When to Post a Chapter

Good Evening Everyone,

I've been thinking for awhile regarding how many times a month I should post chapters for Arcana Magi. Right now I am posting 3 times a month. But is it good enough?

I don't want to post too much or my readers won't keep up and get overwhelemd. Also I need time to make each chapter grammatically and storytellingly [Is that a word? :) ] good. But I don't want to post too little or my readers will not want to wait for the next chapter, and move on to other stories.

What's the best way to approach this?


H-M Brown

Once per week or fortnight will do. But that depends on the length of the chapters themselves. If it is short (like less that 500 words), 2-3 days would be fine but if it is around 2000 or more words more than once per week is not a good thing. This is assuming that people read a few thousand words in one go.

As often as you can keep up a regular pace. "People won't read more than [x] in a sitting" is a load of rubbish and why people continue to suggest it is beyond me. The important thing is to maintain the regular schedule. Make sure people know when you're posting and don't disappoint them.

I'm with Dary....I hate checking for a chapter and not getting one.

The idea that people won't read more than x words at a sitting comes from the Blogosphere mostly.

The fact is a lot of people do not like having to scroll down more than a couple of times. However, it needs to be asked if the people who can't be bothered to scroll are likely to be among our readers anyway.

On Dragon Wars I'm posting a short chapterlet (averages about 1000 words a part) twice a week. When I start posting my other story Haventon Chronicles it'll be a full chapter once a week, or possibly once a fortnight (depending how much buffer I build up first).

I think you know you're at a good pace when people are begging you to post sooner. Whatever you do, never give in to that. People think they want the instant gratification, but subconsciously, they love the waiting. (Or at least, I think they do. Maybe I'm just sadistic.)

The fact is a lot of people do not like having to scroll down more than a couple of times. However, it needs to be asked if the people who can't be bothered to scroll are likely to be among our readers anyway.

But what has that got to do with an update's word count? Who said the entire thing has to be posted on one page? I release anywhere from 3,000 to 9,000 words a week, but they're spread across pages of around 5-800 words. Mean less scrolling, less intimidating blocks of text, and makes it easier for a reader to take a break when they want.

With regards to text size and scrolling. I have been writing my chapters at a minimum 2500 words. That's for reasons aside from the fabled "People won't read more than [x] in a sitting."

1) Fictionaut has an option in each story post to allow people to read the story in PDF Format. If you click on it, PDF makes the story look cleaner and professional. I highly recommended it to anyone who enters my Group Page. But one of the things PDF does is increase the page size. Let me put it like. On my Word Doc each chapter of Arcana Magi average 6 pages, once I post it up on Fictionaut and you view it in PDF Format, it stretches out to 12 to 15 pages. If I wrote my chapters at my usual 10 page minimum on Word Doc, the pages would stretch out to over 20 pages. And believe me there are people on Fictionaut who have shared dismay over reading 2500 pages. There is also a second option where you don't have to read in PDF format but you can change the Font Size of the text to reduce the size of the web page. Both options sit right at the top of the title on every story's page.

So there really is no excuse to not read past 2500 words on Fictionaut if there are options to make a person's reading experience more convenient(SP?). That and the fact that no one is forcing readers to sit through one reading for any story. You don't see J.K. Rowling telling everyone to read Harry Potter in one sitting. I would have said Shakespeare, but someone would point out that he's dead. ;)

2) Another reason is that sometimes Fictionaut cuts off the last paragraphs of a 7000 word story after a copy/paste. It has to due with font capability more than anything but its very annoying. I went though it once and it drove me mad. I had to type it directly onto website which meant I may have made more new grammatical errors after having removed them the first time around,

As for my posting time. I think I will post 4 times a month starting in March. From what I could tell on the calendar, there would be a one week rest period between the transitioning months. This would give readers a chance to catch up if needed and not feel rushed. And I can still take my time to get everything in order before the next postings.

Thanks for the advice everyone.

My chapters seem to be between 4-6,000 words, but I'm trying to restrict my posts to about 1,000 words once a week, simply because that's about the amount I feel comfortable reading.

As everyone else says, and with everything else in writing 'it depends'!

I forget something: One's reading habit varies greatly so you should write and post in a consistent pace that you can handle accidents that prevent you from writing. Web things require more discipline than it sounds.

