Shop Talk

So I've had my website up for a month now, and my experience so far as been almost completely positive.


I've had around a dozen comments and a fair number of votes on top web fiction. I had some success getting people to comment and vote using a bonus chapter as a reward. Most people seem to like my writing as well. Obviously, the community here has been very supportive.


Stat wise I've had slightly over 5000 page views, and 1500 visitors. Looking through the stats for individual pages around 120 of those people have actually read through everything I have posted so far, which seems kinda low to me. Maybe I should work on my writing, lol?


My main sources of visitors are:

1.Reddit

2.WebFictionGuide/TopWebFiction

3.Aho

4.Various other Forums

5.Google

6.Facebook

7.TvTropes

8.Twitter


I have had no donations yet but I haven't really been trying for that yet. I've been more concerned with building up my readers and chapters first.


I just hired a artist to do some artwork for my site. I'll see if that helps improve visitor follow through and donations.Once I get my site completely set up I'll probably be experimenting with some fancy social media stuff to try and get more visitors because I think I'm pretty much maxing out my current sources.


Hmmm, that's about it. How are other authors here doing, and how do their experiences compare to mine?


"_"


I've had about 20 sessions this past month I've been up. Most of which are people I know. About 300 visits from bots which do not count. At least I hope they're bots or else my site is really damned with 95% of Viewers leaving it after about 10 Seconds. Nope, just looked deeper into it. 10 Visitors who didn't know my page before, most of which didn't look very far.

Damn, I really should get to advertising on Reddit and here. :o And polish it all a lot better.

Had no comments save for a friend of mine who keeps spellchecking (thanks, mate!).


But it seems you publish a lot more. Like about 8000 Words a week which is what I publish in three weeks to a month. I'm currently at chapter 5, which is due tomorrow, while you have 15 up.

The length of my chapters has been steadily growing from ca. 1500 to about 2500 after editing and so have a few notions about this whole thing. Like it very much, can keep it really steady now even though I'm having problems with other obligations. Which is nice.


Soooo...yeah, I'm not having anything near as many views or people as you, which I'm just chalking up do really lackluster advertising and polish on my part.

I would really not think these counts as low. Especially not for your first month if you aren't a veteran on his third webserial. :D I'm in the double digits, my follow through is at about

Even though I could be reading the whole thing wrong since google analytics is still a bitch for me to get used to.


However: I have no noteworthy social media as of yet and don't use bonus chapters and my page is...dunno. A little mess sometimes.


Congrats btw. :)


I'm doing pretty good. My new chapters get about a total of 180-200 hits in their first couple days, then drop down to a slower trickle. I get decent enough reader interaction... some chapters inspire really long discussions...


And the first story nears its completion, which is exciting as hell.


My goodness! What's your traffic difference between WFG and Reddit? And have you broken Reddit down by sub?


They're mostly from the web translation sub but I haven't gotten around to posting in some genre specific or writing subs yet.


Congratulations! I really don't understand how people can do that - how do you convince yourself your work is good enough to inflict on other people? I always feel like self-advertisement would be obnoxious and self-important of me, because surely word-of-mouth would be adequate if the work was good enough, right?


I appear to get around five regular visitors each update, and maybe one or two in the days after that. Primarily from Facebook, and one or two from WFG I think.

Having been at this for about three months now, knowing the bulk of my readership are close friends (such that I cannot shake the feeling they're keeping up out of a sense of obligation), I've been considering scrapping the whole thing as a lost cause and moving on to another project.

But I feel that way about life in general so I expect I should just finish the damn thing and move on. Maybe post-completion editing will garner more attention. Mathtans' criticism has certainly been the most useful commentary I've received since I was twenty or so and I'm enthused to implement some of the results.


@Grey: I read your stuff awhile back and liked it. I really wouldn't say it was worse or less deserving of promotion than mine. If you want to keep writing then you should. If you want lots of readers then you should try some self promotion. There places on reddit and other forums created just so people can post links and synopsis to their writing.


Since June 22nd, 2014:


137'000 views - currently about 10K per month, and December is showing a daily average of 374 so far. Most come from TWF, WFG and google searches - I don't really advertise, though I dropped the link on two roleplaying communities that I'm active in. Editing the earlier arcs has definitely helped in improving reader retention. My earliest versions were close to unreadable - Tana knows, I made him read some of the first drafts before I launched the serial. :P


450K words, 87 posts and not a single missed update so far.


I'd say my greatest accomplishment is seeing how much my writing has improved since the early beginnings. I had one chapter that a reader ranked within their top 10 of favorite chapters ever (including Wildbow's), and reading that comment was a very special moment for me. You can't get that kind of learning experience from reading books about writing - you have to actually do it, and writing web fiction is the best possible option for getting started. It is to me, anyway.


