Writing Schedule and Backlog

Hey all,


First, I'm new. Hello!


Second: I was wondering about your advice on schedule? I haven't published my Web-Novel yet. But I was wondering what you thought the optimum schedule is? Is once a week too little? What were your experiences?


Kind regards and thanks,


Tigellinus


Edit: Sorry, forgot to ask about the backlog. How much would you recommend having before you start publishing your web-novel/serial?


A lot of us seem to go for twice a week. Probably best you don't try anything more frequent than that unless people are paying you enough to write that it's worth your while.


As far as backlog, you'll want as much as you can get. It disappears a lot more quickly than you'd ever suspect.


I seemed to be doing fine with (fairly long) weekly updates. My backlog at the beginning was 10 chapters / updates, it lasted for around 1.5 years. In my opinion, it's all about discipline. When you have a backlog, it's more tempting to just 'take a break' when you're not in the mood to write, so try to develop the habit of writing daily anyway. Even if it's just a few paragraphs at a time.


I update approximately once a month. I do not consider this an optimum frequency, and definitely not enough if you are relying on people to remember to check your website for updates. If people are subscribed and get notifications on updates, things are more relaxed when it comes to scheduling.


I update once a week, my backlog lasted until the beginning of my second arc, which was about a month or two into the story. Now, I've been writing by the seat of my pants for almost a year.


In the world of web serials, I've heard, you're better off being more frequent than not, so weekly might not be the most ideal, but it works for me. It gives me time to plan and write, and I set myself a decent word count (5000) so that readers have something substantial to sink their teeth into every week. And hey, it seems to work for me, growth has been pretty steady, so that's good.


It all depends on you, your personal circumstances, and those of your story. A lot of people will say you need to update at least once a week, but I've always found the bulk of my readers prefer to binge large chunks every so often, rather than small pieces on a weekly basis. It all depends on what you write: fast-paced, action-driven stories lend themselves better to shorter, more frequent updates, for example.


Mine is twice a week. And I followed Wildbow's advice of ten chapters backlog before starting, but that's been whittled down to seven or eight. Like Chrysalis says, it's really tempting to just slack off when you know it'll be over a month before you have to write anything. Writing a bit or even just working on background stuff helps to keep me focused.


Awesome, thanks guys. I think I'll do an experiment for a few weeks and see if I can get out two chapters a week. if I can, I'll set that as my Schedule. if I can't, then I'll just go for once a week - something I know I can do.


The advice is much appreciated!


I currently write three serials. One updates seven times a week, another three times a week and the last one is once a week. They all have a sizeable audience, so I don't think it matters that much how often you post, you can make it work, although I would recommend being consistent. Readers form habits.


I have no backlog, which is a pain. I do occasionally try to build one up, but it usually lasts a couple of months. I also occasionally post late or miss an update, although I didn't do that in the beginning when I was establishing myself. I do take breaks regularly (a week off here and there). Once you have fans of your work, they are fairly understanding (once you have a lot of fans, some can also turn quite nasty).


The bigger issue is being able to attract people in the first place. This site is good for that, but there aren't many places focused on English webnovels. Chinsese/Korean/Japanese translated ones are a much bigger scene.


It can help to start off posting on a bigger site like Wattpad, Royal Road etc, but a lot will depend on the genre you write. Certain topics are much more popular, often the more juvenile ones (OP boys, lovelorn girls) and will make it easier to hook into a ready-made audience.


If you use your own site, be prepared for a slow start and quite a lot of effort if you want to build an audience faster (swapping reviews, being active in forums, finding places on reddit to promote etc).





Welcome Tigellinus! I hope that the serial game treats you as well as it has me. The community here is pretty supportive, I think you have found a good home :)


I update once a week, with a word count between 800 and 2000, and a backlog of five chapters. I also manage a "Nihilist's Horoscope" for my mailing subscribers (also once a week, 200-300 words each), and have been writing 1700 words a day on top of that for NaNoWriMo. I have an unhealthy schedule set by a madman. It's great!


I would suggest picking a schedule that you think works well with a backlog large enough to buffer the emergencies of life, but not too big so that you aren't writing often. Once you have that set and ready, CUT IT DOWN.


@Mooderino: Wow, that's impressive. How do you have the time for all that?

May I ask, and this will be asked in more detail in a separate thread. But, how did you build your sizable audience?


Tried that once before on Wattpad, got told that my writing was good, but that my friend didn't think it was really right for the audience.


@Jim: Aha, that sounds intense!

Wow, really? That is true dedication. My respects. :)


@Revfitz: Thanks for the welcome! So I've seen, I've been lurking here for a few weeks now. :)


Alright! Luckily I'm always writing more, so I hope to keep a good buffer zone of around five chapters either way.


Again, thank you all for the advice. :)


A lot depends on what genre you write and how well you locate the audience for it. Some genres are easy to target than others because they congregate in more localised spots (like Reddit). Others are more niche and harder to find, but can be very loyal once you find them.


What genre are you writing in?


I'm coming to this a bit late, but I have one of my standard "weird" experiences to share about post frequency. (Hello, by the way. I'm one of those writers who tends to update like clockwork but has difficulty finding an audience.)


After about two years of updating weekly, roughly 3,000 words per update, I had one person comment that it was sometimes difficult to recall the plot threads from week to week. Which is fair, the writing was 3rd person, jumping heads, and there were a few plot elements going at once by then (even setting aside the time travel). So I shifted to updating twice per week, roughly 1,500 words per update. Effectively the same output, but twice as frequent for posts. I also put in a little "PREVIOUSLY:" segment to help people remember key elements.


