Introducing Myself

I've been lurking on WFG for a while now, so I thought it was time I introduced myself. Generally speaking I'm pretty shy, and doing things like this are always hard, even though I've been posting my writing for the world to see for almost two years now. I'm Kayleigh, I write webfic, and part of the reason I've been unsure about making the jump to posting in the forum is because I don't do webfic the same way everyone else seems to.

Instead of writing serials, which I think was the original plan, I write in collections, posting up stories about different characters within those collections. Currently I have fourteen collections and I try to write for all of them, but some are of more interest to my readers than others, so they have the most stories posted for them. I have a Beginner's Guide, which I wrote about a month ago, and this year I'm focusing on getting more readers because last year I was forced to go on an unplanned hiatus due to family issues.

I am also writing a serial, set in one of my collections, 'The Case of the Counterfeit Enchantments'. I post a part twice a week, as well as posting five hundred words a day, which can be for new stories, but this month I'm focusing on write mores (a system I set up for my readers to tell me which stories they'd like to see more of).

Hey, welcome, Kayleigh!

I suspect everybody here also writes a lot of different things, but we talk about common problems -- which tend to cluster around serials.

I am a little confused by how you use the word "collections." It sounds like you mean what I would call a series -- stories which are connected by a place or people. (I've also seen series which are connected by other things, like a theme. The romance genre does this a lot.) When I hear "collection" I picture a specific set of stories collected into a single volume.

But whatever you call it, what you're doing sounds fun and interesting. And your schedule sounds ambitious. Writing short is tough, and doing it day after day can be a real challenge. Kudos to you!

I only just started writing serials, but I've been publishing individual stories for a long time both on my blog and in magazines and books. And I love to write in series. I love to come up with new stories for my characters, and develop new characters for a series. (My first serial, The Case of the Misplaced Hero, is actually kind of a spin off -- developing some secondary characters and adding a fantasy element to introduce a non-fantasy yet imaginary world.)

(BTW, Your site's cookie warning is a bit off-putting, especially since it bounces you out of the site if you say no.)


Hi, Camille,

I use collections because some of the stories I write for them aren't connected by a place or character - if you take the Fae World collection as an example the stories are literally all over the place: some are on the fae's old world; some are set on Earth; and some are set in fictional worlds (so I have one story I'm working on that has a character tossed into a video game due to fae magic). Personally I felt that collection made more sense for what I was doing. Maybe that's something I need to change in the future if it is that confusing to new readers.

So far I've been having a lot of fun with writing short. It's something I enjoy and seem to be good at. However it is only March, which means that what I'm doing is still interesting. I wonder how I'll feel in June or October.

(Yeah, the cookie warning is annoying. Unfortunately it's a requirement in the EU and that was the best plug-in I found for it.)


The best part about writing shorts is that you have an nice neat entire story in one spot ready to go. You have a clear beginning, middle and end and then you're done. I tried, when I was working on my space epic, to do regular short stories in that universe so as to help me develop it out, flesh out the characters and get some practice at doing quick exposition without bogging down the prose.

I wanted each short story to be read-able without having to know anything about the universe so I had to establish High Sci Fi, Space Elfs, and how the ships work in just a few sentences both so a new reader can understand but someone who's read more than one isn't bogged down in review.

500 words a day is ambitious even for a professional writer if you're doing your own editing. I remember thinking I could average two chapters a week on the sci fi, plus two additional short stories a week over the course of a summer by being a "full time writer". Did ... not... succeed..... :)

Yeah, editing doesn't really happen. What I do is post everything up as I've written it and then any typoes found earn people credits, which is a system I set up to allow anyone with low funds to purchase more of a story they enjoyed. As a crowdfunder I've been exploring all sorts of ways to both get more income and write more, because I enjoy writing for other people as well as for myself.

At the moment, as I'm posting the serial twice a week, I post around 7,500 words a week, most of which are written just before their posted. Then I also work on other stories to send to readers, so my final word count at the end of the month is pretty high, even though there are some days when writing is hard.

Well you're way ahead of me. I've tried donations/ contributor pages with little luck and I'm still not quite sure how to leverage the idea of the "bonus" story yet. I may start flirting with the "If I get X Comments I'll post the next chapter early" but I need to get a bigger buffer set up before I can start doing early postings.

On bonus chapters - I found myself well set up for it, because I arranged everything so one side story sat between each major story arc. Six to sixteen chapters, side story. Six to sixteen chapters, side story.

By the time I had enough readership and interest to take a stab at the donation thing (roughly eight or ten months in) I had generated a lot of interest in the side stories (which I termed interludes). I opened the doors for donations and I waited. I asked (initially) for $75; once the audience as a whole donated enough, I would release an interlude on a Thursday. That was in April-ish, 2012.

By November, it had picked up enough that I had to increase the price so I would be able to keep up (was at the point where I'd written one every week for eight straight weeks and had another two weeks two write, with more steadily coming in). I increased it to $125 before the start of December. Enough were still coming in that it was problematic (mainly because I was trying to gear down to the point where I was writing one every two weeks rather than one 3 out of 4 weeks) and I increased the amount again (to $200, where it currently sits).

One thing that I find interesting is that donation amounts have increased roughly in proportion to the donation totals I've been asking for. The number of donations that roll in has declined, but the donations I do get are generous (in the past month alone, two $200 donations and one $150 donation, alongside a smattering of others ranging from $5 to $40).

