Yep, I messed up when I serialized A Fistful of Fire. My screwup wasn't that I serialized the book, but in the details of how I did it.
I even researched before jumping in, but information on web serializing is hard to find. In particular, the model I wanted to follow did not fit much of the advice I was reading. Certain things translated, but not everything. Many serializers are writing in chunks and posting a WiP (Work in Progress).
I already had the novel completed. I just wanted to serialize it as a variation on the "offer first work for cheap" method of indie author promo. I knew from experience how helpful web novels could be when needing to de-stress on a 15-minute break at work.
And, well, hindsight is 20/20.
- Get "cutesy" or "cool" with your text. Goal is to be read. Don't make that tough with huge sections of hard-to-read text. Sadly, I had to be conked on that one.
- Jump the gun and get started before you have a pleasant easy-to-use blog ready. If you're not sure if the site's any good, don't shrug and figure it's "Good enough". Get it critiqued.
- Use Blogger. There's no way of making the posts show in reverse order, that I've been able to find (short of doctoring the posting dates). Use a blogging service that will let posts show in reverse order.
- Wait until the story's about to end to start advertising and actively promoting. (Yes, this is a "DON'T".)
- Use that cool widget that says how many page hits you get. Took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize how useless that widget is for a blog whose goal for visitors to start at page 0 and read all the posts to the present.
- Pick a URL that's based on the world of the book being serialized. I didn't, instead choosing a URL based solely on the book itself. Now I'm regretting it. The novel's done. I'm stuck with a blog URL that's specific to that book; what if I later want to serialize something else in the world? Many folks will miss the announcement for the new place to go, and I'll have to pretty much restart my audience-building.
- Set up your Table of Contents in advance so you can figure out its size and how you need to put it on the site. (Note: there are ways to set up even Blogger so a widget will show on some pages but not on others. Take advantage of that.)
- Have a setup and plan for "announcement/news" posts. I hadn't planned to do them. What was I going to do, change sidebar text? Yeah, because that gets noticed.
- Use Feedburner from day one. No, really. And have one of those "plug in your e-mail address to have the feed delivered to your inbox" widgets on your site. I was downright embarrassed when I realized I'd forgotten that, and I was halfway through the posting schedule…
- Include the Google "Follow" widget from day one. (See above for my embarrassing story.)
- Include the FeedBurner widget for how many subscribers you have. Adjust it to match your site layout.
- Prepare the novel and schedule the posts all before going live.
- Have your cover ready in advance, and base your site appearance to match that cover.
With me the stubborn little thing I am, I suspect I'll serialize something else sometime, to do it right, this time. (Or, more likely, find new ways of doing it wrongly.)
I have one project in particular that'll probably end up serialized, though I doubt I'll start it until late next year. I'd like to finish the Chronicles of Marsdenfel quartet before I jump full-tilt into that series, though.
I hope anyone who hopes to serialize their novel finds this post useful.
Have you serialized a novel online? Are you planning to?