Ah... Introduction and Questions?

Howdy! My name is Mandy, though I prefer my penname Auto-nin(also go by Mahou Shoujo-nin, my current active account on Fanfiction.net). I wrote fanfiction in my high school years before having to stop do the college. With finishing college, I got back into fanfiction(which has kept my sanity in check the last few weeks). I am also working on a novel that I took the plot of one of my old fanfiction I dropped and making it an original story(it's not 50 Shades of Gray kind of story).

I am hoping to become a writer and illustrator who loves the large realm of fantasy and sci-fi. However, I am thinking of doing my first novel as a web serial since I am more used to posting the chapters individually and it being my first big original piece. Might do the novel in arcs if I do make it a webserial. I am still getting back into writing on a schedule, though I am changing from working each chapter and proofing before working on the next. I am shifting to writing most of the story out before I start posting, at least maybe in volumes with clear beginnings, middle, and ends. Mainly to keep the story on track before posting, improve the quality of the story, and getting a much needed buffer. I learned the hard way(more than once) the need of a buffer and trying to get that for my current active fanfiction since my beta-readers are still in college. That and keeping the writing project whack-a-mole under control(have two fanfiction going into 2nd rewrite due to this, but planning to start them back up once I plan them out better).

I also have some questions I been trying find the answers, but haven't had much luck or did not read deep enough in the forums:

1. How do you copyright a web serial? I am curious since I was originally thinking of doing my story as a novel and looking into copyright before finding web serials. Do you post it without going through the copyright channels first and get the copyright later if you want to publish? My curiosity in this subject is killing me, hence the question.

2. Is there a good platform for posting a web serial that might have illustrations with it? I am thinking of doing some illustrations from the web serial and thinking of maybe adding them to the story if I do. I don't know if any of you use illustrations in your web serials(still new and exploring), but wondering, which platform to go to as I have an account on both Blogger and Wordpress.

I am sorry for the long post... I am very shy and when I am nervous like this, I tend to get chatty(or wordy in this case). I am also not good with forums(trying to learn to use them) and hoping to get to along with the authors here as I try to increase my productivity and quality of my works. I look forward to hearing from you and putting my first web serial here once I get it ready for posting. I got to get the first arc done that I will use to figure out how to post the web serial and get the site ready for when that first arc is ready.



1. No Idea really

2. I use wordpress and you could probably put illustrations in that.

3. I post twice a week but my chapters are short. Really this is personal preference, all I could say it once you post a schedule you should stick to it.

Sorry I'm not much help with your questions, but people with more knowledge than me will probably show up at some point. Welcome to the community and I hope you have a lot of fun writing.


Ok, answer 1 first. What I saw around and was directed to when I asked was Creative Commons, located here: http://creativecommons.org/

They can do up a free license for you, but someone who has been published would have to tell you how well it works when you publish. I'm not likely to know the answer to that one soon.

2. Don't know.

3. Pick a posting schedule you can keep up with. Don't set the bar so high that you can't reach it. In my case, I haven't had a buffer for more than a year. I also have people and things taking up my time in increasingly-annoying ways, too, so I'm not going to be posting 5,000 words twice a week. Also, if you lose that buffer, something I hear is easy to do, then make sure the night before your update is a day you're willing to lose to writing.

Quick a rebuttal

1. It might have been me that referred PG to the Creative Commons, at the time I told him to take my advice with a grain of salt.

3. I agree, I use to have a five week buffer, it is down to next monday. I should probably write something right now.

My thoughts:

1. My understanding of US copyright law is that its legally copyrighted by you the moment you write it. You can take the whole thing, and send it in to Washington D.C. and get a piece of paper officially saying so, but you'll be out a bit of money, and with no greater real protection under the law.

2. Blogger and Wordpress both allow you to post pictures. I don't see either of them being better than the other in this sense.

3. My belief is that the best thing you can do to build readership is post as regularly as you can and still make your deadlines. Length can be whatever you are comfortable with, but make it something your readers can count on and that you won't fail to deliver. I go with about 1000 words twice a week. Another writer here (Wildbow) goes with 6000+ word posts twice a week. Both are good and work for readers. Some writers post more than twice a week, and others less.

