Confused about what route to take

Hello there, I posted this at Kindleboards but realise that maybe that's the wrong place to do it because people who write webserials don't exactly hang out there. ;)


So I'm new here, and I'm thinking of writing a web serial. Mostly because I've always loved the immediacy, rawness and interactivity of posting your stories online. (I did mostly fanfic for years.) But I'm really confused about the choices I have! The thing is, it's my ultimate goal to somehow monetise my writing.


I'm not sure if that's somehing a web serialer should aim for ... but I'm really new with this universe.


So, I'm wondering if any of you have any experience in this area? I'd really love your feedback. Should I:


1. Put out my story on sites like Jukepop Serials to gain a readership? But I don't very like the idea of making my story exclusive to a site other than my own. Also, those who've tried Jukepop Serials - is it easy to compile your work into an ebook later?


2. Release my serial on my website and link it to aggregators like Tuesday Serial and when the story is done release it as an ebook? Should I take down the serial fiction on my website after I release it as an ebook?


3. Or just go the pure e-book route and release episodes? For some reason I'm not very keen about the idea because I'm afraid of pissing off readers who hate buying incomplete stories. I do know there have been people who've had success with it, however... such as the writers of Yesterday's Gone.


Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!


There's some serial writers on the Kboards - I'm a lurker, and Meilin's there.


1 - You can always go on JP later, I'm doing Mirrorfall there as a "reprint" when I have it hosted on my site.

1a - Do you feel comfortable with the idea of creating and maintaining your own site?

1b - I'm not sure how this applies, you would still make your ebook from your own source document.


2 - If you do your own site, you can control your branding/image/what art etc you display.

2a - Removing your work after you release an ebook is up to you - it depends on whether or not you want to have monetary barriers to people doing an archive binge all at once.


3 - I would only suggest doing serial releases if, like YG, it feels like a complete "episode", rather than a novel that's been cut at an arbitrary point. You also have to take into account that you make more money off one $2.99 sale than you do on 5x 99c sales, so there's that to consider.


I think of all the options you are thinking through #3 is probably one of the more difficult. Right now with paid serials this largely happens mostly within the Kindle structure and the formal Kindle serials program has the audience trained to pay an upfront flat rate and receive updates. (http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=5044445011) A few guys have tried their own version of the serials prior to this happening (see Sean Platt of the Self Publishing Podcast "http://selfpublishingpodcast.com/") . My understanding is that they think it works but they're very careful about what is sold as an installment. I think their installments are probably on the length of novellas, not chapters. They've done it "their way," tried the Kindle Serials way, and I think continue to go both ways moving forward.


Jukepop Serials : there are a number of authors who come in/out of this board. The payout (if you read some of hte threads) can happen but it's fairly modest so far. Jukepop recently started taking donations and also made a "pay to read" option available to authors.


Monetization via donation/incentives while serializing - I'd look at several different authors (search forums here): Alexandra Erin (Tales of Mu), Wildbow (Worm), Meilin Miranda (Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom), and MCA Hogarth.

A number of them do use sthe idea of "if we hit the cap, you'll get the next bonus/update early" or some variation thereof. MEilin used to also offer full books to impatient readers for sale, otherwise the book would be updated slowly for free via her web page.


Monetization post-serialization, primarily via ebooks: Also quite a few authors doing it here as well. Honestly, most of us here are leaving up the serials alongside the ebooks. The ebooks tend to be additionally edited.


I think the other part of your question touches on issues of "promotion" and "finding readers."

I think before answering, let me ask about your proposed genre and update schedule?


Also are you hoping a platform brings in a lot of people for you? Or are you already well-followed on Deviantart, Tumblr, Twitter or some other social media platform?


I think it comes down to who you are as a person. Keep in mind I'm somewhat biased, but...


Jukepop basically pits you against other authors, so it's competitive, but there's a conflict of interest as well. If Jukepop rises in the public profile (ie. more good works), all of Jukepop benefits. The conflict, though, is that if you let the other guys pull ahead, then they're the ones who're going to be reaping the rewards, while you're basically stuck without a really good way to pull ahead or break away from the crowd (let alone monetize or any of that). For some personalities, that inherent competitiveness and competition, as well as being part of a community, it's good, and that's great. For some of us, though, that's anathema.


