online novel

News Roundup, ending May 22

Oh Amazon Worlds, legitimate licensed fanfiction?

I will link you to Passive Voice’s post on this because I think the comments are important. Look for the two attorneys on the blog (Marc Cabot and Passive Guy) as I think they’re raising the rock on what might be a rather problematic aspect of this otherwise amazing move by Amazon.  First, I think it’s great for authors who want to break into something to DO FANFIC. Absolutely.  Instantly forgiving audience should you cater to the wants/needs of the average fanfic reader.  Yes, Amazon takes its share of the sales. Yes, Amazon’s fine point needs to be analyzed since while you maintain your copyright to what you created, who knows whether you have to be exclusive. We’ll see.

But for a long time I’ve felt like fandom has had no real understanding of copyright and licensing and the ramifications should the licensor also have the ability to enforce their license.

I’m not an attorney but long familiar with debates about copyright/licensing as relates to IP goods.  My question is if Amazon Worlds licenses properties A, B,C, can they enforce /issue cease and desists against sites that host that content?  See, even if it’s available freely, it still infringes and second, while the author doesn’t benefit, the SITES that have ads for stories related to A,B, and C do.  That ad revenue may, in part, really belong back to the intellectual property owner whose property is being exploited on the web.

So – maybe I’m just overseeing things here, but I’m wondering if this move is intended to redefine the landscape of fandom engagement and harness a bit of the fandom into an arrangement that benefits the original holder.

However – for those fans like me who actually really do want to play nicely… I”ll admit this is interesting. I want to find readers. And there are fandom writers who leveraged their success on and made it into the publishing world.  I wouldn’t mind a piece of that action either. Sadly, I would guess Amazon will deal mostly with Western fandoms and not the Japanese ones I adore… but here’s a hint. *COUGHANIMELICENSEPLEASE*

Survey Says Chinese Youth Unsatisfied with Online Literature

A somewhat provocative piece suggests that online chinese fiction might be increasingly unpopular. This in contrast to the article about profitability of online novels in China which a few years ago several us discussed over at

Its’ quite possible that this survey is skewed to start with. We don’t know much about the population sampling. We also don’t have cross-tabulations comparing frequent reader beliefs vs. those who don’t read “frequently,” whatever that may mean. So – like the lone commentor suggested – who knows what to think of this “key finding”?

Story Notes – Episode Endings vs. Chapter Endings (and a change in Ep 5)

Camille Laguire hits upon some really interesting points about crafting serials. The cliffhanger sometimes isn’t literal in a way, but sometimes about setting yours readers up to have to mull and think through things in the time between installments. I really like these more subtle points about writing serials and wish readers would chime in about which serials they like and why. I do think that serial attract a different kind of reader, and that is the one who sort of enjoys the suspense behind “waiting.” I think also the best serial writers are known by their readers to be tricky and likely to surprise them. It makes the waiting all that more full of interesting analysis!

And that’s it for now 🙂


Increasing serial readership needs better models

Recently, news articles have generated excitement about serials and installed some hope that these new developments will bring more readers, money, or attention to these online novels out there on the web. That said, there is something fundamentally wrong with the ecosystem right now.

Any standalone website with a story on it has two avenues to finding visitors. First — luck of the draw based on your social media capital. (How popular are you online. Or how popular are your online friends. Or how can you go viral?) Second – sharing traffic from a hub or network of existing readers.
There are a few problems I can see right now that mean some problems for the standalone serializer.

Readers exist, they’re just more likely to end up in a colony


The terminology debate part 3 of ?: the "web series" and how Reddit bummed me out

In the midst of a second mid-life crisis and evaluating possible school again (yes, it’s sick to think I’d even entertain grad school again), I picked up some new screenwriters and screen reader blogs.

I love writing serials. And I love LOST.  The idea of writing a drama of characters with other crazy people really excites me, so I’m researching their tricks, their language, and their career advice while I flirt with changing career paths.

While reading “The Aspiring TV Writer” ( )  I noted their announcement about a new blog devoted to “web series,” “The Tangled Web We Watch” at .

Perusing their FAQ and link pages, what’s immediately clear to me is that the blogger and other folks in the traditional tv/movie business use “web series” to be synonymous with “web television,” more like “The Guild” or “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog” than to refer to any other serial.

Given that currently “web series” is also one of the tags/classifications that online novels/webfiction /prose writers use, this is an evolving situation that I have mixed feelings about.

Of course, I’m happy for -any- term behind new media to get some kind of traction because at the moment web content is still fighting against the perception that independent is amateur. The well funded web series at least are attracting and maintaining interest of an internet-savvy audience.   Certainly thanks to some of the better independent web tv shows, I think the audience on the internet is open to independent work.

However, as the “web series” definition appears to move towards tighter definition, those of us whose content doesn’t even come close to serving as “prose TV” have to evaluate whether it is a good definition to use in our tagging, blogging and posting.    Sure, it might be okay to brand yourself as a pictureless/video-less “web series”…but the expectations are being put into play quickly that your content must be episodic in nature. It might have to be similar to existing web series out there because the audience prefers it.

In general, webcomics and webseries are starting to become associated with specific genres/types of content, and for web fiction/online novels this is a problem.  Our sandbox is highly diverse, much more inclusive of all types of genres than what appears to be happening in those two content sandboxes.

The writing community needs to stop making up new definitions and settle on something to describe fiction on the web that stands on its own.  To grow an audience, we are going to have to eventually give up this strategy of attaching ourselves to multiple terms.   The fiction we write is getting lost. Completely.

And on a random depressing note, see this week’s Reddit thread in r/writing:

We have a lot of work to do.