How have we done so far this year?

So, I just realized that, in 20 days, give or take a few hours, 2015 will be over. Roughly three hundred and sixty five days have passed, and many of you have posted at least fifty two updates and a few have seen anywhere from dozens to even thousands of views. I would bet that the vast majority of you have, on average, have increased your readership and improved your quality and quantity. If you have some stories or lessons from this year, please feel free to share.

I'll go first. I first posted NIU on February 18th, 2015. It's probably much more shocking to me than to any of you, but that wasn't even a year ago. I had just dropped out of my Junior year of college a few months before, and was looking for something to do with my life that didn't involve just blindly going back to school. Little did I know what was to come.

The time between that first post and now was kind of a rollercoaster. A few nights I'd go to bed sometime past eleven, worrying about all sorts of things. Was my writing good enough? Was I as a person coming across badly? Why are my views not as good this week? Would I be able to make enough money to satisfy my parents. Less often were the nights I'd go to bed happy with my work and my situation, but most nights I'd crawl into my bed. Because, y'know, I go to bed at eleven at night now.

During this time, I learned a lot. Like, I should have waited until I had written ten chapters to start posting. I also should have not expected to become some kind of sensation, and I'm kind of worried that my worrying about it in public got annoying.

That being said, I'm also surprised with how good my stats have been. People who actually know about these things have consistently told me not to worry, I'm actually doing pretty well, and it's easy to believe them. I mean, over 26,000 views spread out over 4,900 visitors for my Wordpress site is, even to my over-ambitious eyes, kind of a miracle. This is not counting all the various comments I've received on my Wordpress site, Reddit, and Spacebattles, all of which have been positive so far.

That's somewhat gratifying, due to the amount I have written. I just did a quick wordcount. Including regular story posts, post mortems and side-stories, I have written 216,178 words. That's 2 post mortems (because I finished two books,) four side stories and 43 regular updates. To put that in other words, remember how I said I should have started with a backlog of ten chapters? Well I fucking have a backlog of ten chapters now!

Now, I'll admit, quality-wise, it is quite a mixed bag. For instance, I have to admit, I feel that book 2 can be way too slow at times. That being said, there are things I've done that I really like. For instance, the final tracks of both books have, in my opinion, been some of the best stuff I've ever written. I've also rapidly improved my writing in every way, from a spelling and grammar perspective (thanks, sis!) to a stylistic perspective (thanks, Billy and Tartra!)

And last but not least, you guys. You guys have been amazing. You have taken time out of your busy lives to encourage and critique me. I know I have mentioned BillyHiggins and Tartra previously, but again, you guys are awesome. Your reviews have really helped me a lot. King and Commoner, you've been one of the biggest sources of traffic for NIU. Seriously, thank you. Wildbow, not only were you the guy who proved that this was possible, you also agreed to do an interview with me which was incredibly, unbelievably cool of you. And also to Chris Poirier. Not only did you grant me an interview as well, but you've also managed to build this whole entire site. Everyone author who will see this, not just me, owes you a lot.

Anyway, that's my New Year's reflection/Thanksgiving thanks. If you are reading this, tell us how your year went. I really don't want to be the only one doing this.

I've recently realized how strongly a web serial reflects the personality of its author. This is true with all art to some extent or another, but it's particularly true of serials, where you write a lot over a long-ish period of time, all with the same world and characters. Whereas the processes involved with creating novels or movies or music leave enough time for editing and rumination, web serials don't. You can't just show a part of yourself. You have to bare all, as it were.

Last year I wrote Kinda Super Gay, a comedic gay superhero story. And while I enjoyed that, it felt limiting. I felt like I (and probably readers) would get tired of the jokes and absurdism. So I wrote Godpunk, a trippy, philosophical dark fantasy. I enjoyed that even more, but it was still limiting, because it felt like there was little room for humor in that universe (I was laughing pretty hard when I wrote about that mutant getting kicked off a skyscraper, but, um I'm crazy. He was really bad at charades, you see, and there was this whole... ah, forget it).

