My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#1
Introduction


Well, let me start by saying that I was asked to do this kind of post, oh, months ago. Sometime in 2018, but I just never got around to it. Skully's video on the subject, found here, prompted me to finally get around to writing this.

What I aim to inform you of in this post, is, like what's in the title, explain to you a bunch of tactics that you fellow authors can use to potentially succeed here on RoyalRoad as well as just maybe turn this hobby of yours into a job.

RoyalRoad


To start us off, what do you need to be considered successful on RoyalRoad, exactly? A good question, and one that has a varying answer depending on who's answering it.

On one hand, someone may be writing purely for fun, so just posting it and having even a single person read it could easily be a success in their eyes, to others, getting less than, oh, let's say, 200 followers within a month could be considered a total failure.

Now, ignoring that, let's assume you want to turn this into a career, shall we?

Well, I've seen stories with less than a thousand followers be wildly successful, and I've seen stories with over two-thousand followers be not nearly as successful.

Of course, that's all as far as a career goes, but this section is purely for success on RoyalRoad, now isn't it?

Trending


Well, to start us off, there's the big kicker, Trending. I, myself, have unfortunately never been on Trending. My stories were born before Trending was created, and even with my more recent rewrite of my oldest story, I failed to get onto Trending because I completely dismissed it.

Now, you might be asking yourself, 'What's so special about trending'? Well, let me inform you, shall I?

The top ten fictions on trending are always displayed and linked on RoyalRoad's homepage, which is a huge thing. Being on the homepage pretty much guarantees viewership and new followers, which is always a good thing. Even without being in the top ten, from my talks with one of the site's owners, Kanadaj, the trending page is visited, a lot. Like, a lot a lot, so you wanna get on there for the insanely good free promo.

How does trending even work, I hear you ask? Well, here's a little screenshot of a conversation between myself and Kanadaj over on Discord.

https%3A%2F%2Fimgur.com%2FbhlEY9t.png

What this means is that literally any story that is over a month old can get onto trending, though it is definitely wise to strike early.

Also, a cover picture is required to get onto trending, regardless of how many overall stars and ratings your story has.

So, how does one even get those mentioned ratings required to get onto trending? A good question. This brings to my next section; Popular This Week.

Popular This Week


Popular This Week may be even more critical than Trending is, in my professional opinion. Trending, realistically, has a finite lifespan, but Popular This Week, well, my most popular story has been on page one or page two of that list for almost 2 years now.

Same as with Trending, you may be wondering 'What is Popular This Week?' or 'How will it help me succeed?'

I don't know the exact numbers, but similar to Best-Rated and Active Best-Rating, I imagine Popular This Week gets checked a lot every day. Being on the first five pages is almost like having a free views generator.

So, if you're not the most talented writer around (like me) and can't worm your way up the Best-Rated lists, Popular This Week is where you want to be after your time on Trending comes to an end.

From what I do know from my own numbers and statistics, is that to stay in the top five-pages, you need roughly 10,000 views per week. Of course, this could be wrong since I am basing that off of my story Shovels In Spades which has been in the top 10 for roughly 2 months by gaining 50,000-80,000 views per week, but I think it's in the general area of 10,000.

Now to answer the questions of how to get on both Trending and Popular This Week, the answer is incredibly simple: spam chapters.

Of course, don't blow your load by posting, like, 60 in a day, that's just idiotic. You need to pace yourself wisely to best maximize your potential gains.

I highly suggest that if you have the time and patience, stockpile as many chapters as is humanly possible for you, then post at least 2 a day for as long as you can until you've got the traction you need.

This works, like, 99/100 times. It's far more successful if your story includes those lovely big blue tables that RoyalRoad readers simply adore, but if you're a more skilled author and are still writing something that catches the reader's attention, then the handy crutch of tables is not necessary for you.

If you have used this spam tactic and still have absolutely no success, then, my friend, you are either not very talented (which is fine. practice makes perfect) or the genre you are writing about really doesn't jive well with RoyalRoad readers.

As an example, the first story I ever posted was the original iteration of Lone: The Wanderer, which only had 500-word-long chapters (I started writing with an Xbox One and an Xbox controller, so yeah... haha...) and I posted roughly 6 of those chapters a day.

My story got a lot of justified hate thrown on it, but it was ranked no.1 for two-consecutive weeks on Popular This Week, and gained just over 1,200 followers in 3 months before I canned it and rewrote it for the first time.

So, to say it again, being high in the rankings on Popular This Week and Trending is incredible for gaining followers, views, favourites, and, consequentially, patrons.

Look at that, a perfect transition to the next topic, eh?

Patreon


To start us off here, I'll preface this by saying that I've been self-employed thanks to my Patreon supporters since April 2018.

This is a very easy thing to set-up. It may have changed from when I created a creator account, but I believe you just sign up with an e-mail, then you link your PayPal account to it. I use PayPal, and not any other method to collect my monthly earnings, so I have no know-how on that front if you aren't a PayPal user.

