Hi guys – Back from a fan convention with a few stories to tell whenever I can recover from all this traveling and crazy convention prep!
The end of May marks the soft launch of StarterSerials.com by Drew Hayes and his posse. (The man doesn’t sleep apparently). He had written me via email to solicit my thoughts about “what’s needed in the indie community” and where a new webfiction or web serial site might fit in.
To give you some background, Drew was part of the Digital Novelists network launched more than five years ago. That site was essentially a webring/hub of site and a close-knit community of writers who posted works and helped one another out by sharing traffic. They had a community that gathered at weblit.us (defunct) and via social media.
He shared the below pitch in its protoform a few weeks back. This is the new version, hot off the presses.
StarterSerials.com is a site with a single purpose: to make it easy for authors to start their web-serial without having to choose between ease and appeal. There is no monetary cost, no lessons on hosting, no domain registration, none of it. Just submit, get approved, and begin.
On top of just simplicity, StarterSerials.com is about new web-serial authors learning about the process, making their early mistakes (because we all make a few) in a safe environment with a community for support. Established authors will be volunteering their time as Mentors: offering guidance, writing blogs, and answering questions as they arise. Problems and challenges are inherent to the task of running a web-serial, but the writers won’t be facing them alone.
So if you’re an author, head to the site and send us a submission; join the incredibly talented people already writing. If you’re a reader then make sure you bookmark it, because come July there will be an explosion of exceptional content.
In that email exchange, we discussed a few things including his motivations in establishing the site and discussed my thoughts about what was being done well on other writing communities and what wasn’t. I gave him my feedback on where he could consider going with a new community. There are, after all, lots of places popping up trying to do the “publishing house on the web/social community” concept. While there are several “free” places that combine reading with writer/reader interaction there aren’t any that want you to “graduate” from them and end up working on your own in the web publishing sphere, namely taking your stuff and going to your own site.
We also talked a bit about platforms, including Drupal and WordPress. As many of you know, I find WordPress a pretty nice content management system. Its ability to export/import entries to a lot of different blogsites gets it major points with me. (Anything with dummy-proof backup wins as I’m one of those dummies when it comes to accidentally deleting or messing up a website.) I was pleasantly surprised when looking at the website to see that WP will be the choice platform for community members.
In the emails, I did ask him up front about monetization. Social sites can basically take your page views and monetize them and mine your data. I have no illusion that some of the big guys I’ve talked about are much different from Facebook or Tumblr in that regard. But the value they return (i.e., free reads/books for those who can’t afford them or have access to them) often diminishes any background concern I have about data mining or ad-revenue . At least for now there are no ads and Drew was up front that if any advertisements do appear on the site in the future, the intent is primarily to cover operational costs.
This, for now, is openly different from the other models out there (which are really about page views, ads, and social network data).
Of course, we all know that on the internet there are no guarantees of anything but if the site is able to help bridge the gap for some webfiction authors to get to their own site and writing in a healthy, sustained manner, I’m all for it. The webfiction realm has lots of casualties in terms of stories that never complete and it’s not healthy in the long-run.
Based on what we discussed, I decided to sign-up and check it out myself as one of the volunteer helpers, time permitting.
Writers have until July to generate a backlog between now and the official launch. The forums are also open for casual hellos I guess as well :). See ya there!
New Page (Old Post)
As a housekeeping note, the initial listing of where to publish, read, or list serials has been moved from a post to a more permanent page at . This just makes it easier for all of us in later referencing. Also checked a few sites that were in my queue to evaluate. (Several now have made it very clear whether it’s free to post and/or read.)
Please update your bookmarks!
Open for advice
I have had a few emails come my way recently and that is perfectly cool to continue contacting me that way. You can find my contact on the Submissions page.