Please help this poor New (Wannabe)Author

Ok, so I'm brand new to the writing scene, so brand new I'm practically 0 in author years. I have zero experience of how to start a web serial, so any tips would be helpful. ANY TIPS! Especially anything to do with gaining any exposure and starting a website. Thank y'all in advance.

If you're zero years in experience, then my tip would be make sure you're producing something of quality, before looking for people to read it. You'll get a bad rep, or next to no publicity, and then even if you improve, it might be hard to find people. I'm pretty sure you'd know that, but I just thought I'd throw that out. Read and reread your chapters, and don't publish until you know the good, the bad, and the ugly of your talent. I don't know what your genre is, so that's as much on that as I can give.

I use free wordpress, as do more prolific writers. It's nothing super fancy, but it's more than adequate if you put the time in to find the right theme and such. Beyond that, I would suggest the paid, which you'll need a host for, but will get your own domain name, better themes, and all the plugins you want, for google analytics and somesuch.

People will come, and word of mouth is especially important. As far as I understand it, real publicity is a matter beyond our control. All you can do is present the best work you can, and bring it up to people without looking like you're selling yourself.

Have fun, be exceptional, and I wish you luck.

- Shaeor

Take your best idea and write as much as you can. 100,000 words, 200,000, 500,000, whatever it takes until you run out of steam.

And then file it all away and start on something else. To paraphrase one of my old professors, who I rarely agreed with on anything but this, "your first million words will suck".

When it comes to writing a serial, I'd suggest plotting out some ideas and writing a full draft of the first novel or story arc (or however you plan to do things). Leave it for a month or six - however long it takes to grow some form of detachment from it (or however long you can afford to wait) - then read it over and start making notes on all the things you need to develop and/or research. Use all this to build up a second draft, and keep working until you have something you're happy with. Also, keep a note of how long it takes you to reach this point and use that to decide your schedule. If it takes you a year to finish 100,000 words and you want a weekly release, you know you should be aiming at instalments of around 2,000 words. This might, in turn, force another rewrite, or at least a rejig, as you adapt the story to fit the schedule, but, as with all the above, it will save you effort in the long run ;)

Once you've done all that, you should, hopefully, have a decent backlog of finished (or near-finished) instalments to start releasing while working on the next batch.

Don't, at any point, start worrying about readership figures. In the end, no matter how much you try to shill it elsewhere, it will be word of mouth that brings people in (which is another reason to do all the above, so you can make sure it's up to standard). And it's always worth remembering that the average book only sells about 2,000 copies, which means that, to balance out all the million-sellers, there are books that struggle to sell in the hundreds. If you can crack the four-figure readership barrier, you'll be doing better than most people!

^My personal, shortened, list of advise:

1. Do not attach your self value or worth to readership figures.

2. Seriously, don't. Readership is like the favour of a goddess: Fickle and never taken by force.

3. Do not write off other avenues of publicity completely. Word of Mouth may be the important part but you need at least one mouth to tell the tale. Might as well be yours.

4. Have a backlog. A big one. Everybody burns through his quicker than anticipated.

5. Scale down expectations. Expecially yours.

6. Write with your heart. You're going to spend a lot of time with that project. Love it.

7. Savour the little victories. I currently live on the bones and scraps other authors throw at me.

8. Never skip a deadline. Don't cheat on your lover.

9. Keep a tidy workspace. Know where your posts are and where they should go (Categories, Tags, Characterlists etc.)

10. Never go for the cheap jokes. You are better than that.

And I completely sign everything Dary said. :)

Hey there, and welcome.

My main piece of advice would be to write something you know you will enjoy writing, and won't lose interest in.

I would also suggest you prepare thoroughly before starting to release your work. Have your story plotted out and your first few chapters complete before posting any of them. When you've completed your first dozen or so chapters, get feedback, and then go back and edit them.

This will give you time to develop your style and figure out what to do with your story. It will also give you a buffer of unreleased chapters, which is great to have. I don't know what I'd do without mine. While you're writing try to develop a schedule and stick to it, so you know how much you can write per week.

You can worry about exposure and readership once you have have your website up, and the first few chapters released. This will take more time than you think it will.

Personally, I'm always trying to increase my viewership.There's no secret to getting exposure; it's something you just have to keep working at. Readers like a professional looking website, and steady updates. Getting high on the TopWebFiction list will also help a lot, and you can post on places like RRL, Wattpad, and other forums.

Hello GeneralWincewind,

I haven't been active in these forums but for a minute or two, but I've been writing a serial long enough to have learned a thing or two. Along with the great advice already mentioned in the previous responses, just keep in mind that a serial novel is not the same as writing a novel behind the scenes. Writing a novel is at your pace and you are the only one affected. But once you start posting a serial and people discover it, you will have a new commitment to your readership. The last thing you want to do is get folks invested in your serial and than find out you bit off more than you can chew. just make sure your story idea is sound and that you are indeed committed to writing it before you ask others to commit to reading it.

