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Rate of posting

Lugh

For a change, I have a story completed before starting to post. Jill's Journeys has 13 chapters of 3000-6000 words.

I posted one to start. Do I read correctly that authors lean toward posting a chapter per day, or some other rate? I assume that this does reflect the total number of chapters.

Lugh/Howard

Ernest Bywater

@Lugh

This is a personal preference thing. Some prefer a chapter a day, some one a week, I prefer a chapter every 2 days.

Also, once the first chapter is up on the site you can upload the rest of the chapters and set them to automatically display on set dates, so you don't have to remember to post them.

Replies:   Lugh
Lugh

@Ernest Bywater

Wasn't aware of the automatic display; will check into that.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Lugh

The Submission Entry has a line which has a default setting of Immediately which you can change to any date you like. I think it's the third or fourth in the list when you get to the summary page after uploading the file. On the right of the page is the word Change in brackets. You click on 'Change' and you get a page where you cans elect the month and date you want it to appear. Then save that to get a revised summary page before you finalise the submission.

Crumbly Writer

As Ernest says, everyone does it differently, with different reasons. Posting it once or twice a day finishes the story quickly, while posting once or twice a week takes longer, potentially allowing you more time to prepare your next story. Unfortunately, it generally takes longer than 13 weeks to prepare a brand new story for posting.

Whatever you decide, the key is consistency. If you always post at the same time on consistent days, then readers will anticipate it and know when to check on the story.

Posting at once also tends to boost the score, as it's easier to get into the heart of the story before posting your first vote. Extending it creates more reader anticipation, and allows you to schedule certain chapters (such as posting cliff-hangers on a Friday so readers have to wait for Monday to find out what happened, potentially making them more eager when the rest finally posts.

For myself, I post either twice-a-week (Tues and Thurs) or once-a-week (Wed), so readers know when to check back, depending on the length of the story and whether I've got another in the works or not.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

As a reader, I know my preference is for a reasonably predictable update interval. Frequency is less of an issue unless we're talking weeks/months/years between updates.

That being said, I would also agree that for various reasons "frontloading" a story by either posting a significant portion upfront, or quickly getting the initial portion out before shifting to a more sedate pace can have benefits as well.

Both in terms of "setting the hook" for some readers who may not bother with chapter 2 if they read chapter 1 two weeks ago. While if chapter 2 had been available at that time, they may have read it even if chapter 1 wasn't very interesting. As well as the "size queen" readers, who won't be bothered with many types of stories until it is larger than ____ size. Giving them something to sink their teeth into before others have days or weeks to 1 bomb it can only be helpful, I'd think.

So some of this will become a question of how large the work is, and how quickly you think your story can get a solid hook on many people, rather than just some. Although there is some merit to the idea of updating every 2 to 3 days in regards to SOL itself, as that will give your story a regular presence on the recently updated page for non-premium users. ;)

Ernest Bywater

Another aspect worth mentioning here is the size of a chapter. I've seen chapters at SoL range from 100 words to 25,000 words, only the author can decide how much he'll post at a time.

When I write a story I write it in chapters and sub-chapter with breaks as appropriate for the story being told. However, when I post the story to SoL I go through it and locate chapter or sub-chapter ends that slice the whole story up into segments with an aim of around the 6,000 to 8,000 word size, but often end up between 5,000 to 10,000 words. This is to provide the readers with a reasonable chunk of reading with each posting. That's why I post a Table of Contents with the way the chapters and sub-chapters break up within the whole story and how they relate to the Posting Parts at SoL.

Switch Blayde

@Lugh

I shoot for one every 2-3 days (depends on how patient I am). But whatever I choose, I don't post another chapter until the last one is off the home page's new story list

Replies:   Lugh
Lugh

@Switch Blayde

I like Switch Blayde's model of not posting a chapter until the previous post is off the screen. That being said, I violated the principle, applying another one: get an initial group of chapters up to give a feel of the story, if the first isn't bang-crash attention getting.

