Starting an Online Serial/Novel

13 years ago | patji (Member)

Ok. I want to start my own online serial/novel after reading a couple from here. I've attempted to, but I got lazy each time and it fell through. I've taken the time off to work out a few chapters now and know the general direction of my story, but what next?

How do you start your web serial/novel?
Do you host on your main blog? Sub-domain? New blog?
Do you advertise before posting the actually story?

Basically any tips and advices would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Read responses...

Page: 12


  1. grantcravens (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    Mine is a story that I've been working on, and just decided to post on a week by week basis. It's too short to be marketable to publishers (whose market sucks anyway), and I like the way I can talk to those that read my story. I'm working on another story, but I don't plan on posting it until I have enough of a buffer to give me a few months worth of writer's block/procrastination time.

    I'm hosting on a blog, and I have a few domains I could attach to it. Blogs work great for serialized stories, and they're free and stable (at least is).

    I may advertise for my potential new story, but it's a long way away from getting that far. I'd probably do it by posting here, and maybe on a Twitter account. I'd also list it on delicious, Google, etc. The more the better.

    I hope that helped. Any idea of what you want to work on? Can you give us a taste of the story?

    Boat Story: kidnapped kids, mysterious maps, debt, tropical storms, pirates, sea monsters, family, tea.
  2. patji (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    To be honest, I have three stories in the works and they're all at varying stages. Two are ones that I attempted to serialize online but I failed (gave up) and one is a new one that I just started working on not too long ago.

    + Story 1: Elemental/modern fantasy based (called Fallen E.) is an anti-heroine story.
    + Story 2: Vampire and werewolves simplistically, but I might hold off on this because there are just too many (good and bad) stories of this theme around at the moment.
    + Story 3: Superhero-esque with a splash of fantasy.

    I know, not a lot of details, but I don't want to give out too much. I'm weird like that xD

    The thing about advertising is that I don't really want to have to spend money on it. I'm not looking to make money or anything, I just want to write and let people read it (and perhaps get comments/feedbacks). But I also want to stop lunging in without a clue about what I'm doing.

    As for buffer chapters, I'm one of those people who has to post as they finish a chapter (I've been restraining myself since I want some order and plan before launching my serial(s)).

  3. Janoda (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    I've been at the writing out plots for different chapters stage for ages. I have a couple of 2nd drafts of chapters ready, but I got delayed quite a bit because I'm a design nerd. I got entangled with Wordpress, desided I should learn php first, and now am entangled in a forever expanding designing phase. I just can't get the website looking how I want it to be. Though that isn't entirely true. I've got three websites, I just don't know which one to pick, and then I'm coming up with more features and more idea's on how to publish my work and then I have to redesign all three off them and so on and on.

    I do however have some advise. If it ever gets online this will be how I'll work:
    Submit myself to Stumbleupon, google listings, WFG and other online networks.
    Email/facebook ALL the people I know and ask them to spread the word.
    Get the entrecard widget. ( And then entecard (as a verb). When I get a fairly amount of viewers/day and have enough updates, submit myself to projectwonderful. Use the money I earn there to advertise via projectwonderful.

    The strongest advertisement is the word of mouth. Whatever you do do that first (except for listings, because they take a while to kick in.)

  4. Sora (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    I would get some buffer episodes, at least a month a head of the chapters you post. That was something I learned the hard way.

    I wouldn't spend money money on advertising unless you really really want to see that money come back to you.

    Have a general idea of where you want the plot to go and let it flow. Don't be mad if if you stray off course.

    Try not to edit. It's alright to edit minor mistakes like grammar and spelling, but save the editing for later, like when you finish the story and possibly go to self publishing or traditional publishing. Unless there is something fundamentally wrong that prevents people from enjoying the story, I would try not to edit.

    Have fun and don't worry about the naysayers.