I feel like overall, that worked better. It effectively doubled the amount of promotion I was doing (sending out 2 updates instead of 1), and as a reader you don't have to set aside as much time to get through something half as long (easier to find 10 min out of a couple days than 20 min in one day). That said, within a couple months, my page views had DECREASED. Like, substantially. From 440 page views in all of September to 220 page views in all of November. Despite how I'd doubled the number of pages. Meaning viewership hadn't halved, it had quartered. Granted, there wasn't much in terms of viewers initially, so I think all that really happened was fewer people exploring, we were down to just the core few who actually read.


The moral? Effectively, just find what works for you. Readers can be hard to figure out.

(Sidebar: Owing to life issues, I've recently regressed back to a single update every two weeks. It really hasn't changed things in aggregate, aside from the return of "zero view" days.)


Heh, tough lesson to learn is that ignoring reader suggestions is often better.


When readers are happy, they don't complain and often don't comment.


That one reader who's suggesting a change is often in the minority.


I love the detail, you're all so very helpful! Thank you!


@Mooderino: Sci-Fi. Speciifcally Military Science Fiction. I'm on Spacebattles, but wow, your work just gets swallowed there. Or at least that's how it seems for me!


@Mathtans: Gosh, thank you for the advice! I think I'll stick with one update a week for now, and promote however I can.


I'm sorry that you get 'zero view' days with so much work put in!


You seem very detailed - something that I genuinely appreciate. Do you have any other advice or pieces of wisdom?


Thanks :)


@Unice5656: Yeah, I can understand that. After all, you're writing what you wnat to write.

But occasionally things readers say will be useful. like if they tell me that my lack of descriptions takes away from their ability to 'view' the story.


thanks for the advice all!


Heh, that's exactly the kind of advice I'd ignore. I generally give very sparse descriptions in my writing, focusing more on plot and the internal experiences of the characters. If I suddenly switched from doing that to spending a whole paragraph on descriptions every time a new person or setting showed up, you can bet my current readers would be less than impressed.


Interesting!

For me, my lack of descriptions is a flaw. I barely describe anything, ever.

It is definitely something I need to work on.


Heh, thanks Tigellinus. I am/was secretary on a bunch of committees, I guess detailed comes with the territory. As to "zero views", I just shrug them off now, mostly bring them up here on occasion lest other people think it's a weird thing that's only happening to them. Not sure what other wisdom I can impart.


Regarding advice though, two things to consider there:

(1) Were you thinking along those lines even before the reader said something? For me, I'd noticed my parts were getting longer, and thought splitting them might be a good plan. So when I got the comment about remembering things week to week, I enacted the plan (partly to see if anyone would say anything, and no one complained). Sounds like you feel you need to work on description, so as long as that's equally (or more) internal as external, why not.

(2) Is the reader one of your core viewers? As I say, after years of doing this, I only have a half dozen regulars (maybe twice that, the other six being more silent). So when they say something, I know that they have the context of the previous material (versus someone commenting on part one saying "you shouldn't do x") and I further know that, well, I don't want to lose them as a reader over something I can control. Again, for me, it was one of the people who read, and who didn't comment much, so I decided this was a thing I'd try to do something about.


There's also a cost-benefit thing. I had one faithful reader remark on the issue of links always being the same colour, whether you'd clicked on them or not. (Handy to know which part you'd last clicked on from the index, for example.) Unfortunately, Free WordPress doesn't give access to the CSS (style sheets) which is where you can tweak that. I did a bit of research, thought I found a workaround, but it didn't work. I communicated my failure, and the reader totally got that (and I hope he was glad that I made an attempt) and he's still around. It wasn't worth it for me to keep sinking time into fixing it. Maybe I've lost people because of it, I don't know, I'll never know, but one can't dwell on that. (Of course, if anyone does know a work around, let me know.)


All the best!


So, I'd say the places you're posting stuff is a good broad mix that will attract readers who might be looking for stuff like yours. Of which there will be some, but not so many, probably. The tricky part is finding the ones who aren't looking, but would be interested if they knew your story existed.


The way to get to those people is too go looking for them. I used reddit and found a large audience eager to try new stuff (and also eager to tell you what they don't like). Because I write fantasy and I discovered web serials through translated Chinese/Korean stories, I posted chapter updates on r/noveltranslations, which allows original English novels too. The reason I chose there was because the audience is huge. While my story might get a couple hundred thousand views a month, the big Chinese ones get around 10 million/month. That's the English, fan-translated version. God knows what the original Chinese version gets.


Those readers are keen to find stuff without poor English and bad grammar, but they're also picky about what they like (often immature stuff about OP MCs). There are non-fantasy stories up there, but it would be worth having a look at the EN novels posting on there to see if you think your story might fit.


And yes, I posted myself. Self-promotion is frowned upon in a lot of places on the web, but those are the places not to self-promote in. Reddit subs have rules and the ones I'm mentioning allow it. You should always check first.


I also went to places like r/fantasy, and like most of the bookish subreddits it has a special promotion threads you can post in. For you r/scifi might be more appropriate, I know they have weekly self-promo threads. How much response you get will vary, but it's worth having a look. It's easier if you also find the sub genuinely interesting and interact with the other threads. Also r/rational might be worth a look. If your story has a strong rationalist element (people do things in a realistic and rational way) you should make an introductory post announcing the story and then see if there's any interest. Hang out there a bit first to get a feel for the place.


r/writing and r/selfpublishing also have self-promo threads.


You aren't going to get a sudden tsunami of readers, but one or two will get the ball rolling. I've now started to get people posting updates of my chapters on r/rational without asking anyone, just because they wanted to.


Interacting with the people and threads (and they will mostly be relevant to your interests anyway) will work much better than dropping a link and running away.