Web Serial Tips: Don’t Go the Wrong Way!

Hey everyone! Blogging can be harder than it looks, and you can easily set yourself up for too much stress. I hope these tips will help keep you from going the wrong way on your journey! I know doing blog posts is mildly outside my wheelhouse, but I stumbled upon someone asking about it in a tweet, and decided to write up my wisdom from the 2ish years I’ve been doing this.

I would like to add the disclaimer that I am by no means a writing or social media star. I do this as a hobby and I reached my goal viewership (~5 people reading every entry) a while ago. My current wordpress follower count is about 60, not ~600 as indicated by the side bar which includes my twitter (@cjaworks). With that in mind, here are my tips.

Tip 1: Not a novel, a serial.

First let’s talk about what a serial is, and what a serial isn’t. A serial is just a story that has been formatted to be released in several small pieces. This hails originally from serialized detective stories from the 1800s, which were mailed out to readers individually or as parts of larger publications. A serial is not a story that got cut into a bunch of pieces haphazardly and released one by one. While you technically can chop up your full length novel into a bunch of pieces and upload them once a week to your blog, you really shouldn’t. You have to take at least a little effort to edit your story for a serialized format. You need to make sure you’re cutting off in appropriate places for long term pauses. This is a concern unique from novels, due to the time distance between the publishing of installments.

One way you can do this is to try to structure it so that each installment is something like an episode of a procedural TV show or an epic. An event occurs, which is the focus of the installment, and the event is wrapped up by the end of the part. It doesn’t have to be long. The event can be something like a hard conversation, one particular fight, or a question and an answer (for example, a character hears someone coming, and at the end of the installment, they figure out who it is). Additionally, this doesn’t have to be a hard and fast rule. I have, more than once, had an event span multiple installments, but even with that, you can usually work out a resolution to a single facet of the event, or utilize a cliffhanger.

Tip 2: Write before you upload.

You absolutely need to finish and edit your entire story before you start uploading. This is not to say you can’t do further edits, or realize your ending sucks, and change it, but you *need* to have your story finished before you start. When I started uploading Origins (known just as Earth 2 at the time), I had about half of the story written and edited every post as I went. This was mildly stressful, but I managed. That was until I hit a slump and stopped writing for a while. I kept editing and uploading, and eventually I nearly ran out of backlog. While this did inspire me to hurry up and finish the story, it was considerably more stressful than writing the thing first. This is in contrast to how I’m running this season, where I have it fully written, and simply have to copy and paste an installment. I could even go ahead and schedule every post, but I’d have to manually update navigation links anyways and don’t have the most faith in wordpress’s scheduling capabilities. If you just write the whole thing first, both you and your audience will thank you.

Additionally, if you look in my table of contents under season one, you’ll see that the 3rd installment is not just called Part 3, but “Part 3: Rewrite”. This is because I was new in my writing journey, and had part 3 uploaded before anyone besides me had read it. It was not great. I had some things I was very unhappy with, so I released an updated version. Below are the links to both, but I’ll give a disclaimer that I’ve improved as a writer since then, so even the revised version isn’t exactly my best work.

Earth 2: Part 3

Earth 2: Part 3 (Re-Write)

Tip 3: Networking

I’m sure this is the thing that I am least qualified to talk about, but I’m going to do it anyways. There are a few serial unique things with marketing, so I’ll focus on those.

First, there is the original question posed in the tweet: “What platform do I pick?” I’m sure you can work out what my answer to that is. I went with wordpress for mainly the reason of already being vaguely familiar with the platform, from having a blog that I didn’t do anything with a few years ago. Wattpad is another option which I know of, but wordpress seemed less intimidating to me. Another option would be to use Reddit. Many writers have their own personal subreddit, you can upload to your page, and there is even a serials subreddit where people are encouraged to upload their serials. There are other options mentioned in the original tweet that I am unfamiliar with. You could also opt to go with multiple platforms, but I think you’re better off sticking with having a primary platform, and perhaps regularly uploading links to your primary on other platforms.