Maybe early scores affected that. Perhaps I should turn off voting until the first group of chapters are up.

Crumbly Writer

@Lugh

Maybe early scores affected that. Perhaps I should turn off voting until the first group of chapters are up.

If you're worried about a weak opening chapter, then I agree you should post enough chapters, initially, to interest the reader (or simply rework the first chapter to make it more compelling).

That said, for most of my regular readers, they don't frequent the normal SOL page, instead spending most of their time on the "Series Update" page, so I consider the first chapter a 'throw away', as fewer readers even notice it. Thus I'll post the first chapter, wait a couple days, then post again so the story appears on the "Updates" page (rather than the "New stories" page only). That's when the majority of my readers notice it and begin reading.

I suspect that means I'm not appealing to many new readers. :(

Switch Blayde

@Lugh

get an initial group of chapters up to give a feel of the story, if the first isn't bang-crash attention getting.


Sometimes my first chapter doesn't have sex even though the story is coded "much sex." In those cases I usually post more than one chapter so that a chapter with sex is in the initial post.

G Younger

The only thing I would advise against is posting it ALL on one day. The reason is that some readers only read SOL every so many days, unlike me who reads every day. So the number of people who would have an opportunity to read your story goes way down because it will roll off the front page after about a day.

If I were new I would post three times a week (Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday). The reason you would post on Saturday instead of Sunday is our down under folk are a day ahead of us. Monday is back to work day and they might miss you. Just my two cents.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@G Younger

If I were new I would post three times a week (Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday). The reason you would post on Saturday instead of Sunday is our down under folk are a day ahead of us. Monday is back to work day and they might miss you. Just my two cents.

I used to post Saturdays, but found my stories would get bounced off the 'most recent updates' page too quickly. I switched to Tues/Thurs, so Saturday readers can see it within the 3-day window of reported stories, though they have to wade through several pages of stories to find it.

The key, though, is consistency. If readers know you ALWAYS post on certain days, they'll check in on those days, or at least know to check your story after those days if they only read on weekends.

Argon

@Lugh

With 13 chapters, I'd post two as a start and then 3 per week. That'll see your story finished in 4 weeks. Alternatively, reorder the chapters and make 12 longer ones to post. As a reader, I find short chapters more irksome than long intervals between postings.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Argon

I'm afraid I'm going to irk you. I'm dividing up my work-in-progress into chapters of between 700-1000 words.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


I'm afraid I'm going to irk you. I'm dividing up my work-in-progress into chapters of between 700-1000 words.


700 - 1,000 words is highly irksome, as there's not much time to understand the characters, what they're trying to accomplish, or why they care about the issue. I've written a few 1,500 word action scenes (short chapters), but those only work because it's short, fast, and ends very conclusively with a somewhat surprising ending (i.e. a big impact at the end).

Still, SOL readers, in particular, prefer to delve into the characters and spend time reading, rather than getting a cursory overview of a specific scene.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

It's true that long chapters and long stories in general attract a premium to their scores, but part of that is readers wanting the most bangs per buck from their 16 free stories per day.

I'm finding that 700-1000 words represents a convenient unit of writing. When I get an opportunity to write, it means I can usually churn out a whole chapter without having to leave a scene unfinished.

I'm not sure why you think short chapters necessarily affect the quality of characterisation. I don't try to reveal a character's motivation all in one go - indeed it usually evolves as the story progresses.

I'm still experimenting but so far I've rarely found short chapters to be a stricture, although the last one I wrote, a six person dialogue scene, was an exception to prove the rule.

There's a current trend for short chapters to be recommended as a tool for writers to discipline themselves, but that's not a view I subscribe to myself.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

There's a current trend for short chapters to be recommended as a tool for writers to discipline themselves, but that's not a view I subscribe to myself.