Anyways, back to what MrOsterman was saying; how to leverage the idea of the 'bonus' story. I think early releases can be dangerous, because it threatens to buck your schedule, and if your work does take off on any level, you can easily put yourself in a situation where keeping up is impossible. The key, I think, is to identify what it is your readers truly want and supply that. Is there a particular kind of chapter they're interested in (action, worldbuilding, relationship)? A character that tends to get a good response? Once you know what buttons to press, you want to reward your readers for supporting you.

Sorry to go off on a tangent, KAJones. I'd be interested to hear what kind of routes you've taken to explore funding. It's nice to meet you, and I hope to see you around WFG. New blood is welcome. Welcome!

Tangents are cool. I love seeing what other people do, because sometimes it gives me ideas.

Then, I have my two favourite creations: character adoption and setting rental. For a certain amount I'll email new stories to you about your favourite character or setting. So far my only adoptions have been purchased during an auction or using credits, but I'm hoping they'll catch on. The purchase price is all dependent on number of months, words, and characters/settings. It gives me a chance to write about characters I might not have done as much and explore settings in different ways. For me it's inspiration.

I post a lot for free, but I also have sponsorable stories and a donor filter where I post all unsponsored fiction for donors to read. There are all sorts of other perks, because I went into this planning to experiment with crowdfunding.

Last years unplanned hiatus really has, I think, done a lot of damage, but thankfully I'd been crowdfunding and writing web fic for less than a year. Now I'm really working on rebuilding what I had, which seems to be going well, and I have all sorts of things I want to do. I love web fic because of the freedom it gives me to do things I want to do, including experiment with forms of writing, allowing people to create characters in their favourite collections, and having prompt sessions that are so much fun.

I considered writing personalized special features, but I find that I don't want to breed resentment or anything. Way I figure it, if members of my readership benefit from the generosity of others, it helps foster that community spirit. Community spirit, in turn, helps the story on a lot of fronts. Call it guilt, or just quid pro quo, but I think the fact that people are aware that others are helping out maybe makes them more inclined to help out, whether it's through further donations or doing stuff like spreading the word (which my readers are doing to a fantastic extent).

The stories I write are always available for sponsorship, even adoption and rental stories. I am thinking of changing the system so that a couple of months after a adoption or rental is purchased I post the story for everyone, but I'd only do that for those purchased with money rather than credits. Having those extra stories written adds to the donor filter and the stories that can be sponsored, so I think it's good for both the adopter/renter and my general readership. Getting the stories emailed is basically just an early viewing to something I hope will later be free for everyone to read.

Just wanted to pop in and say hi and welcome, Kayleigh. Your project sounds really interesting! I love your crowdfunding ideas (and Wildbow's); maybe one day I'll get organised enough to do some of that. I'd love to offer bonus side stories as rewards, but I'd need a buffer of them so I could be sure to keep up!

Good luck, hope it all goes well. :)

Hello and Welcome! The more the merrier. I love your unique ideas and approaches to serializing! I hope it all works for you and hopefully see you around the forums? :)

Hi, Amy and Kess, and thank you both for the welcome.

The unique approach came about because I wanted to write in more than one world at a time and I'm always having new ideas. I felt that if I boxed myself in too much I wouldn't be as productive, so I simply did what was right for me, even though I had no idea if it was going to work or not. As I have readers who are interested in a number of my worlds I know I did the right thing there, but I'm still trying to find what works best for me as a crowdfunder.

I don't really understand the concept of "bonus stories." If I wrote a story, there's nothing on earth that would keep me from sharing it. Even if i received no money, the readers would still get that story. I can't help myself.

There's not much to understand. It's simply a way to motivate people to donate. People will donate to a story anyway, but they're more likely to donate if they feel like they're getting something additional as a result.

If you're writing online as a way of personal expression, it's irrelevant, of course, but as soon as you start thinking of your writing as a small business, it makes sense.

Personally I don't do it, but that's mostly because I have a hard enough time making my updates that additional writing responsibilities (i.e. bonus stories) would be a disaster. I'd rather invest my time revising my story into books as that will make money without unpredictable additional work. Ideally I'd do both if I had more time.

That's most of it: What do you hope to get out of your writing?

If you home to make some kind of money, then the "bonus story" is a way of motivating people to make donations because it's easier to do that when you "get something". One successful webcomic does an update every other day, with the promise to give a comic on the "off" days if there are $400 in donations. Once you get a solid enough following those $2 donations add up and you can start getting a regular income just from people making the donations.

Really it's about what model you want to use to monetize your writing, if you want to make any money at all.

1) Give your work away on the web as "beta" and then sell copies to those that didn't find the website, or want a physical copy when you're done.

2) Drive traffic and try to monetize ad revenue.

3) Do a bonus story to drive donations.

4) Just ask for donations.

5) Subscription pay wall.

I honestly have tried to just have a "contributor" page but it never got any traction, and selling "issues" also failed to get any traction for Mind the Thorns. Actually I got several 3-star reviews on Good Reads because they thought that selling a 3-chapter issue for $4 was a "scam" and totally missed that it was just a way to try to monetize the web novel (which is available in it's entirety for free) for that wanted to support it.

A lot of my failure, fair to say, is also based that I've never had a high readership. Most models to monetize require a certain critical mass to get that kind of thing going.

"Critical Mass" - when your gramma hits you with a wooden spoon for not going to church :)

There's an interesting question -- what is the critical mass? (Considering numbers of readers, not the spoon incident. :->) Anyone has any ideas?

There was an article about it somewhere, years back, no sure on the number, but i think its 15 dedicated readers, at that point it snowballs from word of mouth.