Then, no matter what platform you’ve picked, you need to first network within that platform. On wordpress, there are two primary ways to do this. First, you can tag your posts. I came into this with a mildly self righteous bias against hashtags, but I now use them on every post. Hashtags do a LOT of my marketing these days, and all I have to do is copy a template post that has them in it already. It is nearly free publicity. I try to keep it to about 5 hashtags for posts, and only tag the specific ones which are relevant to the post. For example, I sometimes use the #writeLGBTQ tag, but I only do that when my LGBTQ characters are actually in the writing I’m tagging. Then you have something which I don’t do often anymore (which I am aware I should), but I did a lot during my earlier days: WordPress reader. This is one of the reasons I like wordpress. It is where your hashtags go. You can follow specific bloggers or search by tags. This allows you to meet other bloggers, who might decide to check out your blog if they see you’ve liked and or followed. Note that this shouldn’t really be your only reason to read other peoples stuff, since I took a lot of design ideas from a blog I stumbled upon (which was actually great and you should read it).

Bonus tip: Use featured images in all of your posts. It makes them more appealing according to wordpress at least. It also lets you show off your other work if you draw or do photography. Even if you have to really stretch the connection, go for it. Look at that first sentence in my post, added afterwards so I could show off an original photo.

Plug to the great blog I found and read https://retroactivityserial.wordpress.com/

Next, I’d like to shout out the Web Fiction Guide. I put my blog in there towards the start of my career, and I still get clicks from my page on there. The people that run it were really friendly and helped me out when I had an issue submitting.

Last, I’ll briefly cover all other social media. I mostly network on twitter, which is really easy to integrate with your wordpress blog (presumably others as well). I send out a scheduled tweet every time I upload a new post, and add appropriate hashtags. An important thing to remember though: Don’t only tweet (or post on any other platforms) links to your blog. You certainly *can* do that, and you’ll probably get some clicks, but I’m reluctant to follow people who just tweet links to their work. Additionally, interacting with the community helps me find new people, some of whom read my stuff, and some of whom I learn things from. I used to network on reddit as well. You can answer writing prompts, post in critique threads, and find other good work on there, all of which can help point people towards your serial.

Tip 4: Consistency

My last tip is in counter to all of my networking tips. In all likelihood, you’re not going to get a ton of clicks, so don’t feel obligated to do a bunch of networking. I hardly bother with it at all, beyond the easy stuff. The biggest boon to growing your blog is to set a regular upload schedule and keep it. I upload every Friday at noon, barring technical errors. It doesn’t have to be weekly, just set something and stick to it. Consistency helps you stay disciplined in your writing, and helps give your viewership a steady increase. This will also help you in the future if you decide to monetize your content. If you’ve shown that you can be regular with your content, people will have more faith in you, and thusly be more willing to subscribe to your patreon/kofi/whatever.


 

That’s more or less all I’ve got, and it’s pretty late where I am. Just remember you’re doing this for a hobby, so don’t stress about it and be okay with it not going anywhere. I am so unimaginably stoked to have 63 followers, and that’s what I’ve gained over 2ish years of doing this. If you don’t know who I am, I do a serial, check the about page for more details, I think it’s pretty good.

Thanks for reading, I hope you’re all well.

(Photo credit: Me, I took that. Look at it.)

New Naming

Hey everyone, I just want to give you a heads up of a slight change. My main series will still be called Earth 2, but each of the seasons will have its own name. Season One is now ‘Origins’ and Season Two will be ‘Trials’. I will update the table of contents accordingly. I currently have no plans to go through and change all of the titles of Season One’s blog posts. They are all currently in the format of “Earth 2: Part X”, but I will refer to them as a collective as ‘Origins’. Season Two, however, will be named in the format of “Trials: Part X”.

