Online-novel News and Views, Stories from around the web

In China, you can actually do this and make a living

For the long-time readers of this blog, you know from time to time we get hints that digital fiction actual works somewhere.  Light-novels are a viable format for publishing in Japan.  Cell-phone and web novels thrive and even can be lucrative in China.  In this piece, online novelists in Hong Kong get a shoutout. One thing I find particularly intriguing is the mention of a publisher, Sun Effort, whose catalogue focuses specifically on online novels.  Also think this is a first as well for a web/online novel as “Red Minibus” was turned into a live-action film with a debut on the international circuit.   So there we go, Hong Kong has charted the way. Now if we could only get a small piece of their success in the English speaking world 😉

Sparkler Monthly Creator Contest

Sparkler Monthly is running a low-key but interesting creator-driven contest. This contest asks creators to share how you as a creator share what you do with your audience.  Entries can be in any format (drawn, sung, video’d) and will be accepted through the end of June.  Good luck!

Jukepop community overhaul

In this latest blog , Jukepop announces a new facet to their comment/review feature.  Jukepop (Serials) initially began as a vote-driven site. In more recent months, they’ve added a comment feature for various stories.  Now, comments have become front-page territory as the main JP page not only shows updates but comment activities of authors and readers. It’s an interesting move and certainly will reward activity by authors and readers for simply “being present” on the community.

I’m sure those who benefited from the previous layout (i.e., Top 30 stories being top  real estate) will not be too thrilled but this shift in the other direction might actually at least let us evaluate the level of activity on Jukepop and encourage people to “delurk.”  Hopefully at some point, however, they adjust the layout so that the feed is not the center of attention  vs. the actual stories or randomize the feed. The idea of a feed can be abused easily by authors seeking to constantly have front-page real estate and can take away from the books that the site features.

Wattpad Fanfiction Writer gets a Deal with Simon and Schuster

In one of the more interesting acquisition stories out there– the series “After” written as a “One Direction” fan fiction has gotten picked up for both a book deal and movie deal.  It’s not the first Wattpad work to go both book and movie but it certainly is the first time I’ve heard of a fan fiction being optioned without little scrubbing as those of us in the fanfic community term it.  Basically the statement in this Time article is that the story will go on with just the band member names being removed.  I wonder how One Direction fans feel about their fandom being used to leverage promotion for the book, particularly since the content is purportedly “Fifty Shades of Gray” inspired.

Other news stories:

Have a story? Want to write a story?  See the Submissions link!


Developments at Wattpad and Jukepop Serials

Wattpad adds Stats Feature

For those who run their own sites and use WordPress or Google to collect data on visits/readers/comments, the news that Wattpad has added a Stats feature is not particularly scintillating. However, for a community like Wattpad whereby the author had to manually track their own information, this seems to be an interesting and hopefully useful tool in some respect.

It’s a fairly simple tool, easily found on the author “Works” management area .


What it basically reveals is a simple graph of reads, comments, and votes (by sections/chapters). You can turn off any of the items in case you don’t care to look at specific metrics.


The statistic visual only provides a snapshot at time of viewing. Therefore,  as an analytic tool it’s fairly crude.  While you can see interesting things like reader drop off (or as the optimist would call it “retention”), you have no time-based data to suggest how your story performance varies over stages of completion.   For those authors who want to know the impact of your updates over time or completion itself in  finding readers, you are still going to have to do a lot of manual data mining of your own. (Example spreadsheet here.)    

I have yet to see any open calls for feedback, though, so I’m unclear exactly how Wattpad plans to learn /modify/ improve this feature. Hopefully Wattpad will actually try to solicit feedback and also assure authors that something like this will stay on site. For now, I think I’ll continue to collect data manually on my own :). 

Jukepop Serials: Anthology and Partnerships

Jukepop has made several interesting moves this past week. The first is the decision to print an anthology of its works and sell through their site.  This blog post paints the anthology as something to gift in the holiday season but leaves it ambiguous as to exactly what else it could be used for.  Some inferences/observations from the blog post would include that this is essentially a print sampler to prod somewhat more print-bound readers to the website.   

