Stats Post

5 years ago | Billy Higgins Peery (Member)

Honestly? I don’t wanna do a stats post. Makes me feel naked, and not in a sexy way.

BUT, a lot of people in this community have been nice enough to share their stats, so I figured the least I could do was share mine.

It’s for this reason that I’ve written out what my viewer counts looks like for the months of July 2015 to May 2016.

Here are the numbers:

7/2015: 484
8/2015: 402
9/2015: 378
10/2015: 1,800
11/2015: 563
12/2015: 392
1/2016: 323
2/2016: 587
3/2016: 918
4/2016: 535
5/2016: 389

A couple takeaways here, I think.

1) The big spike in October came from my Cracked article, which received a million hits that month. Roughly 1,500 people clicked on a link to A BAD IDEA, which I put in the article’s author bio. Of that group, 1 in 13 moved from the first post to the second.

To put that in context: on average, 1 in 3 people who click on the first chapter of A BAD IDEA go on to read the second. So Cracked’s drop-off is huge, I’m assuming because it’s people who aren’t used to reading web serials.

2) The second spike came in March, due to a guest post on Drew Hayes’s blog (thanks again Drew!) There was a similar drop-off as the months go by, but one thing the viewer count doesn’t show is how rabidly Drew’s readers read A BAD IDEA.

The guest post led to MEGAPULP's biggest day of views ever: 9,546. That month actually reached 27,500 views total. By comparison, the month of the Cracked article I received 14,800 views on my blog.

There’s definitely a lesson there about the difference between serial readers, potential readers, and web fiction haters, which Zoetewey elaborates on here.

3) My serials have gotten a lot of binge reads, and I’m proud of that. Most days I get 20-40 readers, and yet I’ve averaged 100-300 views a day because when people start my serials they can’t seem to stop until they reach the end.

4) At the same time, month-to-month retention has been a real problem. July 2015 was a good month to me, because some reviews on Godpunk got a lot of people to check out the serial. But still, after a Cracked article, a short story, a guest post, and some wonderful and highly-appreciated author shout outs, my viewer count is still lower in May 2016.

Having looked at the stats pretty regularly over the past year and a half, I think people read my stories from start to finish (in the case of GODPUNK and KINDA SUPER GAY, both of which are finished), or until the latest updates (for A BAD IDEA, which is still updating). Once they’re done, a lot of them seem to leave the site.

I wish I had the answer as to how I could fight against the attrition. Unfortunately, I don’t. My new author newsletter might help, especially when I start releasing ebooks. But who knows.

[SIDENOTE: I’m actually really excited about the newsletter. I’m gonna fill it w/ sci-fi rambles and weird/funny poetry, along w/ serial news. So like sign up here if you want more of my insanity. God, I feel like Warren Ellis already. That’s something to be happy about.]

If anybody has any thoughts on how to fight reader attrition, please share. Criticism is welcome, but if you do criticize me, make sure you also point out how pretty I am.


5) For all I can complain about viewers from a business-y perspective, I have to look at things from my arts-y human-y perspective and acknowledge how grateful I am that people read my stuff. I mean, getting hundreds of readers every month is awesome. I worked hard for them, and it feels so good to have them.

There’s a bunch of stuff I didn’t cover here that I wanted to -- the effects of Reddit, genre tags, shout outs from some of you guys, and the short stories I’ve published -- but this post is long enough as is.

So I’ll leave it here. Peace out and thanks for reading!

"Any number of hitlers, are still not my problem." -Tempest

Read responses...


  1. Dary (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Those conclusions are pretty much in line with my own. I don't have the numbers at hand, but I believe the retention rate from prologue (second page) to second chapter (pages 11-18) sits around 10-15% for both my 2009 and present-day attempts. That's with the vast bulk of the audience coming from webcomics. 2009 fares slightly better of the two (around the 15% mark), possibly because that version involved some illustration (there's more of a fall-off over the following chapters to compensate). Both settle into a 97% (yeah, I worked it out) retention on a chapter-to-chapter basis, with the occasional drop to 90% in certain early chapters (it's telling which ones, too!), while retention rates over more recent chapters are all over the place - but always level out in time.

    That would be because, as you've noted, people binge, more so that anything else. It's one of the reasons my current serial is split into 30-40k "episodes" and I provide ebook compilations when said episodes are complete. I think you're always going to lose readers over time, though, no matter what you do. I think having a consistent presence helps, like always being on the front page of WFG/TWF, or running ads on specific websites every other week/month. Remind the people who binged in the past that you're still around. That might be harder in your case, mind, because your big spikes come from one-off articles you can't exactly replicate on a regular basis.

  2. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 5 years ago

    I think the reader retention issue is one of the huge things I've noticed over time that still has to be addressed effectively. The mailing list idea is one I've had too, but I've yet to put something into practice there.

    In any case, Billy, you're right. It's not just you. I often have someone read through the serial and then come back later when the next big section is done. And that's great except that there's a good chance that they'll forget over time.