Season 2: Official Release Date

Hey everyone! I’ve mentioned this on my twitter, but I also want to put it here. I have an official release date for Season 2: this Friday! I am almost done editing, and I will have it finished, short of me getting sick. I do appreciate your patience with me getting my shit together on this. As a thanks, as you’ve probably noticed, I’m uploading every day until this Friday!

I am also considering uploading more frequently for as long as tons of people are on quarantine, but every day is a bit much. I will see what I’m able to do.

Season 2, Corona Virus, and Corn

Hey, everyone! I imagine at this point, if you’re familiar with my blog, you are expecting a post delaying season 2. Well, jokes on you, I’m on track to start uploading late March! I’m in the editing process right now, and it’s looking pretty good!

This is where we get into the second topic of today’s post, the Corona Virus. Please be sure to stay informed, wash your hands, and follow whatever protocol applies to you. I hope you all stay safe. I am currently in good health, and both college and public school have moved to online for the immediate future, so I have lots of time off. That being the case for me, I imagine it is also the case for many of you.

That brings us to the third and final topic, corn. I will be uploading a short story that I’ve had for a while, over the next few days. I hope you will like it, and I hope you all read it. As far as what that has to do with corn, well I guess you’ll just have to read it now, won’t you?

Stay safe and have a happy apocolypse,

CJAWorks

 

(Art credit: Me)

Season 2: Actually Happening

Hey, everyone! I bet you were expecting to never hear from me again, right? Wrong! I’m back, I have a writing schedule, and school is easy again. I’ve got the first draft of season two completed. I expect to have it ready to upload by late March. I probably won’t do an annoncement to drum up attention, so just keep an eye out for it.

I hope you’ve all been well, and I definitely appreciate you reading this, and any of my other stuff I’ve written. If you’re coming in new to this, I hope you’ll read some of my older stuff. I have (in my own opinion at least) improved greatly, but I still look fondly on my old stuff.

Just wanted to do a short update, that’s all I had to say. I hope you’ll join me in March(ish) for season 2!

Surprise blog post about Netflix

Netflix’s selection is getting worse. You’ve noticed it, I’ve noticed it, we’ve all noticed it. This is the same for whatever other platforms you may choose to use. I have a calculus test in like 30 minutes, so I’m not gonna do some super long blog post about it, but you should really please take the time to watch this video. Heck, to give you some incentive, if you comment that you watched this, with maybe just some brief summary, I’ll follow your blog.

Now for my old people that are still following, I’m not back. Sorry. I’m about to take organic chemistry 1 and 2 this summer, so I won’t be back for a bit, if I do come back that is. At this point, it’s looking like I will, but I just need some time.

Thanks for reading, if this gets any attention, I’ll do a longer blog post about it. Love you lots, and have a wonderful week.

 

Hiatus

Hello, everyone. Sorry if you were expecting a real post. I just thought it would be fitting to do this on a Friday at noon. While it’s been a blast to run this blog for the last year, I think it’s time to take an actual break. Not sure how long this break will last. It’ll be long enough to build up an adequete backlog at my own pace, or possibly just indefinite. I might upload short stories and the like through the hiatus, but I make no promise on schedule. I think season one is a more than adequete ending for the series, if you feel you need such. If there is sufficient demand, I might write a new epilogue that ties things together rather than exposes loose ends.

Personally, if I had followed a blog this far, only to have it I’d want some kind of explanation, so I will do my best to provide one.

Firstly, season 2 has honestly been really hard to write. The ideas aren’t flowing like they used to, and I wasn’t able to work up any real backlog. I’m excited about broad ideas and characters, so I might come back to it, but I think I need to let this project cool off for a while.

Secondly, I’m in school. Without a backlog like I had before, it would be really tough on me to keep up with an upload schedule frequent enough for me to find it worth doing. On top of that, roundabouts mid season and onwards, my school schedules going to get way crazier. If I’m not feeling it, I won’t find time for it, and would inevitably sputter out mid season. I think that ending it at season one, if it comes to ending it, would be more satisfying than being halfway through a new season.

