Multiple serials

Just wondering how many people do multiple serials, and how you organise it. Do you switch between serials or run them at the same time? Do you pre-write? Do your readers cross over, or are your genre's wildly, crazily different?

I sort of run two serials. Well, technically only one is a serial. The other is a collection of short fiction.

It is working so far mostly because I had pre-wrote the short fiction. I need to sit down an do a word count but I'd probably done at least 400k in short fiction, around half of which is now up. So I give it at least a year before it runs out and I have to crack on with mores stuff. At the moment I'm mostly working on the proper serial while dabbling with a few bits of short fiction now and again to continue to expand the back catalogue.

It is hard to tell if there is cross over as wordpress doesn't track that sort of thing. Given the serial is epic fantasy and the short fiction collection is SF/F (though currently mostly fantasy) there should be some cross over.

I find that writing multiple stories at once actually helps increase total output. Sometimes you just don't feel like writing that one story, but that doesn't mean you don't feel like writing at all.

The way I do it is that I have my main project, which is what I focus the majority of my time and energy on, and it comes out on a regular schedule. Then I have my secondary project, where I warned people ahead of time that it would update infrequently and irregularly, and it updates whenever I finish a chapter of it, which is sometimes a couple of months.

I'm with Unice- when you have writer's block, just switch!

I run/ran 5 serials, 2 of which have become novels, 2-3 are active, and one is currently on hold. Each has their own fan base and it strengthens the others. Genres are Fantasy, Fantasy, Sci Fi, Dystopian, and Horror.

I organize mine by skill level too. Some days I'm feeling tired- on those days, one of my serials takes less effort and I write that one. On other days, I'm on top of my game, and I focus on my hard ones. Other times, I feel super creative, so I'll do one that I write for fun.

That way, no matter what I feel, I can always write something.

I'm the exact opposite. I put a huge amount of effort into subtext and theme with my stories, making them far more complex and symbolic than most... it takes time to get into the proper mindset and track all the moving pieces in any given story. Trying to do more than one while keeping the same quality would kill me.

I would like to run four serials concurrently. All in different genres. I think that would be fun.

...not quite there yet, though. Ahem.

How do I even explain what I do... I think I can answer "yes" to everything.

"Do you switch between serials?" Yes. My WordPress site started over 2 years ago as an experiment, "Epsilon Project", a voting based serial. (Genre is kind of omniverse, a sci-fi/fantasy split.) But after a few months, I decided to release "Time & Tied", a pre-written serial that still required heavy edits, on that site too. (Genre would be urban fantasy or as I call it "temporal fantasy".) That ran for about 10 months (essentially two books worth), wasn't doing great, so I switched back to "Epsilon" for a few months to clear my head and see some votes. I've since switched back to "T&T" again. I have tentative plans to return to "Epsilon" in the future. The one thing I try to make sure to do is close off the main narrative of each before I flip the switch.

"Do you run them at the same time?" Yes. My WordPress site ran along side a Blogger site (also "mathtans") for about a year. The Blogger site was for personified math, and actually started years earlier. Now, technically it had become a webcomic at this point, but it started as a serial and if anything the scripting was harder because I had to condense everything down into four panels. Both updated every week. Personified Math on Mondays (so that I could finish inking and lettering on the weekend if needed) and Time & Tied on Fridays (because it was pre-written and according to research I read, a Friday release is good for people reading into the weekend). I did shut down the Math almost 3 months ago to focus more on T&T edits, but tentatively plan to bring it back next month.

"Do you pre-write?" Yes. Not for Epsilon, since it's vote based, but all of Time & Tied is pre-written. Though it's undergoing massive edits; I'd say I'm about 4 months ahead (it's a weekly release) in terms of having buffered content. Except given the nature of time travel, that can (in theory) impact the part going out next week. So I don't have the posts cued, partly for that reason, partly because I'm an eternal optimist who thinks someone will comment, such that I'll want to alter a subsequent entry. Personified math was SOMETIMES pre-written. If I knew a month would be particularly bad (report cards) I'd cue up about 3 weeks worth of posts (during Easter), but otherwise it was more week-by-week.

