Welcome to Writerly Wednesdays 32, this week I want to talk about serialisation and how it can grow an audience. I have not serialised any of my original work (yet), but I was reading a post on how to use Wattpad the other day and serialisation came up. What I have done is used serialisation to grow an audience in the fanfiction arena, and the same principles apply.
Free Fiction Serialisation - The Dos and Don'ts
Way back in 2003 when I had barely been on Livejournal a year and had just started a new account specifically for Harry Potter fanfiction, I had almost finished writing my Harry Potter epic Gold Tinted Spectacles. At the time I had no grand schemes of using serialisation to grow my readership, it was just I'd finished the beginning and not quite finished the end, so I started posting it in 5 chapter chunks, weekly.
This meant people subscribed to my LJ and my mailing list to get all the updates as soon as they came out.
I've done it several times with fanfic and it works every time, hence it should work with free original fiction too. However, there are definitely some dos and don'ts that I've experienced over the years. These are not about story structure, or details like that, these are just simply rules I've used to prevent grey hairs and too much stress :).
~ Dos ~
Do not leave the writing until the last minute. We want to impress our audience and keep them hooked, last minute, slapdash fiction isn't going to help us with that. Polish each part before publishing.
- Prepare in advance
Some people can get away with not knowing this, but it's very, very dangerous. If we don't know where we're going with a story, it is very easy for us to write ourselves into a dead end - I've seen it many times in fanfiction.
- Have the Story Planned Before Starting to Post
There is also the danger we will end up with inconsistencies because of lack of structure.
Have a posting schedule that is regular and predictable. People like to know when the next part it coming and it builds the anticipation. Look at comic books - now there is a genre that exploits serialisation to the max :).
- Post Regularly
~ Don'ts ~
We can lose an audience if we miss our regular posting slot. If the story is good, they'll forgive us once, maybe twice, but if it becomes a regular occurrence, they will start to give up. It smacks of unprofessionalism and that is not the lasting impression we wish to give.
- Don't miss the posting slots
There is nothing wrong in asking nicely for reviews, but don't hold the next parts of the fiction to ransom. If we do, we will annoy our readers. We want them to be happy because we want them to keep reading and to buy our other books.
- Don't demand reviews in return for posting the next parts.
We might be giving the fiction away for free, but if we just give up and stop, our audience is going to lose faith in us. We want them to be thanking us, not cursing us :).
- Don't flake out halfway through and just stop.
Serialisation is a really great way to hook people into our writing. It is a great tool, but it takes no less effort than publishing normally if we wish to look professional and competent.