  5. Murazrai (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    Well, I will plan everything, including the characters, setting and the battle system (record them in a book and save them as softcopies so you will have a decent backup) . I put it up as a blog so that I can interact with my readers. To advertise will be a good thing, but be moderate so if there anything unexpected the readers won't get disappointed. Before you post up the chapters, be sure to check everything. Hopefully this will help you.

    Chaos Fighters...the fantasy of the scientific magic.
  6. Reyben (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    Mmmmh, I mean, Hmmmm...

    My story came about because I was trying to write something different from the novels and shorts stories which I usually fail to spend my time on. It ended up as sort of a... thing... which I then promptly put online because of my desperate, narcissistic desire for acceptance and praise. Naturally, this led me inexorably to questions of advertising. I'm a bit too shy to go with the "Tell everyone you know about it," approach, and I'm a bit too EXTREMELY POOR to spend money on advertising, so I've been exploring other methods.

    Stumble, Google and Online Fiction Directories seem to be the best bet, at least for the short term. Forums like this are always nice- as you can see, most of us have a post-signature advertising our story. I don't know about the others, but I tend to keep this signature whenever possible on other forums, too. Just in case, you know, somebody gets curious. However, it is important to be wary of over-pimping ones own story.

    I'd also be wary of spending much money on advertising. Unless you're rich, in which case I recommend you spend as much money as possible. And also buy me a boat.

    I have a sub-domain on one of those free website designer things. I still maintain that it's a little fugly, because I'm awful at web design- the people here were very helpful in that regard. They can tell you what looks pretty.

    We all look pretty.

    Buffer chapters are always a good idea. The thing I'm doing is of such a limited size that I've actually been able to finish the first draft before posting individual episodes. I'd say it's definitely important to get at least an outline done, (possibly in your head, if that's not too crammed with other stuff already), with a few burn-ahead chapters ready to go up just in case. Though as Sora says, don't be mad if you stray off course from your plan.

    Above all, have patience. Web-series often take a bit of time to establish themselves. Hang in there, and keep writing. With luck, somebody's reading.

    At least, that's what I tell myself when I'm sitting all alone at night, dark broken only by my flickering computer screen- with the wolves outside and the cold creeping in... please let somebody be reading... pretty please...


  7. Pete Tzinski (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    So you want to write a serial.

    Good! It's an old form of fiction. Charles Dickens wrote serialized stuff. Loads of the great science fiction novels -- and indeed, plenty of other great books too -- were serialized in magazines and newspapers long before they were assembled by publishers. It's a great form.

    And you're getting lots of fantastic advice about ways to get attention, how to make noise, ways to not trip yourself up, places to host a site, and so on and so forth. And my advice is simply this:

    You gotta want it.

    that's it. You REALLY gotta want it. You have to have a story, a serial story, and you have to want to tell it. You need to want readers, sure, but you need to want the story spelled out and told for your own pleasure and the joy of putting it out there first and foremost. You have to want it bad enough that you can irk yourself through lazy phases. And you need to want it strong enough that, even if no one reads it and no one cares for the first YEAR (or more!), you keep writing. For love of the thing.

    Because sometimes, that's the case. And even if it isn't, you have to love the work for the sake of the work.

    If you can do that, then even if you choose a lousy place to host and have terrible graphics...the love and passion in the story will show through. And I think you'll do all right.

    And that's my two cents, is what. (and they maybe so obvious they're dumb two cents, but what can yer do)

  8. sandrafowke (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    There's some wonderful advice here on this topic. I've recently begun setting up my own serialized online novel and was just starting to wonder if I was all alone when I stumbled on this site and thread.

    I agree with Peedee you have to want it and love what you're writing because I think the ratio of readers who just read and readers who actually take the time to comment is something like 50 to 1 maybe more? So you have to love it and be willing to keep going even if you get a few weeks of quiet.