"Do your readers cross over?" Yes... tentative yes. On the WordPress site, if they subscribe, they kind of have no choice in the matter (between T&T/Epsilon); granted, that's less than a dozen people. That said, k-fish came in on "Epsilon" and yet hung around for at least the start of "T&T Book 3", commenting on both stories. Similarly, I know of one person who followed me from Personified Math over to T&T (and I named Julie's psychiatrist "Doc Golden" after him, with permission). And while a single person in both instances doesn't seem like much, my readership is less than 20 people ("Epsilon" has never made it as high as 10 poll responses, and when "Time & Tied" gets over 4 votes on TWF it's a miracle), so a 5% retention rate is not terrible. Also, shoutout to Dustinus, a friend who seems to read all my stuff.

"Are your genres wildly, crazily different?" Yes... and no. You could probably fit it all into an urban fantasy box. But the casts couldn't be more different. "Time & Tied" is teenagers with a time machine and temporal powers, "Epsilon" is adults dealing with a multiverse that includes magic and whacky pop culture references, and "Math-Tans" is equations behaving a bit like people as they pun, riff on pop culture, and currently have an election cycle. Then again... Para (from Math) appears in Epsilon, as does Chartreuse (from T&T). Crossovers are a thing.

With all that said, I'm not even sure how to answer how I "organize it". Time management? Someone feel free to toss out a follow-up question. Final aside, ChrysKelly, I'm a bit curious as to whether your question comes from envisioning "Sanctioned" like multiple serials running at the same time.

No, Sanctioned is just one serial.

I have a completed steampunk novel set in 1912, about a 70 year old adventuress who goes on one last mission to save Britain (and the world) from eldritch evil. It's set against a background of war in heaven; there are angels, demons, magic revolvers, clockwork robots, steam-powered power armour, vampires, assassins, old enemies, new alliances, the threat of WW1, Aztec gods, ghosts, and a climactic finale on the Titanic. It's a little bit of a mess, but I was thinking of tidying it up and releasing it.

I have an 70% completed novel about a recently broken up couple who are summoned into an alternate version of Late Victorian London, people entirely by characters of existing novels, and have adventures trying to save that world. It has Dracula, Tarzan, Oliver Twist, Peter Pan, a T-Rex, Jekyll and Hyde, Mr Darcy, the Headless Horseman, Sherlock Holmes, the 3 spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and a whole load of other characters in it.

I have a 60% completed children's book about a homeless girl who teams up with an ugly, smelly goblin and a princess cursed to live inside a cabbage patch doll kid. They work together to stop an evil Santa who has been kidnapping bad kids and forcing them to make toys.

I have a 50% completed straight fantasy set in an ancient Minoan type civilisation, where the immortal empress unwittingly releashes demonic hordes into the world, and the pantheon's chosen warriors have to save the day.

I have a 40% completed contemporary LGBT zombie apocalypse story.

I have a planned but not written contemporary vampire horror/romance set in Alabama.

I have a 60% completed satirical comedy about a fantasy adventure quest filmed as a reality tv show (mirror show, they use magic mirrors), which is... well, I guess the only thing I can compare it to is Discworld, but it's quite a bit different from Discworld.

Umm, that's off the top of my head - I'd have to check my files to see what else is in there.

Anyway, the self-imposed series deadline is good for me, on Sanctioned. It might help me get some of these out, too.

I've already started working on releasing the second one as a series. The first 11 chapters are complete. Most of the rest of the chapters are almost complete - it was complete, but that file was corrupted and I've been putting it back together from different files and half found printouts, so there are chunks missing from all over but the main story is there. I want it completely finished before I start putting it out as a serial, though.

I could never do this. Finishing one serial is tough enough!

