Re: How do completed stories work?

#1
So I hear it from readers sometimes "I don't read a lot of ongoing stories. I have picked up stories before, gotten really into them, only to find that they've been on hiatus for two years. It sucks. So I only read completed stories to avoid falling into that again."

My question is though... do those readers actually find those stories?

On all the writing sites I've been on, many say such things, but the moment I've marked a story completed, and stopped updating, the views stop dripping in (because that's how it's always been for me) and the book effectively dies in the analytics.

I know that most of these sites have filter tools to get you those completed stories, but unless I had smashing success getting me to tens of thousands of views, I don't have much hope to appear in such searches in any meaningful way.

I see now why so many writers on these sites just keep on producing chapters, because the alternative is effectively killing your book. 

But I dunno, I am just sharing my own experiences. What are y'all's thoughts?

Re: How do completed stories work?

#3
Short answer: That group of people isn't that large. Most of people in that group are much more picky in what they read, because they already read a lot of things before and want just best quality stuff, and pick only best completed stories. You lose large amount new readers that don't care about status and of the book and are less picky, because if book isn't updating it loses large amount of exposure. Oh and most people will not support you on patreon because you have completed story. Why would they? They can easily read it already. But ongoing one... They want it finished or they want more now, so they support you.

Long rambling answer:

I think there are always 4 groups of readers, based on my reading habits.


Largest is 1 group - When I stared reading online, I read everything i thought was good. It didn't matter if it was ongoing, finished or abandoned. In this group you usually read the most popular stories, because they are somewhat good and get most exposure. Most of them will be ongoing, but few will be completed or even abandoned.

2 group - After being burned few times, I tried to focus on finished stories. But there were few that truly captured me and I wanted to read them. I ran out of reading material. So I went back to ongoing ones. for a time I was annoyed if story I liked get dropped. I would go back to finished ones. I would get annoyed because I didn't really liked what I was reading. Back to ongoing... Few stories, that I started reading long time ago would be still ongoing. I wouldn't enjoy them much, but i kept on reading them.

3 group - After some time I decided to stick to ongoing ones. I stopped looking for finished stories. I read most of the finished ones that I liked. I would rather enjoy good ride, even if it was short, than to read something I didn't really enjoy that much, just because of finished status. Also in ongoing story, community is always more lively than in a story that is long finished. I learned to expect, that if I find story I really like, there is solid chance it will get abandoned and learned to accept that. I'll be hoping that the story will continue, but I will be happy for the experience. I learned to drop stories that I read since day one, that I kept reading mostly out of habit and actually resented. I still read finished stories, but only few that are truly exceptional and will get some kind of recommendation from someone.

4 group - reads exclusively completed stories - I believe it is actually the smallest group.

If you are in 1 group, you often come arcos story that is ongoing for a long time and you will start reading it. It always gets new fresh readers because of exposure and even if story slowly gets worse and worse it will not drop because of that. That story might have lost a lot of it's original followers, but new readers will keep it afloat, some old readers still enjoy it, and some stay because of sentimental attachment or guilt, despite the fact they enjoy it less and less. Ongoing story also gets more leeway for mistakes etc. than completed works.



Re: How do completed stories work?

#4

cmr Wrote: But, yes, for most books, marking them complete does slow the action down to a fraction of a trickle.



Yes, unfortunately it seems like on most writing sites, it slows down to barely anything. I don't want to be the author to milk a story dry, but it almost seems like there's not much incentive to finishing a story. I wish there was some way on these sites for them to be recommended better.

I've heard that on YouTube that "evergreen" content is promoted in the algorithm, like if it's still consistently getting noticed. Maybe something like that. 

Re: How do completed stories work?

#6

NovelNinja Wrote: One thing I want to know is how a completed story does when the author is still writing, just on a new story. In trad pub, readers who like an author will very frequently sample or complete that author's backlog. Does the same thing happen in web publishing?


No idea. I'm a bad source on this, because I don't do much reading on these sites. I spend all my efforts on writing, and when I want to read something, it'll be something curated in print.

I've heard some readers say they will check out other work by the author, but it hasn't happened to me before. Though granted, it's because my experience is with a zelda fanfic. I doubt any readers checked out my original fantasy novel after I finished the fanfic.

Re: How do completed stories work?

#7

Artim Wrote: I think there are always 4 groups of readers, based on my reading habits.



Artim seems to have reading groups nailed down. I think I might be somewhere around 3/4, but I drop most web stories I read now days. I've gotten really picky with my reading in my limited time so I mostly either read for a review swap requested of me or I read authors I consider very good to improve my own writing.

NovelNinja Wrote: One thing I want to know is how a completed story does when the author is still writing, just on a new story. In trad pub, readers who like an author will very frequently sample or complete that author's backlog. Does the same thing happen in web publishing?



