Is what I'm doing wrong?

#1
(Explanation is lengthy, but the TLDR: Is it wrong to write other stories with intention of establishing a reader base for the story you really want to write?)

I started posting on Royal Road (and Scribble Hub/tapas) with the hope of building an audience. I know a lot of people post their work on here because they love writing and just want any kind of eyes on their projects which is totally fine.

But I came here to start build an audience. Not necessarily to start a career, but to get some readers that would be willing to give other books I write a try. That's why I started writing my first story, Lethal Combo. I heard that RR has a lot of readers and while the audience has a very specific taste, stories in other genres can pick up steam here.

That's awesome! So I stuck with what I had worked in my previous books; urban, semi-slice of life stories with action. It was a bit of a departure from my original stories, but still in the same vein. I thought adding in art and making it more action-oriented would appeal to this site's demographic. 

I was wrong. 

So I went back to the drawing board. After a bit of a "venting" here on the forums, I received some great advice. Keep writing. Write a lot. Read a lot. Try to understand what people want. I took all that advice and after a bit of brainstorming, I formed what I thought would be a mixture of what I'd enjoy writing with what traditional readers of serial fiction would enjoy; Rumble Circuit. Not quite a LitRPG, but plenty of game elements and progression aspects that I thought would get readers here invested.

(I think) I was wrong. Readership has been fairly low. Even after a relaunch, I can't seem to get more than 36 followers. I know it's still early on in the story's span, but I think it's easy to tell whether or not the story is the kind to generate dedicated readers for an author. 

Now this isn't a thread about asking whether or not I should dump my stories and quit writing. I'm still working on them and have a backlog. The real goal of these two stories was to generate a readership that would be willing to take a chance on a story that I wanted to tell. It's the series that I want to be my flagship. I had sent the original book to agents and had been rejected multiple times so I started following the advice of what plenty of established authors have said. Write more books.

I scoured Royal Road and saw how many new authors starting out could get hundreds or even thousands of followers in a few months time. I thought that I could most definitely do that because of all the positive feedback I had gotten from beta readers of my original novel. But three months later, 110k words and roughly another 40k on stand by, I can't get either story to 50 followers.

I guess my main question would be, is it a bad idea to write other books to get a following so you can ensure a reader base for the story that you really want to tell? I haven't worked on my original novel series in seven or eight months and I looked at some art that I had gotten for it a while back and I'm really starting to miss it. But I've been going full force on Rumble Circuit and sprinkling in some extra time on Lethal Combo to keep it up to date. 

It feels like all of the fun of writing is gone now. Back when I had hopes of my first novel possibly getting picked up, I was ecstatic. Creating characters and stories was fun because of the thought of how readers would react. Now it's more like a chore because I'm trying to build up a bigger backlog of RC so I can publish more of RC so I can get more views into LC to drum up interest for my original story. I'd post my original story here and expand upon it if that wouldn't completely and utterly kill any chance for it to be traditionally published.

It's like I'm writing my own literary version of a pyramid scheme except none of my stories are at the top!

And trying to figure out what to do is hard because everyone has different advice. Write what you want. Write for a market. Compromise and meet in the middle. Focus more on quantity. Focus more on quality. Stick to one genre. Try multiple genres. Every time someone says one thing, someone somewhere says something that's completely contradictory. 

Sorry for the lengthy explanation/question. It's been something that's been bothering me for a long time ever since my original version of Rumble Circuit didn't really catch on. If you've read all of this and write a response, I really do appreciate it.

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#2
So I have no authority on which to stake this claim, but just write what you want to write. I've been in the same pitfall of imagining things will be better if you just write something else first and it has nearly killed my ability to write since I'm always working on the one that "doesn't count" . Go for it. It's better to write a bad book than no book. 

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#3
i think that you're a great writer, despite what numbers show
but the target audience matters, as you well know
here's my modest take on your experiences here
i have an opinion, and i hope it comes through clear

i think people who have the most fun on this website
are the people who simply love to chat, read, and write
it's a pretty gamelit focussed art community
and that sort of genre is not for everybody

although the site appears to reward quality and style
even masterpieces flop every once in a while
but if you can just enjoy learning and making friends
this site will provide you fulfilment that never ends

for one to enjoy royal road, i think that usually
it seems one must be grounded in RR's community
even being here for years won't guarantee you fame
but if having fun's your goal, then you'll be glad you came

i enjoy the process of trying to make it big
and i've enjoyed trying gamelit, in the form of TWIG
but i'm only here to learn and grow, all said and done
one day maybe i'll get rich, but today i'll have fun

by the way, it sounds like you've already learned a lot
and you're adding experience to the skills you've got
sounds like you're already on the correct path to me
and like me, you're still quite new to this community

PeoReading

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#4

FGC_Checkmate Wrote: Write what you want. Write for a market. Compromise and meet in the middle. Focus more on quantity. Focus more on quality. Stick to one genre. Try multiple genres. Every time someone says one thing, someone somewhere says something that's completely contradictory.
That's because there is no one answer. Every writer's path looks different. For some, writing what they want is more important, and they have the will to continue on their own path until they succeed. For others, writing what the audience wants works for them, they can enjoy it and not be troubled by shifting to meet the market.