But I would hazard, based on my own experiences selling at conventions, that its ability to be more than that is constrained.   Whether we like it or not, serials have a real problem meeting the need of those who like instant gratification (via a complete work) or who are trained to only read complete works.

This anthology does not consist of short stories but of excerpts from some fairly extensive serials.   This is awfully hard to market to impulse buyers, particularly at 16.09 a copy — which is at par with many high-end softcover complete works.  At this price point, people generally don’t experiment with creative buys.

Even more mystifying is that the ordering fulfillment is being handled by the McNally store in NYC.  For those that know that store (as I have walked through a few times), the print on demand machine has a decent location in the front half of the store. Sometimes the sample books available to buy are laid out on a table or shelf near the Espresso machine.   The quality is okay — although not necessarily better or worse than what you can get through Createspace and Lulu.   A sales might be made at store from someone who is not being directly marketed at to buy the anthology. However, McNally’s has no other print outlets or distribution channels from what I understand. Createspace and Lulu books are linked to internet sales much more easily and Createspace books can be listed on Amazon directly. 

Bottom-line-up-front: The in-store benefit and the organic sales life of this print anthology is limited and the other print-on-demand options are arguably more attractive.

However, I know sometimes partnerships can evolve over time. And there might be a silver lining to all this if a number of things start to happen.   A year ago, Espresso and Kodak talked about partnering to push the POD machines into various retail stores. It would appear from an update that appeared in Publisher’s Weekly this month that Espresso and Kodak remain committed to pushing books into drugstores.   If this anthology joins the Espressnet catalog, stores that have Espresso electronic book machines might be able to print books such as this anthology.   The current network, however, is still fairly small and appears to be fairly academic. The benefits may eventually appear but not for some time if drug store customers are willing/able/ and knowledgeable about this anthology and other books in the Espressnet catalog. 

A less mystifying move is today’s announcement regarding the Jukepop partnership with She Writes.   More or less , members of the site “She Writes” are being encouraged to serialize /submit serials to Jukepop Serials with a contest.  It appears that the authors still have to undergo the same editorial process and possibly compete in the same voting pool. However, these authors will be competing for a community-specific prize of their own.  I think it’s a good, shrewd way to bring some  new works into the Jukepop pipeline, particular ones that target women.    This also seems to me to be a good partnership in  ways that Wattpad cannot deliver — specifically engaging writers and readers who are older.

As an unapologetic “chick fic reader” I’ll be very interested to see what appears in the “She Writes” section of Jukepop Serials over the coming months.

In any case, best of luck to the “She Writes” joining the fray as SERIALIZERS.  If you find your way here, hope you will have fun perusing some of the resources this site links to. And as always, you’re free to contact the contributors to this blog with your questions. 

Guest Post by CA Sanders: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Serial

Where I’m Coming From

I’ve been writing professionally (or trying to write professionally) for almost fifteen years, but online serials are still new to me. When I started, the paradigm was print. Literary journals were the way to go, and they were all in paper and only taking the fanciest of the fancy. It was not an easy way to break in.

By the time that mags moved to the Internet, I was already convinced that I was awful and needed to get a real job (“get a real job” being the meanest thing that you can tell a writer), so I missed out on this initial orgy of zine activity. I got into it late, and I got in with reservations. Even now, I miss the scent of newly printed paper…sigh.

The Way We Write Now

It was last autumn. I had just finished my first novel, Song of Simon (due out Sept 1st, 2013, from Damnation Books), over the Summer, and I was looking for a new project. Song of Simon is an intense novel and writing it was emotionally draining. This time I wanted to write something a bit more lighthearted.

I guess I didn’t get out of that novel-writing state of mind. What began as a short story ballooned into a massive 16,000 word novelette, now known as The Watchmage of Old New York. I would’ve given up on it (it’s near impossible to sell something that size, and I have bills to pay), but I was having too much fun exploring the Watchmage world.

So now I was stuck with this albatross of a story hanging around my neck. No mag would have her, certainly no paying mag (I make it a point to only sell to paying mags. That magazines will pay nothing for our work and act like we should be grateful is a crime. But that is a different story).