Another concern to watch out for would be the trend that some have reported here in the forums, where they say the Jukepop monetary rewards are less about how good your story is and more about how much you spam social media (Twitter update: "New post of X is up! Vote!" Facebook: "New post of X is up! Vote!"). Having good writing helps, I'm sure, and I'm sure you can pull ahead by pure writing merit alone, but this is the observed trend. If you're someone naturally adept with social media who would naturally be marketing yourself on this front anyways, then perhaps this is the route you want to go.


There's also a minor suspicion I have - knowing what little I know, and having observed Jukepop's methods, the only way I can really see them doing what they do & giving out the monetary rewards without going into the red is (noting how much they push signing up on facebook) that they're selling the regular browsers' information to organizations. It's only a suspicion, but I'm really not so fond of anything that integrates Facebook as much as they do.


It may be easier website building, but there are reviews (including mine) that bring up the fact that Jukepop is, as a generalized website for browsing serials, not that good an interface. I don't deduct stars, but I do mention how much I dislike it in reviews. I've seen two or three other people do the same.


Finally, returning to my first point, keep in mind that while Jukepop might help you get that initial audience, you may be limiting your potential growth by attaching yourself to Jukepop. My story is, I think, the runaway success of the past stretch. My readership has boomed, I have a crapton of reviews/ratings, and I've gone from getting five visitors a day to getting ten or twelve thousand (with thirty to sixty thousand views a day, even after the story has finished). All in the span of 2.5 years. To put it bluntly, while I might have signed on with Jukepop when I was younger, had lower expectations & didn't know everything I know now, I feel I wouldn't have achieved the same success if I was a part of the site, and I wouldn't have made the same money I'm now making.


I'm sorry I can't give you an impartial response, but those are my views. You really have to sit down and decide what your expectations are, and what your approach and goals are. Setting up a site isn't terribly hard (Wordpress makes it easy, selecting a theme, colors, and organizing the menus/pages with a very fluid interface), you'll get slower growth, but the growth will be wholly yours.


On my own experience can be found here: http://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comments/1tezu9/how_to_make_writing_fun_again/ce7jb6f if you want my general story. I talk about how I monetized there. I'm now considering, depending on how my next serial goes over the next few months, moving and subsisting entirely on the writing.


Hello sGl,

I wish I already have a following, but no. I'm starting out completely new. I'm hoping to gain a following via my webserial. I used to only post on sites such as fanfiction.net with an inbuild audience already so I'm not sure how to gain a following ;)


My genre is mostly space opera sci fi, and I plan to update at least 2x a week with a total wordcount of at least 1000-2000 words per week.


The first Story I want to serialise is a story a wrote almost 15 years ago (sheesh, I feel old). Although it started as a fanfic, it's so alternate universe people won't even realise it's from that universe. And I only used one character while every other character is my invention.


I wonnder if it's okay to rewrite this story and post it as a web serial? I'll probably add more content to the original novella (which is about 11k words) and change things, of course, but in general I liked the way I wrote it.


That story had an "episode 2" which I also really, really, really liked and I hope to follow up the first story with this story (but not right after. I'll probably write a few more original stories before I do).


I just don' know how people will react to the idea that itused to be fanfic. Thing is, I don't think anyone reads it anymore nor was it so popular in its heydey that it was widely distributed.


Any thoughts on this?


Wildbow,

My reservations about Jukepop is that they have exclusivity ... and no worries about being biased. I understand your POV as well. Your concern about the selling my personal data makes me worried too. I'm also worried that somewhere in the fine print of their TOS would affect the future of my work.


If we post our stories on our own website, is there anything we can do to protect our copyright?


I forgot to say that alongside my webserial, I'll probably be selling ebook compilations of my short stories ... I don't think it's worth serialising short stories ...


People won't likely dislike it purely for being fanfic. You should probably leverage that one site where you used to poststuff. I personally prefer a shameless, transparent plug, but I like humor like that. Unfortunately, I know nothing on making money from serials.


Some extremely popular novels/book series (here's looking at you 50 Shades of Grey and Cassandra Claires Mortal Instrument's series) started off originally as fanfiction. Even though they're not exactly literary masterpieces, they are popular. So don't worry too much about that. Just change enough so that it really truly is original. If people dig your work they won't care where it came from.