A key point to add to the copyright question is that most publishers in the past wanted the right to publish something for the first time. This meant that posting on the web made it impossible to publish with a publisher. This is no longer true. Some books have been published that first appeared on the web now.

That said, there are probably publishers that still have the earlier mindset somewhere out there.

I can add a little more to the copyright thing.

Jim is right -- your work is copyrighted the moment you write it. The tricky part is if you have to prove it in court. If it ever comes to the point where you have to prove it in court, being able to display a registered copyright will help you a lot. The problem is, the US Copyright Office only copyrights complete works. So, for example, I register each issue of Curveball I post because I package it as a complete work as part of a series (like a comic book) but I didn't register each chapter of Pay Me, Bug! because it was part of a larger whole.

For the purposes of a web serial, things are tricky. However, at the moment you have a complete work you can create a PDF of it and register it through the US Copyright website (if you're in the US, not everyone here is, but that's the only part I know about) as a complete work and keep publishing it piecemeal. Again, though, it's not necessary to register it through the US Copyright office for it to be copyrighted. It's just more useful in some instances.

The other point to keep in mind is that Creative Commons is not a copyright -- it's a license. A license is based on a declaration of copyright, but what it does is it grants people specific freedoms to use the work that they would not have.

For example, one of the most basic rights granted in most CC licenses is the right to redistribute for noncommercial purposes. Standard copyright law makes it illegal for anyone to redistribute a copyrighted work for any reason whatsoever. Licenses provide exemptions from that. Traditionally people would pay money for a license that allowed them to use a work a specific way. The CC license outlines specific scenarios when the person can use a work free of cost.

(Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of CC licenses and I use a CC license for everything I publish).

A key point to add to the copyright question is that most publishers in the past wanted the right to publish something for the first time. This meant that posting on the web made it impossible to publish with a publisher. This is no longer true. Some books have been published that first appeared on the web now.

That said, there are probably publishers that still have the earlier mindset somewhere out there.

More specifically publishers wanted to be able to grab the "first publication rights" because being able to publish something before anyone else did was more profitable -- they were essentially the sole distributor and couldn't get it anywhere else. Being able to prove that they were getting first publication rights was once a prerequisite to getting published, and that is no longer the case... however, I think it's still true that if they don't get first publication rights, they aren't as willing to spend as much money. With some notable exceptions.

Thanks. I just know of copyright pretty well for artworks and such since they drilled it in my senior year of college(not so much marketing, which I am still learning on my own). I was just confused on it with web serials as I was curious as to how something not done is copyright and you answered that for me. Thank you so much ubersoft and Jim Zeotewey. Also, thanks for mentioning Creative Commons. That might be useful in the future for me since I actually love having people being inspired and making their own works from mine. Though, glad to see I am taking the right direction with trying to get a better habit of developing a schedule and deadlines for works. Again, thank you for the advice.

Though, I have one more question: Does Wordpress have a way to schedule posts ahead of time? Akin to Blogger's schedule posts? And can you do this with Blogger's pages? The reason I am asking this is I have unreliable electricity and internet. One nasty little wind storm is enough to knock out either. So, I want to make sure if I see a chance I might not be able to manually update, that I can set up a scheduled one just in case.

Hi and welcome!

Fantasy and sci-fi writer/illustrator? I like you. High five.

Looks like these folks have already substantially answered most of your questions so I'll just hit that last one. Yes! Wordpress can schedule posts in advance. You literally just tell it the time and date it should be posted and bam, there it goes. Sometimes it can fail (still not sure why this happens but it tends to always miss part 2 of our 3 part chapters of course...) but I've got this handy free plugin called WP Missed Schedule which essentially checks every five minutes if a post has missed its schedule and attempts to repost which usually works just fine.

I've never used Blogger but Wordpress is great and highly customizable and the backend is lovely. Highly recommend.

