Anyone have any ideas on how to start promoting a new web novel
What genre is it? Getting involved with forums/subreddits that are into the same stuff will help. Don't be pushy but they often have posts for promoting your stuff. More popular genres are easier to get off the ground at the start. Literary/experimental stuff is really hard. Fantasy is probably the easiest (relatively).
Is it on your own site or on a bigger site like Wattpad etc? Bigger sites have more of built in audience you can leach from. Even if you have your own site, it's worth posting on a bigger site too, maybe a few chapters behind your own site.
It's pretty tough when you have no audience. A lot of it is grind and keeping a regular schedule even with no one reading.
There's no obvious promotion spot (other than the topwefiction chart this site runs). Just keep plugging away.
Are there general fantasy forums, then, or would one be looking for a fan site for something roughly similar, e.g. a sword-and-sorcery author going to a Conan forum?
(I'm very, very new at this)
Listen to what mooderino is saying. KEEP A SCHEDULE! I learned that hard way when I started posting without much of a backlog in August of 2017 and it turned out that hey, I didn't like what I wrote so I had to reboot it. Then I had to scramble just to get on a regular schedule. Write at least 100k words THEN start posting based on how much you write weekly. That way you can go back and fix mistakes well before you post updates. Readers need to trust that you're going to regularly update or else they'll turn to one of a hundred other serials.
It's going to take some time. I would share your serial around on Reddit and TVTropes and whatever forums you're a part of, but the bread and butter is TopWebFiction. When I dropped out of the top 45 on TWF last week, my viewership tanked like a rock. I'm talking 80-85%. Remind all of your friends and fans to VOTE! And you're only going to get those votes by maintaining a clean site and regular, high quality updates.
And please, spell check, spell check, spell check. I notice way too many newer serials with poor grammar and I just click away.
I've been deliberately keeping my update segments fairly short, say four or five manuscript pages; I have less than 40K written so far, and that's close to fifteen updates, divided into ten- to fifteen-minute reads. I wanted a relatively low investment for readers, and a restriction that kept me from bloviating. Is that too short?
2,666 words per chapter? That's twice the length of my usual updates. Perfectly fine.
In short: you don't.
In long: The best way of promoting your web novel is by writing consistent updates and releasing them on a consistent schedule. You need to rely on word of mouth, unfortunately. Reviews on sites like WFG really help, unless people think they are transparent marketing pieces. If your work fits into any of the big web fiction genres (rational fic, xianxia, isekai, LitRPG) then you can try self-promoting in sites for those genres, but it is still better to wait for the discussion to start naturally. People do not react well to self-promotion. When NAH gets mentioned on other sites (say, Reddit), I get way more people coming through if the mention doesn't come from me.
The bigger sites, like Wattpad, RoyalRoad, etc, tend to have their own issues. Wattpad, for example, is very teen female and fanfiction oriented. Additionally, I've heard from publishers that they take a dim view of works that are published on Wattpad if that's any concern to you. RoyalRoad is focused like a laser on anime-inspired stories and tropes. Fictionpress is basically dead unless you're Mother of Learning. Self-promotion threads on writing forums or whatever are universally ghettos that no one reads.
It's a marathon, not a sprint. If you're writing for an audience, you're going to collapse before acquiring one. It's far more important to put your time into making the best story you can than it is trying to self-promote it.
Additionally, it's good that you're keeping updates on the shorter side. Readers finding your work for the first time with no knowledge of who you are and what you're writing may not get into long chapters right off the bat.
All I have to judge by is Worm, which has epic-huge chapters. I stumbled across it, and it inspired me to try serializing--no, I don't expect Worm's level of popularity, or anything close!
Sure, and Worm's a good serial to take some lessons from. However, a lot of people read to the end of Worm and think, well, when I start a serial, I'll write long chapters because that's what Wildbow did and he's popular. But if one does this, then you are really just confusing cause and effect.
Don't judge Worm by how it finished, judge it by how it started. When you're starting a serial, you don't have the luxury of a devoted, zealous audience who will a. stick with you no matter what you write and b. tell others to do the same.
Wildbow wrote differently when Worm started to how he did towards the end. For example, Worm's first few arcs don't feature 'epic-huge' chapters. Most of them come in sub-2500 words and some of them even under 2000. For comparison's sake, chapter word count in most books I read falls between 2000-4000. Of all the reasons for Worm's popularity, a key part was in Wildbow's consistency in putting out chapters (and, of course, a lot of serendipitous happenstance.) If you write stuff people like, they will come.
Thanks for everything. And, uh, sorry for stealing your thread, recruitrush.