Weekly Update ending 2/13- In which SgL Editorializes.

Sean Platt and David Wright experiment with free serials online

After their successful stint in the Kindle Serials program, it appears the big news that has surfaced is that they’re experimenting with free online serialization.  It sounds like a variation of the free to read (for a while) model in which they eventually take down their copy (and ask you to pay for it if you miss it).

This is a variation of a model we currently already see in serial fic whereby the complete and final novel is already available at launch for purchase while the free part serializes slowly.

It is also a variation of the webcomic model whereby if someone loves your free read enough (or you) that they will donate/buy the compiled work later.

As such this is a very interesting experiment, indeed, because they are serial celebrities (but with no connection to the rest of the community.)

Still, I hope that they can make some profit off this, if only because if they’re able to wean readers off the idea of needing an Amazon to deliver text to them. One could hope that with this experiment they’re creating new serial readers who will accept fiction delivered a blog.

That said, someone needs to tell them about how webcomics monetize and get them to do sponsored ads. The risk of free online serializing can be mitigated by ad revenue.   (More unsolicited free advice from me!)

Startup Plympton acquires DailyLit to deliver serial fiction in a digital age

So Plympton has been quiet on my twitter as of late. After a fantastic Kickstarter success and capitalizing on Kindle Serial’s launch to get their name out there, they’ve gone quiet.  Thankfully PaidContent came through today and shared Plympton’s latest step. It would seem that the start-up is really trying to make a go of it as a content producer with their own platform by acquiring DailyLit
I don’t know a lot about DailyLit other than what’s in that article. The userbase numbers sound pretty good.   It sounds like they deliver both free and paid content.Ah ha.  And Plympton or DailyLit claim that DailyLit is the “oldest and largest distributor of digital fiction” in their press release.  DailyLit was founded in 2006. So was Wattpad.  But the oldest? Uh. The internet grandma in me says NO,THAT WAS USENET. 
Aside from that, DailyLit isn’t an entity that I know. Their Twitter presence is modest (4000 they follow, 4000 that follow them). Digging into DailyLit shows they deliver via email inboxes (see FAQ).
And this is where I don’t quite get this strategic move to acquire DailyLit. Email is declining in popularity. It skews heavily towards certain demographics. And knowing people like me, email is quite frequently ignored.  
Still perhaps this acquisition is about Plympton looking for a way to get to readers. Their initial press release talks about new content. And that might be okay, but based on DailyLit’s current setup, I’m not sure how this is going to work out for them long-term. I think Plympton needs to go the way of the app like everyone else. 

Interview with Jukepop Serials Founder

It’s not my style to post blogs from people who use it to promote their own serial. That said, when they add information that is currently hard to track down in the wild, I will consider putting up the link.  In this case, a Jukepop writer interviewed the JPSerials founder and did a very good job of drawing out information that isn’t currently in the website copy.

JP’s founder claims their site receives 10k visits a month. This sounds plausible, particularly if it’s both readers and voters that are returning.

That said is article copy title really right? Are serials on the rise like a phoenix from the ashes?

The juxtaposition of these three links this week paint an amusing picture of serial fiction that apparently has existed forever at the same time being brand new and experimental.

This isn’t innovation. It’s just better marketing by people with more capital.


 

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4 comments

  1. Hi, thanks for the mention.I actually came up through the webcomics world. I did comic strips from 1999 – 2008, was signed to KeenSpot, and have used Project Wonderful in the past. Donations and ad money were nearly non-existent even at the height of my strip's popularity. You need A LOT of readers to make something like that work… for comics or books.When Sean and I met in 2008 and started serializing our first book together (Available Darkness) on the web (also in 2008) we realized rather quickly that the blog was not the place for our serial to grow. There was a lot of resistance. First, many people didn't get the concept of a serial. Second, the biggest pushback we got was that people didn't like to read on the computer. They wanted a traditional book. So, in short, we could barely give away our story for free, much less make money on it. While we could have made pocket change in ads, it would not have been worth the hours of work we sank into it.Then Amazon, and the Kindle, happened in a BIG way. People began to adopt the ebook as a suitable substitution for print. We finally had a chance to the serial we wanted to do for so long.So we started a second serial (Yesterday's Gone) in 2011, but this time we didn't have to find a way to bring readers to our little blog. And we didn't have to win them over to a format — they were already reading on Kindles. We could GO WHERE THE READERS ARE. And that is the single most important thing a writer needs — a platform to sell their work.At the time, there weren't too many writers on Amazon doing serials. And certainly none that I knew of who were doing it the way we were, with the episodes and episodic pricing/ season compilation model.At the end of 2011, we had a small, but devoted, readership who got what we were doing. But we knew the only way we could really make it work was to go full-out and write our butts off, 60-70 hours a week, no days off at all. In 2012, we released a new episode (between 14k and 20k words per episode), a new short story, or season compilation every single week. This led to four indie series which led to us being able to write full-time for a living. And it also led to a book deal with 47North for two more serials. I don't say this to toot our horn, but to say that this would not have happened without Amazon (and of course a complete and utter sacrifice of our time to pursue the goal). We could not have done this on a blog. Perhaps there are serialized fiction blogs out there making a killing, I don't know. I'm like a lot of our readers, I don't like reading fiction on a pc or mac. It's literally a pain (in the eyes) for me to do so. For us, though, we had to go where the readers are. And right now, that is Amazon, kobo, Apple, and B&N, and a few other places. Having said that, Sean and I have considered trying to sell directly on our blog. And while I think we might sell to some people that way, most will prefer to read on their device of choice. It's hard to change someone's reading habits. And it's even more difficult to match the ease of buying something and painless delivery system that places like Amazon offers.I can't tell you how many emails I've had from people trying to figure out how to open an epub or mobi file for a free short story we sent them. That is why places like Amazon do so well. It's click, buy, and read. No hassles. If you ever want to talk serials, feel free to get back to me via my email. I can go on all day, as I love the format.

  2. Thanks for sharing that information. I did not know about your webcomics history.Regular blog fiction still is a terrible place to monetize in terms of supporting oneself fully. The serializers know they have to have other types of work for those out there who don't like waiting to read in pieces. (I believe this is why some of the full-time writers have regular novels or novellas outside of their serials. It spreads their name and efforts across all the platforms that currently exist.)I have been watching your collective work (and primarily Sean's posts/tweets/emails) since your guest blogpost on David Gaughran's site in 2011(?).I also am aware of how well you guys have fared under the Kindle program. So with that success, I wrote this blog post reflecting that I hope your experiment will work and thinking it possibly can. There is no reason to think that the outcome this time will be the same. In fact, it should be better if you both can still produce non-serials alongside the serials. One of the footnotes about PW is that all of us have tried it know it is not the best place for fiction. I've blogged here about my experiences with it for driving traffic in. I haven't discussed how poorly the experience worked for me as an ad host, but more or less, I can say that I understand exactly what you are referring to. It's fantastic for webcomics at the top of the traffic tier, but doesn't even generate enough revenue for moderately popular comics.That said, folks have come up with other ideas to both bring traffic in and be able to get more out of ad revenue. Keenspot is long gone, but Hiveworks is a brand new network who is trying hard to traffic share (by banding webcomics together) and using a direct ad placement system. I don't know if they'd be willing to talk to you about what they're learning or why, but I think it's a really good experiment and one that I hope improves the ad payouts for all the creators involved.I still think it's worth looking into offering sponsored space at some point. Maybe it's just that I'm optimistic or maybe I think a similar concept to Hiveworks (banding with other authors/bloggers) could also be duplicated in the fiction realm.

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