Okay, now, to the meat of the matter, how do you make your fiction sellable without screwing over the fanbase you've built? The best and most morally sound way to do this, in my personal opinion, would be early chapters.

Early chapters are amazing. It is a product that costs you, the author, nothing but extra time. You can always add more, and not only does it create a very enticing incentive for your readers to support you, but it also gives you a backlog of chapters to reference when posting the most recent free chapters.

What do I mean by this? Well, for example, all of my chapters go through two rounds of edits. The first is done straight after the chapter is written. My patrons can read up to 20 chapters ahead, and I release 2 chapters per main story a week, so after 10-weeks have passed and that chapter is now being released to the public on RoyalRoad (and wherever else for yourself like Scribblehub or the site-which-shall-not-be-named), I edit the chapter again with the future chapters that only patrons can read being considered.

This helps an incredible amount with catching plotholes, refining prose, squashing typos, and planning for the future by leaving hints or adding in the set-up to a good idea I had, say, fifteen chapters from this new RoyalRoad one.

One big issue with this is that all early chapters are of a lower quality than the free version that gets posted on RoyalRoad. I try to be as transparent with this as possible by adding a [First Draft] to the title of each of my chapters posted on Patreon, like in this example.

https%3A%2F%2Fimgur.com%2F2GclPz0.png


Of course, I would suggest against having only early chapters to attract potential supporters. That is undoubtedly the biggest attraction, yes, but it never hurts to have more incentives to stay on as a patron, right?

I personally have a Discord role for each tier of patron that the Patreon Discord bot luckily manages all on its own. I also offer 1-month early access to any artwork I commission, and, lastly, I promise to give a free copy of any e-books I eventually publish regardless of if my patrons stay as patrons or not (Patreon keeps a log of all past patrons, so this shouldn't be a very difficult promise to keep).

Speaking of e-books... Hah! Another seamless transition!

Amazon


I genuinely have very little knowledge on this front. All I can say is, unless you are in desperate need of money, please avoid going the Kindle Unlimited exclusive route, as this will severely stunt your growth on RoyalRoad and will also harm the trust of your readers who simply cannot afford to buy your books or do not want to, but still whole-heartedly support you and your works.

I'm saying this because Kindle Unlimited strips you of your publishing rights, so you must remove a vast majority of the published novel from other platforms - Patreon included - for a span of several months.

Trust me, if a talentless hack like me can make (currently) over $1,200 per month on Patreon, then anyone who has the ability to put in the work can as well.

Summary


Well, to summarise, stockpile chapters, mass release, slow down to a good rate after you fall out of Trending, try to settle on Popular This Week, and lastly, build up or use stockpiled chapters as early access chapters to start your Patreon career.

All of this is subject to change after I actually publish on Amazon as well as if and when RoyalRoad implements its own author-monetisation system.

Thanks for reading this. If you found it helpful or interesting, I don't particularly hate rep points. *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*

Lone,
c:

Re: My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#5
javert Wrote:
Lone Wrote: to others, getting less than, oh, let's say, 200 followers within a month could be considered a total failure.


Ouch, that one hurt haha.

Thank you for the information! Trending is always somewhat of a mystery so I'm glad that you explained it.


It all depends on your personal goals and expectations! xD

But, yeah, I'm glad to have helped you a bit. c:

Re: My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#9
LeoDuhVinci Wrote: Also, really interesting trending is based on reviews and not view count... not what I would expect.


If it were based on the view count, you'd constantly see the same fictions over and over again. Currently, an old, large fiction has terrible chances of getting on trending if it is/was popular, simply because it takes so much more for it to get a meaningful growth compared to a fresh fiction with a much smaller count of reviews.

Re: My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#11
Great guide! I learned quite a bit from this as a relative(? 2-3 months) newbie still to this site. It would be nice to follow in the footsteps of successful fictions using this method. I made it to Trending for a few weeks, so that's nice. I guess now I should be shooting for the Popular This Week, but since I only update once a week, I'm not sure if it's possible. XD
Thank you for detailing this out! (:

Re: My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#12
Chryiss Wrote: Great guide! I learned quite a bit from this as a relative(? 2-3 months) newbie still to this site. It would be nice to follow in the footsteps of successful fictions using this method. I made it to Trending for a few weeks, so that's nice. I guess now I should be shooting for the Popular This Week, but since I only update once a week, I'm not sure if it's possible. XD
Thank you for detailing this out! (:


I'm glad to have helped you. c:

Re: My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#13
Lone Wrote: ...So, if you're not the most talented writer around (like me) and can't worm your way up the Best-Rated lists...


as someone who's been in the first page of best-rated for months and seen very little growth from it... being highly rated doesn't do a lot when you don't have new chapters helping push your story or an initial boost from trending :P

The system is pretty hard-biased toward heavy chapter counts in some ways (but not always; Trailer Trash exploded with only four chapters posted), so your advice about spamming chapters applies doubly—to get front-page views and to increase raw viewcount by having more pages to view in the first place. I'm speaking without any real statistical analysis or access to viewcounts besides my own, but I'd guess stories with shorter chapters are far more likely to get big than long chapters, just because of how many more pageviews will get generated in a single sitting by a single user (reading 2-3 thousand-word chapters in a sitting, as opposed to my typical 8000ish word chapters, which many of my readers don't finish in one go).