Hi Mandy - Welcome to WFG. Like you, I'm a fanfiction.net alum although haven't written fanfiction in close to ten years? There are a lot of ff.net folks who I know who have gone on to writing original fiction. Congrats on joining the "are we kidding" side of the fence :)

I write and also draw... putting those two out together has proven challenging so I think it's wise to work out a buffer prior to starting something that combines both skillsets into a regular posting. (I started by trying to do writing posting Sunday and drawings posting Wednesday but this proved frustrating and hard to keep up every week so I ended up doing them fairly intermittently and stopped entirely while the text was updating.)

1. UBersoft has covered the copyright issue. Your text is copyrighted as it's posted. When I "finished" an arc I put it up in an ebook and provided this digital copy to the copyright.gov office. It took about 4 months I think to hear back from them (partly due to the shutdown) but I now have proof of copyright which pretty much is a nice certificate that looks like this http://red-bird.org/wpmain/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/copyright.jpg .)

2. I personally like Wordpress (as in self-hosted *.org) better than Blogger. I just think it's a lot more flexible in terms of how you have your images display (via plugins). OVerall, WP has more support than BLogger.

Examples of pages with illustration and text:

* First few pages of "Red Riding Hood" at http://talesofthebigbadwolf.com/red-riding-hood-arc/rrh1/

* http://talesofthebigbadwolf.com/the-queen-of-swans/qos12b/ (You'll see two styles of embedding the images)

* Gallery option: http://talesofthebigbadwolf.com/artwork/

3. Regarding the posting schedule, don't pick your most productive interval. Pick your harder times -- particularly i fyou don't want to burn out and plan to post for a long time. A lot of our visitors at WFG complete one serial at a pretty tight pace and then throw up their hands and don't come back. I think the folks who picked a more sustainable schedule (that allows you tend to real life responsibilities) are the ones who remain.

Several folks can eke out 2-4 installments a week. Some of those folks are full-time writing. I go for once a week and have a full-time (and a half) job on the side. So there's really no right answer . Just keep to a schedule, keep your word and update when you say you will. Consistency is key.

Lastly - don't be shy and nervous about jumping in and just trying to start. There is not really a WRONG way to do stuff in this realm.

Hi, and welcome!

Lots of people have answered your questions, so I won't go nuts, but in brief:

1) As lots of people have confirmed, copyright is automatically yours as soon as you post it. Tip: put a copyright statement on the website so everyone knows it belongs to you. You don't have to register it to do this.

If you're not self-hosting and choose an online service to post your serial, read their terms and conditions for any copyright or license-related clauses. Some places will try to claim rights on your story (I forget where I saw this, probably Amazon Serials, but it wasn't just once). Only sign up to what you're comfortable with!

With regard to publishing rights, note that publishing online only uses the first *digital* publishing rights. Print (paper) and digital publishing are licensed (and can be sold) separately, so if you wanted to get your book paper-published, you haven't used up the first publication rights by putting it up as a serial.

You can also get around the use of first digital rights by having the web serial as a 'first draft' and rewriting/polishing it to be different enough to refresh your first digital rights (so to speak). Savvy publishers are on board with this these days.

2) Wordpress. Love it. Adding pictures to posts is easy.

3) Pick a schedule you can maintain long term. It may take you a while to figure out the right cadence for you, and that's fine.

Good luck!

Thanks Khronosabre and SgL. Now I have to figure out Wordpress, but glad I decided on this decision now instead of when I might have finished Wild Cat later on. I will probably be better doing arcs of the story than a whole book right now. I realized over the last few months a lot of things from realizing I am not fit to be a graphic designer, but more geared towards writing and illustrating to learning the hard way you got to work back up to past skills if college blocked you from them. Though, I know burn out well from this year alone due to job searching and trying to figure out being a graphic designer. My fanfiction(though stressful as I was learning the hard way on over-extending yourself) kept my sanity and helped me get out of the burn out rut faster.

