Monthly Archives: September 2008

Bookmarked! 19th September 2008

Mock exams just ended this morning, so I’m popping by to throw some links your way.

  • David Foster Wallace committed suicide a couple of days back, and it prompted an outcry of sadness from major swathes of the blogosphere. I spent much of my (already limited) online time reading articles dedicated to his memory, excerpts of his work, and pretty much catching up on his life and times. It felt strange, knowing I should be mourning the loss of a brilliant writer, but I had no idea who he was. McSweeney’s has a long thread of people penning their memories of him, amongst them Zadie Smith:

    He was my favourite. I didn’t feel he had an equal amongst living writers. We corresponded and met a few times but I stuttered and my hands shook. The books meant too much to me: I was just another howling fantod. In person, he had a great purity. I had a sense of shame in his presence, though he was meticulous about putting people at their ease. It was the exact same purity one finds in the books: If we must say something, let’s at least only say true things.

    Ah, the ignorance of youth. I am left with dipping my hands into a stagnant pool of work, never to know how it must have felt like to know Wallace in person.

  • Muse’s Success is a new listing site, similar in concept to Pages Unbound (read: crowd powered, no editors). Programmer Chris Clarke says it’s running on WordPress for the time being, but plans are underway to switch to a custom platform. Interested writers submit your work here.
  • Lethe Bashar has completed the Las Vegas section of his The Novel Of Life. I’m still reading the first part, though, so I can’t really tell you how it is. Project page has a wonderful summary; check it out here.
  • Sol Mann’s blook: Estimated Time of Arrival, is based on his true experiences with travel and drugs (amongst other things) in Costa Rica.
  • I wrote about Urbis sometime ago, and it seems that they’ve gotten a literary agency to check out the writers on their site. Their PR blurb says they’ve ‘started with the best': one LJK Literary Management, under Time Warner Book CEO Larry Kaufman. Opportunity page over here.
  • Why people pirate games. Some very interesting insights on why and how piracy works on the Internet.

The Story Behind Web Fiction Guide

This guest post is written by Chris Poirier, the founder of Web Fiction Guide. Here he talks about the origins of the site, the story so far, and his plans for the future.Web Fiction Guide

Back when we opened, Eli asked me to write an article for Novelr on the Web Fiction Guide. To be honest with you, when he asked, I wanted to run screaming for the hills. I just couldn’t imagine what I’d write about. And yet, the calmer, more business-like part of me knew it was a good idea—for publicity for the site, if nothing else.

So, last night, I figured something out: I’ll just tell you a story. That’s something I know how to do.

Where it all began

A few months ago, I started writing a serialized novel, called Winter Rain. I didn’t set out to write it. In fact, I set out to write a vignette—a one scene “moment in time”—for a net friend. But I’d had an idea bouncing around in my head for a story, for a while, and once the vignette was written, it just felt like I could go somewhere with it. So I did. And it’s been a lot of fun, so far.

But, of course, there’s no point writing something for an online audience if that audience never shows up to read it. And, frankly, I’m a bit of an attention hound. So, after the first week, I decided it was time to publicize the story.

And that’s where the trouble began.

Starting from nothing

I’d been hosting Sarah Suleski’s website since she started publishing Alisiyad online, and she and I have been friends for a long time, so I’d heard from her about wonderful publicity tools like Pages Unbound and Project Wonderful. So, that first week, I went and submitted a listing to Pages Unbound, and bought advertising space through Project Wonderful on a number of popular web fiction sites. And waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Here are the things I found out:

  1. Most of the people who click through on banner ads leave again right away. 80+% of them, in fact.
  2. Even on busy sites that are appropriately chosen, most readers don’t click on banner ads.
  3. Pages Unbound is only a useful source of traffic if you have a ton of good user reviews, or if you buy a banner ad on it (and not really even then).

The truth of the matter is that most of my readers did not come from banner ads placed on other sites. Even fewer of them came from Pages Unbound. The majority of my readers found my serial (perhaps not surprisingly) from personal recommendations made by other web authors, in the form of links from their sites.