How To Prepare For A Digital Shift

I’ve spent the last couple of posts at Novelr speculating on the future of web fiction – which as an activity, I must admit, was very fun to do. But it wasn’t a very useful one for the writers who read this blog. The essential questions remain unanswered: what do you do when the publishers finally wake up to the Internet? What can you do to prepare for a digital book future? 

Before I go into specifics, understand that you should take this article with a pinch of salt. These are steps that I believe aren’t too far off, and ones that I think can go a long way in preparing your writing for a more vigorous, more competitive online fiction sphere. On the flip side, however, I may also be completely wrong, and I’m obliged to warn you now that while this is a post that deals with practical steps, it’s also a post that deals with uncertainties. It is a first attempt in telling you what to do to get ahead in a place that doesn’t exist yet. If I’m wrong – and there’s a good chance that I am – then I suppose we can meet up 10 years from now and laugh at my stupidity. 

A Summary

Before we begin it’ll do to recap what exactly it is we’re preparing for. I’ve talked about this in the past, but for those of you who don’t have the time to dig into Novelr’s archives:

  1. Publishers are exploring digital alternatives to books, and are currently figuring out how to distribute, market, and deliver them to the consumer. They’re forced to do so by the current recession, which is hitting the people in the publishing industry harder than most.
  2. Printed books will not go away, but they’ll be staying on as ‘bespoke, art-directed paper packages’ – the top of a piramid of consumed fiction.
  3. Self publishing, and by extension self-funded writing efforts like blooks and web fiction are going to become ‘tryouts’ for publishing houses. Publishers will look closely at the comments surrounding a self-published piece, and if it’s mostly good, and they think they can sell it, they then pick it up and sign-on the author for a traditional book deal. Haper Collins’s has tried to centralize these efforts – they’ve started a website called Authonomy and are hoping unpublished writers come to them with their manuscripts.
  4. Writers will flock to the Internet in the sudden realization that there’re more ways to get published than just the agency/slush pile. We will be swamped with online manuscripts. Readers will go to certain filter sites, or perhaps stores, to find good things to read online.
  5. Or not. They may want to put these stories in iPhones, Kindles, or one of the many portable device options poppig up today. They will want to read, and they will want to read away from the computer.

I’m not sure of the degree to which these predictions will come true, but for the sake of this article we’ll pretend that it’s a future we’ll have to prepare for. Which leads us to the focus of this piece: what can we do, now, to prepare for it?

Blogs Are Dead

I will be approaching this article with one assumption in mind: that blogs, as a form of presenting fiction, have failed. Which is rather ironic, considering the amount of fiction blogs I’m reading today, both for pleasure and for work (I have an obligation to review for WFG); and also ironic because my usage of the term ‘blook’ may have to be revised, and for good. But I believe we’re looking at a future where blogs aren’t going to be the main form of Internet fiction consumption, and here’s why.

The first thing we have to think about is the nature of the blog. Blogs are time-intensive things, and they require constant and consistent updating to be of any attraction to the reader. I once spoke of this as a good thing: that blogs force writers to perform on-the-fly writing, and I still do believe that the form has some unparelled attractions, attractions that cannot be found in books or even in writing magazines. But let’s ask ourselves a question: if we accept that publishers are moving onto the Internet, and we accept that they’re going to be finding the best ways to present fiction online, then what are the odds that blogs will be their medium of choice? What are the odds that of the majority of novels put on the Internet would be in blog form, and that the readers will be most used to consuming their online fiction via blogs? Not much, I’d expect – publishers aren’t going to invest so much of their time and energy into a medium that requires just that – lots of time and energy. And to back that up – take a look at the experiments we’ve seen conducted by the big wigs – how many of them are in blog form? We Tell Stories and The Golden Notebook and Tor.com are all beautifully designed websites; websites designed with only one purpose in mind: to be read.[1]

That is not to say that blogs are not designed to be read. But we have to admit that we’re facing a structural problem when we try to tell stories with blogs – there is a wealth of information we have to design around, and most writers don’t bother to design at all. Many of a blog’s original features were not built with storytelling in mind. When I see things like reverse-chronological archives and trackbacks and comments I think of diary writing and community, not books and paper. And while some of these blog features can be adapted to storytelling, most of them remain deadweight; obstacles that get in the way of the actual jumping into the story that we want readers to experience.

