bychapter.com

Hi writers,


I've been trying to reach out to some of you via e-mail / web comment regarding the new web fiction platform I'm working on, and received many good suggestions. I think it's time for me spread the idea to a larger group to further polish the platform. I'd deeply appreciate if you can finish reading the post and join me to help yourself and fellow writers.



With engineering background, my partner and I worked feverishly for eight months, and finally finished a beta version of the platform! We have also approached several investors and have received very positive feedback. But before we can move forward, we need to show that there are plenty of people interested.


We are here seeking your kind help to test out the site, www.bychapter.com, and provide some feedback to help us improve it and show the investors the platform is wanted. The following is a brief introduction to the platform. For details, please visit us at www.bychapter.com.


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  • How it can help you: To earn money during your writing, without having to finish the whole book.

  • Our website (pre-launch mode): www.bychapter.com

    Our cheesy but fun marketing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBmCkgHIPUY

  • How-to page: http://www.bychapter.com/index.php/launch/howto_writer

  • How you can help? (this helps us improve our idea and convince the investors)

    1. Request for an invitation to become a beta tester at www.bychapter.com

    2. Provide feedback by writing to us: [email protected]

    3. Share with friends and readers; this will also help you to buildup a larger reader base, thus more income



  • Why sign up for beta test?


    1. You will gain a head start over other writers, which will rank you higher at the website's official launch which is more likely to attract readers, and higher earning potential.




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The Idea


In a nutshell: bychapter.com is an online platform for writers to publish web fictions and make money chapter by chapter, before finishing the whole book.





  • A writer usually only has the chance to make some money when the whole book is finished. He/she either have to find a publisher (traditional or e-book) or collect money on his/her own site.

  • But not all writers are web programing savvy to setup websites with secure payment system.







  • Totally free of charge to writers.

  • Huge reader base attracted by numerous writers that are sharing the platform.



  • Various easy revenue sources for writers, including earning per chapter, earning for whole book, donate, AdSense, etc..



Best Regards,

Robert


With a quick scan this looks... odd. I don't see anything addressing ownership writes of stories or material posted. I can tell you right now that there's a lot of people on this site that won't touch it without being certain that they retain rights to anything they write. Heh, rights to write. Automatic payout of $1 for 100 words of posted material doesn't seem like something that's sustainable either. I haven't read all the stuff on WFG (not even a decent percentage) but I have seen many works that hit a million or more words. Now, some of those have a fanbase that's large enough to be a useful base for sales and such, but not most. If you just click through the bottom page or two of the popular link, ie: the least popular stuff on WFG, you'll find multiple works that could earn a quick $10,000 dollars just by transplanting what they've already written. Not to sound conspiracy-ish, but something ain't right here.


If I read it correctly it's 1pt per 100 words and $1 per 100 pts, so $1 per ten thousand words. And this is paid for by some type of premium subscription option where readers only get to read the stuff if they're a premium member.


This looks interesting, and it's always fun to see another hosting site for online serials, but I think the site needs a lot more concise information (particularly as mentioned above, boilerplate legal-ese to insure that authors retain all rights to their own work) Ambitious project, I'll keep an eye on it!


Ah, if that's the ratio then it makes a lot more sense, must've misread it.


Wow. 0.01 cents per word. Even the worst work-for-hire contract I've ever taken paid a hundred times better than that, which makes this pretty much the latest attempt to exploit hopeful writers with promises that amount to nothing more than highway robbery.


I wonder if the business model intends for each reader to pay that dollar per 10K words, and the writers get a share depending on how many readers they have. That would seem much more reasonable.


I doubt it will work out, though... readers are generally very unwilling to pay for anything but top notch quality stuff, which contradicts the "get paid while still working on your story" aspect. I could maybe see a model like this become successful if a good number of very skilled authors with an already established fanbase took part in it. Then again... the arguments for using Bychapter instead of self publishing aren't very convincing.


Great marketing video, though. I really liked it!


Hello Robert


Apologies for not getting back to you when you commented on my serial. The exact same comment had been left on multiple other serialist friends of mine, you see, which is probably why my spam filter caught it the first time.


There are several reasons I'm going to not be taking advantage of this opportunity, and I would urge my fellow writers not to as well.


Firstly; I am a web developer myself, and it makes me really nervous to hear that it took two developers *eight months* to complete this project, especially if they both worked on it hard enough to be considered 'feverishly'. To be blunt, it makes me a little nervous in regards to the technical ability of the team.


