Does it matter what time of the day you update?

So, since doing a web series is a first for me, I've got a lot of questions over the best way to do it :-)

Currently one such question is: Is it important what time of the day you update? I know it's very important to have set days you update and always to update when you say you will. I update Tuesday and Friday, but what time during the day I update tends to vary wildly, depending on how perpared the chapters are before hand, whether I have other work I have to get done that day that's pressing, or just what's happening in my life, etc.

But if you say you'll update on Tuesday, is it important to update early in the morning? Or is it important to update around the same time each update day? Was wondering what other people thought/did.


It's hard keeping up the schedule, isn't it?

One of my friends is a google doodler and he said that prime time is 1pm Eastern. However, when I post stuff around that time it just gets drowned in the noise and disappears. I found that alerting multiple times a day is best (I'm speaking mostly about Twitter), especially considering a lot of my readers are somehow in New Zealand and Australia.

So usually I post late at night, then retweet the update again mid-morning, and that's it because I don't want to get too spammy. :P I update on Mondays so I try to post on Sunday night before I go to bed. Usually that means it goes up in the wee hours of Monday anyway. I try not to be later than early Tuesday... that only happened once so far and no one seemed to care. I mean... I probably only have fifty readers total so that's all the research information I have haha~

In my experience as a webcomicker though, I lost traffic if I was like a week late. Anything earlier than that people were pretty forgiving.

I haven't tried a variety of options, really, so I can only share my (limited) experience.

Since the beginning, I updated one minute after midnight (EST) on the scheduled update days. Always the same time.

I likely sound like a broken record by now, but I made consistency a sticking point. I set a specific time, and I meet that time, readers become accustomed to it.

This does a few things for me:

* I have a hard and fast time to meet. I'm a procrastinator, and if I said "sometime in the morning" I know I'd slip to "sometime in the afternoon" or "sometime later today" and I wouldn't get it done. Having a set time forces me to knuckle down.

* As a related point, it's healthier for me, to have midnight rather than some time in the morning, or I'd be pulling all nighters to get stuff done for the morning.

* It's also easiest, because I know I'm a night owl, and this way, the push to completion coincides with the twilight hours post-mealtime, when I write most effectively. I can then stay up until 1:30 or 2 am to see the initial comments (and make necessary changes), then sleep and wake up to that many more.

* Readers can experience that anticipation as the time approaches. I value this anticpation as a reader, and I wanted to cultivate it as an author.

* Readers who wake up are guaranteed to be able to check out the story as they start their day. No waking up at 7am for a story that updates at 8, checking in at 7:45 and then forgetting about it for the rest of the day. (Not accounting for time zones, but applies to the Western hemisphere).

For a serial, I suspect it's just a matter of consistency as Wildbow says.

Before I started my serials, though, I picked 8am eastern time as my publication time for my blog. (I used Blogger's post scheduling feature to do that, as I am sound asleep at that time.)

I did this because I noticed that many other blogs which had my blog's name in the blog roll used a widget that showed recent posts. Most recent first. On many of them, posts that were more than 6-8 hours old dropped off the list. So I picked a time early in the day so that my prime time on those lists was also during busy internet times.

This is better for non-fiction blog posts, I think, than for serials. Blog posts can have "headline" titles to posts -- with hooks that get people to click. (Yes, you can title your episodes provocatively too.) I also think that people read non-fiction differently than they read fiction on the web. You might browse a non-fiction post quickly, just hitting the highlights. Fiction you want to actually read it, and it's usually longer. So that surge of U.S. traffic during the day for some blogs may be due to people on break at work, doing the equivalent of scanning a newspaper. Therefore it may be irrelevant to serial fiction. I don't know.

I decided yesterday that I'm quitting everything on my blog but the serial and related posts -- at least for a while. I think I'll change my morning posting time to much earlier.

However... one thing to remember about posting a serial: If you have good navigation links, people who miss an episode can easily read it when you post the next. I suspect a lot of my readers read a couple of episodes at a time.

Make it easy for people to read you in whatever way they choose, and you don't have to worry about things like time of day.


Camille, I was thinking that to, to a degree.

I'm not sure that my readership is tied in enough to waiting with baited breath for the next update that anyone misses out if the post goes up in the afternoon on Monday vs in the morning. I still keep to the "have it up by Monday" but I also find that every few hours I delay posting, is an extra hour to proof read and I know too many grammar sticklers to not focus on that.

I like to update Monday morning, because the work week is awful and I want to give people a little something to look forward to. It also sets up nicely for posting the next day at Tuesday Serials

I'm also in with the consistency crowd. Pick a time you know you can hit every time.

I schedule my posts for weekday mornings, modeling things on my own behavior: when I work full-time at a desk, I always check my bookmarks after I've gotten into work and gotten my coffee/hot chocolate, and before I settle in to the work of the day. That means between 7 and 9 AM for me in my timezone. Since I have mostly American readers, I aim for that time period EST, and figure that as the rest of the country wakes up it will already be there for them.

For me updates appear somewhere between 2-4am EST. It depends on when I finish. I try to avoid 4am though.

That said, it's predictable to my readers. I'm often shocked to find that someone's commented within 15 minutes of the post going up--even more shocked when there's more than one comment at that point. So people do care, and do anticipate it. That said, I also have set things up so that notifications of my post go out on Twitter, Facebook, Wordpress, and Tumblr (as well as RSS), so people may just be getting the information there.

I had to be careful about notifications. I find that even after I post I ~still~ spot typos and it seems that some RSS feeders to social media don't just say "hey, there's a post" but they send a note that there's also an update. When I started Mind the Thorns I once had something like 12 Facebook posts in a single day about the second chapter being "updated".

Thanks everyone for the responses. General opinion seems to think it is important to update the same time every day, so I'm going to seriously consider doing so. It also seems that everybody tries to post early in the day (at midnight, or just in the morning). I had been posting in the afternoon, but hadn't had a set time, just whenever I finished going through the last edit. I think I'm going to start trying to find a set time...probably midnight, because I kind of like that idea.