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How To Gain - Or Lose - Your Readers!


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Thanks for posting this, Riley! You reminded me I still need to catch up on ET. :)

 

Personally, I will always come back to an author I like, regardless if he/she updates once every two days or once every two years. lol

 

So you haven't lost me as a reader yet, Riley! :D

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I can't wait for your new chapters to show up so new readers will find you and hopefully enjoy your writing as much as all us who have enjoyed all of your past work and are looking forward to more.  Pax 

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I think the chances of readers losing interest in a writer are amplified in the serial posting environment. The number of stories which began strong, promised much and then stopped being updated large in this environment. Harper Lee (or Alice) gave us one magnificent book which left us satisfied. Now there's another one, but once again a complete story. I'm not sure those books would be flying off the shelf if they were just a new chapter in a story which had sat dormant for years.

 

On the other hand, I'd jump on a new chapter of '52 Panhead in a second if the author ever came back to the story.

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Riley, from what Lisa and Gandalf have said, you have loyal and dedicated fans :) and it speaks of GA as a whole that legions of fans will eagerly await a new chapter for a continuing story.

 

You have also mentioned that you could've lost readers/fans due to your absence... well with some that may be a possibility, but I don't think it is a significant number. Consider this: if Domluka were to come back today and post a new chapter to With Trust, his fans would jump on it quickly. Even after four years away, there are still fans of Dom. I honestly don't think you have to worry about having lost fans and readers in general :)

Edited by Drew Espinosa
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I think the chances of readers losing interest in a writer are amplified in the serial posting environment. The number of stories which began strong, promised much and then stopped being updated....

Carlos is absolutely right. Though there are writers that readers will come back to (Gabriel Morgan being a case in point for me as well, among others). Even though readers are sometimes left in the lurch of an author's issues--no, I don't necessarily need to know what those issues are, or were--some authors are worth waiting for. You, Riley, may be one of those authors, I think that you are. But let's not ignore that, in most instances, an author's complete work isn't generally pulled from view. In the case of your writing, Riley, readers were left with nothing but the twiddle of their thumbs to contemplate without moving on. Now... it seems like a big leap of faith to jump back into the headspace that your characters formerly occupied in my mind. I will begin reading your work again, but it is no longer a must-do thing for me.

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I really enjoyed ET before you pulled it, and am very happy to see you back.  I am going to wait until the story is completely posted before reading it though.  You haven't lost me as a fan.  :)

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From the reader viewpoint, it does matter to me. If an author doesn't post for a very long time, I'll lose track of the story and be less inclined to want to re-read to continue if they pick back up again. It has to be a spectacular story to prompt me to do that.

 

From an author standpoint, I can definitely say it matters both as to the giddiness of the fan, the quality and popularity of the story itself, and the length of time between posts. I've lost readers before due to that very thing.

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Lots on on-point posts here. As a guy who took a decade to write and post a story, I feel grateful that I hung onto the readers I did.

 

On the one hand, since (s)he's sharing free reading material, an author doesn't "owe" anybody timeliness, or even a story's completion.

 

On the other, there is an at-least implied covenant between writer and reader. If the writer has, in effect, solicited the reading attention of a reading public by offering a story, I think there are some implicit promises made to said reading public. One of those promises is a conclusion to the story. Another is reasonable timeliness.

 

With Crosscurrents, I would write and post. Write and post. Write and post. It wasn't a good decade for me to be trying to write regularly, though, and so it took as long as it took. These days I'll be producing a lot more, and a lot faster...but I've decided I'm not going to post a single paragraph until I've finished at least 80% of the story. Maybe 85%.

 

My first experience with this sort of frustration as a reader came many years ago when I was reading a delightful and erotic novel at Nifty called Vermont Summer. I got to the end of the extant chapters, and then...

 

Nothing.

 

Ever again.

 

That's a distinctive kind of disappointment, and the level of frustration a reader has in such a situation is directly proportional to the quality of the story.