Secondly; While it is quite clear that serialists can help bychapter, by bringing our existing audience to your site, it's not entirely clear how you can help us, since until your site has a large influx of readers, chances are no one on bychapter will be willing to pay us.


Thirdly; I regularly accept writing contracts for which I charge 1.3 cents per word which is, as Ryan Span says, literally 100x the price we might get here. I have no trouble gaining contracts, and I truly doubt other writers would either.


Fourthly, finally, and most importantly; it really does feel as if you aren't actually approaching this community as a fellow member, but rather that we are a part of a scatter-shot marketing attempt. You copy-pasted this exact pitch to three serials (that I know of). You say that 'not all writers are web programming savvy to setup websites with secure payment system' as if there wasn't a wealth of information about setting up donate buttons on this very forum itself.


Hell, your main selling point (you can make money while still writing) makes it sound like you haven't done any research on this community at all, since we often have to warn newbies that they won't get a ton of money through donations and patreon right away. Our readers already reward us financially when they think we're doing a good job, and FORCING them to pay us to read our chapters kind of flies in the face of the whole "writing serials for people to read for free" model that we operate under here.


I'm sorry for the possible harshness of this response, because on paper it sounds pretty cool...but serial writers seem like not the best market for bychapter.


If there are other serialists considering this prospect, if there's the interest I will be happy to post up an explanation of setting up web hosting, setting up a paypal 'donate' button, self-publishing on Amazon or Smashwords...really any of the problems bychapter says they'll fix. It just feels too slimy for me to support.


All,


Thank you so much for the valuable inputs. My partner and I are setup thing from 50% reader's + 30% writer's perspective. We know little about publishing industry, and this is exactly why we are seeking your valuable advise. Personally as a reader, I've donated to several books, and also paid for unfinished but routinely updated web fictions / fan fictions in the past, but I guess not all readers are willing to do that.


Currently majority our effort, as engineers, are focused on technical aspects of the website, and we haven't been very careful about presenting our business model, legal issues, etc.. I'm more than happy to respond to all your suggestions and questions. But I'll probably be a bit slow, since I want to fully digest your inputs, and give clear responses to setup thing right from the beginning; it's clear that I didn't do a good job with the post nor the "how-to" pages on our site.


Again, thank you so much for your inputs. I'm hoping to see many more.


Regards,

Robert


Hi Unillustrated,


You brought up a very important point regarding the copy right. You may noticed that the "copyright" link in our footer is empty at this point; the "copyright" really should have been replaced by "writer's copyright", I'll probably make that update soon. We have not put in the official content there, because 1) We need expert's (writers like you) opinions to see what is the writers' preference; 2) This is legal binding stuff, and we want to word it carefully and have it reviewed by a lawyer, maybe.


That being said, let me out line we have in mind, and see if it resonate with writers. We are very open to any suggestions from writers.



  1. Regular membership writers: Any writer can post his / her work on the site and utilize our payment platform with full copyright.

    1. One may just choose to offer everything free;

    2. Take donation;

    3. Or charge fees any time after the free review criteria are met.


    For this case, we will charge some percentage of fee, maybe ~30%, for the paid chapters. But writers can feel free to post the work anywhere else, in additional on our site.


  2. Contracted writers. As the name suggested, there is some extra requirement.

    1. We are expecting the contract writers to update their work with reasonable frequency, so the readers will not pay into a book that never ends.

    2. We are expecting that no more than first 20% of the work is posted at other places; i.e. remaining 80% should be available exclusively on Bychapter.

    3. We will have some share of the copyright in forms of royalty.

    4. The royalty will be actually low than the fee for the regular membership, 15-20% perhaps.

    5. Once the book is finished, if the writer choose to publish the whole book with other publisher (paper / ebook), of if the story is adopted in other forms of media, such as Movies, TV, etc., we will charge some percentage royalty, maybe 5-10%.





Please let me know your thoughts on this.


Regards,

Robert


Hi Oniwasabi,


I'm flattered that you are seeing a positive prospect of our project!! We will definitely work hard to make it happen. But of course we will try to make things more realistic based on inputs from all you writers.


