Started my first web serial

8 years ago | NaomiL (Member)

So, after wanted to do it for a long time I finally started my first web serial novel,

As the mecca for this kind of writing ;-), I was wondering if anybody here had any advice or suggestions for someone starting out?

Read responses...


  1. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    I'd say...

    Go in with zero expectations

    The majority of serials get very little in the way of reviews, audience, feedback, comments or views. Write because this is the story you have to tell, because you love the genre and you've read everything on the shelf and this story hasn't been told. That way you won't be disappointed.

    Write with consistency.

    I've posted in the past about the effects of posting reliably. That means writing for a schedule and posting when you say you'll be posting. A terrible story, I think, can still build a readership by simply being something that an audience can visit habitually. People have kept watching the Simpsons even as the quality declined steeply (and there were a few seasons that were pretty bad), but they watch because it's -there-, because the makers keep producing more, and they're used to it. Ctrl-alt-del, the webcomic? It's pretty bad, but the author updates consistently and people get used to clicking that bookmark or doing a google search for the webcomic when they sit down at the computer first thing.

    Reliability also builds the reader-writer relationship; you fulfill your end of the bargain (writing), they fulfill theirs (reading, supporting you). You achieve a degree of goodwill from the readers, which shouldn't be underestimated - you will have bad days where your writing isn't up to your usual par. Goodwill from your readers will keep them reading even through the bad days, and it leads to sales, marketing, advertisement and much more.

    It's also a good habit to maintain for any writer. If writing was pure enthusiasm start to finish, it wouldn't be work. There'll be days when you aren't excited about your story. Writing with regularity gives you momentum; it keeps you writing through the slower moments, and the parts of the story you're less excited to write.

    All the other stuff

    There's a bunch of other writing tips, but they aren't applicable to serials, specifically. In terms of your site, I'd also add that you should have a link to the first page, in a clear, prominent (top?) position on the sidebar.

  2. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 8 years ago

    What Wildbow just wrote covers what I'd tell you too. Do you have specific questions?

  3. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Participate. The more you talk here, the more support you'll have from other writers. I think of JZ and Wildbow, Fiona and Chris and Sarah on this site as my friends, which is weird in the sense I've never met them.

    Be yourself. If you're trying to be trendy, popular, experimental, funny or dramatic FOR ITS OWN SAKE you won't stand out, but telling the story that only YOU can tell will raise you above the norm.

    Take the time. Craft your skill. Have a lot of chapters up before you list for review. Give people something to read before expecting readers. Be patient.

  4. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Yeah. Gavin mentioned something I wanted to - A backlog is something precious to a serial writer. It's a hell of a lot easier to build one before the story gets underway. Just having a month's worth of chapters done in advance, it'll alleviate a lot of pressure and it'll help you on the reliability/consistency front that I mentioned.

    It'll also give you time to hash out your story's beginning. I've talked with several web serial authors, and their experience (and mine) is that, well after starting (or finishing) their story, the beginning is the part they're least happy with.

    I built up a good 4 weeks of backlog before I started Worm, but that slowly dwindled, disappearing over Christmas of 2011. Since then I've rarely had more than one chapter done in advance. That makes for a lot of stress if, say, I get sick, or my internet dies out, because I'm counting the hours before the next chapter is due.

  5. SgL (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    To the above I would add that it's important not to get stuck in one place for your writing information. Webfic /weblit/ serials have several water coolers operating at the moment, and very little intersection or information sharing between them.

    This site has great threads to surf through. But I did take a look at your story and would recommend you check out epiguide and . They have a heavy leaning towards "TV minus the tv" sort of serials and I think the support you will find there and community will be valuable to you.

    Writing a serial is great, but other than a few examples of authors in the Kindle Serials program, very few are making living wages off the serial work. In general most creative types need to know that making a living at doing what you love and own is a privilege, not a general practice.

  6. Khronosabre (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    These guys pretty much have it covered and they've all been writing serials a lot longer than I have so follow their advice.

    But I'd just like to add the very key factor of love what you do and do it because you love it. I've talked to a lot of people who started webcomics simply because webcomics get a lot of traffic and they wanted to be a part of the buzz and get attention. Serials are a little different, but the same can be said. They're a lot of work. For me, it's like a second job to get content out every week, but because I love it, the work comes easy. If you don't love it? It just becomes a chore.

    Peace and love :P That's right. That's my advice. No regrets.

  7. Amy Kim Kibuishi (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    I reiterate what everyone already wisely said -- Do it cause you love it. If you do it for the love of it, you already won. Everything else, be it attention or money, is gravy after that.

  8. NaomiL (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Thanks so much everyone! I didn't have any particular questions. (I'm probably too new to web serials to have any, undoubtedly later ;-).) But I did want to know what advice everyone had. So thanks so so much! You have definitely been encouraging. This is something I love to do, and I'm going to keep on doing it if for no other reason then that!

  9. MrOsterman (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    I also want to advise against looking at page counts, votes, or chapter notes. Nothing can deflate your work like the feeling that no matter what, not enough people are reading it. Write for the fun of writing, and putting your work out for your friends, etc. Doing it for page counts is a recipe for feeling....not good.

    Backlogs can help but don't get reliant on them. I've had a hard time the last few weeks getting the gumption for Bastion up and running and I'm burning up my back log faster than I'm happy with. Add to that the fact that it can take my actors for the personal diaries up to two months to make them for me, I need to stay ahead of my writing.

    Mind the Thorns a Reader Directed Urban Fantasy
    Bastion: The Last Hope a web novel of the end of days
  10. NaomiL (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Thanks! I will definitly keep all that in mind.

    Actually MrOsterman, I have a question. It's not really related to my serial, it's more for another project I want to persue at some point in the future, but where and how did you find the actors for the the personal diaries?

  11. MrOsterman (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    I did a blog slam and Facebook beg. I posted everywhere I can post and then saw what happened. I also am lucky to have some very talented and supportive friends. The actor who is voice the radio DJ is a friend from high school and now teaches broadcast arts. It's a small perk that he also has access to a professional studio. I'm hoping that as it gets going I can impress a few more friends into service when they have a better idea what I'm looking for for the project.

    I'm nervous too because this week is the dirt official posting of a video diary.

    Mind the Thorns a Reader Directed Urban Fantasy
    Bastion: The Last Hope a web novel of the end of days
  12. lissthomas (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    I've read through the comments and the excellent advice. I, of course, started writing an online serial novel without a backlog and completely by accident. I'm totally in love with the writer prompts from I've been using them to further my story along and I'm having a great time with it. I have the idea of how it ends in my head but sometimes the words throw a curve ball!

    Here is the first episode.

    There are a total of 31 so far. No backlog, no drafts... straight from the cuff. I don't get a lot of hits but people that go to my site stay for a while. I guess that is the good thing.

  13. Nick Bryan (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Heh, there are a lot of good comments here that I wish I'd read before starting. I do love the writing, happily, but I should probably stop myself from getting too hung up on the stats. Also starting to consider a second weekly update simply because my pace appears to be quite slow and I thought it might help keep reader engagement, but I'm reluctant simply because I know I might sometimes struggle to meet it due to my day job, and I'd rather be consistent.

    At the moment, I don't have a specific update time beyond "Some time over the weekend", maybe I should try and get one. Also, maybe it would be more of an "event" if it was during the week - the internet seems a bit deader during the week. Hmm.

    Hobson & Choi - my blackly comic mystery serial - existing now on Jukepop Serials!
  14. Bruce23 (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Hi guys, thanks for the useful tips. I am planning to launch my first web serial, and this has been really helpful.


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