On a side note, I wonder if this is one of the reasons why online fiction has taken so long to get off the ground. A reader comes to a blog with a set of expectations in mind, expectations that they have to overcome when they’re dealing with a serialized fiction blog (not so with short stories, or flash fiction – for these, blogs are extremely well suited as a presentation form). Note that online comics are not posted in the blog format, they’re presented in specially designed websites that are built around the expected interaction between reader and comic. There are no deadweights; no obstacles. No unnecessary fluff.

The bottom line here is that readers will eventually get used to a form of digital prose presentation, and that form will probably not be blogs. And that leads us to the next question – what to change into?

Novel Plus, not Blog Plus

Here we enter rather sketchy territory. The idea of Novel Plus (or Novel+, if you prefer) was first mentioned to me in conversation by James Smythe, who completed a PhD thesis on online fiction two years ago. I think James makes a point when he says publishers will eventually have to move into cross-platform publishing, and Novel+ is his name for it. What it is, really, is this: imagine buying a book, and then finding inside a little card granting you access to free digital downloads – ebooks, podcasts, inside areas of the writer’s site, perhaps. Now I’m not sure how much of this will come true, and the specifics are all still up in the air, but these are ideas that I believe are really cool and (I hope) will be inevitable. 

So what can you do? Quite a lot, actually.

A Suggestion List (Don’t We All Just Love ‘Em?)

1. Don’t kill your blog; split it up. Chris Al-Aswad (a.k.a. Lethe Bashar) wrote sometime ago that you should keep two blogs for your web novel: one to contain the work in progress, and another to present the completed work. It’s a fantastic article, and I think you should  check it out because Chris provides several examples of his own fiction where he has applied this split. But I’d like to make an adjustment to that suggestion: keep your ongoing blook the same way a writer would keep a manusript (or a moleskin notebook, for that matter), but present the completed portions of your story in a strong, beautifully-designed, visually-oriented ‘front-end’. A good example of this ‘front-end’ idea is The Golden Notebook project – it’s not a blog, for starters, so I suggest you take a look at the home page to see how the designers have incorporated book, forum and blog into an easily understandable package. 

2. Go cross platform. The future of the novel won’t be about the computer screen. It’ll be about the mobile phone, the Kindle, the Sony Reader, as well as a few other formats that I’m sure will pop up sooner or later. Your job as an independent writer will be to provide readers with a multi-platform selection of your works: pdf files, paper book, websites, yes; but also Kindle format, .mobi and phone-optimized sites. I’ll be keeping tabs on up and coming formats here on Novelr, and I’ll recommend them if I think they’re worth your time. But by and large you’ll be the ones putting the platforms together – get my self-published book on Lulu, email me the invoice and I’ll send you something cool? The applications are endless. I’m expecting a future where publishers will provide multiple formats for purchase – maybe the full text will be available online and for free, but other take-away-to-read formats will need to be paid for. And this is a business model you can emulate as well.

3. Polish, polish, polish. An as-yet-unmentioned condition about presenting your work on a ‘front-end’ site is the amount of polish you’ll have to put into it before launching anything. No grammatical errors; no revisions. You are presenting your work on multiple platforms, after all – if you make a change you’re going to have to answer to the readers who’ve already downloaded your ebooks and paid for your self-published paper versions. It’s a stage not everyone has reached, but one that you’ll eventually get to. Prepare for that eventuality.

Looking Forward

Now you’re probably asking why should you do this, and what’s in it for you. And that answer, I believe, hinges on why you’re writing online fiction in the first place. If you see this as your ticket to the publishing industry, then you should change – and change soon because all indicators point to publishers sourcing material from the self-published pool. This is your chance to stand-out, at a time when nobody else is doing anything about the digital shift. But on the other hand: if you’re writing online fiction for fun, or if you’re writing to escape the editorial confinements of the traditional book-world, then you’re not likely to want to change so fast. And that’s fine too, as long as you realize when and what new formats are available to you in the future.

1.N.B. I’m talking about the blog format here – the one where posts are presented in reverse chronological order, with sidebar, widgets, etc. I still believe that the blogging engine is the only viable publishing tool available for writers at the moment, though however they present their fiction, it better not look like a traditional blog.

[Update]: I’ve edited the sections where it seems that I’m linking the current lack of online fiction interest to the blog format. Chris Poirier is right – the sections exploring the causal relationship between the two were too strongly worded.