As for the price tag, here is how we came up with the proposed number, from the reader's perspective. I was told an average paperback fiction word count is about 100,000, and the average price is slightly higher than $10, and Kindle-book even cheaper. So on average it's $0.10 for every 1000 words. So 1000 words = 10 points = $0.10 . But as I figured from some of the responses above, this might not be reasonable for web fictions. So May I have some more inputs on how much writers are expecting to earn for every 1000 words?


The reason we are using a point system is that, for each chapter, say about 2,000 ~ 3,000 words, reader will pay $0.20 ~?$0.30. It doesn't make economic sense to pay it out to writers. So we'd make the payout only after certain amount is reached. However, keeping these many decimal numbers will slow down the site (purely technical). Integers are so much easier to handle and for people to calculate. But of course, if most of folks feels more comfortable with really money, we can definitely get rid of the point system and just count the cents.


I'm looking forward to your responses.


Regards,

Robert


I think Maddirose has more than amply covered my own thoughts on this, but I'll add my two cents. I didn't see this post until there were already two replies. Had I seen it before anyone had replied, I would have been inclined to delete it and ban the user. Generally speaking, I don't appreciate people joining WFG specifically to post commercial messages to our forums. That's what's called "spam". It's not behaviour that is supportive of our community, nor do I have very much respect for the people who engage in it.


Chris


On that note, I'd also advise against sending out emails to authors starting with "Love your story on Webfictionguide..." when it's actually about advertisement for your project. Whenever I get one of those emails that pretend to like my story (but don't mention anything about it) and advertise their own thing a few lines below, I just roll my eyes and go 'not another of those'.


You might be more successful if you got straight to the point without trying to flatter the author first. That doesn't work and might have the opposite effect of what you were trying to achieve.


To add to what Chrysalis said, stating "love your story on Webfictionguide" when you don't, when you're just sending out the same email with a few details edited to make it fit, is pretty damn disingenuous.


I posted about startups and the general attitude/perspective we should have about them not long ago - I don't think these guys are malicious, they're just people like us who're trying to do what they do and find success in the process. The problem arises when their success is contingent on others, and those others can easily suffer for the startup's failure or mistakes.


I've noticed a big surge in the number of startups making offers - I've had at least 15, probably closer to 25 - they tend to occur more as semesters end. People get out of University where they were studying marketing and they see the infographics that talk about the top 5 rising markets, and writing is one of them. Serials are a growing market. I do believe that the right person doing the right thing with serials could make something big that benefits everyone involved.


The problem arises, however, when these people don't understand the market or serials or basic finances. When they're starting from scratch and they're more of an anchor than someone who can leapfrog us forward. I found success writing, and I think if I'd signed on with Bychapter around the start or middle of 2012, before things kicked off, I wouldn't have found that success.


The ones who make it successful, I think, are going to be those who know the right people and have a working infrastructure. They'd need a clear, simple business plan that a five year old could understand. They need something to offer. When I think of the startup that makes serials work, I think of ads with startup-provided art, of merchandising made easy with individual pages for each writer and creator that gets on board, and fair prices. I picture something that's going to raise the perception of serials and online writing to another level. Above all, this needs to be done by people who know how writing online works and knows the artists and distributors and all the rest.


Bychapter fails the litmus test by thinking/implying that it's hard to maintain or design a site in this era. That's not one of the key hurdles we run into, honestly. It fails by posing a financial plan that just doesn't work for those who want to do the writing seriously. In the best case scenario, going by bychapter's numbers, someone outputting what I output would make about $720 a month, for full-time hours. That's not something you can live on, and it comes at the cost of readers, since those unwilling to pay can't read.


It just doesn't work.


The others have covered it exceedingly well. I just want to chime in on the cash, the most important part.


You mentioned that you based it off the price of a paperback novel and that word count. But it misses a key point. You are getting paid for the same words multiple times. Sell a single book and you have failed in the industry. Its just not affordable.

An author gets paid for the same words many many times. Now many authors will not do that well in sales but it has to be a truely terrible book to not sell more than one copy.


I know you are just a startup but please do your due diligence before pitching to authors.


Yep.


Once you put a book out there, it continues to earn money for the remainder of your life. It may only be a trickle of a hundred or ten or two dollars a month, each older book picking up in sales whenever a new work hits the shelves, but it's an income stream. For a full-time writer, having a set of books on the store/online shelves could be called a retirement plan.


I'm sorry that I offended many of you, and I apologize for the posting messages and sending e-mails that are considered spams to some of you. With not much of a marketing background, my partner and I were really blind-folded when it comes to reaching out to people we don't know. Apparently we've chosen a very insensitive approach that really hurt your feelings, and also discredit ourselves. I want to again express my sincere apologies for my inappropriate behavior.


