And It’s Not Quite What I Expected
It’s been barely a weeks since I started writing a web novel on Royal Road. In that time, I’ve received 1000 reads, a 4.75/5 star average rating, and 14 followers. This is way, way more traction than I got when I launched on Kindle. I’m getting daily likes, favorites, comments, and questions from readers. I’m blown away!
Part of this has to do with how Royal Road works. Royal Road is one of the premier websites for serialized web fiction. New fictions get featured prominently on the site when they are created, and updates to all fictions get a spot (however fleeting) right on the home page.
This means individual chapters, if posted one at a time throughout the week, offer multiple chances for a work to get noticed by a bunch of readers (as opposed to posting an entire book on Amazon, where it will get a few days in the sun and promptly be buried for eternity).
Thus, instead of simply copying my books in their entirety, I am uploading them piece by piece. This has also given me a chance to reflect on the content. What works well for a kindle eBook and/or a paperback isn’t necessarily the same for an online web fiction audience. Instead of long, 10,000 word chapters, bite-sized 2000 word chunks are more appropriate (so that people can read them at their lunch break, or in the 20 minutes they have waiting for the bus).
This has made me revisit not only the chapter breaks, but the content. Can I put in more detail that I would normally have left out, and chunk it off as separate short “side” chapters? Of course! Can I use the available graphics and spreadsheets to put in detailed specifications and comparisons of the space craft? Why not!
I can also break large chapters into smaller bits and more accurately flesh out those smaller bits. I don’t have to worry about a total page count…it can essentially be endless (no cost to bind and print a web fiction!)
This also gives me a chance to branch out and shoot for a slightly different, more mature audience. Sagitta and Hrain include some light profanity (shit, hell, damn) and some tense scenes, but overall they are written for a moderately mature teenage audience. The web fictions on Royal Road run the gamut from clean to X-rated. I’m not going to write X-rated, or even R, but there are some scenes in perilous sci-fi–such as when the aliens have boarded your ship and are running around killing everyone and jettisoning the bodies into space–that can better be appreciated by a PG-13 audience. So, I likely will be experimenting with pushing the content a bit too. Nothing too brutal or crazy (still wan’t to appeal to family audiences, and I am not a fan of gore, swearing, and sex just for the sake of these things), but it should also be a serious representation of what people actually go through in these life or death situations.
So, this is a fun experiment that is letting me re-envision StarFighter, while staying true to the roots of the story. Ultimately I think both formats can compliment each other. Instead of my original plan (having The Chronicles of the StarFighters be a blatant copy of my young adult novels), I think I will expand the web fiction and let it grow into something new. It will be similar, but not the same. Thus, people have a choice. Those reading the web fiction can feel they are getting something more raw, gritty, and perhaps less polished (I need to keep up with my release schedule, and editing unfortunately suffers a bit). Those preferring the young adult genre, a more concise narrative, and zero (hopefully) typos can choose my regular books, which will remain exclusively on Amazon for the time being.