Best Way to spend my Time?

Hey all,

So, after reading quite a few posts on here. I've noted it has been said quite a few times that they could do so much more if they only had the time. Specifically to growing and building their audience.

Time is one of the few resources I have in great abundance right now. So, I'm truly interested in how you think I should be spending it? What should I focus my effort on for building an audience?

This is thinking over a period of around five-ten weeks. Straight after I've published my serial. I want to make use of this beginning period as much as I can.

As always, thanks for the advice.

Kind regards,


I'm a newbie here myself, but I can certainly offer my two cents if you would like to hear it. When it comes to expanding your audience, there are a number of ways to go about it. First and foremost, the regularity of your updates has a direct impact on your level of viewership, in my humble opinion, and the more consistent you are with it, the more your readers are likely to come back. If, for example, you state plainly that every friday there will be a new update, and do not fail with that, then you will begin to build up a following who will come online every friday for your new content, rather than checking in sporadically to see if you've done anything yet. It's essentially customer loyalty. If you wish to expand further, there are a number of ways to go about it. Reviewing the works of other writers, and being reviewed by them in turn, is one way to go, as it allows prospective readers to get a glimpse of you as both a capable reviewer and, if your work is good, then as a good writer from the reviews you give and those you receive in turn. Putting your work up for listing on this site is a good start as well. Other than that, you could try networking, I suppose, sharing your updates on tumblr or facebook or wherever else. It's largely up to you. Unfortunately, a large part of audience building is the sort of thing you can only do when you're a decent way into your story.

The best use of your time is always going to be writing. Writing should be your first, and foremost endeavor, with things like promotion and site building being secondary. Not that those things are not important, but they are easily justifiable distraction to your writing.

The best way to promote your site? Also writing.

With that said, I have found that you should be promoting at least half the time it takes you to write. As an example, if I spent an hour writing, I can justify 30 minutes promoting.

However you decide to promote, have an infrastructure in place on your site to "capture" your readers and get their e-mail addresses. It is easy for someone to forget about their bookmarks, and even an avid reader can fall off your update schedule. If you can get their e-mail (I offer exclusive content to entice signups) you can communicate to them directly and provide links straight to your work. Do not expect social media to be a good replacement for this. Have this in place and the efforts you spend getting people to your serial will not be wasted. You can have 5000 people come to your site in a day from hard work in promotion, but that work, and that number, is a total waste if you don't have the means in place to get them TO COME BACK.

Also, with that said: Writing.

Hope this helps!

I have found that you should be promoting at least half the time it takes you to write.

That's a bit excessive, surely? I mean, I'm usually writing 30+ hours a week XD

The only efficient way I've found to build an audience is to cross-post on several different fiction websites. Depending on what your story is about, it will be more popular on some of the fiction agglomeration websites and less popular on others.

Other than that, interacting with your readers (creating polls, author notes, etc.; replying to comments) is pretty rewarding in terms of getting feedback and motivation to continue writing.

If you can figure out where your target audience gathers on the web and get involved in that community, that could also be helpful.

Other than that, just keep writing. The more you write, the better your writing gets, and quality writing is the base of any lasting success in building a readership.

Huh, I also feel that 'half the writing time' spent for promotion is a bit excessive. How would you even promote a web serial? You really can't, unless you post on Wattpad - in that case, you'd spend the time doing social networking on there. Which is pretty much a necessity on Wattpad.

Self-promotion is frowned upon in many communities, and highly ineffective - soooo many new writers do it and readers ignore it unless the person giving the recommendation is a reader as well, and not the author.

So imho more time should be spent writing or maybe editing to polish what you've already written.

Ideally the self-promotion should be before the serial starts, that's what I did with my teaser trailers.

You can also use twitter and tumblr and the like, but there's a trick and nuance to it, otherwise people will more likely ignore your efforts. But, I suppose it's better to try than not at all.

With that being said, I'd say focus your time and efforts on writing the best serial you can.

Everything depends on your goals.

Identify your goals first, then you can determine how to reach them. Different goals require different paths.

Good luck!