The first 2 books are getting published sometime next year. I'm so proud of the cover! Look at how purdy it is...


http://i58.tinypic.com/28b8n78.jpg


((Edit: June 22nd, not January. Oops))


That is a really pretty cover indeed.


In November of 2007, I started my serial. During the first month, I had a total of 23 unique visitors, 72 sessions, and 183 pageviews for the month. This was, it's worth noting, before there were any web fiction directories, and thus there was practically no way to find me. The second month was better. The first web directory opened (Pages Unbound). That month I had 281 sessions, 123 unique visitors, and 966 pageviews.


Last month (November 2015), I had 13,015 sessions, 2716 unique visitors, and 61,676 pageviews. It was actually a slow month last month for some reason. It was still an improvement over the first year though. Also, for what it's worth, there have been 2,716,664 pageviews since the serial began.


I think that's an excellent argument for continuing for a while. The last three years out of the total eight account for 2 million of the 2.7 million pageviews.


Hrmm. I honestly feel a bit like smacking my head into a wall. But okay, my inner self says let's do this, so maybe others feel better about themselves. Context? I've been writing for over 15 years and once won the grand prize of a fanfic contest (after which I became a judge).


-My first online serial (personified math) began July 2011, on Google sites. Not much publicity. After six months, I'd get about 5 hits on an entry. I'd had two comments. Eventually I migrated it to Blogger and when it ended in May 2014 I was getting about 30 hits on an entry. Comments were very rare.


-My current SERIAL SITE began Sept 2014, on Wordpress. In the first month I had 155 views over 4 parts. Publicity was all through social media, not on WFG.


-My current SERIAL (Time & Tied) began April 2014 on that same site. Publicized through social media, and finally listed here in WFG, and it got a review by Billy Higgins. I have had ONE comment through 36 entries. One. I get 3-5 hits on an update post. Yeah, I'm doing worse NOW than I EVER did. The only reason I got over 100 hits total in November was because of my "Optimizing" thread here. (That traffic has petered out, I was back to 0 hits on Nov 26th.) I guess it's because I'm not a "review swap" kind of guy.


Anyway. It can always get worse. If you have more than two friends willing to read your stuff, cool. Apologies if I sound bitter. Oh, and Grey - glad you're finding my commentary useful! Do keep at it!


@Mathtans I advertise. Five dollars a month through Project Wonderful produces a slow trickle of new people. I should probably do more advertising than that.


You write well enough that you should get more readers than you are. One can always get better, of course, but I wonder if there are people doing stuff similar enough to yours that you could co-promote?


Twig (my third work) is doing fairly well, with lower overall numbers than even Pact (which had a worse reception), but a better response from the readers that are checking it out. I've stopped looking at stats and started looking at income levels as a metric for success. It was enticing to use stats when I was writing Worm and each month seemed to show steady progress, whether it was a 1% or 50% growth in audience size. Pact and Twig, however, have maintained fairly steady audience sizes, growing only inasmuch as there are more chapters to read.


Income, meanwhile, is rising with the same general pattern that Worm's stats did. No 50% bounds, but a steady growth that feels like it's in line with the work being put in. It's hard to voice just why that's important, but I think Pact was a very frustrating experience because I knew I wasn't putting out my best work, I didn't see that steady progress and growth, and it felt like I was treading water in more ways than one. One can only tread water for so long before they get tired and their head goes under - and I've had a growing amount of sympathy for the content creators out there who've buckled under the pressure of the audience, particularly the negative side of that audience. Having the income to look to and know I'm making headway in things has given me a better perspective, even if it's not much income compared to my 30-ish peers in the workforce.


Meanwhile, Worm passed 20 million views (21 million, actually), and just got a mention on /r/books, which brought in enough readers that it beat the day Worm ended, at 69,629 views in one day (the day Worm ended in November 2013, I had 60,906). I'm talking to an agent, someone with experience working with people with names people should/would recognize, and haven't committed 100% to taking a trad pub deal, but am definitely leaving that door open, in case an amazing offer comes in.


Remaining hopeful for the future.


Thanks everyone for sharing your own insights. It's very interesting to read about different web serials and compare them.


I'm very surprised that some of you get so few visits to your sites, and that I get so many in comparison. I must be doing something right. I wish I knew what it was though.


It's also interesting to see how some of the more established serials are doing. hopefully I make it there some day.


@Wildbow: Wow, I hope you get a good publishing deal. I've always thought that it was a shame Worm didn't get more publicity than it does.


