Re: Overall story length. What do readers prefer?

#1
I wasn't sure where to post this since we don't have a Readers Discussion yet, so I figured this section would do.

I know traditionally published novels and even self-published novels have their standards when it comes to word count, maybe depending on the genre. But what's the standard for web serial fiction? Are readers used to long stories that last for years? Do they expect another Worm that takes several books to publish traditionally? Do your stories meet these expectations? 

My serial will be around 30K words total when it ends. I think I can bring it to an organic conclusion with this word count. I never advertised it as a short story or a novella.

Will this turn potential readers off?

Re: Overall story length. What do readers prefer?

#2
I'd say for most writing on the internet (fanfic and webnovels) readers tend to expect longer form storytelling. A lot of readers will want 100k+ words and from my analytics, a few readers are specifically searching for 100 - 200+ pages when searching for new fics.

On the other hand, having the story be completed will draw in a different audience. 

Overall, I really like the idea of having shorter form stories on RR and normalizing more concise novels. 30k words is more of a novella, so there might be benefit in advertising it as such, but I'm not sure how the marketing stats go in that case. 

Re: Overall story length. What do readers prefer?

#4
scost Wrote: I'd say for most writing on the internet (fanfic and webnovels) readers tend to expect longer form storytelling. A lot of readers will want 100k+ words and from my analytics, a few readers are specifically searching for 100 - 200+ pages when searching for new fics.

On the other hand, having the story be completed will draw in a different audience. 

Overall, I really like the idea of having shorter form stories on RR and normalizing more concise novels. 30k words is more of a novella, so there might be benefit in advertising it as such, but I'm not sure how the marketing stats go in that case.

That's good to know. I had a feeling readers preferred longer stories. I guess that's something to consider for my next work. If my next serial ends up being around that, I'll definitely make sure it's advertised accurately.

And I'd like to see shorter serials as well.

Tenori Wrote: 30k sounds awfully short. That's just 6 short stories (5k each) put together.

Maybe I should have done this as  5K chapters and released one each month like a comic book. I would have been buried, though. I don't know how well monthly updates do.

Re: Overall story length. What do readers prefer?

#5

meteoraguy Wrote: Maybe I should have done this as  5K chapters and released one each month like a comic book. I would have been buried, though. I don't know how well monthly updates do.



I don't know for sure, but I think unless you already have a decent following and readers who are invested in what you write, monthly updates would be difficult to gain a good, substantial audience.

As for the original question on story length, I found that many stories here have >50 chapters and still ongoing, so I would assume readers like longer novels? Maybe not like 300+ chapters long stuff as it's too much to binge in several days, but around several hundred thousand words? It's all just really rough guessing from me.

Re: Overall story length. What do readers prefer?

#6
I tend to want more than fifteen chapters on a story, and I want it to have been around for more than a month.

However, that's partially an artifact of how RoyalRoad does it's algorithms. For a long time, (and maybe still, although I think it's been tweaked) how often you released in the first month would pretty much determine if you got on Trending, and most authors who dropped would drop soon after that - either because they got on trending and couldn't take a zillion followers, or they didn't get on trending and gave up because they didn't feel like they could get an audience.

So in my mind, more than one month / fifteen chapters = probably not going to randomly disappear next week, it's got enough content to see if I like it, time to give it a shot.

That being said, I also have a definite skew towards 'more is better'. I'm the happiest when I discover a super-long fic I can just binge for days (Lord of the Mysteries was an amazing week), and I regularly sort the stories on the site by length and go through looking for ones I might enjoy.

There are likely people who's interests skew the other way, but RoyalRoad's algorithms seems to encourage writing longer fiction.

Re: Overall story length. What do readers prefer?

#7

scost Wrote: Overall, I really like the idea of having shorter form stories on RR and normalizing more concise novels. 30k words is more of a novella, so there might be benefit in advertising it as such, but I'm not sure how the marketing stats go in that case.

We really need to excise this word "novella" from our vocabulary. Most people don't know what it is. I prefer the term "short novel."