Daily Science Fiction, which got me a couple views from the link I put in the byline. Cracked took things way further, getting over a thousand people to check out my blog.

    As well, Maddirose and Tempest linked to me in their blogs. Which was like, the sweetest thing. I got roughly 300 referrals from that, but honestly the number isn't nearly as important to me as the fuzzy feeling I get when I'm like, "THESE PEOPLE WERE NICE TO ME. MY FELLOW WRITERS DID A NICE THING."

    "Any number of hitlers, are still not my problem." -Tempest
  7. Billy Higgins Peery (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Patrick, it's interesting to see you talking about where you've felt less good about your serial experience, because I've been super jealous/ticked-off that your serial got a 4 and a half star rating (plus 5 stars from Fiona!) The ratings for A Bad Idea have been good, but I certainly didn't get them the first time I tried a serial!

    If you're asking for advice, I'd say that splitting the chapters so that you could publish twice a week would be a good idea. Also, I'd worry less about Paypal/Patreon and more about using the site as a platform with which to get ebook readers. Can't say that last bit works, but it's the theory I'm currently working under.

    As far as the costs you incurred setting up your serial, I'm sorry. I remember seeing you talk about that and thinking, "That money's not coming back any time soon." I respect the hell out of you for taking web serials this seriously, but if there's a business to be had here, it's a slow-growing one. For now, I wouldn't worry about recouping those costs. I'd consider them the cost of learning to do business, then move on.

    If nothing else, look on the bright side. Aren't you wiser since you started doing this crazy f***ing thing? I know I am.

    Addendum: You're probably a better writer too, right? I'd actually be curious to hear about your writing history: what you wrote before you began Winter's Ashes. Would you have applied to write that game without the experience your serial has given you?

    "Any number of hitlers, are still not my problem." -Tempest
  8. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Damn. Seems I'm luckier than most by far. I started my story on a series of (mainly fan)fiction websites before I got a few chapters under my belt and started a wordpress account. In essence, you could accuse me of self-advertising the story. I still draw another 2 or 3 viewers from those sites every week, plus what I get mostly from word of mouth.

    Apparently it served me a LOT better than I expected, since September was the first month of my site and got 2366 views and 373 viewers- and it started in the middle of the month.

    My readership went on to almost triple (more like x2.7ish) in Oct and again in Nov... and at current rates could go up another 50% this month. For some reason, my story's being recommended around a lot of Russian/Eastern European forums. And I have like 30 readers whose location just reads "European Union" and lists no country beyond that. According to Wordpress' tech, at least.

    I have no complaints. Just confusion.

    Next month I'll have to get to work on Book Two. Because I'm doing an anthology. Heh.

    Author of Price.
  9. mathtans (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @JimZ: Thanks for the remark about "Writing well enough", I often feel like I need to preface stuff I say with "Ok, I don't suck, only my stats suck" (even to myself). I did find another time travel serialist, but it didn't help - I've been planning to cull the archive here for more similar stories, but I don't see myself having the time for a while. I know part of my trouble is my MASSIVELY slow burn, not only in T&T but in general... if a reader gives up on me after six parts, they'll likely know only 10% of my cast and/or 10% of my plot. (Most give up after one part.)

    @ClearMadness: In terms of wishing you knew "what you're doing right", I get the impression from the prior thread you're leveraging search terms and websites in your favour. Having your existence known out there is HUGE. For instance, none of my friends (aside from Scott) even read my fiction writing, let alone link to me. (I probably should try advertising, like Jim says, but there's no point unless I do it right... and right now all I know is I shouldn't advertise anywhere in my current social circles, because they're only interested in my non-fiction.) Reddit in particular seems to be working for you. So don't undervalue that.

    @Patrick: About splitting chapters, when I initially wrote T&T, each part was 6-7k. To post, I elected to chop everything into two parts and post no more than 3-4k per week. My reasoning being that it takes about 15 minutes to read that much, and we are becoming a society of easily distracted people. I then supplemented with Commentary posts every other week (writing details, background info), meaning 3 posts per 2 weeks, to try and keep it out there. Aaaaaand we've seen how THAT worked out for me, so perhaps take everything I say with many more than two grains of salt.

    As far as the wallets thing goes, I basically agree with the others... which is (again) why I haven't put any money into advertising myself, though mad props to you for doing it and reporting on it, so that if I decide to, I have a sense of things. I'm definitely approaching the point where I'd chuck $5 into the wind for even a chance at a comment, and better to chuck it somewhere more productive than the wind. Plus I need readers before I can have commenters.

    Writing a Time Travel serial: http://mathtans.wordpress.com
    Writer of the personification of math serial: http://www.mathtans.ca
  10. DrewHayes (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I wish I had my original numbers to compare, because I am certain they were pretty darn low, but I lost those when I migrated over from Digital Novelists. That said, I remember during my first serial (No More Ramen) I reach almost the very end, nearly a year of work, before I got my first comment. That gap of reader feedback speaks pretty well to what my numbers were, and that was with DN traffic and (I think) a listing here.