Stat wise, in almost exactly one year of publishing weekly, From Winter's Ashes has had 13500 page views and 3330 unique visitors (according to the metrics provided by WordPress).


The best month I've had so far was October of 2015, where a combination of reviews and promotional pushes (and a fifth weekend) pushed the visitor count to 600, and the views count to just shy of 3000.


If I deduct the extra post that month, November slightly edges it out, with 2500 views and 500 visitors.


I have one regular Patreon supporter, and no other donations yet. That's tremendously frustrating.


Shop talk: I'm at a loss here, folks. I knew it would be slow going, but at this point my only hope at even recouping my hosting costs for the Wordpress is to publish an eBook of FWA and hope like hell it pays for itself. Any suggestions? What, if anything, am I doing wrong? Is twice-weekly updates the secret to success and driving eyes (and wallets) to the site? If you were me, would you split 4-7k chapters into two parts and publish twice a week?


Patrick, I highly respect the quality of your writing and I hope you're even willing to listen to me after that one rant I made about your donation incentives (sorry!), so here's my two cents. I'm no one special, but I think I know the web fiction community a bit - and I spent months doing research on self publishing.


I believe you came into this community with the wrong expectations. Web fiction is not the right platform for the goal of making money, and while Wildbow was very successful doing it, he's a rare exception. People read web fiction because it's free, and they're generally not prepared or willing to pay for something that's readily available at no cost whatsoever. The general opinion is that web fiction authors write for the joy of writing and sharing their works with the world. Wildbow won his fans over by asking for very small donations (his first incentive was a bonus chapter for 25$, I believe) after providing a tremendously large amount of story. He was endearingly surprised and excited to get those first small donations, and I think many of his fans like him as much as they like his stories.


I read your opening chapter a while back and noticed a 'please consider donating' pledge right at the bottom of that story opener. That was maybe a little off-putting to the average reader. Thing is, there's an unwritten rule that says 'The best time to add a donation button is when a reader asks where the donation button is.' :) There's also some luck involved - some stories never really take off, despite being very well written and enjoyable.


But I believe you could do very well with an ebook. Unlike most of us, you might not even need an editor - just a good cover and an initial push to become visible on Amazon's genre lists. I know a bit about how it all works (and how Amazon's algorithms tick), so if you ever want some more specific advice for an ebook launch, let me know!


Well obviously I'm not the most experienced writer here but I'll point out a few things for you. This is something I've been talking to some friends in the web marketing business about for a while now.


Site Design: Your homepage is your store front. It needs to be flashy and attractive to lure people in. The sad truth is that without something flashy to draw their attention a lot of people will just leave without reading. They equate the quality of your site with the quality of your writing. Stupid, but true. Your homepage appears to be a table of contents page, with another table of contents on it?


If your going to use a static front page I would suggest making it an intro page with a synopsis at the top. More art wouldn't hurt. Especially for donation buttons. I'm paying a guy to make me a custom flashy donation button right now.


Compare your book cover with Chrysalis'.


For your serial I would suggest posting at:

https://www.reddit.com/r/noveltranslations/

http://forum.novelupdates.com/forums/original-compositions.1016/


The above should get you a few more views monthly anyway.


Your patreon account could use some work. Your doing it by chapter so even a dollar should get a substantial reward. I would suggest giving 1$ patreons access to chapters in advance, and making this very clear. When someone reaches the last chapter this should be shoved in their face, so they feel compelled to sign up. If only your most hardcore readers sign up it will still be way more than you are getting now.


I hope this helps.


My book cover is actually not in any prominent location on the site, though maybe I should change that. I think the importance of site design is a bit overrated for web fiction. Readers will stick around for the words, not the pretty art. They just need to be able to read the text and navigate easily.


Wizard's first rule. If they're sticking around to read your stuff at all you've already won. The point of the site design is to get them to stick around and read in the first place. A lot of people who see a badly designed website will leave without reading. I wish quality writing was all it took but I don't think that's the case. You need to get them excited before they even start reading.


Also people are lazy. They might not be against donating but they might consider it too much work. Thus you have to motivate them.


Patrick: One year in I had twice as many page views, but I also updated twice a week, so what you've got seems reasonable for a first year serial. If you change to a twice weekly schedule, you'll probably up your pageviews at the expense of irritating a few of your current fans since you wouldn't be giving them more content, just more cliffhangers.


My personal theory was that updating twice per week makes people check in more often, making them less likely to forget about the serial. If you find that reader retention is an issue, you might try twice weekly updates, but otherwise I wouldn't.


Personally I didn't even put up a donation button till three years in. If you really want to monetize immediately, I'd go with an ebook. Most people find that it's easier to earn money from ebook than their serial, but my experience is that already having a serial audience helps immensely.