Damn, I applaud how much time you spend writing, I only get about half that much time done in a week lol! I would definitely say that 15 hours of promotion a week is excessive :)


Most of what I consider "promotion" is writing exclusive content for signups and crafting e-mail and e-mail campaigns. I actually don't do a lot of social networking or forum posting. It works for me, and the reactions and mail I get in return is worth the time for me, but I can see that it is not for everyone. You are absolutely right though, most of your time should be spent writing and editing :)

To build an audience, you need to know your audience. i.e.- Who you are writing for.

This is the hardest thing, in my opinion. It's a bit easier if you're in one of the big niche markets out there (superheros, YA romance, whatever...) because you have a community you can go to, though the down side there is you can get buried. Meaning it can be good to offer up doing a guest post on someone else's site. I think I've picked up two readers from doing that. I digress, what it all comes down to knowing where to target your "Hi, I have a thing!" remarks.

All I can say is don't get discouraged. I've literally been maintaining my site for over three years, with incredibly regular content, and I have 6 readers. (I mean, MAYBE 15 readers, I had 15 hits on a post two months ago, but only 6 people vote on my plot elements, if that.) Now, to be fair, my site waffles between time travel and dimensional choose-your-own-adventure, and readers who come for one might not stick with the other. Also, there's lesbians, not everyone's cup of tea. But I'm sure part of the issue is, I don't know where to wave my hands in the air saying "I have a thing!". Likely doesn't help that all of the new time travel shows in the 2016-17 season got axed (then Timeless got resurrected, kinda) so that market is hidden (and the lesbian time travel market is... I have no idea).

I will add this - rev fitz's remark of infrastructure is good. Make sure your site has an index page for ease of navigation, and possibly a signup place. It was pointed out to me that just having updates on my front page wasn't great for getting people into the start, or finding where they'd left off. So I fixed that. One hopes. All the best with your efforts!

Thanks all. :)

@Rhythm:Certainly glad to hear your thoughts!

Alright! I will look in to doing reviews and getting reviews.

And, I have a pretty sizable - fifteen Chapters now - backlog. With writing every day, I'm hoping I can quite consistently outpace my published Chapter by at least sixteen Chapters, if not more. With University coming, I know I'm going to need that buffer.

I appreciate the advice!

@Revitz: I've always heard of Email lists and such, but didn't think to try them with my web-novel. Thank you for that valued piece of information! I'll get it set up.

But how do you make use of that polished writing? Word of mouth may spread it eventually. But surely there is some way to promote your writing?

As always, it has been most helpful! Thank you for your input and advice!

@Unice5656: Alright, thank you! I'm posting on Wattpad, Spacebattles, RoyalRoad and my own site. So I'm hoping to get a large-ish footprint out there that leads back to my site.

Thanks :)

@Chrysalis: No self promotion, alright. I'll soldier on and keep on writing! Thanks!

@Nippoten: Will do, thank you.

@Leoduhvinci: Oh, I know my goals. But my knowledge on how to reach them is... limited. Which is why I am here, to learn from people who know far more on these subjects than me!

@Mathtans: Honestly, I agree. I know, theoretically what my target audience is. But, defining who they are, definitively, is difficult for me. Finding them is even harder!

Two things:

One, any advice for when I do get discouraged?

Two: Is having something like a lesbian really something that can impact readership?

Good, at least I got that right, then. I have everything aside from a Sign Up form, which is something I'll get to in the next few days.

Thanks very much! Much obliged!

All of the advice is greatly appreciated, guys and girls!

Kind regards,


Okay. Let's talk lesbians. Being a guy, all I can offer as street cred is that I once wrote a first-time romance in first person and (via anonymous submission) an editor legit thought I was a twenty-something female. So, three things.

The most obvious thing: Gay rights is a hot button topic these days. Australia just voted 61.6% in favour of same sex marriage, but that means almost 40% were not in favour. And if you actually delve into the regional data (love me some stats), a couple regions (like Maranoa) were NOT in favour by over 50%. (Balanced by regions over 70% in favour, obviously.) So yeah, you toss in lesbians, you're losing the Christian Right, and percentage-wise, probably more than that. Granted, are the Christian Right the sort of people who read serials? That I don't know.

Second: One of the comments I got at RRL (in fact the last comment I got there) included the remark "I unfortunately stopped reading because of Carrie's relationship with the girl. I've read too much yuri." There are a bunch of Girls Love/Boys Love stories out there, and... it's not all good. Which can colour people's perceptions. (Oh no, it's only a matter of time before we see them in bed together. Spoiler: Doesn't happen.) Even when the writing for it is good, the audience can suffer from genre exhaustion. And for at least this one reader, the exhaustion outweighed the possible interest they had in my time travel or the other characters.

