Black Blossom Done! And Marketing Issues

Or at least, it's done in the word processor, at about 475 pages. The posting is lagging by 25 pages or so. This is my... sixth? Serial that I've done online? And I'm wondering whether I should leave it online or take it down when I issue the ebook/print/audiobook versions. It hasn't attracted the kind of attention my other projects have; I don't think it even has a review here (*checks*). I'd consider that an experiment in marketing; does removing most or all of the serial version have an effect on ebook/print/audiobook sales? I haven't tried that yet. Has anyone else?

(I've tried publishing without doing a serial version first; I think that's a different thing from running the serial and then removing it.)

Anyway, if you want to hop aboard before I decide it needs to be truncated or removed, here's the listing:

Congrats on finishing!

I'm not too sure if the online vs. ebook audience is the same. (Have you ever queried your regular readers to see how often they browse ebooks in the genre the story is in?) That said - there's a compromise position you could take, and that would be to leave a good sample up and then put the rest "away" in storage if you can. (If your primary engine for posting is LJ you could hide those posts fairly easily. If it's Wordpres,s you can unpublish or turn them into "draft" to remove them from menus.)

I will say though having a good sample can help people decide whether to buy something. I like the Smashwords 30% approach or the having a few chapters to sort of see if I'm interested in something. (That definitely worked for Hunger Games. Having access to the first long chapter or chapters helped me overcome my suspicion of whether I could read "YA", which is not my usual thing.)

As for reviews, I think we've seen a decline in them. I used to see quite a few alerts on twitter each day but lately been seeing fewer and fewer. Can't even motivate my own readers to leave them although it may be it's cumbersome to create a login and deal with passwords :3

I am a believer in samples, and will definitely leave a sample up no matter what! I'm not sure about the intersection of audiences, though, that's an interesting point.

I see what you mean about reviews, also. Now that I think of it, I hadn't noticed but you're right about the decline in the twitter announcements of new reviews. I wonder why?

I'm not sure how to approach reviews. I'm happy enough getting some regular commenters in each update of The Points Between. But I will say that if you're sitting down specifically to write a review or a recommendation for something... it's hard, if you're intent is to do it justice, and it could just be someone getting pre-fatigue just at the thought of making a review "good enough."

I find I only tend to review shorter works, because I rarely have the time to seriously read through a longer one. Am currently going through GSW's No Man an Island in the hopes of reviewing it when I'm done, but that's a longer exercise. Stories like Worm and NMAI and Tales of MU all involve reading a hundred (or hundreds) of chapters.

So you wind up with a few cases: The older serials either wind up canceled or they're so long there's a lot of work involved... and there's a whole lot of new serials to dig through before you find a gem. Less stellar serials don't tend to provoke that, "I have to tell people about this!" response, and so it becomes a bit of a slog before you do find something that really does deserve a review.

I sort of hit a critical point around the end of winter (6 months into the writing of Worm) where it was suddenly a lot harder to get readers to put a review up. I get people who read the archive & comment and I say, "Yes! I love that you enjoyed it. Can you tell people about it?" and nothing happens. Alas.

I am less concerned about reviews here, honestly, than I am on vendor sites where they make a big difference in whether people are willing to try something! But reviews here are welcome, too.

I do think the "abandoned serial" issue is huge, though. I know a lot of readers who've mentioned that it turns them off an author completely when they invest in a serial and the author lets it lapse.

I think one drawback about leaving the entire serial fic online and then publishing it as an ebook for some price is that your ebook customers might find it annoying that they paid for something that could have been free. (If you fully disclose this in the description, less so.) However if your published ebook edition has value that goes above the free serial (e.g., new content, illustrations, references, appendices) then I think your ebook audience will feel alright about the coexistence of both the free full serial and an ebook edition.

More than likely I will pick a compromise position myself if/when I get there but only because I like to gamble a bit and see if that works or not.

I actually am a reader who is swayed by reviews here. I haven't had the time to get far enough in though on a lot of works to say anything intelligent in a review though.

That said, as a writer listed here, I don't see much appreciable benefit or reader traffic from this part of the site (and I have been watching my google analytics stats like a hawk). There are very few reviews for my story and no chance of getting highlighted on the front page either as I update since you have to be in the pool of editor picks to be there.

I have, however, benefited from . Most of these are YOUR readers ironically who I think are voting for your stories and then jumping to mine . So at least thankfully I do get some curious readers 2nd/3rd hand from this site....

I don't think the editor picks include anything that was listed after 2008? At least, few of the newer stories (Such as Worm) appear there.

