What should I do?

Hey guys, so when I started writing Fooled everything was a-OK, but since then both my mother and grandmother have had some serious medical issues which have, obviously, taken my time away from illustrating my story, even though the story itself is complete. As a result the weekly installments have been delayed. I feel bad leaving readers in the lurch, but at the same time I know that I am way too scatterbrained right now to produce illustrations that are of any quality. So I was wanting to get your opinions on what I should do to proceed. Should I:

a) Update sporadically with illustrations, or

b) Update regularly without illustrations (and add them in when I have the time to work on them)

I'd appreciate the input, thanks!

Update regularly without illustrations.

Boom, you're welcome, problem solved.

(Seriously, I'd make a post telling readers that the pics are going to stop for a while for personal reasons, but that you'll go back and add them later.)

While I am new to this websereal world, here is my advice. Family comes first. Post a note that you are taking some time to deal with famy issues. People will understand.

What wise man Billy said. Sorry to hear about your issues. :(

Billy is right. Yeah, I don't say that everyday. But better to have the story than for it to fall out of regular updates, some stories never recover from that.

At times like these I repeat the serialist mantra, 'Consistency is king'. You will lose FAR less readers (maybe even none, tbh) regularly releasing something, anything, than you will waiting until conditions are ideal and releasing sporadically because of it.

I am also very sorry to hear about your and your family's medical issues, I hope that everything turns out for you alright.

I'm really sorry to hear about your family. Hope everything turns out okay.

As far as the serial goes: if those are the two options then I would definitely throw in with the "Post without illustrations" camp. Aside from the story itself, there is almost nothing more important than consistently posting. They come back regularly when new content is supposed to arrive, hopefully becoming a part of their daily routine. When that content stops, the trust with your readers is broken, and people stop coming regularly. Family comes first, and if you have to take a break that's part of life, but if you have the option to keep posting regularly I'd say it's the better call for the serial, long-term.

I'm going to be a little bit of an outlier here.

The advice you're getting from everyone else is probably the right advice. Chances are, it's better to do the "post regularly without graphics" thing in the long run, in order to keep your audience. Because if you post irregularly, your audience will suffer.

That said...

You need to decide, first, what the most important thing is for you, personally, to keep the project going. By that I mean: if you believe, fully and completely, that the illustrations are a necessary component to the entire composition, and that what you're trying to create will be incomplete without them, then you need to figure out if the project can survive being incomplete during the time you're working in "degraded mode." Some projects can, some can't. For example, the webcomic "Erfworld" -- Rob Balder (the writer) had long stretches where the artist wasn't available to move the story forward, so he would alternate the comic with prose to make sure there was a more steady stream of content for his audience. His prose turned out to be rather popular, so his "degraded mode" strategy is now officially part of his process.

On the other end is Aaron Diaz, who does Dresden Kodak. He updates once in a blue moon, because the pictures are ready when they're ready. Degraded mode doesn't work for him.

Basically choose the right "degraded mode" and be aware of the results. Choose the one that you know will keep you going. Tactically, in terms of keeping your audience, posts-without-pictures is best choice. But that may not be the choice that keeps YOU motivated to continue, and you may find that the cost of continuing is slowing down your updates and losing parts of your audience.

All that aside, Billy's advice (and everyone else's in this thread) is probably the right way to go. Just be sure it's the thing that'll keep YOU going.

Thanks for the advice everyone, I feel like the illustrations have been less of a draw for new readers than I originally thought they would be, just more of a bonus for the folks who are there to read the story. So I am going to post the story updates without illustrations for now. I went ahead and queued all of the remaining updates last night so the story will run on schedule in case calamity ensues!

Random aside from someone else who does illustrations with their serial writing: Thanks, in the back of my mind, I have wondered about this too.

Though that was also a good point about the "degraded mode"; I suspect if it were me, I might put in a piece of clip art, or a random head shot that would bother me enough to want to replace it later on when I had time. Again, that's me, and I'm not other people. I might even disagree with myself here a few months down the line.

Glad you could reach a decision. One thing you should do is put a little apology about the lack of pictures, and say that you'll begin putting them up when things have calmed down. That way readers who really liked the illustrations will cut you some slack.

Speaking as someone who's just coming back from going the HIGHLY sporadic post route, and for a far less worthy reason, it's a bad thing. Commenters have been sympathetic and understanding but there's also a lot fewer of them. Depending on how important maintaining your readership is to you, consistency really does matter.

What Chris said. If the illustrations help you with writing, and you think the writing will suffer AT ALL if you don't do the illustrations, then go slower with the illustrations.