Should I Serialize My Novel or Post It All at Once?

Wattpad brings you a guest post from Jeff Seymour, author of fantasy fiction “Soulwoven”:

When Wattpad let me know that they were interested in featuring Soulwoven on their site, they also asked me a question: since I chose to serialize the book (post a chapter every few days) rather than put the whole thing up at once, would I mind writing a blog post about the benefits of doing so? And could I talk about whether I thought I had reached new readers by serializing?

Being a glutton for an interesting project, I said yes.

The answer to Wattpad’s second question, by the way, is also yes. Serializing absolutely introduced me to new readers. And I’m not the only one it’s worked for.

Before I break down how and why I know that, it’s worth going into how I posted Soulwoven on Wattpad. When I started putting up chapters of the book in June, I had a pretty simple plan: post a chapter a week, along with some blog posts and videos about what I was trying to do. I wasn’t tracking any numbers at the time, but I remember noticing that every time I posted a chapter, I got a quick burst of new reads.

Shortly thereafter, Wattpad contacted me about featuring Soulwoven and asked how soon I would be able to get the whole story up.

Their request significantly sped up my schedule. For a while, I posted a chapter a day. A few months in, I started tracking my category rankings, new reads, and some other numbers as I posted.

Between then and its feature date, Soulwoven went from 956 reads to more than 18,000.

I didn’t do any promotional work to support it. I just wrote.

So I’m quite certain that almost every read I got came from serializing the novel.

The reason for that lies in the discovery engines that Wattpad uses. There are a lot of ways to find a story on the site, but one of the chief ones (for me, anyway) is the “Browse” page. And one of the options on the “Browse” page is to list the most recently updated books in a category.

I found out pretty quickly that people must use that list. Every time I posted a chapter, I would get six or seven new reads within the first few minutes. So I know I was driving discovery that way.

But I’m pretty sure that serialization also helps boost your Wattpad category rankings.

I’m not entirely sure how the ranking algorithms work, but I’m reasonably certain that they’re based on new votes received over a short period of time (like a few days). Most importantly, they seem to correct for an individual user voting multiple times during that period.

For instance, if three users all vote for a chapter of Soulwoven on the same day, I usually see my ranking go up. If just one user votes for three (or eighteen, or thirty) chapters of Soulwoven on the same day, my ranking tends not to move much at all.

But if the same user votes once every three days or so, I tend to maintain the rankings benefit from their vote.

Serializing a book takes advantage of that effect. The readers who become your biggest fans vote for each new chapter as it comes out, which helps keep your book higher in the rankings, which in turn introduces it to new readers.

Maybe most importantly of all, when I finished uploading Soulwoven, the number of readers starting the book dropped rapidly to zero. The bump I was hoping to see from people knowing that they could finish the story never materialized.

If I had posted every chapter on the same day, I might never have broken 1,000 reads.

So that’s that. Serialization helped me find new readers. Maybe more importantly, posting as I went let me gather feedback and support from the Wattpad community. People cheered me on at times when I really needed it and pointed out weaknesses that I hadn’t seen. The feedback led me to write a better book and finish it sooner.

Because there’s nothing like waking up after wrestling with a difficult chapter and thinking you’ll never make it as a writer, then finding out that a stranger in Pakistan loves your book.

Nothing.

In.

The world.

If you want a fuller chronicle of my experience on Wattpad, you can check the series of posts on my blog entitled “The Grand Experiment.”

And if you want to read Soulwoven (which I hope you will—it’s got magic and mystery and dragons and dreams and true love and love lost and battles and earthquakes and giant worms and a whole lot more), you can start it here.

Read Soulwoven FREE on Wattpad!

(YA High Fantasy) Litnig Jin has spent his whole life yearning to be different. His best friend weaves the souls of the dead into magic. His brother runs with a gang of thieves in Eldan City’s seedy north side. But Litnig? Litnig doesn’t even dream.

Until the first day of spring in his 20th year.

Litnig’s dream of moving statues, shattered chains, and seething clouds of darkness sets him and his friends on a journey that will change them forever. A prince asks for their help. A necromancer hunts them. A dragon whispers terrible words in their nightmares.

And as they travel the world of Guedin seeking to prevent the god Yenor’s hatred from coming to life, Litnig learns that there are prices to pay for all power, and that his may cost more than he can possibly afford.

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