Bonus Story Incentive

Well, I've been wanting to have a bonus story incentive beyond a simple, "Pay me and you get one"

I like the point system that MeiLin has, which encourages users to make less with the lurk, but I don't want to require people to have logins to my site. I suppose what I want is a way to allow readers to ask about a particular portion of James' or the supporting characters backstory.

But I still want reviews and money...

I was thinking having a donation target, and once it's met, putting up a poll or some-such asking who the audience wants backstory on. But I'm also curious as to what others do as far as reader-catering when it comes to bonus stories.

Am I making any sense here?

The way I did it was, I asked for three reviews, then when I had those I would ask for ideas for what the people who reviewed would like more back story on... Which was a bit of a flop from the point of view of actually getting some input, but it still got the people reviewing. More or less.

Iiii'm in a far more pitiable situation. I have this rule: if a non-bonus installment of Night Switch gets more than two comments that aren't mine, I write a bonus installment of Night Switch. I tend to end up writing four installments per week instead of two because of this, while my comments fill up with spam :o

Buut hey, it gets me writing more. And that's why I implemented bonus installments, not to make more money or please my (non-existent) readers. So eh.

Being more or less a review whore, I offered to write a bonus side story for each new review at Pages Unbound. I still have two left to deliver. I was going to think of new ways to offer incentive for reviews after that but now I'm not so sure. Not only am I having trouble just delivering any updates at all, I really don't care that much about PU reviews anymore. PU is, in my mind, now the place that trolls can go to slam me when they don't like what I've done on WFG, so even the fair reviews there mean less to me. And I don't really feel the need to bribe for WFG reviews because my stories aren't really in danger of getting lost here.

I never really wanted to go the extra update for money route just because... meh. I don't think it would be very successful. That, and since updating at all has proven to be a challenge, I don't want the added pressure of delivering for "paid goods." I offer a bonus PDF for those who want it and that way I have something to give that's not available on the site and is already written so it's guaranteed that you'll receive it.

Personally, I can barely get up the promised updates and as such, the idea of bonus stories sounds cool, but impossible.

I want to try it sometime, but I suspect I'll only do it if I manage to create a buffer, allowing me miss an update without anyone noticing.

Why I like logins: It's another way to show advertisers that I have a committed audience. "I have 200 people who like me enough to have signed up." That's the only way to get points at MLM, but not the only way to contribute toward marketing targets (which also go toward bonus stories).

Okay, first, for my on-topic comments. I used to have a lot of incentives on my site (comment enough, review enough, donate enough, post in the forums enough = bonus story). However, I soon realized that I had issues keeping up with those promises, and decided to nix them.

Now, for my slightly off-topic comment, spurred by some of the posts above.

A bit of explaination, for those who are curious -- I like you a lot, Sarah. I have your LJ on my flist, we've cross-advertised for one another before, I read your stories whenever I get a chance, and I've gotten good reviews from you on my works. I don't want you to think that my comments here or on PU take away from that -- I think you're a great person who writes great stories. That said, I have a strong tendency to call bullshit if I see it. And this, to me, reeks of bullshit.

When I first saw WFG start up, I thought that it would be nice so long as the people owning it weren't doing it for the ego-booster. So far, there has been so much progress, so many new members, and so many cool applications that I'm elated. That said, I've still been keeping an eye on how the WFG editors interact with the general WS world. So yeah, I may seem paranoid, but if I wasn't a bit anal I wouldn't be Morgan. ^^;; I just don't want a wonderful resource (WFG) accidentily drive off members by tone or interactions.

PU is, in my mind, now the place that trolls can go to slam me when they don't like what I've done on WFG, so even the fair reviews there mean less to me.

Okay, this victimization issue made me curious. I hadn't seen much trolling over at PU, but I knew that I rarely checked over there, so it was quite possible. I wanted to seriously take note of who did it, to put in my own files as Do Not Want. So I went over there, checked your reviews, and ended up puzzled. You've only had two since WFG opened. One was admittedly bad, but never did they mention WFG, simply your story and what they did and didn't like about your site. The other was a 9/10 stars, which at points even agrees with the bad review.