The 'trend' isn't simply to write small bits, it's more an admonition to edit. You see this a lot in poetry, where authors are required to fit all an entire line into so many syllables. It gets authors to pay more attention to their word usage, tweaking and perfecting their work to get the most bang for the buck. It's a lesson all authors should focus on, but which few novelists ever pick up.

However, in regard to preferring larger chapters, it's a personal choice. I found, after revising my writing to focus on shorter chapters, that my scores, in general, fell even as the reviews of my stories (on Amazon and goodreads) went up. In short, SOL readers seem to prefer longer chapters. And while my 'more compact' writing has helped me as a writer, I feel I've lost something by contracting too much. Now that I'm writing longer chapters, I feel the writing is stronger, as I spend more time being reflective, rather than just dealing with the details in the story.

As far as your own writing style, while 700 to 1000 words might be idea on a time management basis, that doesn't mean each chapter should be limited to that size. There's nothing that suggests you can't add a few 1,000 word segments into a single chapter.

richardshagrin

I suspect a lot more of your readers will wait either until the story is complete or until they have enough chapters unread so they can read enough together to have a satisfying (to them) reading experience. The only effect that may impact you of this choice may be that your feedback from readers may be less frequent.

technomage

@Crumbly Writer

Short chapters can be irksome, but sometimes irksome can be a good thing. I'll use one of my favorite authors on here as an example. Lazlo's latest story 'Future of Miss Powers' has some extremely short chapters. While they are complete in of themselves, they still tend to just barely whet the appetite before the chapter is finished. He is also consistent on his posting, in that I can expect a new chapter the next weekend. The expectation is sweet agony.

I know he also writes longer chapters, as he's shown in some of his other works like 'Thunder and Lightening' and 'Millionaire Next Door'. Though I never read them when he was still posting them, and only picked them up after the stories were completed, I assume he also had them on a weekly update.

To sum it up, short or long chapters doesn't matter so much as the story itself is engaging. Frequency is in the eye of the beholder as long as it's consistent. I do like the suggestion above about waiting until the previous chapter is off of the front page though.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

In short, SOL readers seem to prefer longer chapters.


I wonder if they prefer long chapters when the complete story is posted or it has something to do with a new chapter posted in an ongoing story? If the whole story is there what does chapter length have to do with anything? If they want to read more, they'll read the next chapter.

It's dangerous to adjust your writing (chapter length) due to an SOL reader's reaction to chapter by chapter posting. It would be best to simply post two short chapters at a time. A chapter is as long or short as it needs to be.

My chapter lengths in my new novel range from just over 1,000 words to about 3,500 words with most in the 1,500–2,400 range. In my first novel, the chapters are longer, one being over 6,000 words.

As a reader, I prefer short chapters, both online and with a printed book. I don't like to stop reading within a chapter so it's nice to get through chapters in a reasonable time. If I want to read more, I simply read the next chapter.

My current novel is YA and since young people have a short attention span, short chapters work well for that readership. But I didn't keep the chapters short for that reason. They just turned out that way.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

It would be best to simply post two short chapters at a time.


I considered that for my last story but I couldn't find a chapter delete facility for if I screwed something up.

AJ

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking


I'm finding that 700-1000 words represents a convenient unit of writing. When I get an opportunity to write, it means I can usually churn out a whole chapter without having to leave a scene unfinished.


When i write a chapter I write it to be as long as needed to tell what I'm saying in it. However, I finish a story before I post anything at SoL and I break the postings up into lots of 5,000 to 10,000 words with a break at a chapter or sub-chapter end. I do that because I find SoL readers don't like a posting smaller than about 5,000 words and 10,000 words is getting toward as much as they like to read in a sitting while also pushing the character envelope which is now redundant.

I, like many, have seen an author posting short postings of under 2,000 words per post and don't bother reading them while they're being posted, and often forget about them by the time they're finished posting it.

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

I considered that for my last story but I couldn't find a chapter delete facility for if I screwed something up.