I was drawn to both of those ideas, because they spoke to a part of me. But if I was going to write for any length of time, I wouldn't be happy just writing for one part of me.

So, this May I began writing A Bad Idea. It's comedic but also melancholic. That's important, because I'm mercurial. I try to keep a lid on it in social interactions, but I'm too damn moody to write to the same tone day after day. So I created a serial that's gay, that's set in Florida, that's comedic, that's sad. It's got superheroes and bad guys and campy quips and gothic plot twists. I can write it no matter my mood. I can take it in whatever direction I need to, because it encapsulates almost everything that's important to me.

I understand the serial because, simply enough, it's me.

I had a lot of fun this year, worked damn hard and did a lot of stuff I'm proud of. But at the end of the year that's what I'm most proud of: finding myself.

It turns out I was a web serial all along.

Finding your stride is always good, and I'm glad to hear that you found yours, Billy. Hope you keep it up!

"Recovery Mode" probably sums up 2015 for me. 2013 was the year I learned that my style of writing WAS a serial. 2014 was the year I gave it all up. On my birthday. Since after 3 years and over 220 personified math entries, I had very little feedback and almost no one linking to me.

Then in late 2014 I started over. I actually formatted my new writing projects such that they could be listed here. I also started posting more in this community. Despite reservations, I decided to do the "April Fool" swap, which pulled in over 50 views in one day for me, a new high bar that I have yet to re-achieve (thanks for organizing Alex H!). Then I decided to re-edit and post my older writing to my site, primarily because I have new plans for Episode 90 (and they work better with the context of the previously unpublished episodes). Which led to a review from Billy Higgins, which was huge because it's the first time since I graduated from University that anyone ever actually took the time to say anything longer than a sentence or two. (It haunted me a little and led to some key changes in Episode 20, but I wager good feedback should do that.)

My stats, of course, are actually been the worst they've ever been. My math serial routinely pulled in 500 views a month, even after it stopped running. It's now sometimes a strain to pull in 100 views for a month on the new site. I've gone from 30-40 views on a new post down to 3-4 views. (Maybe it's that Wordpress has a better spam filter. Also the parts for T&T are longer.) The main thing sustaining me is the resurrection of the math serial, as a weekly webcomic - I've done more drawing than writing in the last 4 months (since most of the current T&T posts were edited way back in August). I feel like I'm becoming an authority on being "that guy", the one somehow doing a bunch of things wrong, but maybe you can profit off my mistakes. (Tip: Don't change sites if you can avoid it.) But hey, Rome wasn't burned in a day, "Recovery Mode" and all that.

Let's see, 37 T&T posts, 13 posts in the serial before that, 17 Commentary posts, 20 Webcomic posts, and over 40 posts on my personal blog. Definitely more output than 2014. Oh, by the way, my latest T&T (Part 37) finally explains how the time machine works. Because math!

@t4nky: Learning is key, but so is actually applying what you learn, and it seems like you've come a good distance with that! Congrats! Incidentally, I don't know that I ever found your "public worrying" to be annoying - and frankly we all go through it - it was more your occasional assumptions that concerned me. (I still recall you saying somewhere that once you have a listing in WFG you won't have zero hit days... I had one last week, because I'm "that guy"!) Your enthusiasm is infectious though, and that's an impressive word count. Keep at it!

Ouh, I don't...I don't have much to say. :(

I started this year, six weeks ago to be precise, and so don't have much going.

But at least I started. And have written more these past few months than in the last years. I've found some kind of joy in sitting down and writing, I've lost my fear of not getting it perfect - now I know there will be a second and third draft and lots of editing on my feet, nevermind the plot. That is reassuring and calming.

And to formulate some kind of goals for next year:

Next year I want to get some actual views. And make sure my stories are worth reading.

