Sometimes the news front is pretty quiet. For a while there I thought webfiction and serials were heading into a dark period. However, just when you think it’s time to give up a lot of things start to converge in interesting fashion.
Do analytics mean as much as you really think they do?
I’m not quite sure how to feel about Jukepop (formerly Jukepop Serials) and analytics and how they’ve spun the feature in their blog and then subsequent PR. Analytics are good, by all means. But interpreting them is fraught with the potential for overinterpretation.
For example, a downturn in views/votes could be due to lack of interest in your specific story. Or it could be a by-product of “low tide” in traffic or people just forgetting to vote.
People forget that website traffic itself has certain secular trends due to the impact of holidays and vacations. To go as far as to interpret a dip to “this part of your story probably wasn’t great” is an extreme viewpoint and I’d argue that it definitely is useful to see if there might be problems with your story progression at that point, but to use that info as a proxy for “early commercial viability” as their press release states is where I think this is overinterpretation. Jukepop authors generally are out there on social media working hard for votes. Good stories do seem to rise to the top but “votes” are not necessarily about viability– in fact, no one can really mindread sales.
Then again, to be fair, I’m not sure how to view Wattpad ‘s analytics either as there is little stated about how they work or change over time. A recent post in a deleted thread (since rehosted as a Wattpad “story”) by one author provides an interesting bit regarding the read/vote system in place. Basically, as of March 2013, some things changed – – namely to stop counting any views from accounts not signed into Wattpad. I get this from one perspective — it avoids shenanigans from outside accounts that could otherwise write a script and refresh the heck out of a page to alter counts. If discoverability is triggered by pageview and vote combinations, of course you’d want to protect the system from those tempted to exploit it.
Unfortunately, I don’t know that analytics have resulted in much transparency overall. I’ve willingly posted my Wattpad stats here (and the link is still active) because I’d like to see people talk about it more openly — not for bragging rights but as a means of understanding what is going on with both Wattpad and Jukepop in terms of discoverability. See — I still believe that these are valuable in their own way for connecting with the readers that you otherwise can’t generate on your own (via your massive social network skills or circles family and friends) but I think there are certainly some pluses and minuses to these sites that one should consider if using them exclusively or in addition to your own host.
In any case, moving on from the soapbox to give you some STRAIGHT NEWS.
Kickstarters and Collectives
It’s been a while since I’ve seen any hint of kickstarters for serials or webfiction. The last batch I saw were mostly “publishers” such as Plympton and Maglomaniac . However, it’s encouraging to see some single works come up to bat.
It looks like “The Peacock King” is finally back from web-death and has reached their funding goal for their Kickstarter.
Meanwhile, Jim Zoeteway of “Legion of Nothing” announced two things on a blog post today. First, he’s part of a new Superhero fiction collective “Pen and Cape Society” which includes another webfiction/online novel writer Drew Hayes (who guested this month on this blog).
He’s been talking collectives for a while for good reason (such as sharing or increasing traffic and synergizing on marketing). I’m glad to see him finally get this off the ground with fellow writers in the superhero genre and wish them luck. The superhero genre is going gangbusters in the indie ebook and webfiction realm so think they’re going to kick statistics butt pretty quickly.
He also announced plans for a Kickstarter to publish his next volume in the ongoing webfiction series for reasons explained in that entry. His goals look pretty modest and reasonable (i.e., cover and editing). Will be interesting to see how it unfolds! For those of you who are experienced Kickstarters — I’d go check these projects out and talk with the authors.
Distribution – Sparkler Monthly
This is not new news per se. However, a new marketing coordinator reached out to several people this past week with a reminder about their new distribution service.
I think it’s easier to understand certain facets of it as you now look at the shop for the respected webcomic, The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, by EK Weaver.
In a way it’s a fulfillment service for books and merchandise for small-time creators who do not have time or means to keep up with all the shipping and work associated with running a small storefront. Having run a storenvy store on/off for a short period of time, I can tell you that it is a lot of work to deal with small things like merchandise or ship out hundreds of books or posters. MEH.
I did approach SM about a project of my own and found that their terms were clear and their overhead was really reasonable. While what they decide to take on also must keep in line with their mission and audience, I think it’s good to explore. I knew I threw some odd ideas at them but found at least the folks willing to talk through what their equities were. In any case, I’m still mulling the ideas that came out of the email exchanges and will, of course, post if I run some more ideas/pitches at the team behind SparklerMonthly.
End of last year, the folks at Wattpad announced a new type of prize to join their current vote-drive Watty Awards. Details are sparse (and have changed) regarding this one. Early blog posts (http://www.wattpad.com/wattpad-prize) suggested that this would be professionally judged by industry folks and would be open to folks on a wider basis than Watty Awards. (For your reference Watty Awards are only open to stories started and ended within a specific time period. Stories that did not meet those requirements were ineligible for consideration. Also Featured stories were not eligible either.). The most recent blurb said this contest would be judged by “expert Wattpadders”
Not quite sure why they backed off or if the exclusion/inclusion criteria will change but guess we all shall find out next week what they really mean on April 2.
I do hope that this does turn out to be a transparent and open judging process that employs some of the professionals authors on Wattpad. It’s been clear that the Watty Awards sometimes are more about popularity as some entries have been nominated that are grammatically weak and unpolished.