What all the advice has in common is that it worked for someone; there's no guarantee that it'll work for you.

Part of your job as a writer is to sort through the static and find the methods that work for you. Do you need community engagement to be motivated to continue? Then shift your style towards the market. Do you care more about writing your book your way, and just wish people would hurry up and appreciate it already? Then settle in for the long haul, because the audience is out there but it takes time for them to find you.

I know it's easy to assume that if someone just told you the secret, you'd be all set for success. But there isn't any one secret. What works spectacularly well for one person could fail miserably for another.

Try things. Adjust until you find a methodology that works for you. No one else can find those answers for you.

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#5
Well, I wouldn't say what you're doing is wrong, but if what you're doing already isn't meeting your personal standards, then write what you want to write! I imagine it's better to write what you want to write without many followers than it is to have the same amount of followers writing something you're not as bonkers about. Full disclosure, I'm writing what I want to write for the purpose of building an audience base and have very few followers, but I plan to keep writing regardless of the outcome. 

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#6
The only way to build a reader base is to write. You're writing, and so you're building a reader base. How long it takes someone to grow a reader base depends on uncontrollable factors, so it's just a waiting game. Some authors have ten books under their belt before their eleventh book makes it on the NYT Bestseller List. Even then, that one bestseller might not translate into a reader base for their first ten books or any of the books that come after it. 

All you can really do is write your book, do what you can to get it in front of readers, and wait. The waiting is the hard part, so do what will help make waiting better for you. Maybe that's writing the book you actually want to write? Or maybe it's continuing your attempt to grow your reader base. That's really for you to answer I think.  

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#7

FGC_Checkmate Wrote: I guess my main question would be, is it a bad idea to write other books to get a following so you can ensure a reader base for the story that you really want to tell? I haven't worked on my original novel series in seven or eight months and I looked at some art that I had gotten for it a while back and I'm really starting to miss it. But I've been going full force on Rumble Circuit and sprinkling in some extra time on Lethal Combo to keep it up to date.
To answer this question, I don't think it's a bad idea so much as I think it wouldn't achieve what you want. People will read based on the book way more often than on the author. You can't really ensure readership, at least not until your track record is so solid that readers will know you'll satisfy what they're craving. It's both quality AND quantity. Quality writing or at least knowing your market and delivering it very well is key to that. Even then, it's possible the majority may just stick to the free content. 


Honestly, I think you might need to consider a mindset shift from writing to gain readers to writing to improve at this current juncture. Don't get me wrong, I haven't read anything of yours so I am not making a judgement of quality here, I'm only listening to what you've told me of the responses from agents and your perception of low engagement. Go for more reviews and really research how to implement advice you receive. Use what you learn from RR feedback to edit and edit again on your passion project, and get as many alpha and beta readers as you can. Keep submitting to agents. I really believe you will get there, and that's your ultimate goal. 

As for the RR stories, think of them like a tool to experimenting and learning. Bring back your passion project into your writing life. If you have to drop one of your stories which you aren't enjoying to make space for that, I think that would be acceptable for your own sanity and progress as a writer. At least, that's my perspective on your situation. I hope you find peace in your writing life, and I wish you every success. :) 

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#8
From reading the story descriptions of LC and RC, what's not grabbing me is the lack of emotion.  It's not really obvious to me if these stories are going to comical or not, or what's interesting about the insides of your characters' heads and hearts, their goals and motives at the start if the story.  I really loved Street Cultivation, which doesn't seem too different than your stories, except maybe a little more grown up, introspective, or strategic.  On the other hand, I could never quite get into Hunter vs. Hunter because it was just too solidly aimed at a young audience for me.

if your original novel is something you'd describe as Y.A. fiction, then it might be that the entire audience if RR is too old to be your target audience.

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#10
A little late to the party here, but I am just going to drop my two cents.

I took the plunge and read the first chapter, sypnosis etc. of Lethal Combo.

My final annalysis is, wouldn't keep reading. Not becuase of anything you did. In fact the chapter was one of the best first chapters I'd read. THe hook was hooky, the setting interesting, clear and the characters were shown in a very clear fashion. 

The fact is that I found it to be entirely contradictory. The titel screamed  'Wuxia/Xianxia' to me. The sypnosis, Urban Mystery and the first chapter disillusioned me of every hope that it would be a progression fantasy in any way.