    Thanks so much :D

    First Serialized Web Novel - Not with a Bang This is how the world ends...
  9. grantcravens (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    I've discovered something really important for me in the last few day: I know what I want from the story, but I don't know that I know it until I sit down and pound it out. When I start typing, suddenly things I have been struggling with just come together. But it doesn't happen until I work at it. That is to say what other people have said already: WORK FOR IT.

    Also, I'm writing stories I want to read, about characters I want to hang out with, and places I'd like to go. I tend to be more productive after going to a book store and not being able to find anything that interests me. That frustration goes a long way.

    Boat Story: kidnapped kids, mysterious maps, debt, tropical storms, pirates, sea monsters, family, tea.
  10. Frances Gonzalez (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    You have to know the direction you want to take the story well before you start posting chapters. You don't necessarily have to know the ending (though for me, knowing the ending is essential) but with serialization, unless you know where you're taking your tale, you'll get either bored with the generally slow update pace or get bogged down in the possibilities or details. And for me at least, it's easier to sort through when you have some sort of roadmap.

    I use Blogger for the ease of posting and because I really suck at designing sites. As for advertising, I just listed the site here and on google and Twitter. If you want to try to make money off of it, there are also a lot of free ad sites like Google Adsense or Project Wonderful.

    It's like Field of Dreams -- write it and they will come.

  11. patji (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    Thanks for all your advise and sorry for suddenly disappearing. Real life (college) caught up with me on exams, projects and papers.

  12. Ian Scott (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    Here's my experience of serializing an online novel. I started mine just over two weeks ago. I had a complete manuscript, which I subnitted to literary agents and eventually got accepted by one. Hodder Headline and Hamish Hamilton then both expressed interest in it. But, eventually they decided it had too many things going on in it and that it wasn't genre-specific enough to market in bookstores.I got dispirited. I tend to give up too easily.

    Anyway, after a few years of travelling around the world, I dug it out again and decided to completely re-write it as a tight offbeat thriller. I thought I'd test it out by serialzing it online before going back to the publishers.

    My choice of host was between Google's Blogger and Wordpress. I chose Blogger because I liked the look of the blogspots I'd seen. Wordpress blogs looked plainer. It's really easy to upload your text and pictures onto a Blogspot. That part is easy.

    So, I posted the first chapter and then surfed around linking like crazy, trying to promote it. A lot of your time is taken up doing that. 'I'll visit your blog if you visit mine' tyrpe of stuff. I post a new chapter each day and have averaged about 30 new readers per day. So far I have had 1,200 page views from 44 different countries. 20 of those have registered as 'followers'.

    I keep the 'chapters' short at around 800 words per new post, and make sure that I have a hook at the end of every one. My readers tell me that is an ideal length for online readers.

    I've had lots of positive feedback and now I feel a sense of obligation to my loyal readers. fortunately, I've got a completed manuscript to fall back on, but my intention is to only use about 10% of that; the other 90% I'm writing from scratch and loving it. It's now being reviewed by the Web Fiction Guide, so hopefully that review will appear here soon.

    It's called The Mongolian Girl. Please take a look at it on my blog and let me know what you think. In return, I'll be happy to read and comment on yours. We are a community of writers and we need each other.

  13. Tahjir (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    Wow, there's some really good advice here.

    I especially agree with Peedee. If you do decide to start a serial novel, it's guaranteed you'll run into at least a few stumbling blocks, but if you really care about what you're writing, you'll get past it all with ease.

    Apocalyptic Urban Fantasy
  14. Richard (Member)

    Posted 13 years ago

    Starting an online novel was easy for me.

    Step One: Write a 97,000 word historical novel.

    Step Two: Attempt to sell said novel.

    Step Three: Discover that it's really hard to sell a debut 97,000 word historical novel

    Step Four: Pick a central character from the unsold novel and write about his early life.

    Step Five: (in progress) Discover that websites have taken a long leap since I learned HTML... learn about style sheets... oh yeah, and write the novel sometimes!

    You can see how I'm doing at !

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