I'm a bit at a loss as to how you know that these are "trolls" that are trying to "slam" you for what you've "done on WFG." Perhaps you know more that I don't, but it seems to me that there were two people who visited your site and had legitimately different opinions. Surely reviewers deserve the benefit of the doubt? After all, trolling is a pretty hefty accusation to throw around.

And I don't really feel the need to bribe for WFG reviews because my stories aren't really in danger of getting lost here.

May I ask why you feel they won't get lost in the huge amount of pieces here? Certainly it's because the stories are good, and not because you're an editor here. But that begs the issue of why they couldn't they get lost, especially seeing as how there are plenty of good stories being submitted regularly. If it's not a concern for you, that's great for you, but when you make such a sweeping statement about your stories, as an editor here, it begs for a bit of a closer examination.

Edited at 8:46pm EST to clarify the sentenence "May I ask..."

As far as I'm concerned, every chapter of my work is a bonus gift, sent from the heavens by nude angels and placed in the eyeballs of the fortunate.

In other words: I don't do bonus incentives. Sounds nifty, though. Maybe one day, eh?

The only troll review at PU was the one from flipgirl. I know exactly who left me that review and why -- for various reasons which I won't really get into, except that it was a fairly direct response to a review I had just written here. I have no doubts. And so it's more the fact that if she could do it anyone else could as well that gives me that image of PU as susceptible to trolls. I haven't been reviewing here enough lately to piss anyone else off but I see it as a possibly repeatable situation in the future. The way PU works is that you can have 10 rave reviews and one 1 star review will still zoom your story down the rating list.

As for here -- I got enough good reviews (and more importantly, recommendations) early on that I don't really feel the need to ask for more.

Edit: I suppose if you'd like to know my reasons for knowing that flipgirl's review was retaliatory in nature I can tell you about them, but I'd rather not in this forum as there are other writers and reviewers involved besides just flipgirl and me.

Hi Morgan,

I'll leave it to Sarah to respond directly to the stuff for her. I'll take the general question, though.

Our editors (myself included) get no special treatment in the site software. For the purpose of editorial ratings and rankings: if they rate their own work, it doesn't count; if they recommend their own work, it doesn't count. Also, "liveness" is taken into account in the editorial rankings -- finished stuff (like Sarah's Alisiyad, for instance) will slowly drop as new writing pushes past it.

Sarah's Queen of Seven is first in our editorial rankings because a number of our editors gave it high ratings and personal recommendations. Plain and simple. I don't think it's bias, because I know for a fact that each editor who did so actually reads QoS religiously.

We have just over 4 complete pages of listings, presently. If you page through them, you'll find listings from our editors scattered through the first 3. The ones that appear on page 3 were put there by other editors. There's plenty of stuff we've put ahead of our own. My *own* story will probably lose the first line in the next couple of weeks -- with help from my own recommendations and ratings on other listings -- and I wouldn't be surprised to see it off the first page by the end of the year, as better stuff pushes past it.

The point of the editorial ratings and rankings is to ensure that good stuff doesn't get missed. *Anybody* who writes good stuff can rely on the protections Sarah alluded to.

Finally, very few things here are done on a straight average basis. We try to consider the *weight* of reviews and ratings and recommendations, both in the editorial calculations and in the member calculations. We are doing our best to ensure that things are more stable, and more representative, than they have been in the past on other sites. One bad review won't kill something that lots of people love, and one great review won't launch something nobody else has read onto the top of the pile. This is true for both the editorial and member systems.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please ask.


Thanks for clarifying on the process here. I wasn't intending to say that the reviewers were dishonest, I was simply curious about Sarah's frame of mind when saying so. Now that I know that her story leads the pack, so to speak, her confidence in it's listing here makes more sense.

Sarah -- thanks for clarifying on your reasoning behind ackowledging the revenge review. Further investigation shows me exactly which author it was, and now I know to stay away from him/her.

