This week, we are pleased to welcome Adam Sherman, a Tuesday Serial contributor, with a guest post. Adam is sharing about his experiences in his first year of writing serial fiction. Welcome, Adam!
“Lessons From My First Year in Serial Fiction” by Adam Sherman
Several months into 2015, I realized I had screwed up. I had begun writing my web serial, Nowhere Island University, in February. Ever since, I had been writing chapters of varying lengths and posting them one at a time on two sites at least once a week. Sometimes, I even needed to pull all-nighters to finish a chapter or side-story. To top it off, my views were minimal and the lack of comments on both versions were disturbingly low. Finally, before a family vacation, I realized that this couldn’t continue. I needed to make changes.
The first thing I’d need to do, as suggested by other authors, would be to create what is called a buffer: that is, to make a certain amount of pre-written chapters that I could upload at my leisure. That way, I could still upload content at the appointed time even if I was occupied. It also allows you to work at whatever pace you need, as long as you can keep to schedule.
However, if you’re like me, you need to build momentum in any way, shape or form. The first comment, the first view, the first post… these need to happen soon or eventually you lose interest. I posted the first two installments (I call them tracks because I am a somewhat stupid special snowflake) to the Spacebattles forum. It was the same post where I keep the table of contents. Then, I began to work on the next installment, oblivious to the fact that I’d soon be spending multiple all-nighters, even though I was not working full time. This was solved in a way easier said than done by writing more than one installment a week. Eventually, I was able to get a backlog of over ten chapters.
The next problem I encountered was the seeming lack of acknowledgement from the outside world. I guess I felt like I was going to get an immediate response with dozens of commenters or something. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Instead, when I started out, I’d be lucky to get more than ten hits a day. Eventually, I began to get better stats, but I was still worried.
However, every time I shared stats on Reddit and WFG, I often got the same response from fellow authors: “Those are actually pretty good. Stop worrying.” For perspective, as I am writing this, an Excel document is telling me that this year I’ve had an average of 74.53 views per day and my donations rarely exceed $25 a month. As a result, I have spent a lot of effort into trying to make the numbers go up.
In my quest to do that, I’ve discovered Web Fiction Guide. Web Fiction Guide is an amazing place for both readers looking for something new to read and web serial authors looking for more views and a sense of community. While the views I’ve gotten have mostly come from Web Fiction Guide, and its Top Web Fiction service, the most valuable part, I’ve found, has been the sense of community in the forums. There, I feel like I can talk to the other authors and receive valuable advice without being judged.
I have also learned that to get views, you’re going to have to submit to the same places over and over again, especially when you’re at the stage I’m at. Only fourteen of my views have come from the Tuesday Serial Collector, but for all I know, each of them could have become a regular viewer. I do know that even one regular view is still extremely important at this stage. That means every week I need to post to the Tuesday Serial Collector and every other week I need to make use of the various bi-weekly self-promotion threads on Reddit.
However, I keep writing, despite the effort. Why? Because I love to write, and I enjoy writing the world of Nowhere Island University. Because I have “met” so many people online, some of them other writers, some of them fans. Most importantly, I believe in what I’ve written so far and what I am going to write. That, I think, is why I have a shot at making it.
Adam “T4nky” Sherman has been writing fiction on and off since he was in second grade. This year, he has begun to write Nowhere Island University, which you can find on a WordPress-hosted site or the Spacebattles forums. He also has a WordPress blog and a Twitter account.