Lone Wrote: As an example, the first story I ever posted was the original iteration of Lone: The Wanderer, which only had 500-word-long chapters (I started writing with an Xbox One and an Xbox controller, so yeah... haha...) and I posted roughly 6 of those chapters a day.


...why ._.

Re: My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#14
Etzoli Wrote:
Lone Wrote: As an example, the first story I ever posted was the original iteration of Lone: The Wanderer, which only had 500-word-long chapters (I started writing with an Xbox One and an Xbox controller, so yeah... haha...) and I posted roughly 6 of those chapters a day.


...why ._.


I had no PC at the time and I simply didn't use the draft feature, so if I went off tab when making a new chapter, it would all be lost. I'd write 500 words, publish it, play a game or watch youtube vids for a break, then repeat the process.

Re: My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#15
I note your opinion above that Kindle Unlimited would not be your suggested route for an author.  Full disclosure, I have and use a KU account because I read a metric @#$%-load daily and it saves me major money.  That said, I pay Amazon monthly for that subscription.  I was under the impression that authors were listing their books there to get exposure (e.g. not all of their stories would be KU stories) and that a decent part of my monthly payments was being passed along to the authors whose stories I was reading.

Am I mistaken?  What kind of revenue can an author of a decently written story get from KU if their story is downloaded (and presumably read) 10,000 times, 100,000 times, etc.?

Re: My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#16
Cimmerian Wrote: I note your opinion above that Kindle Unlimited would not be your suggested route for an author.  Full disclosure, I have and use a KU account because I read a metric @#$%-load daily and it saves me major money.  That said, I pay Amazon monthly for that subscription.  I was under the impression that authors were listing their books there to get exposure (e.g. not all of their stories would be KU stories) and that a decent part of my monthly payments was being passed along to the authors whose stories I was reading.

Am I mistaken?  What kind of revenue can an author of a decently written story get from KU if their story is downloaded (and presumably read) 10,000 times, 100,000 times, etc.?


KU authors get paid from a giant pool of money based on how many pages get read, which makes it very easy to manipulate and very easy to get falsely banned.

The exclusivity of this is why I would suggest against doing it as an author, even if it brings in the big bucks. But I guess priorities matter.

Re: My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#17
Quote:Trust me, if a talentless hack like me can make (currently) over $1,200 per month on Patreon, then anyone who has the ability to put in the work can as well. 

This part was very tempting hahaha. Of course, I know that it's a very unstable job, especially for starters, but wow... seeing that number made me think twice about my future career.

Re: My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#18
gRex Nano Wrote: This part was very tempting hahaha. Of course, I know that it's a very unstable job, especially for starters, but wow... seeing that number made me think twice about my future career.


Haha, yeah, it's a living wage for most people, but trust me, it really isn't that much though. There are people like Puddles who earn over $6,000 a month or pirateaba who earns over $8,000 per month.

With a bit of dedication and effort, it's easy to make writing your job. Of course, not overnight.

Re: My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#19
Tomoyuki0 Wrote: Trust me, you're in no way a talentless hack. If your story, Lone: The Wanderer is anything to go by, you're absolutely brimming with talent. It's one of the best and most highly rated stories in Royal Road for a reason.


I have no talent, but I am hard-working and have spent the needed time and effort to reach a reasonable level of skill. That was my point, haha, even without talent, you can still succeed.

c:

Re: My Guide On How To Gain Traction On RoyalRoad And How To Potentially Turn Your Writing Into A Career

#20
Cimmerian Wrote: I note your opinion above that Kindle Unlimited would not be your suggested route for an author.  Full disclosure, I have and use a KU account because I read a metric @#$%-load daily and it saves me major money.  That said, I pay Amazon monthly for that subscription.  I was under the impression that authors were listing their books there to get exposure (e.g. not all of their stories would be KU stories) and that a decent part of my monthly payments was being passed along to the authors whose stories I was reading.

Am I mistaken?  What kind of revenue can an author of a decently written story get from KU if their story is downloaded (and presumably read) 10,000 times, 100,000 times, etc.?


It's a bit under 1/2 cent per page read, although the exact amount changes monthly.  So 200 page novel(s)  read a total of 10k times would be somewhere around $9,000. 

Since it can build up to  a not insignificant amount of cash, it unsurprisingly lead to an  ecosystem of scam artists gaming the system.  Customers and actual authors complained. So Amazon took measures to fix it.

Between bad algorithms, and employees abusing their power by targeting authors they had a grudge against (allegedly), quite a few popular authors found themselves with closed accounts. Last I read even paying for advertising, other than from Amazon of course, was being used as justification.

I don't generally recommend authors doing it either.  Doing it with a web novel that you'll have to pull down, especially one that's making you any money, just seems really misguided.