In my experience (mostly on other sites since I don't have many readers here compared to other sites I post on) I would have to say rarely. Every now and then I will have a reader start with my ongoing story and then read every other story I have posted, but this is quite rare. I used to break up my stories into books and I clearly marked them with book 1 of the series, book 2, and so on. I had a large number of people read book one, leave a comment saying "Wow, I loved this book. Wish there was more." I would reply letting them know I was writing a book 2 and I would even leave the link to it. I wouldn't get a reply and I saw a huge drop off in readers at the beginning of book 2. Now I don't split series anymore. (I also have stories written in the same world as my most popular book, and I rarely see people read both.) 

Re: How do completed stories work?

#8
I am in Artim's Group 2.  Notably, even as a writer, I only start releasing fiction once I have a "book" or "volume" complete such that, if I abandon the universe altogether, at least there is some closure for the readership.  However, I am a bit of an outlier when it comes to writers (among other things, I write what I like to read, not for the audience, although the applause is nice).  

But, in short, yes, a "completed" story simply has less means to be discovered by readers.  That said, a story can be marked "completed" and then still hit trending (it is happening to me now).

To the extent you have aspirations of making this a profession or career, note that even if you complete a story, what comes next? Well, the next story.  So you always should be writing, and it comes down to whether or not it is in Universe A or B. 

Finally, when you say the views stop dripping in, do you mean that the views on the old chapters stop dripping in (which would only occur with new readers)? Of course, if you get a thousand views per new chapter, and you stop putting out new chapters, you won't get a thousand views, but you should still get the trickle from new readers coming in at chapter 1. 

P.S.: And for those people who do troll the depths of Royal Road for completed stories, even if your story is not like super popular, we'll find it.  The number of completed stories here is very small (maybe 3% of the entire site), and so long as the synopsis is compelling (cover art helps too), even if poorly received, I'll take a gander at it. It's also meant that I'm really scraping the bottom of the barrel in my preferred genres. 

Re: How do completed stories work?

#9

Anehalia Wrote: I had a large number of people read book one, leave a comment saying "Wow, I loved this book. Wish there was more." I would reply letting them know I was writing a book 2 and I would even leave the link to it. I wouldn't get a reply and I saw a huge drop off in readers at the beginning of book 2. Now I don't split series anymore. (I also have stories written in the same world as my most popular book, and I rarely see people read both.)


I hate that. I think it's extremely dumb. You can put links all over the place in the last part of the story, but people wont even notice.

Re: How do completed stories work?

#10

luda305 Wrote: Finally, when you say the views stop dripping in, do you mean that the views on the old chapters stop dripping in (which would only occur with new readers)? Of course, if you get a thousand views per new chapter, and you stop putting out new chapters, you won't get a thousand views, but you should still get the trickle from new readers coming in at chapter 1.


I am going to try really hard not to get mad at this, but I have never had anywhere near thousands of new views when I post a chapter. My most successful story online right now is on Wattpad, and it has 5.5k views. When I post a new chapter on any site, it gets around ten views. When I marked a story as complete on Scribblehub, the views on it entirely stopped. Barely anything. 

Re: How do completed stories work?

#12

cmr Wrote: Yes - 1000 views? I'd fall off my chair! Ten is a good day. Depends on the genre - and what I post isn't in popular ones. But I agree. If writing a series, it's best not to split them. The readers never seem to find the next book, otherwise. So I guess that between the visibility factors and reader preferences, long-running serial type stories win out on RR.


Maybe do something like what I see in published books - have a chapter that teases the first chapter of the second book.

Re: How do completed stories work?

#13

WasatchWind Wrote:
luda305 Wrote: Finally, when you say the views stop dripping in, do you mean that the views on the old chapters stop dripping in (which would only occur with new readers)? Of course, if you get a thousand views per new chapter, and you stop putting out new chapters, you won't get a thousand views, but you should still get the trickle from new readers coming in at chapter 1.


I am going to try really hard not to get mad at this, but I have never had anywhere near thousands of new views when I post a chapter. My most successful story online right now is on Wattpad, and it has 5.5k views. When I post a new chapter on any site, it gets around ten views. When I marked a story as complete on Scribblehub, the views on it entirely stopped. Barely anything.


The number wasn't the point; it's illustrative whether you use 10 or 10,000 or 10,000,000.

Re: How do completed stories work?

#14

Anehalia Wrote:
NovelNinja Wrote: One thing I want to know is how a completed story does when the author is still writing, just on a new story. In trad pub, readers who like an author will very frequently sample or complete that author's backlog. Does the same thing happen in web publishing?