 

I won't do that to my readers yet another time. Thanks for staying with me as readers, all you who did. :)

Edited by Adam Phillips
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I sometimes wonder why some very promising stories just vanished into thin air; still "In Process" after years of neglect.  The chapters compelling enough to make me want more. Is it acceptable to try finishing one of these stories as a fanfic (I really don't know what to call it) after the author lost interest?

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I take Ron’s comment on the chin. Leaving readers to twiddle their thumbs is a naff thing to do, though my post wasn’t really a complaint about the outcome of what was my own fault. Stuff happens, but still, if I pissed you off by taking chapters down with no explanation - and you won’t be the only one who got annoyed - I apologise.

Wanting to publish is a terrible taskmaster. On the one hand, I guess most of us who write get a great deal of energy to keep going when we get feedback - even just to see the reader count go up! On the other hand, the drive and expectation to get that next chapter out there can be exhausting, and pressure both the author and the story itself. Sometimes I think we get stuck on the idea that the three elements of Author, Audience and Story have equal rights on the outcome.

I dunno - I’d like to think I could write the whole thing before publishing. That’s what print authors have to do. But what if nobody likes it by the second chapter? At least this way you get to sense if you’re hitting the spot on an idea.

Re: English Teen.
For the record, almost all the chapters are back now, and I just updated and republished ‘Unplanned Sleepover’. Now there’s only one more chapter before we get to something new!

 

Riley

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I dunno - I’d like to think I could write the whole thing before publishing. That’s what print authors have to do. But what if nobody likes it by the second chapter?

 

There are books that are now among my favorites whose first two chapters I didn't like. Don't let that make the decision regarding how to write. Write the story for you, not in anticipation of what your audience might like. I guarantee that'll make your story stronger too. :*)

Edited by Adam Phillips
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There are books that are now among my favorites whose first two chapters I didn't like. Don't let that make the decision regarding how to write. Write the story for you, not in anticipation of what your audience might like. I guarantee that'll make your story stronger too. :*)

 

A lot of people bitched about the first chapter in my story. I took some of the feedback and incorporated it into the second chapter, which overall got a better response in my eyes. 

Edited by TetRefine
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For me, it's been a bit of a learning curve. Scrap that...a LOT of a learning curve! (and Andy, who edits for me, tells me off ALL THE TIME for using caps!)

 
Sorry - I digress! 
 
During this last year, I took the time to finish ET...right to the end. And I have to confess, I never really knew what that end was going to be back in 2013! Once I got there, I found it really impacted earlier chapters, which I needed to edit a lot, just to get the backstory right.
 
I can't imagine what it must have been like for those in bygone times that only had typewriters!
 
'Publish and be damned' sounds heroic, but the problem is, once you've published a chapter, you're pretty much bound by it as you go forward.
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Addendum: I would like to say Riley that: whatever amount of time it takes to post a new chapter online or publish a new book in a series physically... it will be difficult to lose my interest. I don't generally move on to other things. In fact, I am one of those people that like re-reading.

 

Do I re-read the entirity of a book or series? Not necessarily, but I do revisit my favorite scenes or moments in them :) So, I am still "connected" to characters in books that are A: long finished or B: still incomplete. That is why I am still invested in the series A Song of Ice and Fire (HBO's Game of Thrones is based on these novels)  series because I re-immerse myself in the story each time I read one of the novels :D

 

So, for myself personally, it is difficult to get me disinterested in a story that I already like :)

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Freakin' With Trust. Dammit. I want the rest of that story!!! Lol

And all the other unfinished Dom Luka stories!!

A lot of people bitched about the first chapter in my story. I took some of the feedback and incorporated it into the second chapter, which overall got a better response in my eyes. 

I keep meaning to ask you, Matt, what ever happened to that story? Will you continue with it?

Edited by Lisa
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During this last year, I took the time to finish ET...right to the end. And I have to confess, I never really knew what that end was going to be back in 2013! Once I got there, I found it really impacted earlier chapters, which I needed to edit a lot, just to get the backstory right.