I might actually get good at this sometimes.^^

My other writing on the web-related thingy is my Vampire Chronicle which isn't wholly written by myself...but nonetheless had it's first birthday this summer and I have missed only a few updates of background stuff, even tough I seldom find time to make more. A handful of players only but those are rabid and won't stop until I have fed them new existential horror and broken a few of their henchmen. Really motivating. :)


I don't know about the worrying stuff...but it seems to be a driving factor in you getting yourself together and improving. Which means it can't be all bad.


Never give up! Never surrender! :)

Which reminds me...I need botfilters. Damn things are really cluttering up everything in my stats. :/

Onwards to 2016!

It's been a mixed bag. I finished year two of Curveball and managed to get it out in ebook and paperback -- even had it properly edited -- and I feel good about it as product. I was also unemployed from August through November and that was very hard to manage. I know some people have the ability to pull this off, but I find it hard to be creative when I'm watching my money dwindle away and my family creep closer and closer to homelessness. Thankfully I have another job now, but the schedule I'm currently working is close to insane (get up at 4AM, home by 6:30, 7 PM) and I haven't worked out where exactly to write, because I'm still trying to figure out when exactly to sleep.

I'm a bit restless and dissatisfied at this point because I have been plagued with production delays since close to the end of year one and I was really hoping 2016 was when I'd be able to start publishing consistently again, but I don't know. Making sure my family doesn't die is a little more important than meeting my printing schedule, so the job that pays me enough money to do that will always take precedence over trying to turn writing into a self-sustaining effort.

Still, there's stuff I've managed to do that I'm quite proud of. Issue 24 was a beast to write (it wound up being a 24,000 word issue) but it turned out quite well, I think. And I'm starting to get readers who speculate on story items in the comments -- not many, but it's an encouraging sign that some people who are reading are getting engaged enough to want to wonder about what's happening next.

So... 2015, mixed bag. Last few months were pretty bad overall, but I managed to get through them.

I'm with Tintenteufel. When this year ends my web serial will only have been up for 2 months, and my site is still a work in progress. I've been getting okay views so far, so basically I want to start building a fan base by releasing a lot of high quality chapters. That and maybe experiment with some more social media stuff.

I'm pretty optimistic of where my web serial will be in a year.

Thank you for those words of encouragement, Matthans. I also am kind of getting back in the swing of things after a disastrous first run. I think my getting back into the swing of things was helped by completely severing ties with my previous stuff. You sound like you actually had some sort of momentum going, which is always great.

As for views, I need to start asking myself why I've gotten as many views as I have instead of just asking how I can get more. Did that Reddit add campaign I run put me ahead of the curve? Is it posting my serial in two places at once? Did that article in the local paper help more than I thought it did? Or am I just writing something that's easily accessible and mainstream?

"Did that article in the local paper help more than I thought it did?"(t4nky)

Lol, what? Can't say that ever occurred to me. :)

This was my year of over-extending myself. Between getting Year 3 into e-book form, all the podcasts and side-projects, and keeping up with two serials and a blog, I've come close to burning out more than once. Thankfully I've been able to push things aside and take a week off when absolutely necessary, otherwise I really might have let some plates stop spinning. Even right now I've got a novel in the homestretch I need to finish by mid-January, but my buffer is waning so I've got to fill that back up first. The lesson I can impart from 2015 is to take on new stuff gradually, because you don't always know just how much time it will take out of every week.

That said, I also had some cool wins in the year. For the first time, I wrote a web-serial length book without it actually being a web-serial, which was something I honestly didn't know if I could do. Also, as much as the side-stuff took out of me, it was also a lot of fun. Authors & Dragons (new podcast I do) is slowly picking up steam, getting those involved some new readers here and there. Not much, but it's something, and if we can grow it well it might end up as more.

All in all 2015 has been a busy, but interesting, year. In 2016 I'm aiming to start at least attending cons, hopefully doing a panel or two if I can swing it, so fingers crossed that won't be a shitshow.

@t4nky Those are some solid numbers for your first year, you should feel encouraged by them. Hope the trend continues!