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Category: Publishing · Writing Web Fiction
  • http://webfictionguide.com Chris Poirier

    Hi Eli,

    I think you might be overstating your case a bit. Most independent webcomics are run on software that is basically blogging software — in fact, WordPress is one of the popular webcomic engines, with the appropriate plugin. Further, the changes required for a WordPress template to go from stupid links to smart ones is two lines of template code. The problem is not that the software isn’t capable, just that most people don’t have the technical skills or the desire to apply them. Most people grab a default blogging template and use it without changes. Of course it will look like a blog if the designer intended it to do so. What you are noticing on those commercial sites you mentioned is not the underlying software — it’s the fact that thought was put into the design. How many independent web novelists do that? How many even have the resources to try?

    To be honest, most writers don’t seem to think about usability at all — I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to ask people to add “next page” links to their stories, which seems a pretty obvious thing to do, to me.

    I think the real reasons web novels haven’t caught on are somewhat simpler:

    1. Most people prefer reading long passages on paper (not on a screen): the resolution is higher, the surface isn’t backlit, and (most importantly) you can take it with you.

    2. Self-publishing has traditionally meant low quality work, not worth reading.

    3. Few people even know this form exists.

    Linda, one of the new editors at WFG, had not only not read any stories online when I pressed her into service, but had, in fact, actively avoided reading anything online. She’s been very surprised by the quality of some of the work she’s reviewed, and has, in fact, become something of a fan. Sure, she still prefers a paper book — sitting at a computer reading for long periods is something you have to grow up doing — but it’s a start.

    My point is that we have usability issues and marketing issues, not technological ones. And we’ve always had those.

    What’s with the sky-is-falling theme, of late? Huh? ;-)

    Chris.

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    I’m not disputing the power of the underlying blogging software, Chris – the whole NYTimes online is built on WordPress, after all. But the blog format really isn’t helping with usability issues – most writers assume that just because you’re writing a story, and you’re dumping it out into blog format, you’ll get readers. And to a certain extent you will – you’ve got people like us, after all – the WFG bunch who’re more likely to read blooks because we deal with blooks on a day-to-day basis.

    But most readers come to blogs with an assumption of what they’ll be getting. You’ve got your typical personal blog, and you’ve got your topic-oriented blog … when they reach a blook, and they find the latest chapters of a story, how likely do you think they’ll click back into the archives to read the first post? We would – we’re used to it. But for readers who usually scan through a first page, expecting it to be a summary of what the blog’s about – they wouldn’t. And no link in the sidebar will make them do it.

    I’ve long believed that usability issues and marketing have been plaguing online fiction. But I’ve overlooked the structural concerns, which is far more fundamental and easier to fix. What if the very nature of blogs have been an issue all along? What if they aren’t the best way to present fiction? Which leads us, of course to question what that ideal form of presentation would be …

    PS: You’re right, by the way, about the sky-is-falling theme. I’ve gotten carried away with the aftermath of Black Wednesday. Next post will be happy happy happy – I promise!

    PPS: On online reading, I’d like to point out that the biggest changes in reading habits are amongst the old – they’re moving from the paper to the screen. Which is scary, come to think of it – I wonder if I’ll be able to adapt when I’m their age and some new technology pops up everywhere …

  • http://poncy-mclean.net Duane Poncy

    I think that Chris is essentially correct on the platform question. The truth is, the only viable format for writers at the moment is a blog engine, like WordPress (or blogger or whatever). The solution is for more templates to be available which will format things correctly for a longer fiction piece.

    Writers I know don’t want to mess around with all the tech stuff, and geeks like me are an exception. I have long thought that a WordPress community site with templates designed specifically for authors would be a good thing. I tried that with CreativeBlogs, but was not very successful. On the other hand, I am not very good at promoting that sort of thing.

    Other solutions, like Authonomy and the pdf download option are not good enough, in my opinion.

    I would be happy to share my templates (check out http://bartlett-house.net for an example), make more, or even start another WordPress multi-user site if enough people were interested. So far, I haven’t seen much interest.

    As for the rest of the post, thank you, Eli, for giving us some important things to think about. I look forward to your articles.

  • http://gabrielgadfly.com Gabriel Gadfly

    I still have a lot of faith in blogs as a format for creative writers, but I do think the writer/blogger in question has to change the way they think about presenting their content. The standard free blog templates simply aren’t designed for a novel.

    A custom-made design, however, can present the content in a way that works. If the writer/blogger doesn’t have the know-how to create such a design, they need to find a designer who can.