I'm looking at how long some serials last, and hating the idea that I can't work on anything else until this is done and that could be years. And Sanctioned probably takes about 5 or 6 hours out of my week, as long as I don't procrastinate. Any other serial will be finished before it starts being posted. It's doable :)

I ran two for a while.One updated tues, one friday, giving me time between. But id often run behind on one and get a buffer on the other..

Yeah, if you feel boxed in by having to write one thing at a time, I definitely recommend letting yourself write other things. Even if you don't think you can manage to keep up with two ongoing serials at once, you can still write bits of other stories and save them up until you have enough for publishing online.

Other than my two published projects, I have three more that I occasionally add a couple of paragraphs to. At the current rate of progress, it would probably take 8-10 years before I reach the end of them, but sometimes I'm in the mood to add to them and it makes me happy to do so. Since they're not published, I don't have any readers guilting me into working on them and it's quite relaxing to only do so when I'm in the mood.

I ran 2 daily serials for a couple months, which was a little nuts. But hey, I wanted to try it and it was cathartic so no complaints. One was the superhero serial I'd already been running for a year-ish, A BAD IDEA. The other was a LitRPG thing I published specifically for Royal Road, PIXEL COURAGE.

In my experience, it was very hard to keep up with both serials, and I did a lot of pre-writing. It also helped that PIXEL COURAGE was a short serial (50,000ish words).

My number one piece of advice would be to make sure your quote-unquote flagship series -- the ones your fans already like -- doesn't have its schedule interrupted because you're starting something new. That'll require pre-writing to figure out your pace when writing two serials, and also a careful assessment of your priorities. Sometimes the new thing shouldn't get all the attention, despite how much you might want to focus on it.

I didn't switch between the serials, and I'd recommend against that. If you've got the audience reading a serial, keep the schedule consistent so that they stay.

I'm hoping Drew Hayes responds to this thread; he's the most successful multiple-serial guy I can think of.

Well, in the past two days, I've posted my flagship serial (I write it as I go, no buffer) and fixed the first third of my next serial. It's mostly okay so far. Short installments, 400 - 900 words in total, probably about 60 installments, I reckon. Researched my nano novel (spent a good few hours poring over microfiche newspapers from 90 years ago, yesterday), read a few more chapters of Chrysalis' book two, and watched the last Luke Cage episode.

That's not a consistent speed, though, I unexpectedly had a couple of days off work, with absolutely nothing planned or needing doing.

I run a pair of serials, and have for ~2-3 years now. My strategy was to keep the prime serial, the one that folks originally came for, on the same posting schedule and add a day where the new one get's posted. As someone mentioned above, it's important not to undertake this if its going to negatively impact productivity for your prime serial. If the secondary one starts going up in place of the prime, readers may resent it for taking away from the thing they enjoyed. Positioning it as a bonus to the existing material, rather than an alternative, keeps that from being an issue.

Keeping a buffer on both can be trying at times, so I really recommend you go slow with the schedule of your second project. Start small, and if after a few weeks you feel like you can do more, then go for it. People are always happy to hear that something will be posting more, just as they're rarely happy to get told something's schedule is being slowed.

Like Billy said above, the rules of consistency are still in play. As the secondary serial grows, assuming it offers something the primary doesn't, more and more folks will enjoy and maybe even prefer that one. So you still want to keep it on schedule and avoid misses whenever possible.

All in all having a second serial can be a big boon to the site and readership, as it lets you explore different stories and genres before your main story is wrapped, but it's also a lot of work to add on to the already heavy taskload of a serial, so I'd advise anyone considering it to really make sure they've got the time and energy for it.

I can only ever focus on one thing at a time. Some of the stuff you guys are doing is simply amazing. My hat is off to you.

I'm trying for a second, I cut back posting on my first serial to two days a week from three and I'm trying to up my writing schedule from three days a week to four, then I can spend the extra time on my second story.

I don't know if it will actually become a serial yet, but it's a very different experience writing without the constant deadlines. I originally started writing a serial because I wanted that pressure to keep going, and it's worked really well. Now I need to translate that to writing steadily without the pressure.