Ah thanks guys/gals, mucho help. It's appreciated. But I have just one question? Is there a place I can just get some-one to read my first drafts, because I know that reading your work yourself isn't a good way to learn, it's really helpful to just have some-one else just review. Thx in advance guys. ;)

Oh and Shaeor, my planned genre will be Urban Fantasy, Revenge storyline. And Tintenteufel, I have to make cheap jokes, I haven't leveled up my comedy skill enough for other jokes ;)

If you're doing an urban fantasy, then the folks over at /r/fantasywriters ( are, in my experience, pretty nice for critiques (although, my experience was a little under two years ago, so things may have changed). As for the cheap jokes? If you're gonna go that route, commit. Go all out with the shittyness of the jokes, because more often than not, there's more humor in that than half-assing your comedy. And Teufel definitely hit the nail on the head; do not miss an update. Even if no-one's reading, or even if it's just your mom. Keeping yourself to a schedule is the best thing you can do.

Good luck, and, more importantly, have fun! If you ain't, what's even the point?

seconding r/fantasywriters. It's pretty great!

Good luck and have fun. :)

I'd advise waiting until the second draft before you let anyone read it. Keep the first draft raw. Otherwise you end up worrying about mistakes and what people might think of it.

Urban Fantasy is a goody. I've never been much for the whole 'multiple drafts' thing. I write the thing once and then re-edit the crap out of it, once it's done. I would suggest having one reader at any time, be it your mom or anyone that you communicate well with, just to glance over it first. I do think you should worry about what people think, because if they think it's stupid, you ought to know before continuing forward.

Number one piece of advice for an Urban Fantasy author would be, 'know your story's mood'. If you're going for magical realism, or Noir, make sure your readers feel consistency of ambiance. If your revenge plot is emotionally complex, put a limit on the jokes just as a buffer to the tension. Everything in moderation. Simply think about what you want, and how to achieve it. I find that writing is mostly a mental exercise - not just a typathon. Don't stare at a blank screen, know what you're doing first.

This is all my personal opinion of course, other people write other ways, and I don't yet have the credentials to wave around as proof my way is any good. So take it with a grain of salt if you like.

Thx knifleman for the link, posted my first chapter on that subreddit, but since I have last used reddit two years ago I have no idea how to check if other people can actually see, so any advice there? And dude, it's not knifle, its gunsword! Get your Final Fantasy lore RIGHT! ;)

I'm pretty sure editing is drafting! Once you've all the edits you wanted to do on draft 1, it's draft 2. And so on :)

I edit the heck out of my story, too... es someone whose first language isn't English, I have to. I think the first chapter alone has seen somewhere between 15-20 rounds of editing, sometimes days apart - or weeks or months apart.

The lines between redraft and revision can definitely blur. I used to write all my first drafts by hand, since it removed the ability to go back and delete/rewrite sections. Typing them up would constitute the second draft. These days I've trained myself enough that I can get straight into the typing. I just print it out double-spaced and make notes, before retyping into a clean document. The proverbial third draft (be it the third or the fifth or the tenth) is for focusing on the details.

The problem with putting all the effort into a single first draft (from personal experience, and what I've seen from others) is that, when you look back, you realise you wasted tens of hours perfecting a scene or a chapter you either have to rework or outright scrap. It's akin to drawing a portrait one feature at a time, perfecting it before moving on to the next. Sure, those eyes look amazing ... but why is one of them where the mouth should be?! Because you were so focused on getting every little detail right that you forgot the big picture ;) Better to sketch everything out until you're sure of the composition, *then* start with the detail.

The other advantage with multiple drafts is that things like theme, symbolism and sub-plot don't emerge straight away. I didn't notice I was writing about "identity" and "truth" for several years. Once I realised that, however, it helped pull the overall narrative together.

Yeah, but how do you know what is wrong in the first draft?

By writing many words and looking back at your first chapters a few months later. The additional writing experience will help you spot issues you hadn't seen before.

It's a rare writer who looks at their work, be it first draft or final, and doesn't think "there's something wrong with this".

I'm going to toss out a thought that hasn't been mentioned yet - fanfic. Granted, you can't post fanfic here (and even settings/races can count towards that category), plus I'm not sure how it would work as a serial... but it's got a couple advantages.

First, if you haven't done much writing before, it means you're not starting completely from scratch, which might be a bit daunting. Second, there's usually fandom forums out there where people might be interested in reading your work and offering feedback (note some of which should be taken with a grain of salt). Finally, in the same vein, you can see how others are writing in that genre by reading their stories, thus getting a sense of what does and doesn't work for your own efforts. The majority of my early work was fanfic, eventually I even won some awards for it at conventions. Of course, this was 15 years ago, and the playing field has changed a lot since then; someone correct me if my information is massively dated.

As far as knowing what's wrong in the first draft? It's something that mostly comes with experience. Though as was said, it helps to set it aside for a few days (or months), then return. Consider also any plot threads that seem to lead nowhere, and expunge them - or tie them up properly. And make sure you know why people are acting the way they do, even if it's something they don't tell the audience. (Why is person X dating person Y not person Z?) Best with it!

But for me a story is inseparably tied to its prose, which is unique to each author, I feel that writing my own fanfiction would spoil that feeling.