As far as shameless plugging your own serial -- don't hesitate to do this. It's your work, so definitely don't feel ashamed to promote it however you can. I also started off writing fanfiction and wish I'd self promoted more on fanfiction.net


If you post your own work on a separate blog, the copyright is yours. That doesn't mean protecting it is easy, though - if someone steals it, it's up to you to defend it (though the law is on your side).


Keep expectations low. I know it's very tempting to think "I want an audience!", but audiences take a lot of time to grow, and they need to be cultivated. If you're going solo, then expect it to take six months to a year before your readership starts picking up. If you're going with Jukepop, you might see better immediate numbers, but I expect it'll still take time before you get any regular readers. Don't be surprised and don't be discouraged.


//Although it started as a fanfic, it's so alternate universe people won't even realise it's from that universe.//


*high five*


Require: Cookie is also based on my old fanfic work, but it's never commented on (the genre-shift probably helps :P).


Wildbow - Thanks for your advice on audience. I think I'm often far too impatient. Sometimes I get discouraged when I read Kindleboards (About how tough it is out there to be read or noticed let alone make a dollar). But then I ask myself: Do you want to give up writing then? And I realise, the hell, no! So I will continue even if it feels like I'm writing in a void (hopefully it won't get me TOO discouraged though :P)


I'm still conflicted about Jukepop. But maybe instead of deciding the perfect one way to do things,I'll just try one thing first - which is to post on my website and then list it at Web Fiction Guide or Tuesday Serials.


I've actually just set up my website: http://www.antonnaseton.com. You're right, it's pretty easy ;)


Eventoe and Stormy - High five back! I don't feel so alone now!! Phew. To be honest I have felt embarrassed for the longest time that I wrote fanfic. I know it's fantastic training ground for writers; I cut my teeth in fiction with fanfic. I wrote my first novel as a fanfic writer, and was surprised that I've written so much. But for some reason I've always felt that I was not a real writer because I wrote about characters other people created. It didn't occur to me that I also created original characters and created my own universe when I wrote alternate universe stories.


Then there's this stigma in the fic world about writing fanfic ... all that negativity I read about 50 shades being originally a fanfic kinda scared me off, and how some readers believe that it should never be profited from.


But you know what - as long as people enjoy the story, I should not feel ashamed! Now I feel excited now to expand the universe I started so long ago. :)


Eventoe, I've always hated to promote because I'm pretty shy in real life and hate pestering people to do anything. I think the only thing I'll do is create a mailing list so that I can inform people of updates and new stories.


Not sure how to create a successful mailing list though!


I also hate to promote, I don't even like asking others if they'd put a link to my story on theirs etc. I'm not sure where my audience appeared. I suspect I got most of my viewers from those who vote on Worm for top web fiction after the pains of getting to the end of a chapter and looking down the list for something more to satisfy themselves. (Thanks for a ready built audience Wildbow!)


Using a wordpress blog is really good for all the website stuff, for one it has things like RRS feeds and mailing lists set up and trackable. It's also got some pretty decent stat reporting and, what sounds important to you, it is very easy to convert your posts into an ebook. (you only need a few bits of free software) It's better than using your source material because it's gotten all the typo corrections that your audience will no doubt point out.


My advice for a new starter echos Wildbows really. With serials, and anything you create online, you have to manage your expectations. You mentioned monetising things, and while that's a good thing to have in the back of your mind, you have to know that it's hard to get money out of people. Ask yourself _what_ motivates you to write.


When I started writing, I did it because I was bored, and I'd probably still publish my chapters if I had no one reading. That's pretty important because for the first few months - no one did read. You can't be impatient with building an audience. Like wildbow said, they need to be cultivated.


It's easy to look around and see Worm and Tales of Mu and how they can bring in real money, how their audience is in the tens of thousands, and get enthusiastic. They get mentioned on other sites, and have people on reddit talk about them etc. But take a look at the library of work on this website - there are thousands of serials which you've never heard of. Most don't even have a rating or a review. They probably have a few readers, and hopefully their authors are happy with a few readers. That doesn't mean they are bad, there could be some really good stuff in there.


