Getting people to read my stuff?

I'm a total newbie to serial fiction (literally just started my serial, after a few false starts) and uh, I'm really unsure how to get people to read what I have.

I'm also not entirely sure where to network and find other writers, besides this place and Twitter. I'm at a total loss. I've never done anything like this before and I'm not entirely sure where to start.

It takes time.

This is how Worm grew. By November 2013 (the peak), I wrote 1.68 million words total:

The bottom two tables show the total number of pageviews per month/year and the average number per day in a given month.

Worm is one of the more popular webfiction stories out there. It still took a while to get above a few hundred views a day. A year and two months. About 600,000 words, or 8-10 conventional length books worth of material written - for about half that time, I was treating it as a full time job, so figure maybe 1500 hours spent just sitting at the keyboard writing. I'm talking in terms that go beyond time alone because it might make it easier to relate to your own progress and investment vs. returns. Time spent at the keyboard, words on the page, etc, etc.

Now, I'm not going to say it's equal, and I recognize that Worm is an outlier, but I would suggest that, you know, if you write half the amount I did, then it might take you twice as long to get traction. Maybe more or maybe less, depending on the quality of writing, the nature of the story, receptiveness of audience and luck. But all that said, I really feel that consistency matters. If you drop projects or take breaks, that's going to set you back considerably. If you miss an update once a month or you're regularly late, people might not check in nearly as much. If you're very consistent and loyal, writing less per week but over a longer period of time, you could have a larger audience by the time you hit the 1 million word mark than I had at the same point.

In short: if you can't commit to your work, your audience can't commit to you.

Focus on finishing. Fight your way past false starts (I see people on here drop projects left and right, and I feel it hurts them and it hurts all the rest of us), but just get your work out there. If needing an audience is the sole motivation for your writing, you're going to have a really rough time of it for a while. Find another reason to keep going. Be patient. This is more like nurturing a plant than anything else - and you don't want to fail to water that plant. You don't want to plant that sapling and expect an oak tomorrow. Just like you talk to a plant, make sure to talk to your readers.

Give it time, and true fans will find their way to you. The other fans may come and go, but the true fans are the people who have the same taste as you, who will buy your stuff and spread the word. They're the ones who'll give you the support to grow tall.

If you want to reach out to other writers, one place I've gone has been Reddit's /r/Writing subreddit. See also /r/Shutupandwrite, /r/Worldbuilding, etc.

Wow, thank you for the thorough answer and the graphs! :>

I'm okay with it taking time - I'm mostly in this to share the story and wanting people to read what I write; having a small but loyal audience would be just as rewarding as having an absolutely huge one, to me. Mostly I want to know my stories are getting through to people, that someone out there is reading and deriving some form of joy from what I write. It's why I've gone with a serial, since it seemed the closest prose equivalent to the webcomics model (I like reading webcomics and I like the update-in-chunks model).

Also re: false starts, I've had a few but I think I've overcome the reboot demons, for the time being. It's hard, but I got tired of spinning in place.

Thank you again for the advice and encouragement!!

As usual, Wildbow gives excellent advice. I will add that it's really, really easy to talk yourself into believing that no one cares, that all of your work is for naught, that you should give up. It's also tempting to self-analyse, to wonder "hmm, maybe if I do this and this and that I'll get more readers." Put both of those the feelings aside and write what you want to write. In the end, the fans you really want are the ones who like reading what you like writing.

Now as far as networking...

I've had very mixed success with r/writing and r/SU&W (although I've never tried r/worldbuilding), but then I've had a tumultuous relationship with Reddit as a whole. I've had more success with the several little mini-communities of serial writers (I actually find them mostly via serial writers on this site)

(I hope none of you mind me sharing links, and sorry if I get any of this wrong)


This is a cadre of superhero-story authors called "The Pen and Cape Society". Its members include many names you might recognize from WFG: Jeffrey Allen (Portal), Drew Hayes (Super Powereds), Palladian (Super), Landon Porter (The Descendants), Christopher Wright (Pay Me, Bug!), Jim Zoetewey (The Legion of Nothing)


Originally started as a place to roleplay games of Brennus, Tieshaunn's chatroom has picked up a large number of serial writers who gather and talk (sometimes) about writing (ironically the roleplaying has now taken a backseat and moved to a different site). At varying times of the day you'll find Tempest (Mage Life), Truth (Raising Angels), Syphax (Stone Burners), Mahasim (Watchmirror), kspam (Goodfae), , and of course Tieshaunn (Brennus)

The Writer's Lair

I'm hesitant to put up a link to this one, since I don't know if it's invite-only or open to all or if they want the link public. This group is pure editing/writing; they post a chapter of their work in a gigantic google doc and then comment on and edit each others' works. Composed solely of WFG serialists: Psycho Gecko (World Domination In Retrospect), Underwhelming Force (Sins of the Fathers), Syphax (Stone Burners), Fallintolife (The Named), Farmerbob1 (Reject Hero/Symbiote), Chrysalis (Anathema)


Technically it's a site for starter serials, and appropriately enough it's just starting out, but since it's dedicated to writing serials, that's pretty much all the forums are about. You can find a few familiar WFG faces there too; I know I've seen SGL(Tales of the Big Bad Wolf), Tempest, and Jeffrey Allen post there once or twice.