Lastly, views. Don’t take this as begging for more views, or accusing you of anything. I am owed nothing, I myself have had trouble keeping up with reading serials. However, honestly, basically nobody is reading. Now when I started this, I wanted to just have 5 people regularly reading my stuff, but I don’t even really have that anymore. If I felt like someone cared, I would be more hesitant about taking a break. However, given viewership, I have difficulty believing anyone does. If you honestly care, let me know. If sufficient demand is kicked up, the hiatus will likely be brief. Once again, not begging for likes, views, or sympathy.

Now, if you are interested or concerned in what will happen to the blog during the hiatus, it will stay up. I’m really proud of what I did, and have no intention to take it down. I might decide to drop the premium plan, or I might not. That’s something for me to think on during the hiatus. I very well might just throw some random short stories on here, as stated earlier. If you’re currently following, and actually like my stuff, probably worth staying that way in case. Additionally, not to keep plugging my twitter, but I plan to remain as active as I’ve ever been on there, if you would like to keep up with me.

Thanks for all of the words you’ve read of mine, and for being with me through my first completed project (I’m willing to call season 1 a completed project). I hope I’ll see you all again one day.

Looking Forwards

Hello all! This is the previously mentioned blog post, discussing things to come. Firstly, I just want to thank everyone for reading and sticking with me. 49 is a lot of posts, and 36,000 is a lot of words.

In regards to Earth 2, I’ve decided I will structure the plot in ‘seasons’, like a TV show. Season 1 will have its finale on part 50, and I’m planning on taking a short break between. This break will be 1 month, and during it, I will still be uploading every Friday at noon. I will upload some one-offs, an epilogue, and maybe some other miscellaneous things. I plan to use the break to plan and build a backlog of posts for season 2.

Season 2 will be a continuation of the current story, much like you would expect from a TV show. It will have about 50 parts, but the parts will be longer.

Now, big announcement time. Not really, but it was fun to say. Little announcement: I am working on a full length novel! This will take place in a completely different world to Earth 2, with completely different characters. I’ll have more details when I’m a bit closer to being finished. If you’re curious, this will not affect the serial.

With regards to Season 1’s posts, I am hoping to conglomerate it into a novelette. I am as of yet unsure if I will be able to do that, but I’ll look into it. Regardless, as of right now, I don’t intend to do much editing on Season 1, so they’ll likely stay how they are. Let it serve as a barometer of my improvement as a writer.

I intend to write another summary for parts 26-50, once they’re completed, like how I did for parts 1-25. I also plan to go through, and mark some of my posts that stand particularly well on their own, so as to provide a better taste of my writing style, without the requirement of reading 50 parts.

Now, with all of that being said, thank you so much for all of your support. This blog has really grown, and I’m super proud of it. I really can’t thank you enough for reading.

Have a good weekend, and remember, the finale is next Friday, January 18th.

A Small Mistake

Hello! I’m writing to let you know that earlier in the season, I made a mistake. I intended to upload Part 18, but ended up uploading an old draft of Part 19! I discovered this while transferring the bulk of what I’ve written into Scrivener. Sorry for the mistake, but it was bound to happen eventually.

Here’s the link, if you care to read the new version!

Earth 2: Part 18

Month of Writing

Hello, all! This month, I am taking part in a challenge to write 10000 words in May. I plan to write a fair bit of backlog for Earth 2, but I will also likely write some other things. Earth 2 will continue to come out on Fridays, but I may post a few other things on no particular schedule. If you see something in particular that you like, let me know in the comments or the contact me page, I may do more of it.

Another fun thing about may, is that it’s my birth month! I don’t want to disclose a specific birthday, but it happens this month. Also happening in May is mothers day! No real relevance to this blog, just thought some of you could use the reminder. May 13th.

If you’d like more info about the writing challenge follow the link at the bottom of this post. Have a wonderful May, I appreciate your reading!

http://10kwordchallenge.com