    I've thought of a few ideas to handle that, some of which require programming that I don't currently have time to do:
    1. Mailing list.
    2. Legion of Nothing app which would work with a plugin on Wordpress, letting people know when LoN updates, people comment, and a calendar of events (book release, chapter ends, Patreon stuff, Kickstarter...).
    3. A plugin that simply sends people an update every time their preferred book section size updates (chapter, month, complete volume, etc...).

    I may just settle on the mailing list. I see a lot of things in web fiction that could be improved by programming projects, but I don't currently have the time.

  3. mathtans (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Thanks for putting it out there, Billy! Just to wrap my head around it - by "viewer counts" you mean those are unique individual viewers to your site? (Knowing you post daily it wouldn't make sense as individual views, but maybe this was only for "A Bad Idea"?)

    One thought on "Retention" is I know some people prefer to only read a completed work, like Jim's alluding to above - maybe that's a fourth category? For me, it's partly a backlog issue - I don't have the time I feel I need to devote to proper serial reading from basically September through June. That's why I haven't returned to "A Bad Idea" since last summer (well, that and I figured once it got listed, my absence wouldn't be noticed), though I intend to have another look this August. In fact there's only two serials I've managed to keep up to date with since March: Kaleidofish, who has a weekly vote that I like getting in on, and Jim's (more or less) because if I happen to fall behind by a few weeks, I follow on Facebook, and spot when the Arc updates (as it recently did). Once I'm behind by a month, I tend to file stuff under "August Catchup".

    A newsletter sounds like a good idea, if you've got the content, in terms of reminding people that you're out there. Again musing, I suppose the other thing that we have to fight against, aside from being forgotten, is becoming regular background noise. I subscribe to a weekly math newsletter, and have a bad habit of archiving more than reading. Not sure how many others fall into that category.

    In terms of general retentions from part 1 onwards, I recently posted a comparison of all my "episode 1"s to "episode 12"s on my site, if anyone wants to look. (The post starts with talk of Week 9 and Week 11, you can skip down to the sub header 'Statistics'. Where I start with "I seriously wonder if I post up my statistics merely so that other writers can look at them and go, 'Well, at least I'm not THAT guy'." ^.- ) Enjoy!

    Writing a Time Travel serial:
    Writer of the personification of math serial:
  4. Qorvus (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Totally jealous of those stats.

    Your October total is more than all of mine over a year. My best month doesn't even equal your worst month yet.

    Weirdly I have quite a few 'followers', many of whom hit like on posts but they never seem to view new entries. Not sure how that works.

    I know I have made a few mistakes in the process, which I am working on to fix. Sometimes you hear of those overnight successes though and wonder just how they did it.

    Author of a collection of SF/F short webfiction -
    Echo of the Ages - Epic Fantasy Serial
  5. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Guess I'll have to do one of those of my own, myself.

    Being naked is only embarrassing if you're the only one doing it!

    Either way, interesting insights. I've yet to really put a major effort into attracting a crowd... mostly it's word of mouth. I might have to look into doing a cracked article or two of my own.

    Author of Price.
  6. Billy Higgins Peery (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    @Dary: Thank you for calculating reader retention that closely, lol. It's nice to have that number in mind. And yeah, I suspect you're right about the constant presence thing.

    @Zoetewey: Glad to hear I'm not alone when it comes to reader retention! I imagine some people are lost just because we live in such an onslaught of information and entertainment -- nothing to be done there. But I also imagine some readers are being lost because they lose their place in the story. Maybe I should recommend Pocket and/or Comics Rocket to my readers. I'll have to think about that one.

    @Mathans: Yeah, viewer count is unique viewers per month. I chose to use those numbers instead of my view numbers, because I think that makes for fairer comparison with non-daily serials.

    I fall behind on web serials all the time myself. A certain amount of it is just a side-effect of living in the internet age, but I wonder about frequency of posting, too. Is there actually going to be room for people who post less frequently, and therefore don't leave so many readers behind? There would need to be some way to notify readers when new chapters go up... No idea if it's feasible, I'm just musing.

    @Qorvus: I think we're all jealous of somebody, lol. Keep in mind that I started regularly posting in 2014, and even before that, I've left behind a whole field of failures that the community never got to see. Success has been slower for me than some, quicker for me than others. But I'm happy with this pace, because I think too much success too quickly can be scary -- it can get to your head.

    @TanaNari: A Cracked article is hard to do, TanaNari. But with enough work, anything's possible!

    "Any number of hitlers, are still not my problem." -Tempest
  7. Blaise Corvin (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    I will post my stats after I publish in a month or two if anyone is interested. I started writing at the beginning of this year and my audience has grown quite a bit. The first month or two was rough. :/

    Visit my site, I have punch and pie.
    I also have two stories: Delvers LLC and The Crimson Artifice. :)
  8. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Hey Billy - just wanted to do a late thank you for putting your stats up. I know no one's going to follow the same paths as each other (a lot of everything is luck), but it's wonderful to get that inside look on how things are panning out for something specific. So thank you!

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.


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