Now I know ( guess)  what you are going to say. The title says Martial Arts Adventure, I am the one not reading it fully etc. Its true, I myself am a victim of the same thing
My book was previously titled 'I'm a brick! Why do I have hands?' It had people telling me, I thought your book was about a brick with hands. And I would always be- no that is not that way. Read the book, the sypnosis. They didn't. THe average reader doesn't even read the title fully, they just read it enough to get a vague idea, maybe see the reviews and rating to see if its any good and then dive right in. 

I then changed it to
I'm a brick! But why am I a Humanoid? [A Non-Level LitRPG with a Humanoid MC full of Magic, Drama and Comedic Undertone]
Tells you lot about the book. Also, RR likes Progression Fantasy most. Progress in power is essential. 

Keep writing! You are already a good writer and willl eventually get the support you want!

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#11

Verlin Wrote: A little late to the party here, but I am just going to drop my two cents.

I took the plunge and read the first chapter, sypnosis etc. of Lethal Combo.

My final annalysis is, wouldn't keep reading. Not becuase of anything you did. In fact the chapter was one of the best first chapters I'd read. THe hook was hooky, the setting interesting, clear and the characters were shown in a very clear fashion. 

The fact is that I found it to be entirely contradictory. The titel screamed  'Wuxia/Xianxia' to me. The sypnosis, Urban Mystery and the first chapter disillusioned me of every hope that it would be a progression fantasy in any way.

Now I know ( guess)  what you are going to say. The title says Martial Arts Adventure, I am the one not reading it fully etc. Its true, I myself am a victim of the same thing
My book was previously titled 'I'm a brick! Why do I have hands?' It had people telling me, I thought your book was about a brick with hands. And I would always be- no that is not that way. Read the book, the sypnosis. They didn't. THe average reader doesn't even read the title fully, they just read it enough to get a vague idea, maybe see the reviews and rating to see if its any good and then dive right in. 

I then changed it to
I'm a brick! But why am I a Humanoid? [A Non-Level LitRPG with a Humanoid MC full of Magic, Drama and Comedic Undertone]
Tells you lot about the book. Also, RR likes Progression Fantasy most. Progress in power is essential. 

Keep writing! You are already a good writer and willl eventually get the support you want!
Thanks for the critique and kind words! But I'm trying to be as blunt and straightforward with LC's title as possible. It is illustrated and it has weapon-based martial arts as its main subject. I'm just confused as to what part would be misleading. I tried following the naming conventions of most other stories here so readers would know exactly what to expect. 

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#12

FGC_Checkmate Wrote:
Verlin Wrote: A little late to the party here, but I am just going to drop my two cents.

I took the plunge and read the first chapter, sypnosis etc. of Lethal Combo.

My final annalysis is, wouldn't keep reading. Not becuase of anything you did. In fact the chapter was one of the best first chapters I'd read. THe hook was hooky, the setting interesting, clear and the characters were shown in a very clear fashion. 

The fact is that I found it to be entirely contradictory. The titel screamed  'Wuxia/Xianxia' to me. The sypnosis, Urban Mystery and the first chapter disillusioned me of every hope that it would be a progression fantasy in any way.

Now I know ( guess)  what you are going to say. The title says Martial Arts Adventure, I am the one not reading it fully etc. Its true, I myself am a victim of the same thing
My book was previously titled 'I'm a brick! Why do I have hands?' It had people telling me, I thought your book was about a brick with hands. And I would always be- no that is not that way. Read the book, the sypnosis. They didn't. THe average reader doesn't even read the title fully, they just read it enough to get a vague idea, maybe see the reviews and rating to see if its any good and then dive right in. 

I then changed it to
I'm a brick! But why am I a Humanoid? [A Non-Level LitRPG with a Humanoid MC full of Magic, Drama and Comedic Undertone]
Tells you lot about the book. Also, RR likes Progression Fantasy most. Progress in power is essential. 

Keep writing! You are already a good writer and willl eventually get the support you want!
Thanks for the critique and kind words! But I'm trying to be as blunt and straightforward with LC's title as possible. It is illustrated and it has weapon-based martial arts as its main subject. I'm just confused as to what part would be misleading. I tried following the naming conventions of most other stories here so readers would know exactly what to expect.

it's exactly what it is, and it's fine

but I'm pretty sure most people read it for the pictures

Tbh

I read like two chapters, lost interest, and then skimmed through all the remaining ones to look at illustrations

peogentleman

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#13

Sake Wrote:
FGC_Checkmate Wrote:
Verlin Wrote: A little late to the party here, but I am just going to drop my two cents.

I took the plunge and read the first chapter, sypnosis etc. of Lethal Combo.

My final annalysis is, wouldn't keep reading. Not becuase of anything you did. In fact the chapter was one of the best first chapters I'd read. THe hook was hooky, the setting interesting, clear and the characters were shown in a very clear fashion. 

