Re: How often should I post new chapters?

#1
I'm new to Royal road, and I've just started to write my first story; but I'm unsure of how often I should update it. I can't really find any particularly recent posts focusing primarily on this, and of those I didn't see a particularly strong consensus over this.

I'm currently writing chapters for my first story, and I'm not sure how many I should have ready before I start posting. I initially planned to post daily, as I heard it can get you a lot of traction, but I'm unsure of how to transition that into a more sustainable schedule. I'm also unsure if the shift from daily updates to something like thrice weekly updates would be an unpopular move, or if people would be largely indifferent to the change of pace. Finally, I've seen some amount of doubt cast on the idea of posting daily to gain traction is necessary.

Re: How often should I post new chapters?

#2
Everyone here basically expects new stories to have a buffer, and that some of that buffer is used for additional releases until used up.
So no one will be surprised if you publish dayly the first two weeks and then reduce schedule.

Consistency and communications are more important in retaining readership. If you have to drop off for several weeks because of real life, it helps to place a note on that instead of vanishing.
and keeping weekly updates for months is better than switching between update schedules a lot.


Another point is length of releases - each chapter should be at minimum 1.5k (I prefer to write around 2.5k - 3k per chapter and go up to 5k in special cases), because anything smaller is often too short a scene. So don't split your releases into smaller parts just to meet a faster update schedule.

Re: How often should I post new chapters?

#3

Andar Wrote: Everyone here basically expects new stories to have a buffer, and that some of that buffer is used for additional releases until used up.
So no one will be surprised if you publish dayly the first two weeks and then reduce schedule.

Consistency and communications are more important in retaining readership. If you have to drop off for several weeks because of real life, it helps to place a note on that instead of vanishing.
and keeping weekly updates for months is better than switching between update schedules a lot.


Another point is length of releases - each chapter should be at minimum 1.5k (I prefer to write around 2.5k - 3k per chapter and go up to 5k in special cases), because anything smaller is often too short a scene. So don't split your releases into smaller parts just to meet a faster update schedule.
I'm gonna second all of this.



Start off with a buffer draft and spend a week or two posting rapidly, then scale back to one or two chapters a week. Ten chapters is a good goal but you can make do with less if you feel like each chapter has actual substance to it. A quick upload schedule will help you get noticed early on, but it's the content of the chapters that will keep people coming back.

After that, I would highly recommend maintaining your draft buffer at least three or four chapters ahead of what you're uploading. That'll give you more time for editing and help you prevent any plot holes that might pop up in the story arc. I had a draft buffer once. Then I procrastinated and posted them all without writing ahead. And it sucks. I upload one chapter, and then when I'm writing the next I get a great idea on how I could have made the last one better, but I already uploaded it and can't go back to change things. Learn from my mistakes! Keep a draft buffer!


Consistency and communication are also very important. I think a lot of my readers come back because of how how much attention I pay to comments. I rarely get less than three pages of comments on each of my chapters, and I'm confident that it's because they know that I'll respond.

They point out a typo? I fix it and give them +rep.

Constructive criticism? I may defend my reasoning, but I'll still listen. I've had more constructive criticism in the comments section then I've received in the reviews. 

"Thanks for the chapter" posts? Meh. I might not reply to most of those, but they're still nice.

Readers like knowing that the author cares enough to respond. I know this because I too get a warm fuzzy feeling whenever an author responds to a comment I left on their own fiction. And honestly, responding to comments is one of my favorite things about writing my fiction.

And the post-chapter author notes are frikkin wonderful. I love those things. I don't think I've ever uploaded a chapter without writing one. It's a great tool for prompting comments and feedback, and also for letting people know if the next chapter is going to be delayed for some reason.


I'm a fan of longer chapters that are 5k+ words, but 2.5k to 3k words is seems to be the average chapter length for most paperback novels, and it's a good goal to hit. It gives time for something meaningful to happen, while also not being so long as to drag things out.

Really, that should be your minimum average. With anything less, you won't have room to actually do anything. I've seen fictions that use three entire chapters to for one single scene that only consists of a single conversation! And that pisses me off! It entirely disregards the entire idea of what makes a "chapter" a "chapter".

When it comes to writing, quantity is far less important that quality. Quantity will help you get noticed early on, but quality is what makes people come back for more. Each chapter should be meaningful, and serve more of a purpose than just being a lead-in to the next chapter where something might happen.

In my opinion, 2.5k to 6k is the sweet spot. It's short enough to read in one sitting, but long enough to make it worth sitting down for.

Re: How often should I post new chapters?

#4
A lot of what I post, I post only after having been writ, so there is no chance that the reader will not get all of the story. Or that the story will be egregiously error ridden. However, I post to keep up with the readers. This depends largely on the accesses the work receives and the rate they tend to occur at. This can be anything from every two hours to daily, or more. The reason for this is that if the rate and count are very low, I have to assume there is some problem with the story itself, and will spend more time looking it over, especially the parts that are slowest in rate, even rewriting it if that seems the issue.  I've no reason to want to inflict a poor plot on anyone. If I receive no ratings or comments, and the read rate is desultory, I may even take it down until I can fix it. This might mean seeking comment elsewhere, if I cannot sus out the problem alone. This because the reason I post work is to improve, not that I am bad. I've feedback enough to know that's not the case, but To be publishable, good or okay is just not even near enough. I may never achieve what I want out of myself, but I don't want to penalize readers either.  So my concern with posting optimally to some imagined schedule of success is not as important. Development is my current focus.  Once a work has passed its introductory hurdle, Ive no issue leaving it up, docketing it as 'complete' and making minor preens as I can to it. I Know approximately what to expect for an average rate at my level in different genres here, so I can go by that. If you don't yet, you will catch on as you go forward pretty quickly. I do try to mount enough material per time to be worth while. Thinking on this, I suppose it all depends on why you mount stories, so none of this may be at all helpful. I think there are some recommendations in the F.A.Q. section if that's the case.       