In my experience (mostly on other sites since I don't have many readers here compared to other sites I post on) I would have to say rarely. Every now and then I will have a reader start with my ongoing story and then read every other story I have posted, but this is quite rare. I used to break up my stories into books and I clearly marked them with book 1 of the series, book 2, and so on. I had a large number of people read book one, leave a comment saying "Wow, I loved this book. Wish there was more." I would reply letting them know I was writing a book 2 and I would even leave the link to it. I wouldn't get a reply and I saw a huge drop off in readers at the beginning of book 2. Now I don't split series anymore. (I also have stories written in the same world as my most popular book, and I rarely see people read both.)

Yes, split series isn't great with the web novel format. I'd noticed that early on. It's a psychology thing, part of the same thing that makes web chapters significantly shorter than trad chapters -- or, for that matter, why high-quest-volume computer games and daytime dramas can be so addictive. It's a writing principle called narrative drive. You keep clicking, reading, watching, or playing because there's always more. When you're sucked in and reach the end, it's jarring. If you have to do something else to access more, even if it's simple, it can ruin the buzz.


Quick recap for anyone reading this who doesn't know why I've been poking around for the last six months. I'm a trad editor who's interested in the web novel industry because it's almost unknown in trad circles. I'm collecting data because I want to prove that web novels are not the dead end that people in the trad industry think. To do that, however, I need to provide evidence, and the best way to make it work is not actually to show that web novelists can be professionals, but rather to show that professionals can be web novelists.

So my plan is to write and document the effects. This is a long-term project, and I may not start publishing until the end of the summer or mid-fall. (And part of me is tempted to wait for the next Writeathon.) 

When I do, I'll be publishing two different stories, different genres, and documenting how they perform. One of them, the one I expect to be most popular, will almost certainly end before the other; but I have multiple separate novels mapped out, and my plan is to publish at least three. That means it'll be about 3-4 years before my data is all in. As I said, long-term project.

I'm seeing a lot of similarities to the last big shift in publishing a decade ago, so I'm putting my professional status where my mouth is. That's why I'm interested in the effects of a back catalog, completed stories, and other presentation factors. So in about (*pulls out fancy virtual pocket watch*) two years, I'll likely make a post in the Guide forum to document everything. 

Re: How do completed stories work?

#15

NovelNinja Wrote:
Anehalia Wrote:
NovelNinja Wrote: One thing I want to know is how a completed story does when the author is still writing, just on a new story. In trad pub, readers who like an author will very frequently sample or complete that author's backlog. Does the same thing happen in web publishing?



In my experience (mostly on other sites since I don't have many readers here compared to other sites I post on) I would have to say rarely. Every now and then I will have a reader start with my ongoing story and then read every other story I have posted, but this is quite rare. I used to break up my stories into books and I clearly marked them with book 1 of the series, book 2, and so on. I had a large number of people read book one, leave a comment saying "Wow, I loved this book. Wish there was more." I would reply letting them know I was writing a book 2 and I would even leave the link to it. I wouldn't get a reply and I saw a huge drop off in readers at the beginning of book 2. Now I don't split series anymore. (I also have stories written in the same world as my most popular book, and I rarely see people read both.)

Yes, split series isn't great with the web novel format. I'd noticed that early on. It's a psychology thing, part of the same thing that makes web chapters significantly shorter than trad chapters -- or, for that matter, why high-quest-volume computer games and daytime dramas can be so addictive. It's a writing principle called narrative drive. You keep clicking, reading, watching, or playing because there's always more. When you're sucked in and reach the end, it's jarring. If you have to do something else to access more, even if it's simple, it can ruin the buzz.


Quick recap for anyone reading this who doesn't know why I've been poking around for the last six months. I'm a trad editor who's interested in the web novel industry because it's almost unknown in trad circles. I'm collecting data because I want to prove that web novels are not the dead end that people in the trad industry think. To do that, however, I need to provide evidence, and the best way to make it work is not actually to show that web novelists can be professionals, but rather to show that professionals can be web novelists.

So my plan is to write and document the effects. This is a long-term project, and I may not start publishing until the end of the summer or mid-fall. (And part of me is tempted to wait for the next Writeathon.) 

When I do, I'll be publishing two different stories, different genres, and documenting how they perform. One of them, the one I expect to be most popular, will almost certainly end before the other; but I have multiple separate novels mapped out, and my plan is to publish at least three. That means it'll be about 3-4 years before my data is all in. As I said, long-term project.

I'm seeing a lot of similarities to the last big shift in publishing a decade ago, so I'm putting my professional status where my mouth is. That's why I'm interested in the effects of a back catalog, completed stories, and other presentation factors. So in about (*pulls out fancy virtual pocket watch*) two years, I'll likely make a post in the Guide forum to document everything.



Interesting... I hope to have some of my stories traditionally published at some point - right now I'm drafting them, putting them on sites like this to get feedback during the process. Then I'm going to remove them and find an editor.