I'm certainly new to the writer's world and I was seeing things more from a reader's perspective. I've be following WebFictionGuide for more than a year, but just didn't sign up an account to participate; I probably should have joined the forum much earlier and ask more questions before diving into our project. Any I'm hoping it's not too late and you would still give me a chance to learn.



Firstly; I am a web developer myself, and it makes me really nervous to hear that it took two developers *eight months* to complete this project, especially if they both worked on it hard enough to be considered 'feverishly'. To be blunt, it makes me a little nervous in regards to the technical ability of the team.


I just want to clarify the technical aspect of the concern. My partner and I are both engineers, but not working as software engineers. However we both have very solid programming background. By saying "working feverishly"?I really mean it. We both have demanding full time jobs, and families to raise. So with a ~60-hour / per week job, two young kids, nursing baby, and some long business trips, even though my partner devoted most of her spare time to the project, she can only manage 2-4 hours a day. I'm not much better either. So I would think 8-months is not bad, given our situation.


Also, a website like ByChapter, which is a C2C site (please refer to ebay, etsy, and alike), is much more complicated than a simple e-commerce site. There is no existing code or template, everything needs to be coded from scratch. And working on the page logic is not an easy task either.


We are very serious about the project, and will do anything to make it right. If some of our assumptions are wrong, we would deeply appreciate your inputs to make them right.



I wonder if the business model intends for each reader to pay that dollar per 10K words, and the writers get a share depending on how many readers they have. That would seem much more reasonable.


I doubt it will work out, though... readers are generally very unwilling to pay for anything but top notch quality stuff, which contradicts the "get paid while still working on your story" aspect. I could maybe see a model like this become successful if a good number of very skilled authors with an already established fanbase took part in it. Then again... the arguments for using Bychapter instead of self publishing aren't very convincing.


Great marketing video, though. I really liked it!


I think I really mis-presented our idea. So you are right, for a given 10K words an author writes, each time a reader purchase them, the author will be paid by $1.00 less the fee / royalty. So in my mind, it's same as putting a book to sale on the shelf. For the same work, the writer will be paid for every copy of book sold. So the larger the reader base, the more the author earns. Is this reasonable?


I understand not all readers would like to pay. So we think it's upto the author to decide if he / she thinks it's appropriate to make some chapters paid chapters. If the answer is no, the author has all freedom to keep the whole book free on our site.


We are trying to provide authors with some additional options, and better user interface / social functions / statistics. No offense, but I?personally think WebFictionGuide UI has quite some room for improvement.


BTW, I'm glad you like the video, thank you; so we did something not so wrong after all :).


Hi Tempest,


You mentioned that you based it off the price of a paperback novel and that word count. But it misses a key point. You are getting paid for the same words multiple times. Sell a single book and you have failed in the industry. Its just not affordable.

An author gets paid for the same words many many times. Now many authors will not do that well in sales but it has to be a truely terrible book to not sell more than one copy.


I'm confused by the comment. Could you please elaborate? Could you please kindly refer to my response post #17 and see if it addresses your concern?


Please bear with me for one more thought. What triggered the project was the writing experience of my friend. She's a bio-physicist who loves to write. But she wasn't brave enough to quit her boring big enterprise job, to pursue her dream as a writer. She too used her limited spare time to write. She was hoping that she can see some hope of income for her work, to be encouraged to continue the story, and possibly leave the job.


So when we started the site, we were aiming for new, part-time writers, and / or non-professional writers who'd like to see some financial incentives or extra income. We would hope we, bychapter and the writers, can help each other. But we have rather poor knowledge on the situations of more mature and established writers.


Could someone shine a light on us? I'm seeing some valuable input from Wildbow, and I'd deeply appreciate if you could elaborate. If we need to get more resources for ByChapter to succeed, we will try!



The ones who make it successful, I think, are going to be those who know the right people and have a working infrastructure. They'd need a clear, simple business plan that a five year old could understand. They need something to offer. When I think of the startup that makes serials work, I think of ads with startup-provided art, of merchandising made easy with individual pages for each writer and creator that gets on board, and fair prices. I picture something that's going to raise the perception of serials and online writing to another level. Above all, this needs to be done by people who know how writing online works and knows the artists and distributors and all the rest.