I use Duotrope to find markets (you should too) and that’s where I found Jukepop Serials. A paying market that takes long stories? Sign me up. It hadn’t occurred to me to serialize Watchmage, but how could I resist?

I was biased against serials, I’m ashamed to say. I was a “professional” and serials were for fan fiction. I was an idiot.

Serials are not a new paradigm, they are the old one. Charles Dickens used to write serials, so did Bradbury and Edgar Rice Burroughs. I never realized this until I immersed myself into one of my own.

Healthy, Whole Grain, Serial

If I was going to boil serial writing down to three rules (and I will), they would be these:
1)Outline everything
2)Master pacing
3)Keep a healthy buffer

Outline Everything: I believe in doing this for everything you write, even blog posts. But outlines are especially important when you’re writing a serial. Once you post an installment, it’s there forever. I feel that going back to previous entries and changing them is unfair to your readers. Make sure that what goes on that page is exactly what you want.

This includes noting the important aspects about characters, plot, and the world of the story. In Watchmage, I found that I was uncomfortable with some of the main character’s characteristics. Looking back, I would’ve written him differently (which I am doing in the novelized reboot). You can avoid my mistake with preparation.

Outlining doesn’t stop once you start writing. One of my favorite things about writing is all the interesting people, places, and things that naturally pop up as the story goes on. Make sure you add these to your notes. Don’t forget anything, because you never know what’s gonna be important a few story arcs down the line.

That said, don’t make your plot outside too rigid. Think of it more as drawing with dots, and then connecting the dots. As long as you get from plot point to plot point, it doesn’t matter how you got there.

Master Pacing: Reading online is different from reading in print. For some reason, readers will only read a certain amount before they fade out. The big complaint that I have heard is eye strain. Regardless, a good chapter in an online serial is shorter than one in a print book.

I think that 1000-1500 words is a good length for an installment. You should be able to end at the end of a scene or a cliffhanger. Don’t rely too much on either. Cliffhangers keep the reader coming back, but they get old quickly. Think “tension and release.”

The major difference between a serial and a novel is that a serial is ongoing, where a novel has a finite end. This does not, however, mean that a serial is an open-ended mess.

I grew up reading comic books and watching pro wrestling, both of which I still love. Both are great examples of serial structure. A comic might go on for decades, but it’s broken up into story arcs. A story might go on for a few months, reach its conclusion, and then move on to another arc. Wrestling is the same way. John Cena might be feuding with Daniel Bryan now, but in a couple of months (after Bryan does the J.O.B…wrestling fans get it) he might feud with Randy Orton or Fandango (yes, there is a wrestler called Fandango). This is the way that your serial should be constructed. It provides closure for the reader without ending it.

For example, Watchmage currently has two story arcs. I could easily write more, but I am rebooting it. You could read one arc and be satisfied, or you could keep going. Readers need closure. In other words: don’t get carried away by your own awesomeness.

Keep A Buffer:

Writers will argue about the length, but you should always keep a buffer of at least a few weeks. This means that you have a few weeks’ worth of story written ahead of your installments. For Watchmage, I kept an eight week buffer.

Writing is like starting a hose with your mouth: you have to do a lot of sucking before things flow. The problem is, too many serial writers post those first few sucks before they realize that they don’t fit. This is why I keep a buffer. It gives me a chance to look back and edit my work before posting it. Remember: what has been posted cannot be unposted (ok, maybe it can, but it shouldn’t).

Another reason is because life happens, and sometimes you won’t be able to hit your deadline. The buffer allows you wiggle room for when you get the flu or your dog eats a Cadbury bar.

I hope this little insight into my conversion to serial writing, and the methods to my madness, have helped. If you disagree, that’s fine too. Everyone works differently, don’t be ashamed of your own technique. Be brilliant.

For more information on CA Sanders’ writing and projects, please connect with him at his website  http://www.casanders.net/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/casandersauthor 

Blog Guest: Nick Bryan, author of “Hobson & Choi”

In this post, Online Novel continues highlighting authors who are part of the Jukepop Serials family.  