Finally: I often come back to this remark by Robert J. Sawyer, who spoke at a convention I went to. His first story was a Mystery/SciFi crossover, as he'd hoped to get people who liked one genre or the other. He didn't. He got the intersection, only the Mystery readers who liked SciFi, or vice versa. Which makes some sense if you think about it - for example, there's so much superhero stuff out there, why read the one with lesbians, if that's not really your thing? By adding more elements to your story, you're limiting your audience, not expanding it. Note I'm not saying don't add these things in, you gotta do you, plus if you're writing Generic SciFi Story #23 it's easy to get buried or forgotten. Lesbians, possibly more memorable, but also more limiting.

Hence my "lesbian time travel market" remark above. Hell, if you are reading for the lesbians, maybe the scifi gets in the way of that. (Meaning go read k-fish's "Redwood Crossing", it's more fantasy than scifi.) I really don't know what message boards to post to. Also bear in mind that this is just one person's opinion, maybe others will chime in with better advice.

As to advice for when you get discouraged, save screenshots of tweets, or fan art, or whatever positive feedback you get somewhere, so that you have a place to look during the dry months. I got a review here at WFG within the first month or so of being listed. I then went 8 months of weekly posts without any comments on my website whatsoever. But gosh darn it, I had a decent review here, so it can't be all bad, right? RIGHT? Ahem. Good job on the backlog, keep at it!


Getting on The Top Web Fiction is a pretty good generator of views, I have been able to stay there for a few months by asking my readers in my mailing list to vote. Beyond this getting/giving reviews helps, and sometimes you can get a read or two off of social media. All of this is drops in a bucket, however. You can also try advertising through Project Wonderful (try and find a popular web comic site with a similar genre) but the conversion of traffic to actual readers will be low, and frankly if you don't have a product (like an ebook) to make up the cost of it, it is not worth the money.

I have also used blogging outreach strategies with mixed results as a serial is not an info product. Consider trading short stories with another serial site of a similar readership and keep an eye out for writers looking for a guest author (it does happen from time to time). I was able to get a boost of readers from the April Fool's swap here.

Advice for when you get discouraged: Readers often have to be pushed to comment or give you feedback. Just because you are not getting comments does not mean that no one is enjoying it. With that said, it can often feel like shouting into darkness. If something is not working, take it as an opportunity to try something new.

On LGBT characters: Do you plan on adding a lesbian character for the sole purpose of increasing your readership? If so, maybe reevaluate your reasons for doing so. If you are worried about people not liking your work because you have a lesbian in your story, I would say don't fret about it. You can't please everybody, and if someone is going to move on from your story because of that, then they probably weren't worth your time.

In both cases, they developed audiences that were fine with the content and put off people who found it offensive. Tales of MU was successful enough that the author was living off of it. Similarly, Intimate History helped Meilin Miranda get established as someone who writes ebooks.

@Mathtans: Huh, that is very interesting!

It isn't necessarily that I'm thinking of putting in a lesbian/homosexual couple or some such. One of my characters is lesbian and has a wife and what not. It's just part of who her character is.

I'm honestly a bit surprised that it really impacts readership. It kinda baffles me, a bit.

Thanks for all the information!

@Revfitz: Ah, awesome. thanks! I'll submit to Top Web Fiction once I've published the first six or seven Chapters!

Yeah, I've read quite a bit about that. How many people don't get comments for a long time, and they just lose confidence in their writing and stop.

It seems quite tragic, honestly. I hope I manage to carry on anyway!

To increase readership? No. One of my characters was lesbian before I even thought to consider that it might impact readership. Honestly whether it has any impact on readership doesn't bother me too much. It's part of who the character is, so I'm not going to change it just because it may offend some people.

Thanks Revfitz!

@Jim Zoetewey: Haha, honestly I find the fact that the question needs to be asked at all as odd. But, each to their own.

That's good to hear!

Though I'm not trying to showcase various stereotypes or some such. I'm merely showing that tehre are different peoples within my world, much like in our own.

Thanks for the advice!