Those are very frustrating, and I can definitely understand where you're coming from. Since you consider it a troll review, have you reported it to AE? I'd be curious to know how that goes, and how her anti-troll system compares with that at WFG.

Edited about a trillion times in attempts at making my caffeine-deprived grammar make sense.

I didn't report it myself but I know that someone else did -- I don't think she heard back at all. But then that was around the time AE hadn't been seen around PU and shortly before she announced it was closing.

As a sidenote, I believe some/alot of the troll posts on PU got cleaned up, hence you wouldn't see them if you checked now.

Just something to keep in mind.

Well, it's a good thing some of them got cleaned up, at least. The more I find out about the mess, the better informed I feel. Thanks for taking the time out to explain everything.

Heh-- I'll also admit that it makes me feel a bit better at WFG, knowing what goes on at other sites compared to here. ^^;;

As an aside, every author should take the time to recommend their own work -- editors included. Don't worry -- it won't count places it shouldn't. But the "Reader recommendations" shown on each listing are calculated by finding what other people who recommended the story *also* recommended. Authors' recommendation networks are just as valuable as anyone else's.

So, always recommend your own work!

Well, unless you really can't. I mean, I can totally understand that, if it's the case. I have that feeling *all* the time. ;-)

Okay, I'm just gonna say it: You guys rock my socks. Actual discussions, clearly visible website practices -- you're awesome. Seriously.

For me, I would like to offer bonus stories, things that go along with the actual story but really don't have a place in the overall scheme of things. Like if I had a bonus story about a character that didn't necessarily fit in the general story, I'd probably put it in the extended version of the print book like a DVD or something. I don't know. I have to get the actual story written first.=)

Yeah, people can be real and honest here without worrying about being slammed for it later.

@Chris: You may have that feeling, but you shouldn't. Winter Rain is a good story and deserves any attention it gets.

I'd definitely like to offer bonus incentives, but there's no chance of that happening at the moment. My buffer's run down to the wire and I'm struggling to find the time to keep everything in my life going.

'Course, that ain't exactly bringing in the reviews (at least not on WFG). Street still seems to be in that weird place where everybody who reads it seems to like it, but nobody else is interested. Is it because of the cyberpunk? Or the print series? Do I smell?



I think we all go through that. I often feel the same way about Children of the Halo. I think a lot of it has to do with self-assurance. Sometimes, as writers, we need a little bit of encouragement. Knowing that people enjoy reading your work is oftentimes the biggest compliment, especially considering the time and effort we put into it. Sometimes, though, that just isn't enough for us to feel motivated. We feel the need to have new readers on a constant basis. One of the first things I do when I get home from work is check for new comments, but I've learned not to take it personally.

I think the idea falls under marketing. I'll be honest. Reading an entire book in front of your computer isn't for everyone. Of all my friends who are adamant that they want to read my book, most, if not all, are unwilling to read it on a computer screen.

Let's face it, we'd all like the readership level of, say, Alexandra Erin's Tales of MU. (And who wouldn't?) Just the fact that AE's managed to do it is reason enough for me to try. I know it'll take time and effort, and it might not happen during my first book. Perhaps not even my first five, but eventually, it'll happen. Of this I have faith.

I think if we could genuinely expose the whole community to the mainstream blogosphere-at-large, perhaps even hard copy press (newspapers and magazines), it might be able to make a greater impact on overall readership. Perhaps we should start campaigning the community to well-read blogs. Perhaps write a number of letters to our local newspapers (preferably an community-wide organized campaign) to have them mention sites like WFG, Pages Unbound and others. It would definitely expose the community to the internet-at-large. As it stands, I came across the community by accident while looking for ways I could publish my novel and made the conscious decision to take part in it. I imagine that's how many of us found our way here.

So, what I'm essentially saying is...

...anyone up for a group project promoting the community as a whole rather than merely our own works?

Remember, more hits for WFG, PU and others means more hits for us. (And more prospective readers.)