Parallel Serials, No Waiting

Over in the "Success over Time" thread, one of the things that came up was the possible benefit of staggering serials. (As Billy Higgins put it, "If you're writing a four year serial, you start a second serial halfway through.") Effectively having two going on at once, so that when the first one ends, you still have an audience reading the other. Possibly it keeps an income balanced, possibly it means you don't lose people who would otherwise not to follow you to your next project.

Has anyone tried this? Any thoughts behind "It's hard"?

In particular, how much of an addition to workload do you think it would be? (It's not quite as simple as splitting your 2,000 words on one update into 1,000 on two updates.) Would you need two separate sites? (Assuming you're not going through Wattpad or something.) Would it actually be beneficial in the ways mentioned above? I'm considering it, given that my present time travel serial only needs edits and illustrating (it was written previously), thus I could trigger something else in parallel.

I'll be honest, I haven't seen very many instances of parallel projects working. It'll be a fun experiment, though, and you seem like a great guinea pig, since the base of your first one is already written. Try it, and report on your findings! Do a science!

That sounds like something that would be incredibly easy to drop. While a good idea in principle to ease the transition for the readers and hopefully retain more, it is likely more work than it is worth.

I know an author who is doing parallel books, twin books told from different perspectives. He is worried he may have bitten off more than he can chew, but that is a different thing to this. Just the closest I could think of.

I tend to restrict myself to one serial at a time so that I can give myself clear priority and focus. I usually have a couple of projects running at once; the serial is the only one that is time-bound, so the other stuff is always secondary to getting the serial up. This is mostly because I have a lot of competing factors in my life and, quite a lot of the time, keeping up with one serial is hard work. :(

I really, really like the idea of overlapping serials to transition readership over. I wish I was able to do that! I think the first half/second half overlap idea is ambitious, and reliant on having a really clear idea of when a serial is going to end. Seeing as Starwalker has been running 5 years and counting, I don't think that's entirely feasible for me. For shorter, more heavily-planned projects, sure!

One of the big problems that people face when they try to juggle two serials is that they make things too similar. The genres are often different, yes. But the schedule and length of each post mirror each other.

I think something like a 500-words-or-less three-day-a-week serial combined with a weekly serial -- or maybe even a monthly serial -- might prove more effective.

@BillyHiggins - Is that schedule for the readers' benefit or for the writer's?

Writer's, mainly. I'm not sure there is a schedule "for the reader's benefit," since all readers are different, you know?

So there are readers who are looking for the immersion that comes from long and frequent posts. But then there are the readers who want things a bit shorter, frothier, and all around more gag comic-ish (that's where I got the short, three-day-a-week schedule idea from: webcomics). Then there are readers who want long, immersive posts, but who may not have the time to read such posts more than once a week -- or even once a month.

Not many people read web serials right now, which means that we might come to the conclusion that web readers are looking for a very specific thing. But I think it'd be a mistake to ignore certain types of scheduling. Diversity is almost always better for a medium.

I'm currently doing two serials. Both get updated once a week with 1000 or so words currently, and I have two more planned to start when these end. It's not too bad writing-wise for me. I'm not sure what my reader think, but none of them have expressed displeasure at me writing two. I do hope it means I will be able to retain more readers when I switch over to a new serial.

one of my issues has been that I get a LOT of ideas, and can crank out some stuff for one, then have a tendency to lose focus as new ideas come in, then eventually revisit the old. drives me NUTS, and my readers more so.

After a discussion about Jukepop and the fact that the mass collection of stories and bookshelf update notification system makes the readers there much less likely to dump a serial, because its a single place that still has new stuff every day, I had a thought. That was part of my idea a decade ago for Dream Fantastic, to have so many serials that there was always an update. and I think.. I could do it myself. Run 5-10 serials, just, one update maybe two a week. Bounce from serial to serial, both at my whim, and at the vote (cough cough dollar) of the readers. Its... stupid... but I'm considering it.

Technically I've been running 2 serial for over a year now. Though the second, Corpies, is a spin-off of Super

Powereds, it still requires the time and scheduling efforts that it would if it were a fresh project. Running it is actually how I got the idea to launch my next one while Year 4 is going, but that won't be for a while yet.

As to how tough it is, I think once you've been doing serial for a while you have a pretty good idea of what's sustainable for you. I was able to do 2k minimum on SP every week for years without having to skip, and when I went full-time author that meant more time, which allowed me to up my output, thus the extra 1000 words in the form of Corpies. Without a life change, making the switch would have been harder. By now I think we all write at our sustainable capacity, so adding even an extra 1k words a week means they'll have to come from somewhere, be it another project or a piece of life outside writing.

I'd definitely caution against using two different sites, as the main goal is to have your current readers exposed to, and hopefully interested in, this new story, so having it as close to the original web-serial makes that far easier.

Yeah, I do this. The Points Between and Curveball are both theoretically active serials, but TPB has languished a bit.

I could pull it off if I were better at time management. that's a skill I'm working towards.

But it is haaaaaaaaaaaard.