 
 

 

I'm going through the same thing with my current story The Hollow Hills. I had about eight chapters written before I started posting, then I got sick and didn't write for a month, so I got behind on my posting schedule.  So now I'm in a situation where I'm posting as chapters are written, and finding that that there are things I would change in the earlier chapters.  I'm thinking that I won't post my next story until after it's completed, to avoid a similar situation. 

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This is something I've worried about a lot, and part of the reason why I dropped off the face of the web for a while in the first place, and why it's been so hard to come back. Depression makes writing difficult, and since I wasn't writing I wasn't updating, and I worried about losing my readers, which made me more depressed and made it harder to write. And because I felt ashamed for leaving stories unfinished, I stopped coming to GA entirely. Judging by the reception of the first thing I've posted in, like, a year and a half, though, it seems people are still interested in reading my stuff. That's a huge relief, and feels really encouraging. Feels like I still have a home.  :*)

 

EDIT: I have, however, decided not to start posting any new chaptered stories until I've finished the first draft from now on. I don't want to end up in that position again.

Edited by Thorn Wilde
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I sometimes wonder why some very promising stories just vanished into thin air; still "In Process" after years of neglect.  The chapters compelling enough to make me want more. Is it acceptable to try finishing one of these stories as a fanfic (I really don't know what to call it) after the author lost interest?

I know of a couple of authors who have done this.  What happened is that they didn't think the story through before they started writing.  Since they didn't have an outline or a more than a vague idea of where the story was going, plus the fact that they were posting it as they wrote it, they painted themselves into a corner.  Things that they had written in earlier chapters eventually prevented them from taking the story where they now wanted it to go.  Since they couldn't figure a way around the problem, they just stopped writing the story. 

 

I think this points out two different approaches, one of which you should use before writing.  Either have a detailed outline of what you plan to do in the story or write most or all of it first, before posting.  I actually do a combination of both, but I primarily like to write all or most of the story first before posting, because there have been many times when I have gone back and made changes to earlier chapters (some minor and other times major changes) to get it to fit in with an idea that came to me later.  

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I remember when Nephy told me years ago, just when I was getting started having a go at writing, that she had decided to completely finish a story before publishing any of it, that my chin hit the floor. It wasn’t something I could even contemplate!

At the same time, it was her that wrote a review to the very first chapter I risked putting on here (Against The Machine - which I hang my head in shame to say it’s another story that currently remains in unpublished doldrums!) However, that one chapter and her single, encouraging review was a watershed. Without it I probably would have given up. The point is, for newbie authors, that’s often all we can manage. And this is why I think GA is so good at catering for both the pros like Nephy who can reel them off without blinking, as well as be forgiving - and still encouraging - to those of us who are at least good at starting well!

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I know of a couple of authors who have done this.  What happened is that they didn't think the story through before they started writing.  Since they didn't have an outline or a more than a vague idea of where the story was going, plus the fact that they were posting it as they wrote it, they painted themselves into a corner.  Things that they had written in earlier chapters eventually prevented them from taking the story where they now wanted it to go.  Since they couldn't figure a way around the problem, they just stopped writing the story. 

 

I think this points out two different approaches, one of which you should use before writing.  Either have a detailed outline of what you plan to do in the story or write most or all of it first, before posting.  I actually do a combination of both, but I primarily like to write all or most of the story first before posting, because there have been many times when I have gone back and made changes to earlier chapters (some minor and other times major changes) to get it to fit in with an idea that came to me later.  

 

Well, I guess I prefer to have it pretty much written before posting. At least, I'm doing the writing part, very slowly. I definitely feel Riley's pain over having ideas that haven't gotten to the light of day, yet. What is the best way to get advice on the story as a whole before you post and get yourself painted into a corner?

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Well, I guess I prefer to have it pretty much written before posting. At least, I'm doing the writing part, very slowly. I definitely feel Riley's pain over having ideas that haven't gotten to the light of day, yet. What is the best way to get advice on the story as a whole before you post and get yourself painted into a corner?

Find yourself a good beta reader and editor.  They will let you know what makes sense and what areas need to be tweaked. 

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