I tend to hover silently lurking all over the place, so I don't really count, but I can't tell you how helpful the advice and tips have been that I've gotten just by reading the talented lads and ladies in all those groups!

Ahh, thank you for the recommendations! I've peered into the IRC channel and I'll check out some of the other mentions, too. :>

Been working on those false starts. Thankfully, it's been with my fanfiction since my web serial is still in the wood-works. Especially with my little freak out over FFNet and moving to Wattpad helped me realized where I really wanted to go with my web serial. Once I get my fanfiction back on track, I will get back into the saddle for my own story and slowly build it up since I need to figure out out some things before I jump into the waters. Upside, I will probably get a nice buffer before I begin publishing it.

Though, can tell you The Writer's Lair is an invite only group, but ask Psycho Gecko and he will most like let you join(wish there was a little tagging system here like Wattpad to let him know of the thread). The group is always happy to get more writers. I'm in it and haven't published my web serial yet. Only major agreement is to follow the rules of the lair, which aren't much, if you joined.

Yep I've had a few members of the Lair let me know that it's invite only, sorry about that.

False starts used to be a huge problem for me as well. The best advice I got was to not get rid of ANYTHING you do. Seriously, even if you just put it into a folder named "garbage", keep that shit around. I'm surprised at how many times I'll suddenly realize that an old idea can be re-purposed or restarted, and I'm slowly starting to think of them not as "false starts" but as "practice runs", which you can always come back to later to flesh out.

Even better, make it constructive.

What I did was do 'postmortems', which is my term for cataloguing the dead. Putting a title page on every dead work to note a title (helpful if you write a ton of drafts) what you did, the idea, what you liked, what you didn't. Keep track of that stuff, pay attention to what you're writing more easily and comfortably and what keeps tripping you up.

Make a graveyard of stories, each with their tombstones.

"Here lies Gall, version 4, which perished because I was in a really pissy mood and only wrote it to vent."

Kind of never had to do the pack ratting myself for my stories. My sister somehow keeps a back up of everything I wrote, sometimes up to date to the point I think she goes behind my back just to update her flash drives. Though, I tend to lose(and find randomly) my old stuff on the computer all the time. Hence I am trying out Google Docs to try and organize my current stories and planning to get a large flashdrive to try to keep all new false starts, attempts, and success in that. That and writing some of it down in notebooks I can find later easier than using my computer. :)

I've never done anywhere near enough writing to have a graveyard, though there's probably a few dozen pages of typewrited stuff from 20 years ago lying around in a drawer somewhere. Never had any false starts, either. But then again, I've only done super short pieces of fanfic (1K words tops) since I moved on from my typewriter. Which was... a long time ago. Gad, I feel old.

I spend a lot of time thinking about my stories even when I'm not writing. I've probably daydreamed up 20 times as much story material as I've actually written down. On one hand it kind of sucks because no one but me will ever know about those stories. But it really, really helps me to bring alive the stuff that I do actually write - characters, backstories, sideplots, it's all in my head a long time before it gets written. I've even got soundtracks for some scenes. All that daydreaming has probably helped me avoid false starts.

It's tricky. You have to have something half decent, of course, but mainly: Consistency. Unless it's a really stellar piece of work, your readers need to get into a habit of reading. Chances are you're not going to have anyone read for months. You need to nurture that little trickle of readers into an audience. Treat them nice, take them out to dinner. Give them little tid-bits extra. Keep the story moving so they don't get bored for an update or they might not return.

Consistent prose, story progression and schedule is essential.

The single best thing that can happen for getting readers is word of mouth. If something is good enough and strikes the right chords with the audience, they'll bring in near infinite amounts of new readers. Bloggers will make mentions, links will appear in more and more places, and after enough time reader numbers will explode. I'm quite sure that's how Worm got so popular.

Of course keeping a schedule, and everything else that was mentioned factors in as well.

The tricky part is writing something that has that much potential for a word of mouth avalanche. Most amateur writers probably won't ever see it happen.

For anyone here who already uses twitter or tumblr to mess around with, I recommend putting a link to your story there in your profiles and using the wordpress feature that connects your social media accounts (if you're on -- it will post for you whenever you make an update, and on tumblr it'll even tag it for you using your wordpress tags so it appears on tumblr search. On twitter, you can also pin a tweet with a link nowadays. That's a little bit of potential promo whenever you make a goofy joke about the onions at your local subway or something, as I do. It will depend on your previous amount of "popularity" in those places of course but if you're like me and you already use social media a lot it can't hurt to try. It's another potential source of word of mouth.

If you don't already use tumblr or twitter I wouldn't go out of my way to start, though.

Word of mouth! and, votes here on TWF help. I love the little redirect trick that Maddirose is using to use votes for bonus content!