As a writer, I’ve been learning the importance of marketing over the last year or so. Every writer needs to market their work if they want to pick up readers. I’m also learning that as a writer you need to put as much effort (possibly even more) into marketing as you do into the writing itself.
Publishing serial fiction on the web can be a fun way to market yourself as a writer and build a plaform – but your serial fiction itself needs to be marketed. Nobody is going to come looking for you, you have to take the initiative.
I’m certainly no marketing expert, but I’ve seen my science fiction serial The Colonists grow slowly and steadily. I have a way to go yet, but I’m getting there, so I thought I’d share some of the things that have worked for me.
I’ve written this article as a “What I wish I’d known when I started”. I’ll share a few basic concepts, and then get into some practical ways that you can market your serial fiction on the web.
Do your best work
It should go without saying, but you should take the same pride in your online fiction as you would anything written for print. Don’t think “she’ll be right, it’s ‘good-enough’ for the web”. Good enough means “I don’t really care”. Proof read your work. Sometimes I’ll admit that errors still make it to my site, but we should work hard to avoid this.
Hone your craft
Writing serial fiction is a great way to hone your craft. I am using it as a practice ground to apply what I am learning, but you need the theoretical grounding to build on. Read books on writing. The best I’ve come accross is Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.
Again, it’s almost a given that you’re using twitter. Tweet about each new chapter or episode that you post. Consider coming up with an official hashtag for your story to stimulate discussion about it. I use #TheColonists. Also, don’t just promote your writing. Get involved in discussions. Participate in community. I’ve met a lot of sci-fi fans (potential readers) by participating in live tweets of Stargate Universe and Star Trek The Next Generation.
This one comes down to personal preference a little, but think hard on the length and regularity of your posts. I find that a chapter approx 1000 words posted weekly is good because it is short enough that busy people can jump on and read it, but it still “keeps them hungry” so they will come back for more. People generally don’t like to read large amounts of text on a computer screen, so don’t give them a novella for every post.
Of all the places that I’ve shared my serial fiction,Tuesday Serial has probably given me the most return. It’s a great little community. Each week they post a list of story updates. If you get involved with Tueday Serial you’re almost sure to get readers. tuesdayserial.com
Web Fiction Guide
The Web Fiction guide hosts a vast library of online fiction – including serial fiction. Members of this community review each other’s work. Be sure to join. webfictionguide.com
Muse’s Success is a WIKI of web fiction. It is highly structured and easy to join. You don’t want to miss out on having an entry here. muses-success.info
EpiGuide is a fairly recent discovery of mine. This is a community devoted to episodic web series of many kinds. They don’t just talk about the written word here, but video series, audio dramas and much more. EpiGuide offer several different ways to promote your work, and you’ll probably find some great work by other people at the same time. They are also responsible for runing WeSeWriMo (Web Series Writing Month). www.epiguide.com/forums/
This one is not strictly about marketing, but if you want to track how many readers you’re getting to your site, this is an invaluable tool. statcounter.com
Don’t give up too quickly
It takes time to build a platform online. When I first started, I thought that if I didn’t get some readers hooked in the first week the whole endeavour would be a failure. Nobody would want to go back to read all the early chapters in order to catch up. Fortunately, I persevered. I kept working at it. Now I regularly see people read my story all the way through from the start. If you keep going you will probably start seeing results, it just won’t happen overnight.
I’m sure there are other options that I just haven’t found yet. Feel free to drop me a comment and suggest other ways to market your serial fiction.