Funny thing is, I get the opposite situation as you, SgL; I don't think Worm is an editor pick, but I only get a trickle of readers from Topwebfiction and I do get substantial benefits from any review that goes up (generally a 10-40% boost in readership for as long as it appears on the front page).

Personally, I'm planning to leave my entire serial online for the foreseeable future. The "extra" that will go into the ebooks/print books is editing.

Of course, I'm in a slightly different situation. Legion of Nothing was always intended to be a web serial (ebooks were not on the radar), and I've got a few "books" to go before I'm done. I'm assuming (until proven wrong) that if anything, being available online will help. My readers have requested print versions.

Actually, there's someone who has things listed here (V. J. Chambers) who now lives off her ebooks. Her serials are posted on her website in their entirety, and in some thread, she mentioned that her ebook readers have never found them.

Personally, I'm deliberately mentioning my website (and the availability of the rest of the series on it) in the ebook/print book. My theory is that the potential exists to drive readers to Amazon to buy the ebook/print versions while simultaneously driving Amazon readers to my site to pump up the stats and ad prices.

I like how you think, Jim.

Though I've held off on putting ads on my site. Maybe something I should consider. Hm.

Hmm. I should probably check analytics again to find out where my readers are coming from... I used to sit on those statistics constantly, but I gave that up because it became like a disease. -_-

@MCA I am thinking of leaving Above Ground up in its entirety forever. It was always intended as a serial, and it will remain so. When I publish the ebook, the "extra" will be the edits, maybe some illustrations... But I'm also hoping that my webfiction fans will like the series enough to want to own print copies.

It's worked very well for Terra, who has published books for almost her entire The Antithesis serial.

Hi, I'm Camille. I haven't been here long....

You know, the magic thing about the internet is that a listing site like this generally works just as good (if not better) in the long term when there are NO reviews and social interaction as it does when there is. There's no need to manipulate any of it.

But to the original question at the start of this: Whether to remove a serial (or any kind of fiction) from the web when you publish a book.

I'm experimenting with my serial as a kind of "comic strip" something short and readable and entertaining that I hope will entertain any reader who stumbles across any episode. (I'm keeping the episodes very short for this reason -- under 700 words.) And if someone does stumble across the episode, and finds it fun, I have a variety of links to help them do whatever they may be prompted to do next -- link to the start, to the previous or next episode, to an intro the series. And when I collect this story into an ebook, I'll have links for them to buy it too.

The idea is not to drive the reader to do what I want (which will drive most people away) but to give the reader every opportunity in the world to have a good time and get hooked, and do whatever the reader wants.

And more importantly: NEVER let the reader get frustrated.

I think serials have a bad reputation because so often they are frustrating. They're too much work. Why not let the serial/story continue to hook readers, while offering the option of reading the story in an easy ebook format too?


Seems from your post in the other thread that social media & marketing may be your area of expertise, D.N.

When you say 'they're too much work', though, do you mean for the reader or for the writer? And where have you heard people express this or (not meaning to put you on the spot) is that more your personal opinion?

I mean for the reader. Especially the casual reader who is not already deeply into web fiction.

(And though I'm saying "I" here, but this is Marketing 101. You'll find it in any book on web design or marketing or even the wider subject of industrial design. Never make the customer work to use your product... unless what you are selling is exclusivity -- That is, using your product is a status symbol.)

For instance, when I go to a new serial website, I often find that I have to hunt hard to find links or information. Sometimes there is no way to get to the first episode in the series, or it's left to the blog's automated archive listings, which I have to then click through to find the beginning.

If I have to hunt for anything before I'm hooked, or even if I just can't tell at a glance which link to click on because they have excessively clever titles or images... I'm gone. I get frustrated if there isn't a previous or next episode button. An I really hate it when the web design tries to make me use the site in some way I don't want to use it.

Really good navigation is always a work in progress. You will never please every person. You'll make mistakes too. But generally, the easier you make it for the reader to do whatever he or she wants to do, the more likely that person will stick around and like your site.

Now, two caveats hers:

1.) this is a matter for NEW customers, and also readers who may not be as familiar with serials and therefore don't have a strategy for dealing with a website like that.

2.) I'm not saying that this is anything but one of many issues that MCA should take into consideration. It's a major one for me, because I'm interested in converting a non-serials audience into serial readers. And for that group, there is no harm at all in leaving the serial up while selling the book, because it's just more opportunity for them to get hooked, while always making it easy for them to buy.

For the hard-core serials audience, I would defer to the judgement of anyone who has been at this for a while. Those already succeeding in the niche know best what the expectations of their audience is.