    Maybe instead of saying that blogs don’t work for novels, we should ask “What do we need to do to blogs to make them work for novels?”

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    @Duane, @Gabriel:

    I don’t think there are any good alternatives to the blogging engine, too. For one, WordPress and Blogger have gotten usability down to a tee, and that’s a good thing for writers who just want to write. But whatever template it is that they chose to present their long-form fiction in, one thing’s for sure – it better not look like a standard blog.

  • http://inmydaydreams.com JZ

    I’ve been thinking lately about doing a template from scratch, something that focuses on displaying a page of text and allowing people to find where they were the last time they were reading.

    I’m still coming up with ideas for this, but I’m probably going to grab some inspiration from how webcomics do things.

  • http://gavinwilliams.digitalnovelists.com Gavin

    I usually wouldn’t “plug” anything, but I find it’s working for me: MeiLin Miranda’s http://www.digitalnovelists.com runs on Drupal and it automatically creates a table of contents, in order, for all your chapters. It also automatically generates previous and next links. I find uploading pictures and links trickier than WordPress — you have to use HTML when WordPress just lets you click buttons — but I also have my own forums and blog and a colorful heading for each story I’m running, so it’s a trade-off.

    It lets me have one uniform site for everything to be easily found, and at the same time each story has a little bit of its own individuality.

    Check it out at http://gavinwilliams.digitalnovelists.com — I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s better than what I was doing on blogger and a lot more organized than what I was doing on WordPress. I do, however, miss my No Man an Island WordPress site (www.nomananisland.wordpress.com) — it was so clean! It just took forever to create my own Table of Contents and previous/next links — I don’t miss that.

    It may not be as fancy as professionals, but MeiLin’s option is maybe a step up from the old blog format?

  • http://gavinwilliams.digitalnovelists.com Gavin

    Hey Eli — is there a delay in posting comments? Are my going through? Or do you approve them before they show up? Because this is the second time I’ve not seen mine right away.

  • http://gavinwilliams.digitalnovelists.com Gavin

    I figured out what I did wrong, by the way — your spam capture grabbed my post because I had two links to sites in it — I hope that means it didn’t vanish forever and is sitting somewhere to be approved?

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    @Jim: You might want to pick up tips from The Golden Notebook’s bookmarking functionality – I suspect TGN uses cookies, though I haven’t actually looked at the source code.

    @Gavin: Sorry bout that – Novelr uses Akismet, which places comments in a spam thread for my review if it finds it fishy. It’s supposedly intelligent, though – so I think (hope!) it won’t happen again.

    As for Digital Novelists – or your Digital Novelist site, to be exact – I’m not particularly happy with the way it’s designed. But that is a readability issue, not a structural one. You’re right in the sense that it is structurally better than the traditional blog format (posts in reverse-chronological order for the first page) but if I remember correctly No Man an Island (the WordPress version) already had a splash page that explained the novel in the front, as well as a table of contents page. I much preferred that version …

  • http://gavinwilliams.digitalnovelists.com Gavin

    Dude, I totally miss the original WordPress No Man an Island. Setting up the Table of Contents and next/previous chapter links by hand were time consuming, but WordPress has more design options than Drupal and I got it to look pretty good. I’m not completely happy with the “look” on my new site (I’ve changed it about 5 times now, trying to find something that works for me).

    But the Drupal does do the links and TOC for you, and you can have advertising, which I couldn’t do on WordPress (the free accounts actively block advertising code). People were saying that the tech aspects slow down some readers, and I was just pointing out that the Drupal/Digital Novelist method takes that out of your hands.

    By the by, about the readability of my own site: any advice?

  • http://gavinwilliams.digitalnovelists.com Gavin

    P.S. I meant the tech aspects slow down some Writers, not Readers. Oops

  • http://mortalghsot.blogspot.com Lee

    Interesting post, especially since I’m soon going to be serialising Corvus online and am trying to decide how to go about it. I quite like the way Triple Canopy handles things – no scrolling! – but the code is beyond me. And unlike most of you, I’d just as soon eliminate comments anyway. They serve very little purpose, as far as I’m concerned.