Whenever you want, is my advice. I usually do about 3000 words once a month, and I'm just now experimenting with breaking it up into multiple pages. I don't think that posting frequency really matters as not enough people read webfic to really complain about a particular site in most cases.

Well it feels like there are a lot of people reading webfic. Then again Webfic is still an uncharted medium. Granted I could just let the chips fall where they lie and see what happens. But I definitely want to stay consistent with my postings and not lose any readers I earned due to a waiting period. The discipline is very demanding when you have no editor or editorial support.

I think a lot (and by lot, I mean "overwhelming majority") of webfic writers are like the guy who waves the rattle, claiming that it scares off elephants. As the old joke goes, no elephants are native to the area he lives in, but in his mind, that means that the rattle is working.

Be consistent, and warn people if you're going to change your schedule or won't be able to make it on a certain day. People make a habit of visiting every now and then, but if they don't know when to expect new things they don't make it a habit. And once the habit's not there, the reader isn't there.

Peacock King was two 2000+ word chapters a week, until last December when I finally realized I had to slow down or get worn out. I warned readers, and now it's 2,000+ words a week, one chapter a week. When it was twice a week I had a schedule to post on Tuesdays and Fridays (before that it was Wednesdays and Saturdays), now it's a chapter every Friday. Site stats show readers pour in on update days more than they do on any other day, so a substantial amount of people are showing up for the most recent update. They're the die-hards, usually - don't disappoint your die-hards. They stick by you through thick and thin, and they're the most likely to comment. (We also get more comments on the most recent chapter than we do on sporadic backlog chapters. Most people who comment are basically doing the "what happens next?" dance.)

Readers have been increasing slowly but steadily. It takes work and patience to grow.

I hate to go off topic but I have to know. How do you guys get those links at the bottome of each of your posts? I would love to do that.

Back on topic. One of the disadvantages I have at Fictionaut is lack of comments from readers. This is due to a few factors.

1) People can only post comments if they are Fictionaut members.

2) In order for me to get any more comments, I have to post my story in the other Group Sections. Which I did not want to do because I did not want to flood Group Sections with every chapter I post. This is due to a little problem with people posting stories on the web's front page, but that's another story.

3) Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror is a big minority there. When I joined in last year, there was at least 5 to 7 stories posted under those three genres. And if I remember correctly Fictionaut launched in 2008. So I don't know how many members themselves are into Fantasy outside of two people. Yeah it's rough.

I don't know if not having comments is a good thing or a bad thing, but it appears that all I can do at this point, is have faith in my readers out there, stick to my schedule, and definitely not disappoint them.

my 2 cents:

As a reader, I prefer shorter more frequent posts to long less frequent ones. Easier to keep up with the story and remember what's going on that way. About ten minutes worth of reading two or three times a week, is about ideal; also allows more opportunity for comments for those few of us readers who actually post them...

There isn't much point worrying how many comments you get. Only a small minority of readers will ever say something, and only a small minority of them will post more than once. It's the way of the internets.

People are more likely to comment if you give them something to comment on though. And no, just posting a chapter isn't good enough. Give them a reason to speak. Ask them questions at the end of a chapter. As loathe as I am to use my own stuff as an example, you can see here and here that people will comment if you give them something to think about.

@Dary - I like the idea of putting points for discussion and asking questions as a prompt to comment!

Joining in the opinions of post length and frequency: we post chapters once a week that are between 5 and 8k words long. The readers who comment haven't complained about the length of the updates, and I personally like getting a huge chunk of story to read through.

The most important thing is to be consistent, updating when you say you will.

Consistency is definitely the key. For the Apocalypse Blog, I was posting 700-1800 words a day. Now, with Starwalker, I'm posting chunks of the same size on a schedule of 3 posts per week. I have never received comments about the size of the posts, but I have had readers comment on how much they like knowing when there will be a new post.

Blogfics are a little different to serials - a post isn't always intended to be a 'chapter', and doesn't tend to lend itself to 2000+ word chunks. Personally, I tend to avoid anything that long, especially because I post several times a week (for my sake as well as my readers'!).

I'd suggest you write the size of chapter that suits your story and style, and set a posting schedule that you are confident you can stick to.

Everyone has been very helpful with this topic.

Thank you for all your help.

[Still would like to know how everyone gets those links under their posts ;) ]