I'd consider my serial to be a huge success, being consistently 3rd on Top Web Fiction (though there's more competition now!) and bringing in 500-700ish views a day after being up for a year. Mine is 7th on the "popular" list on this site, with a bunch of ratings. I'm not trying to be boastful here, just put things in perspective: I've had a donate button sitting on my support page for months. Donations recieved? None! I don't mind that. I have a full time job, I'm only doing this for fun. I'm happy whatever the audence and I'm not even trying to bring in some spare spending money.


Like most things that are built on popularity: musicions, sports players, actors, you only see the "A-listers". You can see the people who made it big, and all that they have, and say "I could do that!". But the level below the top is quite different. You could be a brilliant writer, get the 'right' genre and your work could be perfect - but you might not get what you want if you're aiming for that level of success. I think a lot of serials end half way through because their writers get disilusioned with things because they aren't getting what they wanted out of it.


Basically: know why you're writing!


I don't know if there's necessarily a huge immediate audience with Jukepop - there are so many serials on there now, it's probably easier to just sink to the bottom if you don't do some kind of active promotion. But I'm not sure it's necessarily that wise to sink a ton of time/money into promotion until you've got a decent wedge of chapters up anyway. I know I tweeted about H&C until I was blue in the face when it started, but I get a lot more feedback/readers now with more chapters despite slightly less promotional effort.


From the perspective of the webfic community -- most probably would not care if your work was your fanfic with some rewriting.


But I think fandom has a somewhat critical viewpoint regarding fics that go from being fan-based to rewritten for commercial purposes. The recent blow-up around Big Bang Press' kickstarter in fandom-anon/fandom-wank places is somewhat entertaining. You can see skepticism about fanfic authors transitioning to original work (mostly because there's a recognition that not all can do it easily). But there also seems to be ome underlying resentment towards those who basically "release their fanfics with the serial numbers filed off" and go on to find tremendous success (without acknowledging that that's what their work started as). ElJames and Cassandra Clare are two names that seem to make the fangirls nuts as their works are both based on their own Twilight and Harry Potter works.


Being a part of fanfic community can be a good thing for you. If you are just finishing a highly popular work and are prolific on ff.net, link your new site in and talk about it in your update endnotes.


Unfortunately for me I took at least 5-7 years off between fanfic and original stuff so I never could quite mobilize the reader-base I had as the fandom I was in went very quiet. I have never had the energy or interest to leverage that platform. However, it sounds like you're in a more current fandom therefore I believe you can convert your passionate readers into your readers. Your fans might be keenly interested to see what you do when you rewrite it as a standalone world. (On the down side, they won't be objective -- it will be hard for them to give you honest feedback as to whether your work stands alone. Don't let these folks advise you on that but use their energy to help you promote your work.)


Finding readers:


This is hard. Perhaps this is harder than writing.


Even authors who want to get into the traditional publishing world regularly bemoan over finding readers.Many are now advised to build their platform years before the release of their book via participating on twitter, writing interesting blogs to hang off their author webpage, etc.


Webfic is kind of in a weird testing ground at this point. There are more than half-dozen or more authors who have signed deals based off their experience in Wattpad (http://theonlinenovel.wordpress.com/tag/wattpad/). So there are some apparent channels to publication where "first published" is the serial format.


One of the problems though with webfic and where you hang it is that the numbers/visibility is hard to overcome. PUblishing independently on your own website is good in terms of greatest control but the traffic pie is very small at the moment.

You asked about Tuesday serial and as a traffic generator it has been very weak for me. I"ve done a guest blog and that drove the most ever visits (3?) in a week. But it's a good way to link with other authors and historically used to be much stronger so I see participating in the effort more as recognition of it as a "community" rather than as a traffic generator. They also feature blog content so I keep an eye on what they write so I don't revisit the same ground they do.


WFG is the biggest player in the indie block, but the scale of what WFG draws in is probably in the hundreds a day, some of it passively triggered by keyword searches (you can see Jim and go round and round on estimating traffic here: http://theonlinenovel.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/2013realitycheck/).


Your strategy to finding readers is going to have to focus on other things. Namely, where do people of your genre like to consume content? Where do they hang out? Where do stories also fare well?


Sci-fi/space stuff is really cool but it may be tricky to promote because I think the fans are a little older and not always where you think they are.