@BillyHigginsPerry That is a point I'd never stopped to think about before, but seems pretty dead on. Also, didn't you get an article on Cracked this year? That's got to be a solid 2015 win. :-)

@Tintenteufel Thank you, I now have Springsteen's "No Surrender" stuck in my head. Which is absolutely not a bad thing.)

Well, if Mathtans' theme for the year was "Recovery," then I guess mine has been "Rediscovery." I've spent a lot of the last couple of years so focused on end game (trying to get published and not just published but published in the "right" places) that I burned myself out. My primary goal with starting Graves was to try and rediscover my passion for the writing itself. I picked a web serial format in part so I won't be tempted to keep going back and over-thinking and over-rewriting. What I've written stands, and my only option is to go forward. The challenge is discovering what happens next, and the need to do it on a weekly basis is the outside pressure that keeps me actually doing it. ;) So far, it seems to be working. Most weeks. I don't wake up *every* day with scene snippets demanding to be written, but I can work myself into a good writing session most days, and sometimes I even smile or snicker out loud because I'm enjoying myself so much. Like Tintenteufel, I've lost (most of) my fear of not getting it perfect and am finding joy in writing.

I also inadvertently learned that there is at least a handful of people out there who are enjoying Graves enough to follow it weekly. I'd told myself that even if no one was reading, I was going to keep up the experiment through one entire season before I decided whether to continue beyond that. I deliberately have not made myself do any real marketing or networking, because I am an incredibly introverted person and I just do. not. like. that sort of thing. Maybe at the end of season 1, sometime in January or February, I'll revisit that decision. But I guess that will fall into 2016's eventual "what I learned" list, huh?

I have also learned that there are a lot of interesting and incredible people posting on this forum, from whom I am learning and whose posts I find enjoyable to follow, even if I don't find as much time to participate as I'd like. <3

To those who've mentioned trying to juggle writing with the (sometimes overwhelming) demands of, you know, simple survival, let me say kudos to you for understanding priorities. Also, life experience informs our writing, so reassure yourself that even when you are not physically writing, you are thinking and feeling as a writer. (You can't help it, it's what you are.) Everything you experience that causes you to grow as a person can also cause you to grow as a writer. Hang in there, the pendulum will eventually swing back the other way. Feel free to keep looking for ways to nudge it that way, of course, but absolutely don't beat yourself up over it.


This has been my second year of writing The Solstice War, and it's sort of been a year of trying to find a balance between the serial writing and other things I wanted to do. I've had some side-story projects I really wanted to do that didn't work out, and one that I did as a fun thing for the readers that's become another highly ornate and time-consuming project to see through. I've been trying to edit and put out an ebook and I have set several deadlines for that and failed to meet all of them. I've finally finished editing the text of the ebook, which is the bulk of the work, but now I have to format it and I have to fight my neurosis and publish it instead of obsessing more over it, and all of that is hard. Writing the serial has had to take precedence alongside other things, like holding a full time job and finding some personal time to have fun and unwind and nurse myself during bouts of depression. So for all the side-projects and other stories I've wanted to write, main chapters of the Solstice War have had to be priority one.

So while I've managed to maintain my pace with The Solstice War and deliver my promised chapters each month, I've not been able to do a lot else. I've not done a lot of serious promotion but what I have done has been mildly successful, and I expected it to outright fail so that's decent. I feel like my readership is really steadily growing, with the numbers climbing a tick, but what's mattered to me more is that more people are engaging with the story and with myself as its author on social media, which is my personal metric for growing. Numbers can mean a ton of things, but someone talking to me directly about the story is priceless to me. Those reactions dispel a lot of doubts I had about myself.

Ultimately, I'm getting the story out that I wanted to tell and it is resonating with people. I'm earning around ~300 dollars a month from it which is cool as heck. I don't have a thousand hits a day or a thousand visitors a week, but I have more than I used to, which is cool to me. I'm limited by what I can do based on my time and my available energy. If I could write weekly I would probably see those numbers significantly improve. But I can't; I think for what I can do, there's been good progress this second year. I just have to set realistic, modest expectations for the next.

