I’ve certainly been feeling the web fiction woes lately, I must admit.
Writing itself hasn’t become the issue, definitely not. I wrote over 30,000 words of fiction in June, and I feel great about it. I’ve got two ongoing web serials, plus a new one coming extremely soon. I’ve published over 1,000,000 words in the past three years, and that’s something I try to never forget. It’s really cool!
But even so, I’m stuck in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction. Part of it I can’t control, and the other part I maybe can, but at a cost.
While I love ATL and Systemless, and the active readers do too, they aren’t exactly the hot stuff these days. ATL’s never managed to be popular, and my attempts to get it published have gone nowhere.. It’ll get there over time, but it’ll take 5 or 6 years to build to there, I think. On many days, the long-finished Hands Held in the Snow still outpaces it in views, with 1/3 the chapters! Systemless, on the other hand, still gets tons of views, but almost nobody new discovers it anymore. Some of the dumber stuff turns readers off long before they get to the newest chapter. Both of them had hiatuses in the winter, and they still haven’t recovered.
All of that is perfectly OK, as long as I enjoy writing them. The most important thing in making a story is to have fun and make something you love. I’ll never quit them, so long as a single reader still loves them (and I count as a reader).
I kinda hate where I’m at right now, with these web fiction woes!
It’s been 18 months since Systemless came out, and about that long since my stories gained new readers. The Quinlan Circle as a whole has grown quite a lot, and I’m very proud. But besides Hands Held in the Snow’s miracle afterlife performance on Tapas (over new 500 subscribers since it finished!), it’s been a long, slow crawl. No new patrons in a year, despite consistent shilling (though thank you to all current patrons; I love you dearly).
I really, REALLY want to grow.
Bu with ATL and Systemless, I’m publishing 3 chapters a week consistently, and yet they’re not growing, If they won’t do it, then what will?
My other recent projects haven’t helped much, either. The Gay Gatsby did decently, and great with reviews, but didn’t seem to bring new readers into the fold; it’s not a web novel, after all, so the audience is just different. Smaller, sillier projects like Cultivine and “Tower of Arnold” were a ton of fun, but obviously didn’t bring in the dough. Along with the serials and this blog, that’s basically all I’ve published the past year.
Obviously, there’s only one solution to this: Publish a new serial, and not a stupid one. A new book that’s legitimately good and actually appeals to web fiction audiences.
Well, I’m trying!
A New Book For My Web Fiction Woes
I’ve been trying for a long while, actually.
A few projects I worked on in 2019 and 2020 went belly-up, including a very big one that tragically just couldn’t get off the ground. A failed work-for-hire project that wasted weeks of my life here, a botched Nanowrimo there, and now I don’t have enough to show for all y’all. Nobody’s fault but mine, but it’s still sad.
Finally, I have a new book that’s nearly ready. But, keyword on the “nearly.” It’s going to be a super awesome book once it’s out, but it’s also going to be a super long book. Probably north of 300,000 words, like a whole fantasy book trilogy or something. I’ve already got two ongoing serials that are both extremely long; can I REALLY handle a third? If I get sick or something big comes up at work, keeping up three backlogs at once could be really tough. Right now, I just don’t feel confident that I can keep it going for months on end; something is bound to mess up.
So the obvious answer to this is, finish ATL or Systemless first, then move onto the new one. I understand that fully. I even agree, sort of. But when I’m this deep into the web fiction woes, it’s just really tough to think of it that way. ATL‘s going to go on for ages, and Systemless is about 100 chapters from finishing, too. I’m fine working on them, but when neither of them bring in even a single patron, it’s also really tough.
I love these books, and I’ll keep working on them until they’re done, but I also don’t want to toil in obscurity forever. I’m poor, and I’d like to be less poor. In the last year, I’ve watched web novelist friends rise into huge, overwhelming, well-deserved success. Some have gone straight into full-time writing! I know full and well my writing is good enough, and I write really fast too. But there comes a point where it’s starting to feel like I’m letting myself get left behind in this rapidly growing web fiction industry. Sometimes patience is not an infallible virtue, I’ve come to realize.
Sounds like I should just post my next story and get this fretting over with, doesn’t it!!! But I also want to do it right, because this will be a yearlong commitment at least. No jumping in haphazardly, because that’s a path to being extremely stressed out a few months later. Sometimes patience IS really important, after all.
Ugh, the web fiction woes are really bumming me out. I just wanted to write frankly about it, maybe too frankly.
I know I annoyed readers with the hiatuses, and I know I’ve disappointed many with failed projects. But, if I can help the Quinlan Circle grow with my next release, then it’ll all have been worth it in my eyes.
What’s your opinion on my web fiction woes? With my next book, should I shoot my shot, or polish for perfection?
Don’t forget, though, I’m not the only Quinlan Circle member. Jesse Pirnat’s serial is great, and Joi Massat’s webcomic is just plain pretty. You are highly encouraged to look at them both!
7 thoughts on “Web Fiction Woes”
Your writing is good enough- no doubt. Sometimes there’s a question over marketability of what you’re writing, but there’s also just good old fashioned luck.
If a story flops or interest wanes, that’s normal. The best answer I’ve seen is to focus on a new story to try and recapture that new story energy.
I.e. new novel is a good idea (and I’m pumped)
I think the marketability is for sure the big part. My stories generally don’t fall in with the stuff that’s most popular in web fiction right now, which is perfectly OK, except that I haven’t started a new story in ages now despite finally understanding what makes these stories work. Or, I hope so at least. There’s definitely only one way to fix this, huh…….
Thanks for the comment, and thanks for pushing me in the “shoot my shot” area.
Good luck in your endeavors, dude. Wish I had some advice to give, but I’m in 200% flounder mode myself, so I got nothing. But I’ve always admired your dedication and commitment and adaptability, and I think more than most web authors I know, you have what it takes to make the shot. I belieb in you!
Thanks for your belieb.
I’m not totally convinced that I’ll be able to handle three ongoing series at once for an extended period. But I’m glad you’re confident, because that makes me a little bit more too.
You just gotta become web serial Stan Lee. :V