Though, for the illustrations, I am currently trying to do a daily doodle to get the habit of drawing(along with writing) every day. It's mainly to take a step back from bigger illustrations while I search for a part-time or full-time job. More so out of my family asking me to as I was hoping to get another month to get my new habits and goals set and working towards them before jumping back into the water after my second burn-out this year. Though, my fingers are not crossed as the job market here is not too kind to college graduates. Since Wild Cat is technically a survival story of sorts, I am thinking of using a sketchy, rough art style. That and Wild Cat a gerne mash across fantasy and sci-fi, hence why at the moment I think I am a sci-fi/fantasy writer and seem to be trending that same area with what I been doing in my daily doodles(did a unemployed mage smoking a cigarette today). That should make it easier to keep up with and do it as part of my daily doodle to keep up the groove. Also, not every chapter will have an illustration at release and I will probably go back and add illustrations later.

But, with thinking about both fanfiction and web serials, how do you do multiple web serials(or fanfiction in this case) on Wordpress? I been trying out Patreon.com with my fanfiction. Not for donations, but the activity feed as Fanfiction.net's methods of communicating with fans is a bit... Annoying in my opinion. I kind of like comments on blogs where fans can converse with each other just as much as the author. It feels more natural for someone like me who(even though being deathly shy at times) is better at talking to other people than using social media. However, with looking at some web serials, doing fanfiction like a web serial would probably make it easier on me if I keep both my web serials and fanfiction in one place. My first burn out this year was trying to learn marketing for social media... Not fun, but thanks to all the networking I did alongside, I realized my real goals before losing my soul to graphic design and now focusing on rebuilding my portfolio for illustration. That and Fanfiction.net does not have schedule releasing. If I do get a job, the schedule releasing will be very helpful to have since I have no clue what kind of job I might end up with at this moment for a day job. Also, without being tied to Fanfiction.net terms, I can do more rewards on my Patreon.com like early release of chapters to fans who do become Patrons. Again, only on Patreon.com for the activity feed(and other new features coming to help creators and fans to make a community and connect), but if a fan does donate even a little to me, I want to reward them back for doing so.

Oh, and thanks Kess. You put your post up right when I was typing this response. I have gotten into reading terms closely, especially when I started my Patreon.com account as I did not want to conflict with Fanfiction.net's terms with having such an account. Though, thankfully, I have started to figure out my long term path to writing through lovely crashder-I mean, experience trying to jump back into fanfiction. Realized real quick that even though I kept my 1000 to2000 words per hour speed, my storytelling ability did not stick as well. I have improving on it and realizing the best way to work my stories if I do keep doing them online the last two to three months and finally getting back in my storytelling groove.

You're welcome! :)

If you wanted to do multiple serials on one Wordpress site, the thing to keep in mind is to make it easy for people to pick and choose what they want to read and follow. Using Wordpress's categories is one way to do it, or you can use tags, or even both (depends how complex you want/need it to be). Categories is probably the simplest.

You can separate categories into separate sections on the site, so you can set up easy clickable headings/links to each story you're posting. (I know this can be done on self-hosted Wordpress; can someone confirm it can be done on the Wordpress site hosted blogs?)

You can also do individual index/archive listing pages for each serial, which you might be able to get Wordpress to auto-generate for you, or you can update every time you post.

I'd advise that you want your readers to be able to sign up to an RSS feed for a particular story/theme, so make sure there's an RSS feed available (and linked on the homepage) for people to use.

I echo Kess, definitely put a copyright on the website somewhere, preferably on the main page. My serial was illustrated and it worked out well (I've since taken it down). I used blogger, for what it's worth, but wordpress is better from what I've seen. And SgL is right -- definitely make that buffer! The buffer is so important. My whole book was already written and I uploaded revised and illustrated chapters once a week, and I still barely made it every week. It was tough, then again I have two small children so I could only work after hours.