    A lot of little things helped build audience, keeping to the schedule I set being far and one of the biggest. In the free content game, sticking to the schedule you provide people highly increases the chances that they'll come back regularly. I also tried a little advertising on Project Wonderful, and worked to connect to other communities when I could. However, the absolute biggest factor that helped my numbers creep up was time. This is not a quick gain kind of game, readership builds up bit by bit, and every ended serial or missed update can knock the progress down. Still, if you keep at it, it should keep growing a little every month.

    @Patrick It's been said above, but it bears repeating, web-serials are not a great place to earn money. They provide excellent experience, feedback, and the chance to have people become fans of your work, but drawing in fat stacks of cash is not the serial's strongpoint. I make a little off of donations and patreon after around seven years of doing this, though ads usually beat those streams most months. The cost of the site is going to be written off for a long time before it pays for itself. That said, if you're looking to go into the ebook market, having an established serial can be a big help. The support of readers who like your work and want you to succeed makes a huge difference, especially when most other writers are starting with no momentum. Without my readers, I'd have never gotten so many books off the ground. Web-serials pay off in a lot of ways, fiscal is just one you don't see right away.

    Super Powereds & Corpies
    http://www.DrewHayesNovels.com/
  11. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Wildbow won his fans over by asking for very small donations (his first incentive was a bonus chapter for 25$, I believe)

    Initial donation ask was $75, I believe. I think it took me three months to reach that benchmark - I got nothing in the first month, then 3/4 of the way there the next, and then hit the target amount.

    We talk a lot about consistency, but the frequency of updates helps engender a sort of state of mind with readers. I'm extrapolating from my own browsing habits here, but I find myself going on autopilot as I check my regular sites, sometimes several times a day, even if I cognitively know that X already updated today and I checked all my webcomics.

    I don't do that with sites that update once a week. I read oglaf.com (updates once a week) maybe once every three weeks, and have gone months forgetting it exists. I read Camp Weedonwantcha (updates twice a week) maybe 1.5 times a week. But Bad Machinery? (Updates 5 days a week, other content on weekends)? I check that about three times a day on average. I read it and I glance over new comments.

    That's all webcomic stuff. That's visual media, it's very low effort to get into and read. But back when I was reading and enjoying Legion of Nothing (I'm years behind at this point) and Tales of MU I was checking those many times a day and refreshing when I was anticipating the update to go live. Both were pretty regular with the updates - I lost track of LoN during a stint of guest writing with a different protag, I think, and Tales of MU when updates got sporadic (and the story sort of stalled, without things moving forward for a straight few months). Frequency plays into this and makes it so much easier to be a habitual reader. The trick is figuring out how and where you can produce maximum frequency with maximum quality. How well can you write at 7 chapters a week? 5? 3? 2?

    I'm writing less right now than I was when I wrote Worm. My chapters average something like 4500 words, and I'm doing about 11 a month on average; about 50k words a month. I was putting out 72k+ per month while doing Worm, and I think that was a definite factor. But, that said, I'm acknowledging that my focus is elsewhere, and the time is being used in other constructive ways. I'm editing Worm while I write Pact and Twig, and that's an investment of time that should be a positive tradeoff in the long run. I'm writing 2000 words less per update, I'm not growing to such an obvious degree, but I'm making headway toward the release of Worm, which I'm sort of expecting will be a positive thing for me.

    I'm rather conservative when it comes to advertising - in that I don't and haven't, beyond bringing stuff up when there's a conversation already ongoing and giving people links when asked. My suspicion would be that advertising would be best done when the readership is already self-sustaining or growing itself. If you have enough work out there and it is proven to be compelling, then advertising would help snowball it. If the readers you already have aren't growing themselves or pulling in other readers, then I'd suspect that people brought in with advertising would stay a while and then leave. That's just my gut feeling.

  12. LEErickson (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I find info like this helpful so I figure I owe some sharing of stats and attempted insights about them in return. I'm currently running two web serials.

    Graves, I'm writing as I go. I had some specific goals when I set out. I've been writing for a few years and been published before, so I feel pretty confident in basic craft, but I've been struggling with my "fire" for a few years and was starting to get feedback like "You write beautifully, but I just couldn't get interested in the story." Graves is intended in an exercise in focusing on storytelling vs. writing style and also an experiment in my usual writing process to see if I could find a better balance between (over)planning (which was sucking the life from my stories) and the spur-of-the-moment inspiration that keeps me excited about my own story (and theoretically helps make the story more interesting to readers,too).

    Graves went live sometime in June of this year. I didn't publicize it at all, not even on personal social media, except for listing it here at WFG. It was listed here in August--prior to that I had one hit. Luck of timing kept it on the front page listing here for a couple of weeks, but a lovely review from our own Eren Reverie hit the front page as the listing dropped off, so I was fortunate enough to have my link on WFG's front page for probably a month or more. I do a once-weekly update (religiously) of about 1500-2000 words/week. (I'd like to do more but I'm not ready to commit to that just yet, and I figure it's better to aim low and never miss a week than to aim too high and blow myself up.)