Re: How often should I post new chapters?

#5
Short answer: It depends.

The optimal release schedule depends on a lot of things. As every story is different, so is what schedule is helpful and which is not.

A big deciding factor is of course how fast you can create chapters. A schedule requiring more content than you can produce might be optimal for some other author, but is of course no very suitable for you.
Given the same amount of content you can produce, the length of the chapters of course determines how many chapters you can churn out, so this is also related to what the best length for a chapter is. That is already a complicated question when writing something available to readers at once (like the classical book), and does not get easier when weighting it against other scheduling requirements.

Then there is of course the aspect of regularity. Readers like a reliable and stable schedule, like always at the same day at the same minute. Though giving people what they say they want is not always what is best to get the best ratings. People value more what is scarce or hard to get, so a too perfect schedule can also mean people no longer realize the work invested there. Too reliable a schedule also not only means readers know when a new chapter is up, but they also know when no new chapter is up. Which means less views for the last chapter to check if there is a new one up and less chances for readers rereading the last chapter (which also makes reader retention harder as a higher percentage of readers will read everything only once, making it harder for them to catch the plot and small nuances).

Some things to consider:

* You want to avoid that chapters feel incomplete. Especially in combination with other things (announcing building a buffer for patreons) that can easily produce bad feelings in readers. Not that while this somehow depends on the length of chapters, it is only loosely related. Even quite short chapters can feel complete and even long chapters can sometimes feel incomplete (lack of perceived content, lack of closure, ...).

* On the other hand, too long chapters can cause readers to defer reading them until they have enough time, some of them then never getting to it. (Though for that to have an effect, you likely need quite extremely long chapters and most of them this long).

* Catching readers and getting them invested in the story gets harder with temporal distance. If readers need to invest too much patience they might stop caring. There are more things that can keep people curious for a day than for a week or even a month. So what you want to use there gives some upper limit on how much time can be between chapters. And on the other hand, the frequency in which you release new chapters determines how to cut your story into chapters.

* On the other hand if your story intends to cause the reader to guess how some things will develop and get them invested this way, the time between chapters must be long enough so they can do this. (Though doing so is hard anyway, and that might not be a problem unless you post multiple chapters a day).

* Another hard part of web serials is keeping readers familiar enough with the story. To keep more readers (though note that more readers usually means worse reviews, especially initial reviews) a web serial needs to subtly reintroduce the characters all the time, having them recognizable enough to be memorable (while hiding that enough to not bore the reader with it). How much of that you need depends on how often you release new chapters. While how good you are with this reversely determines how long the time between chapter releases can be. (Though time between chapters is no the only thing influencing this. If you can otherwise get people to reread older chapters that also can keep them familiar enough with the story).

* Another aspect to consider is finding new readers. Appearing more often on the latest updates page can make more people to take a look at your story. Appearing at different times increases the number of people that might notice it there. While always appearing at the same time makes it easier to slowly increase curiosity and to convert getting noticed into getting read. (Which has the bigger effect depends on your cover image, your title and your story description).

Re: How often should I post new chapters?

#6
You can argue the issue up or down, but I think there's actually a mathematical formula that will work for most people.

How many chapters will you write per week on average? Be honest.

Okay, take that number and subtract one. This gives you n, the number of chapters you will be posting regularly per week. Divide the week into even chunks and plan to post n chapters per week at regularly scheduled times. So if it's one chapter, pick a day and update on that time. Two chapters, take two days spread out through the week, and so on.

What about that one extra chapter? That goes into your stockpile. Once your stockpile is sufficiently well stocked, you can use the extra chapter to drop random bonus chapters.

This way you have readers coming back for your regular updates and keeping an eye on your story for the bonus chapters.

Re: How often should I post new chapters?

#7
So... am I the only one who's going to be finishing at least a large part of a story (I'm considering doing like how people do on Webtoon and splitting it into "seasons") before they start posting? I want to have at least a minimum of editing and outlining begun for the next part before I start posting this one. So I won't be able to just calculate based on how much I write in a single week, when working in large chunks like that.

Then again, I'm a plantser who errs fairly strong to the side of planning, so my mileage is probably way different from a lot of peoples'.

Edit: What I mean is, under those circumstances, it looks like someone would have to just pick a good number of chapters and adjust as needed?

Re: How often should I post new chapters?

#8
My first story here I got myself into a hole.  I was several chapters ahead and got lazy.   "I have four chapters in the bank I have time, no need to write today."  

Three releases later I'm staring at an ide for the next chapter and a promised release tomorrow.  


This time I'm going to finish the arc before I start posting.  Then I'll tell myself I don't need to rush the next arc, I still have a bunch of releases in th he bank....

Re: How often should I post new chapters?

#9
It is a difficult thing to balance. But there is something I've found: 
1. Do not post on Saturday/Sunday. Those are the lowest times I get reads, and same with others i know.
2. If you have chapters already finished, then put them on a daily schedule Monday to Friday.
3. If you don't have chapters finished, then try and become a regular schedule of weekly, biweekly, or monthly. But most of all dont rush yourself and wind up hurting the quality of your own product just to satisfy an imperfect system. Because what system is ever perfect?