Financially - income is up 4k this year. Been budgeting for the first time in my life, though even when I was scraping by, overspending wasn't really an issue with me. Is nice to see where money is going and I've started thinking more about retirement and being financially independent. I had the notion that my career path was one that would have me scraping by into my 70s and 80s, and is really nice to actually sit down, figure things out, and realize that being a naturally frugal person, saving and being smart with money, I can actually be financially independent (that is, not relying on money from work to get by) in 15 or so years. Sooner, if my income keeps rising or if Worm does well. I imagine I'll keep writing rather than retire, but it's nice to think about not having the sword of povertycles hanging so ominously over my head, should inspiration dry up or life get in the way, and being able to write because I enjoy writing.

Socially - Been meeting fans and online friends as of late. Met a fan and online friend from west coast USA and hung out for a few days before & after a French immersion thing she was doing in Montreal, and that was really truly great. Met with Chris P from WFG here in Ottawa for lunch and a walk/chat. He sowed some doubts into my head about what I was plotting re: the editing of Worm, but was really nice to touch base. Also met some American fans down in the states during a brief stay. To contrast - before/as I started writing serials in mid-2011, I was socially anxious and riddled with anxiety to the point I had trouble leaving my apartment. Finding something you're passionate about and taking a leap of faith here and there can help so much in this regard.

Writing-wise: Twig has been getting a really good reception. At the end of the year, Twig has been getting a boost in numbers - this is a huge relief, as both Twig and Pact had a very steady equilibrium. Readership didn't go up in particular, it didn't really go down, it just stayed at what it was. Now that Twig has had a few 'wham' chapters, people are talking about it more and reviewing it more, and there's an overall positive feeling surrounding it. I'm actually enjoying writing it, which is something that Pact lacked - I got distracted by real life stuff partway through Pact and it reached the point where I wasn't enjoying the writing of it. Twig, I feel like I'm flexing my abilities and teaching myself new things, as far as trying to build and work with character relationships and characterization, while keeping lessons learned from Pact in mind as I pay more mind to the story's pacing. Is good.

Bigger Picture: Editing Worm is a slog and I've stopped trying to edit the entire thing and am focusing on the 'book one' now. I started serial writing to stop myself from endless revision and now I'm struggling post-serial writing to return to the revision and to do it effectively. Have been talking to an agent and the tentative plan is to get Book One done sometime next year and pursue things as if I were going to self publish, but leave the door open for the agent to shop it around and see if anyone bites with a good enough deal. Not having made concrete enough progress on the editing is probably my biggest regret of 2015. On the upside, Worm got some attention from Reddit, and had a better set of days just this past month in terms of audience/views than it had on the day the story ended.

Overall, though, life is good. Been healthier, happier, more secure about the future and more hopeful about the writing.

Hold the phone - Wildbow, you're in Ottawa? Where I and Tartra are? Clearly I am NOT paying enough attention. Awesome that you're getting out more.

I feel like echoing Lori's words to everyone too: survival is definitely a priority. Be that physical, monetary, or emotional. (I went through a real emotional low back in 2014 that I'm also recovering from.) As long as readers know you're in a rough patch, they're usually supportive. (Also I totally understand the marketing/networking feelings too!)

And @Tintenteufel: Thanks! Me, I figure as long as the bots are enjoying themselves and not spamming, who am I to judge?

Well, I may have to move to Canada, especially if Trump gets the nomination in my country. Seriously, that guy scares the crap out of me.

Also, I am quite happy to hear most of you guys are doing well. I just wonder, though, is there anything I can do for the community, especially for the guys who aren't doing so well?

Tanky: I can see why Trump freaks people out, he's kinda nuts, but so many voters are upset with the status quo that he has a real chance. Hillery, for me though, is everything bad about politics, the status quo personified. Seriously, when did the election become about the lesser of two evils? Please don't let me start a politics thing, I just talk.