    As of today, Graves has had 1,550 views and 320 visitors over about 4 months of actual activity. From looking at my daily stats, I'm guessing I have somewhere in the vicinity of two dozen readers who come back for updates every week or so. It looks like a couple come back less often and catch up, and once in a while I get a new binge reader. I also publish each week to Wattpad, but only have a couple of readers there. Again, no marketing whatsoever on Wattpad. Comments-wise, my readers are a pretty quiet group (aside from Eren--thank you again!--and a couple of commenters at Wattpad). Maybe those don't sound like outstanding stats, but it's way more than I expected from a single listing. (Thank you, WFG!) And, since Graves is mostly just for me, every single reader is icing on the cake.

    Stillness of the Sun is a pre-written book one of a series that I am deeply invested in personally but that probably has a very small, niche audience which I have thus far failed to discover. (Aside from my youngest son and myself, apparently the combination of that particular historical period with steampunk and supernatural happenings does not hold a great deal of appeal.) Stillness pre-dates the writing I'm doing for Graves, and I suspect it may also fall into the "your writing is beautiful but" category mentioned above. My goal with serializing Stillness was to see if there's any readership to be gained and help me decide if I'd like to approach book two as a fresh new web serial, applying what I learn from Graves in an attempt to make the story more appealing, with book one as a sort of prequel for anyone interested enough to wade through it. Stillness went live at the end of July (Wordpress and Wattpad) and was listed on WFG in mid-October. Again, no additional marketing other than the WFG listing. As of today, a couple of months after being listed here, it's had 89 views, 29 visitors, and no regular followers. That's a pretty marked difference from Graves. I could say it's due to Graves having more "air time" on WFG's front page, but since the number of followers is zero, I'm inclined to believe it has more to do with my other suspicions as noted above. Which is cool, because the two experiences combined give me some helpful clues about where to go from here, both in terms of my writing and my (utter lack of) marketing and networking.

    Also, as I mentioned earlier, it is incredibly informative reading about everyone else's experiences here. I am learning so much from all of you. Still working on making the time in my life to actually try out some of that learning, but still--really useful stuff, people. Thanks. :)

    ~Lori

  13. Tempest (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Patrick, I know you came in with high expectations, and we all tried to dissuade you.
    There are a rare few that can make money, well, enough, money from serials. But the eBook market is the place to be. Use the serial as a starting point and then release.

    You will probably want to release a more polished version than mine was but the simple fact is I made next to nothing in donations. It was appreciated, but not liveable by any measure. Once the eBook took off, I made a year's wage in 6 months. Not a graduate wage. But certainly more than minimum.

  14. Emma (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I think I've been doing pretty good thus far. My views are as high as others, but I expected that. I have seen a huge increase in views starting in September. Jumped up 50% and has had a minuscule but steady increase since then. This month could be different, but I don't usually check month to month, I just happened to look at it today. If I rewrote at least my first chapter, I would probably get reader retention, but I'm trying to focus on finishing the serial first.

    I'm pretty happy with my numbers and the person that regularly comments. I actually didn't think I would be doing as well as I have been doing thus far. I really only started the web serial to get myself writing, which I hadn't done for about three years before I started writing Sin Eater. It's helped tremendously getting me back on track with that.

    @Patrick: I'm going to have to agree with everyone else and say that if you want to start making money with your serial, you'll have to turn it into an ebook. Either that or start offering incentives to donate. You could also try making merchandise? That one could go either way.

    I am going to have to disagree with Chrysalis with the editor comment. I'm a firm believer that if you're going to publish an ebook or print, you should have an editor. Editors don't just strengthen your writing, but make it more marketable for you target audience. And with you trying for the fantasy market, you should definitely get one. Fantasy fans are monsters. Not all of them, of course, but there are a lot out there with high expectations and loud opinions. And if your book gains any bit of recognition, they'll find it. The monsters are the good audience to have on your side though. If they like your writing, they usually go out of their way to buy all of your books.

    I'm one of these monsters, though my opinions aren't loud unless the book is exceptionally bad.

    Honestly, with how many people are praising you're serial here, you'll probably do pretty good. I don't want to say great because self publishing is hard to get momentum going, but with you already having readers you're one step ahead of most self published authors. Like web serials, self publishing isn't something you should go into with high expectations. Most authors don't make money until at least their third book. /r/selfpublish is a great place to find information if you're looking to go that route.

  15. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Normally, I would agree that everyone needs an editor if they're going to self publish an ebook, but... have you read any of Patrick's writing? It's already at a professional level, imo - moreso than any other piece of web fiction I ever read. A proofreader to catch the occasional typo might be enough.

    He could possibly benefit from a beta reader or two, though. Someone who comments on aspects of the story itself rather than the writing.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/

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