  • http://mortalghost.blogspot.com Lee

    Whoops. Sorry about the bad link to my blog. And here’s the Triple Canopy one one you might like to have a look at:

    http://canopycanopycanopy.com/

  • http://peacock-king-stories.blogspot.com/ Irk

    Like Gavin, I’m going over to a Drupal site after hosting my novel on a different medium. Currently The Peacock King is in a blogger account, which I went with in the beginning because I just wanted the thing online. The Drupal site is taking awhile for me since I’m setting it up on my own instead of through DN. (I think DN’s a wonderful service, but I wanted to learn how to do this thing on my own, especially since I have my own host already that would auto-install the Drupal script for me.)

    There’s a lot of advantages to Drupal – it’ll sync up with Twitter and RSS and I do like comments every which way I can get em, if they’re separated enough from the posts that they don’t confuse the reader. Since my cowriter and I are both artists and illustrate PK quite a bit, the gallery options were also very interesting to me. That and userpoints, advertising, integrated subscriptions…these are all things I was already looking for, that I’ve seen work for other sites that thrive on their community. Drupal had them all in a very convenient package that is picky enough to deal with that I ram my head against the wall each day setting it up, but hey. I’m learning!

    I don’t really think of my potential audience in the same way Novelr seems to. There are a lot of people on the internet who regularly consume digital content, be it directly from the computer or on a handheld such as an iPhone. The problem is not so much attracting the traditional book-reading populace as attracting the populace who is already on the internet and is always avid for more content. Basically, the webcomics readers, the fanfiction readers, gamers, and general nerdish sphere is pretty dang hip to what we’re offering already. They’re a big enough core to already keep several industries going, they tend to be loyal to and interactive with online communities, and they spread memes like they were the common cold. (I keep saying they, but the proper word ought to be we, since I’m in this target demographic as well.)

    In any case, yes, blogs are not immediately suited for sequential work, but webcomics are built in similar ways and they have gigantic followings and catch really quickly between people. After tweaking your interface for readability and content flow, what authors should really think about is advertising and interacting outside of the insular core of WFG and finding a few new internet audiences.

    I find buying Project Wonderful ads on digital novel sites gets me a nice new crop of readers for a weekend or so, but it’s less effective the next weekend, and the next. I’m reaching the same audience over and over again. So I switch it up to a webcomic or a forum that’s unrelated to digital novels as we know them but still a crowd that’s likely to be regular readers – such as roleplaying nerds. People who are interested in worldbuilding and such, since I’ve got a fantasy novel here.

    Let the publishing biz worry about the end of the world coming. All my buddies are already on the internet. We’re not suits, we don’t have to think like suits, and we sure as heck don’t have to wet our pants like the suits do. This market is perfect for me.

  • http://mortalghost.blogspot.com Lee

    I think Irk points out a very important distinction about audience. I often doubt I belong here, because I don’t view what I write as ‘content’ – and never will. But I’m staying, because I think the voice of someone who is more interested in literary fiction (though I use the term reluctantly, more for lack of a better one) should also be heard.

  • http://mortalghost.blogspot.com Lee

    Nor, I should add, do I want readers to ‘consume’ my work´! The slower they read, too, the better.

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    @Gavin: my view on Drupal at the moment is that there’s a steep learning curve involved, simply because it’s so damned powerful. So I’m staying away from it (heck, I had a hard time learning the ropes of Novelr’s WordPress backend – and even then I still don’t understand much of it).

    As for readability: my problems are with the amount of information thrown at the reader, when what you really want to do is to provide just enough information for them to know what your blook is about, and then leave the reader alone for the main body of the text (no sidebars, no unnecessary links, etc). I’m sorry Gavin, I can’t give you a critique now because I’m really tired at the moment – but my next post should cover the the basic principles involved. If you really want to talk to me about your site design, email me and I’ll respond at a later date.

    @Lee: Interesting note about comments. You could include a link to your email at the bottom of every post, though … that should up reader-author interaction somewhat (I know you like them, who doesn’t?). Oh, and thanks for the link to Triple Canopy. Good stuff.

    @Irk: I think there’s a misunderstanding here with regards to the ‘end of the world’ message. I’m not suggesting we should worry about the end of the world – all I’m saying is that we’re going to have a large amount of digital fiction readers accepting the idea of reading a book off a screen very soon, and it would do well to figure out how to get a large portion of these readers to read independent content – blooks like the ones Novelr caters for – instead of just consuming publishing industry content.

    In simple terms – are we going to prepare ourselves – with cups and basins – for the coming flood, when it’s still easy to do so, or are we going to wait it out and only jostle for water when the publishers have already staked their claim to the riverbanks?

