Jukepop's new feature

I was on my Jukepop page, trying to remember how many chapters of Gods Ihave up (long story), and I saw a new feature: Unlocks. In case you didn't know, this is a system where, after three or more chapters, the author can charge you to continue reading. I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, there are a lot of people who will not only want, but deserve, to sell their writing. However, there are also a lot of readers who will decide that it's not worth continuing if you have to pay for it.

What do you guys think?

Divided. I'm not sure I yet have a massive enough readership for full-on paywalling to work. I'd rather keep doing H&C for free and maybe put up another project that costs money and hope one sells the other, I think. I would add Jukepop's voluntary donation feature if it worked in the UK though.

I agree with Nick. It would be wrong to charge my readers for Watchmage after it's been free for so long. For the next gen of serials at JukePop, it's a great idea.

I can't help but feel that setting up a barrier to entry would be a short term benefit for long term detriment.

I have a lot of readers. 11k at the highest point. Now, my initial chapters aren't stellar (they're okay), but even if they were closer to my usual quality, I can't help but feel that I would have made it half as far with a paywall at any point in the story.

By making the story free, I leave things free for word of mouth to spread. If one in fifty readers stops reading because of the paywall, and each of those readers might recommend the story to 1.2 people on average, that's actually pretty crippling.

More to the point, there are a couple of what I've come to think of 'six degree' readers out there. In 'six degrees of separation', where you connect one person to another person by jumping from one related person to another, there are often people who are exceptional at connecting you to people. 'Six degree' readers are the ones who loudy and enthusiastically promote your work. They're the guys who start topics in forums, mention you on reddit or update your Tv Tropes page so nearly a thousand different pages link back to it with compelling descriptions. They're the fanfiction author who drive a thousand readers your way with a simple mention on their blog. They're the guys who, if you win them over, they increase the size of your audience by 10-60%.

Word of mouth generates word of mouth, and audience garners audience. If that one reader you turn away isn't a 'six degree' reader, then maybe they're the guy who hooks in the guy who brings the six degree reader onboard. Taking this 'lock' option seems to me like it would be gaining money now at the expense of audience and future audience growth.

I'm of the same opinion as Wildbow. Exposure is much too important to me to consider something like a paywall or even just a "register to read the rest" type scenario.

But then again, we're not writers for Jukepop. Perhaps exposure is less of a concern for you guys.

Maybe for the better writers. I have an average of 3.4 votes per chapter, which isn't all that much, and most of which comes from spamming people. However, for the better writers, once they have a pretty large-ish fanbase, doing a pay-to-read serial might work.

On the note of exposure, everybody vote/leave comments on Gods! I love to get feedback!

I tend to agree with Wildbow as well.

Here's why: I take a lot of cues from web comics. Early on in web comics, Joey Manley attempted to monetize them by making the archives subscription only and having a bunch of great comics in the system. Ultimately, however, the business didn't survive--though it did last for a while. Though the authors did enjoy being paid, it did slow their growth.

I have read one creator comment that it may have been a mistake to be involved in it at all.

Personally, I think there must be ways to make a paywall work. I just don't know what they are.

Maybe, the main story is free, but there's supplemental material (side stories, encyclopedias, etc.) that comes with paying for things. Like in some MMORPGs (I've got friends that love them; honestly, though, I don't have the time), where you can play for free, but the game is better if you buy the premium subscription.

@ Alex - you said "Maybe for the better writers. I have an average of 3.4 votes per chapter, which isn't all that much, and most of which comes from spamming people. However, for the better writers, once they have a pretty large-ish fanbase, doing a pay-to-read serial might work."

Or it might tank them. I attribute a lot of my success to putting a crapton of content out there, being reliable, and minimizing the number of excuses my readers have to stop reading. If I added one element to slow them down, maybe I could coast off of the earnings for a bit, but I can't help but feel it would slowly erode my audience until nothing was left.

Writing something free, it gives you a kind of freedom. I'm writing something and I'm writing it for myself, above all else. For my tastes, because those are the tastes I write best for. If others want to come on board, I welcome them heartily, and if they want to draw fanart or write fanfiction, I encourage that too. By contrast, once people pay, even a token amount, they're entitled to something. They're paying for something, and you need to put that out there. It changes the tone of the discourse, and I don't personally like that tone.

On the subject of small authors, this is hard to phrase right. If you're getting 3.4 votes per chapter, and people see that, are they going to read what you have up already, note the number of votes you're getting and think, "I'm going to pay for this", or are they going to think, "It's probably not worth the money"?

I can't really picture a juncture where a paywall is sensible and healthy.

Even when you offer exclusive content/supplemental material to subscribers or the like, you're splitting your fanbase. You've got people who understand X reference and people who don't. You're setting out a divide.

Yeah, as I said way up top, I couldn't see much benefit in paywalling my Jukepop serial at this stage, and everyone else's comments since have only made me feel more sure of this. Especially since, at the speed I work on Hobson & Choi, I do have time to write other stuff, so it's not as if I'm giving away every atom of my work for free.

Considering people already have to register to read past #1 and deal with a few pop-ups and so on, I'm not sure demanding money and adding another barrier is sensible - similar to what Wildbow said a few posts up. For a paywall to work, you'd need a fanbase, I guess. At this stage, having wider exposure to try and gain that fanbase seems wiser. (Plus Jukepop already pay me a bit when I do well in the votes, so things could be worse on that front anyway.)

No one seems to have effectively solved the paywall problem whether it be webcomics or larger newspaper sites.

I've been following this issue for a while ... (http://theonlinenovel.wordpress.com/?s=paywall) and talked to a few webcomics people who say that sites that build around them inevitably end up not being able to sustain this model over the long-run.

It's nice that it's there as an option (among all your options at Jukepop). However, within that own site there will be plenty of stories not paywalled to read for free alongside other things to do "for free." As a reader who knows all the options out there, I would rather go find a free story at JP, online, Wattpad, or a fixed-cost alternative at Kindle Serials.

This really should be left only for authors who have completed at least one work or comes from the publishing world with a track record. I think it's a bad idea for a site to allow it for new authors. If an author takes donations and stops writing without any explanation (a common thing in the webcomics world) that creates ill will among the readership, particularly if the "host" won't get involved.

I am not going to use the paywall. I'm hoping that leaving mine free (I get about 200 votes per chapter) will attract other people to the site through word of mouth. Maybe some of that will trickle to the new generation of JP writers. JP's been a great place to workshop Watchmage. I feel like I should do what I can to give back.

If I was the one in charge, instead of a paywall, I would sell adspace.


Writing something free, it gives you a kind of freedom. I'm writing something and I'm writing it for myself, above all else. For my tastes, because those are the tastes I write best for.


Unlike you guys I've actually tried this feature for about a month. I recently reviewed some statistics and found that in each of the two locations I locked my serials, my readership dropped dramatically. So I can say anecdotally that it doesn't work. I'm hoping the site will aim for a new payment model sometime soon, and one that works better and for more authors (only U.S. authors can use Unlock).

Alex, that's kind of true. When I took off the unlock feature I felt liberated. However I was also a bit saddened because I was really optimistic about this feature.

I hear ya, Kev. I really think that they should try ads instead. I hope that they keep revenue coming in, because there are very few paying markets out there.