Wildbow: Early retirement and budgeting is awesome. Money won't bring you happiness, but it sure can bring misery - so hurray for independance! Ever heard of Mr Money Mustache? I intend to retire in fifteen years as well, or earlier as my options are a bit wider than most.

As for me, this year was a sort of 'weightlessness' or 'change' themed year. I started on this forum a few months ago, ready to throw myself into a webserial that I would have likely burned out on and would have certainly not been too good. But between now and then I've taken the time to actually know what the hell it is I'm writing, and am now working on the backlog. I also had both my lungs collapse at once, twice, and came up with a plan to save the world... so yeah. As it is with this time period of my life, I find my eyes more turned to the future than the present. My Serial starts on January 1st and I'm not stressed about doing well, I just want to write the thing. As I've decided on a sort of existential optimism, I'm gonna make sure the future looks bright.

Personally, we all deal with situations out of our power, but how we deal with those situations and how we prevent them is what makes us intelligent. We decide what our quality of life is, this isn't something I've learned this year but it is something I've started to understand. There's a difference between knowing something and living it. So yeah, time of growth.

Merry Christmas everybody, may this time as well as the coming year, be bright for you.

@ Math - Was in Ottawa, moved to a nearby small town just last November, for the lower rent. I take the train in to visit family there on the regular. We should meet for drinks & talk business at some point.

@ T4nky - I see Trump as a positive. Not in how he acts or how he operates, but he is the result of the GOP digging their own grave. I can't foresee a reality where he wins, and whether he gets screwed out of the nomination and goes independent (splitting the republican vote, practically handing Dems the win) or stays in and loses, it puts the GOP in a really bad position. The GOP has only so many more years before it has to reinvent itself to stay current, with so much of its base being angry white men, and the Trump situation putting them in a bad spot for 8 years? It's embarrassing for the US, but it's gratifying that the Southern strategy is backfiring as it is.

As for Hillary, I agree with Shae. She's everything wrong with politics. I really like Bernie, but he doesn't come across as presidential, and all I can really hope is that he can exert a kind of pressure on Hillary/the DNC by being there, forcing her to make calls instead of being horrendously vague.

@ Shae - I got started with Mr. Money Mustache (Mr. Frugal Toque) and then did other research elsewhere. Canadian Couch Potato, etc.

I think keeping expectations low and focusing on the craft and making sure you're able to keep it up for the long haul/do the writing are essential. T4nky's original post in this thread touches on the disappointment of setting your sights too high and then finding that reality isn't so kind.


I also had both my lungs collapse at once, twice

This is a bad idea. I don't recommend doing it again.

I didn't know we were allowed personal stuff. *pouts*

That way my year has been nice. I pulled myself out of a pretty ugly spot (depression, break up with my fiancee, no job, no money, no fun, nothing to do, shitty, boring university in no-mans-land, no real perspective for the years after) and am now least somewhat.

Though seeing what you guys pulled through and survived is quite a motivator. :)


I would always be interested in your results as to from where you did get all your views. :) I'm always curious how that works (even though reddit and wfg seem to always be the big providers).


Sad to hear about your failed attempts at publishing. I think Solstice War is good and that you get essentially a mini-job out of it is even greater!

If I may...maybe you should focus on that one thing? We've talked only a bit about overextension in this thread but it is a definitive possibility to spread yourself to thin.


Aweeeeesomeeeeee. Christmas presents for next year seem to be taken care of. :)

Trust us, we've seen it. :) Last time you stopped us.

I find it interesting that non-Americans follow the American presidential race. Makes all kinds of sense, but I think very few Americans pay attention to foreign politics. I get why people call us egocentric. Tintenteufel, don't demonize people, my father's an angry white man and will probably vote trump, he's actually not disgusting as a person. As always, I seen it as more complicated than 'Trump will blow up the world' or 'he's the best thing ever'. Voting for him isn't the end of the world, in my humble opinion. Ack, politics.

Let's not turn this into a political discussion, or I will have to start ranting about how having Justin as our prime minister is so embarrassing. Politics should be in its own thread.