The fact is that I found it to be entirely contradictory. The titel screamed  'Wuxia/Xianxia' to me. The sypnosis, Urban Mystery and the first chapter disillusioned me of every hope that it would be a progression fantasy in any way.

Now I know ( guess)  what you are going to say. The title says Martial Arts Adventure, I am the one not reading it fully etc. Its true, I myself am a victim of the same thing
My book was previously titled 'I'm a brick! Why do I have hands?' It had people telling me, I thought your book was about a brick with hands. And I would always be- no that is not that way. Read the book, the sypnosis. They didn't. THe average reader doesn't even read the title fully, they just read it enough to get a vague idea, maybe see the reviews and rating to see if its any good and then dive right in. 

I then changed it to
I'm a brick! But why am I a Humanoid? [A Non-Level LitRPG with a Humanoid MC full of Magic, Drama and Comedic Undertone]
Tells you lot about the book. Also, RR likes Progression Fantasy most. Progress in power is essential. 

Keep writing! You are already a good writer and willl eventually get the support you want!
Thanks for the critique and kind words! But I'm trying to be as blunt and straightforward with LC's title as possible. It is illustrated and it has weapon-based martial arts as its main subject. I'm just confused as to what part would be misleading. I tried following the naming conventions of most other stories here so readers would know exactly what to expect.

it's exactly what it is, and it's fine

but I'm pretty sure most people read it for the pictures

Tbh

I read like two chapters, lost interest, and then skimmed through all the remaining ones to look at illustrations

peogentleman
That's a W in my book  DrakanWine

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#14
No, it's pretty rare your readers will become such huge fans of you that they will start reading your new story when you release it. You will have less of these "superfans" than Favourites. If you have thousands of readers, you might be able to convince, like, a 100 of them to give your new book a try. Way, way less if it's a different genre.

At least that's the impression I'm under. There's not much "author-loyalty" on RR. A book's a book, and we read the books we like. Same way as I don't care who "the director" of a TV show is, and it has never once in my life crossed my mind to search for other TV shows from the same director.

A "pyramid" can be built here, but only like a few percent of your followers is going to hop between your books, which I don't think is really enough for what you want. The audiences on different novels of the same author are more seperate than not.

Is what you're doing wrong? Only in the sense that your expectations were too high, your story might not be as amazing as you feel it is, you're still new here and I'm not sure you really "get it", you expect too much from a platform where you gave too little, and it comes off like you keep complaining, new thread every day.

I hope you get some helpful answers which help you improve your motivation, or expand your perspective, but I think that most of the replies will just be rehashes of ones you've already got before (because the question is so similiar, and it's coming from the same person).

Cheers,
PeoReading

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#16
We know that the most popular stories on here are xianxia and cultivation stories and we could write those in order to build up an audience but would it really be worth it? We'd be writing stories that we don't want to write and at that point is there a purpose in writing at all? I admit it's hard not to get jealous of the popular authors here but I say just keep at it. You already have a good hook, your stories are basically light novels. I'd die of excitement if I had an artist who could do the same with my stories. I'd say your priority right now is to just finish things, gain experience. The audience will come.

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#17

Majorian Wrote: We know that the most popular stories on here are xianxia and cultivation stories and we could write those in order to build up an audience but would it really be worth it? We'd be writing stories that we don't want to write and at that point is there a purpose in writing at all? I admit it's hard not to get jealous of the popular authors here but I say just keep at it. You already have a good hook, your stories are basically light novels. I'd die of excitement if I had an artist who could do the same with my stories. I'd say your priority right now is to just finish things, gain experience. The audience will come.
...

Wonders where fantasy went
(joke lol)

Re: Is what I'm doing wrong?

#18
I see a lot of authors write in many genres specifically with the intent to increase their audience. The problem - Fantasy readers aren't necessarily science fiction readers (or other genre readers). It's very common for a reader to have 1 or 2 genre preferences and rarely deviate from those. It's in those types of worlds that they want to spend their time. And that's okay.

Reader conversion from one genre to another is very small. People like to read what they read after all. 

But if you're writing all fantasy (as an example), your reader conversion rate increases (by comparison). That said, readers also gear toward series. I read all 30 books in one series of one author, but couldn't be bothered to read anything from the same author outside of that series. It's weird and definitely not a factor you have any control over.

My advice is if you are not writing in a series, then to make sure your standalone stories are all in the same genre. 

If you're not comfortable writing to market, then write what you want to write, but be aware that every creative decision you make will impact your potential reach. Sometimes in good ways, sometimes in bad ways. For example: writing to a niche audience can lead to die hard fans and easier sales. But also writing to a niche means you have a small pool of potential sales. 

Of course this is from the perspective of a writer who writes for profit. That said, the same advice can be applied if writing for reads/popularity. Just replace any talk about sales with faves, or upvotes, or what have you.