Once you're up and running (and have a buffer), I can make a few recommendations as to where you could explore Project Wonderful webcomic/serials promotion. I would suggest your research on potential ad-outlets include Galaxion, Mooky's new comic "Star Power" and Melanie Edmond's Starwalker. (I'm a particular fan of space opera btw and can vouch for those as entertaining reads.) You may also want to look at MCA Hogarth's sites too as she does a lot of space stuff.


I would also make a point to read those sites and look at the comments. It's good insight into what the typical fan is sticking around for....


And oh gosh - this post is so long it merits a...



TL;DR: Webfic people don't care about the origins of your work. Fandom people may sniff at you if you become popular. Finding readers is hard. Think about PW down the road and targeting ads on other sci-fi/space opera works.



Don't forget about networking with other writers in your genre.


I don't know how successful it is; I have a fair number of readers, but only ~3k clicks to date, going from my site to Jim's, but it's something.


I'd say that it has an effect. Around the time Worm ended, Legion of Nothing's daily pageviews went from an average of 1000 or so a day to an average of about 2000 or so a day.


And they can also help a lot with your writing.


Wildbow - I know I will sound silly saying this, but, er, how do you network with other authors? I know how to do this in real life - I signed up for Nanowrimo and got to know a few authors in my area and we're now friends. However, have always been clueless about online. I'm a social media avoider - I dislike Twitter and Facebook but it looks like I may have to jump in :P My only saving grace is blogging. I ran two successful blogs before so I know how some of it works.


A Grey World - That will be awesome! I think networking with other writers also helps me stay in the 'zone' where people understand the insanity of needing to write stuff that ... people may not read. hahaha. One of the primary reasons why I decided to go the webfic route was because I was tired of writing in isolation. I want to know other writers and readers. I want to be part of a community.


About why I write. It used to be simple. Because it was fun. When I was a fanficcer, I did it mostly because I was frustrated that there wasn't enough stories of a certain kind that I could write. I liked genfic, but a lot of times fanfic is dominated by romance and slash so I got really frustrated. Heh. (I write mostly fanfic based on TV shows and leave books alone.) So I wrote them. I wasn't paid, and I didn't care.


But for some reason I got it in my head, after seeing the success of so many in the epublishing world, that I could earn passive income from my work. That's when I hit trouble. Suddenly writing became "If I don't get money from this, it's not worth it." I have to talk myself down from this stance over and over and remind myself of this: Are you going to stop writing if you don't get money? And I realise, No.


A few years ago (Before I began fanfic) I gave up writing original fiction because the road to publishing was nigh impossible. I truly regret doing that. If I have not given up writing original fiction, I would've had a nice body of work to let out into the wild by now. I would've put in the millions of words needed to be good. I would've learned my craft far earlier. So, after that experience, I AM NOT GOING TO QUIT WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH. (I'm mostly shouting at that whiny part of myself btw)


So, yeah, I'm still trying to rediscover the pure joy of writing stories. I'm getting there, I think. I've gone from "I can't write original fiction" in 2011 to having written 2 original novels (one still being rewritten) and four short stories by 2013. I plan to rewrite most of the fanfic works I consider worth resurrecting this year and have a good number of books on my digital bookshelf.


SgL - Thanks for the tips! Promotion sounds so exhausting -_-" I recently discovered that one of the authors I greatly admired for his promotional efforts have been using paid reviewers to write assassination reviews on other authors' Amazon books. It kinda turned me off promotion even more lol. Dean Wesley Smith said, that if you're a newbie author, to spend 80% of our effort writing new stuff and the rest on publishing them. I think I'll do that for now or it'll seriously mess me up.


Meanwhile I'll just look forward to getting to know all you wonderful writers here.


@ Anton - It's easy, and take this from another social-media hater, you don't need anything of the sort. It goes like this:


Me: "Hey, Jim, I'll link to your story on my site if you link to mine."

Jim: "That would be swell, Wildbow! Hey, I gave you a mention on the Webfictionnation podcast interview I did."

Me: "Keen! A bunch of folk in my IRC chatroom were asking for superhero webfiction recommendations, I'll point them your way."


Etc, etc. Manner of speech not necessary, but recommended. Readers benefit, because they can find more stuff in the genre they like. Authors benefit because audience bleeds over.