What these guys said. Buffers are great and if you can do them, definitely do them. However, bit of advice from someone who failed at buffers literally the moment the first chapter was posted:

In case your buffer fails, it's really important to know your limits and not set too high of an expectation for yourself. When we first launched Caelum Lex I had the stupid notion that I could do 8 or 9 illustrations per chapter. Which was stupid. And it didn't take me long to realize it. Eventually it stabilized out at 3 which was manageable for a while, but the quality wasn't what I wanted so finally I dropped it down to 2. I work a 50-70 hour a week job, I have a relationship to upkeep, cats to take care of, friends to spend time with and a serial to write and draw. I don't use a buffer (because I am stupid) but I do have a writing partner (which definitely helps considerably) and the most important thing is to find your balance. Figure out what you can comfortably complete in the amount of time you've allotted yourself. It will probably take some time and struggling, but find that happy place. And then if your buffer craps out on you, you'll still be able to stay consistent :)

Personally, I really really need a buffer. I spent a few months writing chapters until I had a buffer of 10 before I posted the first chapter, and now I'm using any extra time I have to try and expand the buffer more. I don't only feel more relaxed and secure with a buffer, I also appreciate being able to get feedback and making edits before something is posted. And I need to plan interwoven sideplots for 3 POV characters in advance.

But the need for a buffer largely depends on the way your story is structured, your real life situation and personal preferences. A lot of writers seem to do just fine without a buffer.

Kess, Amy Kim Kibuishi, Khronosabre, and Chryalis. I am mainly going to need buffers with getting things set up and getting into a habit of writing everyday. If I just keep up my current goal of 1000 to 2000 words a day, I can easily keep up with how long it seems I am making Wild Cat's chapters and the fact I am planning to experimenting with my fanfiction chapters to see if shorter ones work better for me. However, I am also currently unemployed and looking for a job, so a buffer will be handy as I find that comfortable spot I can keep at it with all the changes going on in my life... Though would like my job to be writing and drawing all day, but got to work my way there. But, now I am glad I decided on this before getting any further in writing Wild Cat as once I have Arc 1 written out, I should have my WordPress site ready for it as well... After I figure WordPress out... Web design is not my strong suite, but can't afford to hire someone to help me out.

Wordpress itself offers a good amount of guides and tutorials on how to use it. And because it's very popular, you can google for an answer to almost any Wordpress related question. Chances are you'll get 5+ answers.

Auto-nin: I wasn't sure if you were asking how to do multiple blogs on a wordpress site? Or just about running multiple fictions? If you are self-hosting and want to use one wordpress install you can use a plugin like Jonradio multiplethemes to have multiple looks under one installation.

(See http://red-bird.org .)

I have multiple themes because I was trying to bring back several fansites (largely dead but with lots of attached research) that were using Dreamweaver to update it (years ago) into one easier-to-update interface. Some of these sites had a particular kind of structure/"branding" that I wanted to stick closely to just because I didn't want to drastically change the look.

If you are talking about running fanfiction and original at the same time, that's not something I can speak to. I gave up fanfiction a long time ago because once you immerse yourself into one world it's really hard to juggle around. I've seen a few people try to serialize two things at one time but most gave up and just did one serial and worked on their other books on the side out of the public eye.

A comment too -- fanfiction readers are far more forgiving about irregularity. FF.net emails you whens omething goes up either by story or author and people already are used to waiting days/months, possibly years for the next update. For original work on the web, you have to watch out -- most people aren't all that cued into RSS anymore or watch twitter. You won't have too many opportunities to recapture your audience once you fall off the schedule wagon.

(That said -- Wattpad is pretty good about emailing you notices. I think they're pretty good at retention of hard-core readers for stories with irregular post schedules. I would consider it a backup posting site but only if your content is teen-friendly.)

One thing to also think ahead -- if your goal is digital/print compilation of your work, beware making all color illustrations. While it's free to upload your PDF to Amazon, they and others charge a fee for the bandwidth that is involved in someone's "purchase/download" of the title you are selling. Comics folks I know have said the fee that's subtracted from the transaction isn't insignificant.

Printing in color via POD is also more expensive. COnsider right now what your end goal is going to be. If you don't know and want to keep all choices open, I advise going b/w or having a separate linework layer in your files so you later have the option to go b/w and readjust/change any colors to meet whatever printing requirements you might face in the future.

Right now the costs for hardcover POD are pretty bad for color books in short-runs... so more than likely you need to think black and white/grey for the foreseeable future in self-publishing print.