The second of the Jukepop authors to be featured is Nick Bryan , author of “Hobson & Choi” (http://jukepopserials.com/home/read/431), an ongoing black comedy/detective serial which began on Jukepop in February 2013  and has gone on to place reliably in the mid-20s of their monthly top 30.   This interview was collaborative, meaning Nick had free reign to creatively interpret my questions… 

Nick Bryan, you’re the author of detective saga Hobson & Choi from Jukepop Serials. Can you pitch us your serial as quickly as possible?

On the surface, Hobson & Choi is an OTT detective story, in which two mismatched partners – a worldweary detective and a teenage girl – look into a strange murder case where the perpetrator appears to be a large dog. There’s a lot of fun banter between them and some silly yet dangerous situations.

However, it’s also a little about roles – the characters are very self-aware, Choi in particular knows she’s a teenager trying to be an adult in a very grown-up world, and both of them have incidents in their past which have smashed them into certain roles. So there will be scenes dealing with that, but most of the time, it’s a fun adventure in which we swing from tense scenes in dark, bloody buildings to a whole chapter about Hobson eating breakfast in a terrible pub. It’s relevant to the plot, I swear.


Blog Guest: Kevin A.M. Lewis, author of “Metal Shadow Prelude”

In the next series of posts, we’ll be highlighting guest blogs from several authors who are part of the Jukepop Serials family. Regular followers of this blog should be well familiar with Jukepop Serials — but in case you’re among the new followers, they debuted last year on the web and in the app realm.  They’re primarily focused on original stories unlike some of the other web/online novel publishers. And it’s important to note that currently all stories at Jukepop are free to read with account registration.

Autho Kevin AM Lewis

Author: Kevin AM Lewis


The first of the Jukepop authors to be featured is Kevin A.M. Lewis , author of “Metal Shadow Prelude” (http://jukepopserials.com/home/read/15) — one of the debut serials on Jukepop when it launched in 2012. Prelude is described by Kevin as an “over-the-top action fantasy serial about the hunt for the Moon-Child, a woman prophesied as the harbinger of the end of the world.It also serves as the prologue for Metal Shadow, a fantasy epic about nine heroes reincarnated to battle Godden, the ultimate villain. 

Please introduce yourself to our audience

My name’s Kevin A.M. Lewis and I’m the first-time author of Metal Shadow Prelude on Jukepop Serials.

I’m 22, I live in Brooklyn, New York, I’m a college dropout with no recollection of anything I ever learned in school, and I’ve worked retail and that’s all I intend to say about it.

I’ve been publishing short stories and serials since I was seventeen on a Gamespot forum called the Writers’ Lounge, as well as critiquing and editing the literature of the countless writers who passed through there. I attribute the time I spent(d) there to both my skills as a writer being what they now are, along with my incredible writing ego: the Prelude’s second draft won 2008 Series of the Year over there, which pretty much puts me in the same category as a local hero.

How did you hear about Jukepop Serials? What interested you in the program?

I heard about Jukepop on Craigslist while looking for work. When I visited the (then WIP) website, JP’s vision completely clicked with me. Chapter by chapter publication? Heck, that’s what I’ve been doing since high school. Getting paid for it? What a dream!

Did you have a complete work before approaching JP to make your pitch? Or did you decide to post what you were writing along the way?

The first story that I considered publishing with JP wasn’t the already-completed first episode of Metal Shadow–which I now look back at, cringe openly, and praise the heavens I never published–but the prologue to it: the award-winning Metal Shadow Prelude.

I had previously deleted the Prelude in a night of blind fury at my own inadequacy as a writer, and I’d wanted a reason to rewrite it. Choosing to serialize the Prelude meant I would have to rewrite every single line from scratch and NOT EDIT and NOT DELETE the chapters once they came out, which I thought would be an adequate punishment for letting down my previous readership. For those who don’t know, rewriting a story is the writer’s equivalent to getting a rematch with the world champion after a ten-year hiatus. (more…)