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Web Serials > Frequency of updates for serial fiction

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message 1: by Marie (new)

Marie Howalt (howalt) | 12 comments Hi all!

I haven't posted here before, but I was wondering how readers (and writers) of serial novels/prose feel about update frequency.

-Do you prefer it when serials have a regular update schedule, or doesn't it matter?
-Do you prefer daily/weekly/biweekly/monthly (or something else) updates?
-Do you lose interest if a serial is updated too often/too rarely for your taste?
-What influences your preferences? (It could be things like chapter length, the genre of the serial, the hooks/cliffhangers.)

I run a serial novel and update once every week. My chapters are around 2,000 words long, so I feel it's enough to give a good chunk of story that can still be read in one sitting.
But I've come across popular serials that are updated once a month, others that are updated two or three times every week, and some that get handful of new chapters once in a while.

I hope to hear your points of view. :) Thanks!


message 2: by Frances (new)

Frances (mothindarkness) | 83 comments Mod
I personally don't have a preference as a reader, though I like my webcomics to update weekly at least. SO maybe I do.
I have definitely noticed that readership drops off or never builds if you don't update frequently and regularly.
The most popular serials update a lot lot more than mine do. :)


message 3: by Ray (new)

Ray Kuili (raynkuili) | 1 comments Based on my experience, for a smaller size updates (2K or so) weekly is a good frequency. If you publish it more rarely, it's hard for readers to keep enough context between installments. I've been also publishing a series in larger (10K) episodes on Amazon and for that one monthly seems to be working.


message 4: by Marie (new)

Marie Howalt (howalt) | 12 comments Thanks a lot for your thoughts! :)

Based on what you say (and my own experiences), I think the length of the updates can play a big part. With short updates, frequent updates keep the attention (and moves the story forward), with longer installments it can be hard to keep up (2 weeksly installments of 10K words would be hard to me to keep up with, at least).


message 5: by Brian (new)

Brian Thorp | 1 comments What I most value in updates is regularity, nothing puts me off a series more than frequent missed updates. If you are going to have a schedule, stick to it. If the schedule you have isn't working for you, feel free to change it, just make sure your readers know the new update schedule. Also, if for any reason you miss an update, tell your readers, you don't have to say why, just that there won't be an update, don't leave them swinging in the wind.


message 6: by Marie (new)

Marie Howalt (howalt) | 12 comments Thanks for the input, Brian! It's definitely a good point. Since I started serialising in August last year, I've missed one update, but I made sure to announce that I was going to (I did it to be able to do a holiday special episode on my personal website), so I agree that it's important.


message 7: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Shapira | 11 comments I'm planning to launch my web-serial first --- and my rule of thumb is to think "Web comic" with just one difference -- instead of giving readers each update an image-file that could as well be (and if all goes well some-day will be) in a comic-book, I give them, instead, a section of text that could as well be (and if all goes well some-day will be) in a print novel. I try, as much as possible, for all *other* rules to be *corollaries* of *this* rule.

How does this apply to your question ---- of whether having an update schedule is important? Very simply --- the answer is "yes".

What I'm going to do is release my story in what I call "episodes" --- myself defining an "episode" as a section of the story that I release in an individual post. I'm going to make my episodes significantly *shorter* than a chapter. (Chapter one, for example, will be made of *four* episodes - other chapters may very well end up being longer.)

I am going to write far enough in advance that I can have a significant *buffer* - and develop a formula by which to determine my update schedule based on how much of a buffer I have. This way, if I realize that I *can't* keep up with my current update schedule, I will have enough *warning* that I will be able to inform my readers in *advance* that I will be *adjusting* the update schedule.

As for my reason for keeping my episodes short --- yes, ability to have a not-too-sporadic update schedule is *one* reason, but *not* the *only* reason. The *other* reason is to allow my readers to fit reading the update into a busy schedule. Granted, reading one of these episodes *will* take *significantly* longer than reading a page in a comic-book (which is what a webcomic gives you with each update) and *really* *this* difference is *inevitable*. But I *don't* want to go all the way to the *other* extreme of dumping readers with an entire chapter with each update.


message 8: by Marie (new)

Marie Howalt (howalt) | 12 comments Thanks for your input, Sophia! :)
I see we've had some of the same thoughts regarding serialisation. Before I began, I made certain to have a buffer for a couple of months. And I aim to make my updates of a length that can be read on a commute or the like.


message 9: by Kip (new)

Kip Manley (kiplet) | 10 comments It's a tough balance to maintain: on the one hand, a regular schedule is a good thing for readers to have; if nothing else, it shows you're keeping the promise, and that there's something to the promise worth keeping.

But on the other hand, a serial is (to a certain, drawn-out, asynchronous extent) a performance; it's not just a story broken up and doled out, but a story written as you're reading it, a story that responds to its responses, and those uncertain, impromptu, live-wire sparks can be dulled if not lost entirely by a comfortably large and regulated buffer written out ahead of time, insulated, safe.

I've ended up stumbling into a split difference: the main episode-blocks of the story are written to fill a 36-page zine, roughly 15,000 words—and these are themselves broken up into six parts that can range from 1,000 – 4,000 words. I can maintain a rigorous schedule for those parts, publishing them clockwork-wise Monday-Wednesday-Friday over the course of two weeks, and then take a break of a couple of weeks (or months) (or, sigh, longer) between the larger episodes to regroup, rewrite, revise.

Something to me—as a reader, and a writer—that's more important than a schedule is a structure, or a shape. —Someone recently said something somewhere about the proprioception of a story, the sense in your bones of the shape of a piece, and where you are within it, and this kinesthetic sense is aided—both in writing, and in reading—not so much by knowing that another 2,000 words will be dropping in two days, but by having a notion of where those 2,000 words will be in the story, and what part they'll play. —Structure is key to this, more than schedule: 22 pages of comic book; 20 minutes of sitcom, or 45 minutes of drama (55 if it's prestige); a couple of verses and a couple of choruses always before you get took to the bridge; three four-line stanzas, A-B-A-B, then the couplet. A structure established and repeated, adhered to, becomes something else to trust, to anticipate, to relish—and but also, to play with.


message 10: by Marie (new)

Marie Howalt (howalt) | 12 comments Thanks for your thoughts, Kip! That was an interesting read. Admittedly, my current serial is novel being serialised, although I do allow for changes to be made along the way based on reader response. Your point about the importance of structure is really good.


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