As some of you, presumably the most awesome of an already kickass bunch, may remember, on July 16th (this coming Wednesday) StarterSerials.com officially launches. A few brave souls have allowed their concept pages to go up ahead of time and you can see those now, but rest assured there is far more waiting at the gates when the launch hits. In doing the final prep work this week, getting everything squared away for the big day, it got me reflecting about web-serials in general, and why I’m still so happy to have one.
1. It’s A Completely Unique Experience
Here’s something I didn’t mention in the FAQ I did a few weeks back, because I knew it was a question with an answer so big it demanded its own blog to truly do it justice. Many people have asked me why I still am doing a web-serial now that my standalone books are selling well and I’ve got a slight presence on the e-book market. None of them have meant it maliciously; they just took web-serials to be the place you started out writing, then once you could sell books you would leave it behind and stop giving away content. I don’t begrudge them that idea, but it’s not at all the way I see my web-serial.
To me, a web-serial is a very different experience than you could ever have just writing books. Having done both, there are certainly upsides and downsides to each, but the fact still remains that they are entirely different entities. With a book, up until the point of getting an editor involved it’s a very lonely process. Just you, the thoughts in your head, and the clacking of the keyboard. Web-serials are inherently different because there’s a community aspect as soon as others are reading. People become invested in your work, and as a writer that gives you a lot of strength to lean on during the days when self-doubt or general fear seep into your head. True, it’s still on you to craft the plot, dialogue, characters, etc; but having readers is like having a cheering squad telling you that you can do this.
I can’t speak for every author in history; all I can say is that to me having that has been priceless.
2. You Get To Connect With Readers
I’m always a bit flummoxed when people who write me e-mails are surprised I write back. I plaster my e-mail address on my site, author bio, in the backs of my books, and even on my business card. Yes, I made myself business cards, and they are awesome. Point is, why would I go to all that trouble if I didn’t want to hear from readers? And what kind of person would I be if I didn’t write back to someone who took the time and trouble to tell me they enjoyed my work? Now, I’ll be the first admit I’m not as timely as I should be, but that’s just me sucking at time management. I love hearing from my readers, I love talking with my readers, hell some of the coolest parts of my online life (Pen and Cape Society for example) started out from conversations with readers.
I’m not unique in the enjoyment of connecting with readers. Loads of authors I talk to have the same sentiment, but I feel like very few of them get to experience it on the level I do. Traditional books just always seem like a monologue, and rarely do I feel welcomed enough by the experience to drop the author a line. With web-serial, there’s a level of accessibility inherent to the process. You know the author is there, daily, doing things like approving comments and keeping up the site. It feels slightly more like a dialogue, and that slight shift in attitude seems to make it far easier to open conversations. Be it comments, forums, e-mails, or twitter; connecting with readers is a great opportunity for writers, and web-serials generate so many more chances for that.
3. It Keeps You Writing
One of the worst things that can happen to a writer is losing momentum. Walking away from a project is often the kiss of death to it, because once you’re out getting back in can be borderline impossible. You can never seem to get that same feel with it again, and other, newer endeavors just seem so much more tempting. Soon it’s just a file in a computer that you may stumble across one day when the idea well runs dry and you’re seeing if there’s any forgotten gold in the old Documents Folder.
With a web-serial, you don’t even have the option of losing momentum, not if it’s something you’re committed to. Like I said above, knowing people are reading will push you through the moments that normally stall a project. And having a constant schedule eating into your buffer means you have to always be replenishing it. I take time away from SP to work on other projects, but always with the knowledge that I’ll be going back to it and writing up a storm. It never falls off my radar; it never becomes a thing I’m not going to work on anymore. If I had tried to write this as a book, let alone a series, there is no way in hell I would have come this far. I’ve seen myself burn out on too many project already, something of this scope would have crushed me if I did it alone. The only reason SP is where it is today is because it’s a web-serial, which is also why I plan on keeping it as one all the way to the end. Speaking of endings…
4. Once You’re Hooked, There’s No End In Sight
I don’t have any phase in my career plan where the web-serials stop. Yes, SP will end after Year 4, but I already know the next major web-serial I plan to write after it. I do have ambition for my writing career, and things in my life will change as I reach certain levels; however, so long as I’m writing I plan to be running a web-serial. I love them, for the reasons above and so many more. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without them, and I won’t be the writer I want to grow into if I stop doing them.
To me, web-serials are not a starting point in a career; they’re a genre all their own. And this is one genre I feel incredibly lucky that I discovered.
Since today was about serials, I decided to introduce you all to a web series that I've been laughing at all week in this week's Youtube Break.