Bonus content? A good idea?

So I've been considering doing some bonus content? Drawings of the characters, things like that. I'm sure other people on here have done bonus content before? Did readers seems to like it or not? Also, if you have done it, what did you find worked best?


I do bonus updates. Every time my readership's donations add up to a certain benchmark, I release a bonus chapter on a thursday.


I started off with a benchmark of $75, and after about 8 months, increased it to $125 to help me keep up. I increased it to $300 in Feb, and $600 just this past month, and I'm still falling behind (I've got about 12 chapters in the queue). There's worse problems, but it's something I've got to tackle.


The bonus chapters are side stories involving stuff typically relating in a peripheral way to the main plot. Nothing lost if they don't happen, but they're appealing enough that readers want them.


When I did my webcomic I had tons of bonus content (maps, clothing studies/history, religious references, wallpapers, etc.). I did it for fun because I'm unhealthily obsessed... and people seemed to really appreciate it. What made the biggest difference in my traffic though was a fan art contest. Whoever won by popular vote got original art and an ashcan comic of one of the side stories. I think in retrospect, it worked so well because it gave readers a sense of ownership over the characters and helped to build a community. When I'm done with illustrating book one of Rema I think I'm going to hold a similar contest, including short "fan fiction" stories, but I doubt it to have nearly as large a response.


Anyway, it's all in good fun, in the end.


It's worth it if you can keep up the pace. You don't want to have people pay and have to refund or delay the results of their donation for a long time.


Personally, I don't do it because I don't have time to write more in addition to keeping a regular schedule. If I ever do come up with donation based "extra" system, I suspect that I'll create a buffer for extras so I don't become overwhelmed.


Hmm some interesting thoughts.


I admit though I wasn't really thinking of bonus content based on donations. I mean I think that's pretty awesome Wildbow that you do that, but with what seems to be about ten regular readers I'm a loooong way off from ever being able to expect someone to donate ;-).


Honestly I was more thinking some drawings of the characters, maybe a couple of writings of things mentioned in the story (for instance a movie script has been repeatedly mentioned, I was thinking of writing a handful of pages that), nothing huge. Was wondering how other people had found their bonus content had been received...


I've done extra stories about side characters between sections of the regular story and people enjoyed it. People seem to have enjoyed the odd drawing as well as an early look at the cover of the first book too.


I do shorts about the characters - little side pieces that aren't part of the main story (they're largely flashbacks). They go up as and when they're finished, and with my workload and schedule, that timing varies pretty widely. I also don't charge for them (mostly because I can't be bothered to sort it out).


My readers seem to really enjoy them. I'm sure your readers will love whatever you want to share, NaomiL. :)


If you're leaning towards art, I've seen the best response towards wallpapers versus showing them illustrations. WPs have a practical aspect... I'll probably do more of them next time around. (As I see it, it's a good way to practice typography and other layout skills anyways.)


That said, not all readers are strongly motivated by art... I've tested (in the past) their willingness to go behind a vote wall or click through to see something "mysteriously relevant." Part of that though is because the mystery/inclination to click can fade over time.


Other things I've done -- offer journals, posts, and other stuff from other random characters that might drill down on something I didn't spend a lot of time covering.


I'm interested in doing some kind of bonus content, but I can't draw - plus I'm doing urban detective fiction in the real world, so art might not be that fascinating.


Still, I might do some bonus chapters to dig into aspects of the investigation, whether on my own site or as part of the Jukepop serial, I'm not sure. I'm considering how to make an "event" out of it. Thoughts still in progress.


I've had two events to date, where I basically had/took time off and wrote a chapter a day for eight straight days.


Each has been a success, with a permanent boost to my readership and good feedback.