Something I've noticed though is that genres that are popular in traditional publishing, notably fantasy and sci fi, don't do extremely well on web novel sites. That I think is a barrier to traditional authors getting into the space.

These sites are often the gathering place for non-traditional genres instead. The front page of scribblehub is a good example. 

Re: How do completed stories work?

#16

WasatchWind Wrote: popular in traditional publishing, notably fantasy and sci fi,

Royal Road has oodles of fantasy. As to sci-fi, not so much, but there are several very good works I recommend, including:
  • Post Human
  • Song of the Void
  • Coeus? 
  • Burning Stars, Falling Skies (which is so good, it could be published traditionally)
  • Grand Design (also good enough to publish traditionally after tweaking the ending)
  • Fantasy World Epsilon 30-10 (scifi/fantasy)
  • Nanocultivation Chronicles: Trials of Lilijoy (also good enough to publish traditionally)
  • The Tale of G.O.D.

Re: How do completed stories work?

#17

luda305 Wrote:
WasatchWind Wrote: popular in traditional publishing, notably fantasy and sci fi,

Royal Road has oodles of fantasy. As to sci-fi, not so much, but there are several very good works I recommend, including:
  • Post Human
  • Song of the Void
  • Coeus? 
  • Burning Stars, Falling Skies (which is so good, it could be published traditionally)
  • Grand Design (also good enough to publish traditionally after tweaking the ending)
  • Fantasy World Epsilon 30-10 (scifi/fantasy)
  • Nanocultivation Chronicles: Trials of Lilijoy (also good enough to publish traditionally)
  • The Tale of G.O.D.



Hmm. Well that's good to hear. I just hope that my fantasy novel can find some foothold here. I really almost gave up on it until I discovered there was someone actively reading my stuff that never commented or anything, and he got really sad when I said that I wasn't really feeling like working on it anymore.

Hopefully I'll be able to finish it. Whether a publisher would pick me up, I'm not sure. I am getting positive feedback from readers now, but I'm afraid a publishing company would pick me out for what I fear to be - a Brandon Sanderson clone, who wants desperately to be as good as him, but has a world and characters that are just hollow imitations of things that he has done better.

Re: How do completed stories work?

#18

WasatchWind Wrote:
NovelNinja Wrote: One thing I want to know is how a completed story does when the author is still writing, just on a new story. In trad pub, readers who like an author will very frequently sample or complete that author's backlog. Does the same thing happen in web publishing?


No idea. I'm a bad source on this, because I don't do much reading on these sites. I spend all my efforts on writing, and when I want to read something, it'll be something curated in print.

I've heard some readers say they will check out other work by the author, but it hasn't happened to me before. Though granted, it's because my experience is with a zelda fanfic. I doubt any readers checked out my original fantasy novel after I finished the fanfic.

My history is in Animorphs fanfic, and all of my most enthusiastic readers for my original works have come from that. That is, they ran out of my Animorphs fanfic to read, checked for other things I'd written, and found my original stories. So for fanfic readers, at least, following the author onto new works does happen

Re: How do completed stories work?

#19

WasatchWind Wrote: Interesting... I hope to have some of my stories traditionally published at some point - right now I'm drafting them, putting them on sites like this to get feedback during the process. Then I'm going to remove them and find an editor.

Something I've noticed though is that genres that are popular in traditional publishing, notably fantasy and sci fi, don't do extremely well on web novel sites. That I think is a barrier to traditional authors getting into the space.

These sites are often the gathering place for non-traditional genres instead. The front page of scribblehub is a good example.

You'll want to be careful with this. Most people who publish for free online in order to polish a story for other routes self-publish, because the majority of good publishers won't publish anything that's been published this way. (Yes, even if it gets taken down.) It's a nightmare for publication rights. It can be done, especially if you're famous, but it massively cuts down on the publishers you can submit to and your chances of publication.

Re: How do completed stories work?

#20

Derin_Edala Wrote:
WasatchWind Wrote: Interesting... I hope to have some of my stories traditionally published at some point - right now I'm drafting them, putting them on sites like this to get feedback during the process. Then I'm going to remove them and find an editor.

Something I've noticed though is that genres that are popular in traditional publishing, notably fantasy and sci fi, don't do extremely well on web novel sites. That I think is a barrier to traditional authors getting into the space.

These sites are often the gathering place for non-traditional genres instead. The front page of scribblehub is a good example.

You'll want to be careful with this. Most people who publish for free online in order to polish a story for other routes self-publish, because the majority of good publishers won't publish anything that's been published this way. (Yes, even if it gets taken down.) It's a nightmare for publication rights. It can be done, especially if you're famous, but it massively cuts down on the publishers you can submit to and your chances of publication.



You're certain of this? Even if what I took down was a first draft that's very different from the eventual result?