You used to have to email the webmaster to do that, but the revised 'Author / Editor' Page has a button for that now labelled 'Post / Delete Editing Help Request.'

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

It's dangerous to adjust your writing (chapter length) due to an SOL reader's reaction to chapter by chapter posting. It would be best to simply post two short chapters at a time. A chapter is as long or short as it needs to be.

In my case, I'd adjusted my writing style down to 'episodic chapters'. However, readers responded that it didn't seem 'complete'. So I changed from episodic chapters to more 'a-day-in-the-life' chapters, which allowed me to explore many areas I'd previously bypassed, which helped flesh the stories out. It wasn't just catering to whims, but was a response to a criticism about the story not being as 'complete' as it had been. I didn't realize before where they were short.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I considered that for my last story but I couldn't find a chapter delete facility for if I screwed something up.

You just repost the chapter. However, you don't need to repost anything, just post the two shorter chapters at the same time so readers get 'more story to read' without compromising the length or content of the chapters.

StarFleet Carl

I created a spreadsheet just to see how wordy I am. So far I've 34 chapters posted (40 total written). The first three chapters were in the 3-4K word range. Since then it's been in the 4-7K range. Since my first story on here is a fan fiction, I've been trying to fit chapter endings in a natural spot, which means that I'll soon be posting an 8K chapter.

But what I've mostly been doing is just look at file size. I think if I can keep the text file in the 30K - 40K range, that fits the chapter size in most normal, dead tree books.

Having said that, I've another work in progress that will have shorter chapters, but I'll probably post more than one of the those at a time. I want to get a lot more of that one written before I start posting any of it, though. Learned my lesson with this one - I'm just happy having a full month's worth of buffer at posting one chapter a week.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@StarFleet Carl

But what I've mostly been doing is just look at file size. I think if I can keep the text file in the 30K - 40K range, that fits the chapter size in most normal, dead tree books.

There are a few dead-tree books which have single word chapters, so I wouldn't worry about keeping to a set standard. What's a better gauge to what readers expect, is to visit a local book store and walk down the isles of your favorite genre to get a feel for the size of the books you're most interested in. If readers expect a 40,000 word book, and you're pushing 80,000, you might have trouble convincing them to read it. Likewise, if the genre standard is 90,000 to 100,000, then writing 60,000 words will likely disappoint.

The key, though, is to write a convincing story. While many readers will shy away from certain books, nothing drives them away faster than a bad first book!

awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

'Post / Delete Editing Help Request.'


That instigates or removes requests for people to supply editing skills. It has nothing to do with deleting chapters of stories.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking


That instigates or removes requests for people to supply editing skills. It has nothing to do with deleting chapters of stories.


Sorry about that, I read the name of the button and from that it looked like it was a special request form to the webmaster.

If you wish to replace a chapter you just use the Posting Wizard to replace the old chapter with a new chapter. If you wish to have a chapter or story totally removed you write to the webmaster with the request.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

No worries - it had me fooled to at first sight. I only realised when I gave it a try.

If you wish to have a chapter or story totally removed you write to the webmaster with the request.


That's what worries me. It would be easy for me to screw things up, then I would be dependent on others to clear up my mess.

AJ

Capt Zapp

@awnlee jawking

That's what worries me. It would be easy for me to screw things up, then I would be dependent on others to clear up my mess.


You could always just correct the chapter and re-post it. Another option might be to post a 'fake' chapter that says 'This chapter removed for editing/re-writing'

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

That's what worries me. It would be easy for me to screw things up, then I would be dependent on others to clear up my mess.


The only reason you need to go through Lazeez to have a story or chapter totally deleted is he wants to make sure it's what you want and not someone spoofing the system. But replacing a chapter is as easy as posting it in the first place - heck, I do it all the time. In some cases I have to replace a chapter because it got messed up by the Wizard in posting, but most often due to alert readers having a laugh and telling me about my typos - thus I clean the story up and repost it. A few times I've revised a story to correct an issue with the content, but that's rare.

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