    @Lee: I read and write literary fiction too, Lee. =) I call content ‘content’ because … well, I have to recognize that on the Internet, fiction and prose and video and music are all the same – content. Any way you look at it, content is still content, and slow reading or no, they’re all consumed one way or the other. Digitally. The madding crowd makes no distinctions, so I guess neither should I.

  • http://mortalghost.blogspot.com Lee

    No, I will not accept the writing of ‘content’ for what I do. Though I don’t wish to be confrontational, it’s a concept that is anathema to me. Consumption implies commodification: I’m happy to consume popcorn, but not good literature. And I’m not very interested in reader-writer interaction, and becoming less so all the time.

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    *nods* Strange as it is, I believe I can see where you’re coming from. I found myself disgusted with the idea that publishers each affix a ‘shelf life’ for books, and that they regard writers as entities, products even, to sell.

    But I won’t allow myself to take a romantic view of the burgeoning digital industry. I love the writers, but I’m trying hard to not let that love blind me to the reality of the market. Novelr won’t be useful, otherwise.

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    PS, Lee: I’m sorry I assumed that you liked author-reader interaction. I thought you mentioned it to me before, in a chat, but I think that conversation was about positive reader feedback. I shouldn’t have assumed. My apologies.

  • http://mortalghost.blogspot.com Lee

    Yes, it’s not that I don’t understand your situation. After all, you’re trying to build a portal and perhaps a new business model, and I’m certainly not entirely (ahem) opposed to the idea of earning money by writing. But my focus must be elsewhere, and I feel it important to remind other writers why we’re doing this mad thing – writing, writing, and more writing.

    BTW, I’ve linked to a very useful piece on publishing at Lowebrow today. Here’s a small excerpt:

    ‘The future of much of the industry will be dominated by electronic distribution, internet marketing to niche audiences, and reading by print-on-demand or hand-held electronic devices. There is opportunity as well as challenge in this model. The roles of editor and publicist, people who can guide the potential reader through the cacophony of background noise to words they’ll want to read, will become ever more important.’

    To follow the link, since the whole piece is worth reading:

    http://lowebrow.blogspot.com/2009/02/being-read-rather-than-reading.html

  • http://mortalghost.blogspot.com Lee

    Re comments: I’d be lying if I said I pay them no attention, but generally speaking, I don’t find them much of a help. Naturally, everyone likes to be praised; and dislikes being kicked, especially when already down (a seemingly near permanent state for a self-critical writer). But since I’m adamant about not discussing my work in public, I prefer email exchanges.

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    I think that I’ll go quite mad if I actually stop writing, Lee. No reminders needed for me in that area!

    So what you’re saying is that writers should never write for money alone … and as an outward indicator of that, they should never consider their writing to be just ‘content’?

    In that case, Lee, I quite agree with you. Any writer who exists as a pencil pusher should be shot … or at least given many bottles of whiskey until he’s got a permasmile on his face, and a stupid one at that …

    On the comment about reader-author interaction: noted. Thanks for explaining your stand on the issue. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I design a feedback function for a blook.

  • http://poorbob.blogspot.com Bob Collins

    I’m also a little perturbed by most comments in writer/reader interactions on blogs and critique sites. Most comments are worthless. If the reader likes it, that’s cool, but if you’re going to critique something, have some guts and say something worthwhile. Don’t just give me “a couple nits” and then mention a couple typos. That doesn’t help anyone out. It’s a waste of time. In that respect, I agree with Lee’s perspective.

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    Bob, that’s normal for just about everywhere online, really. I know a couple of bloggers who’re against the idea of comments on their blogs, simply because they believe you get better responses when people take the time to post a counter-argument/post on their own blogs, as opposed to commenting on yours.

    That being said, I’m quite pleased with the level of dissenting comments in Novelr, really. It’s fantastic when someone disagrees with you. =)

  • http://gavinwilliams.digitalnovelists.com Gavin

    I was lucky on No Man an Island that I developed contacts with other online writers, and they actually showed up to leave comments. Their feedback helped me become a much better writer, and made the site a thrilling experience.

    (Nice to see that Eli is alive — you disappeared for over a month, dude! Everything ok?)

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    Hi Gavin! I’m really really really sorry about that. I didn’t intend to … disappear for so long (one month, seriously?!) but there were couple of factors that went into it. Now that you mention it, however, I think I should explain my absence. I’ll write a blog post right away.

  • http://gavinwilliams.digitalnovelists.com Gavin

    Well, there was one month and a week between Novelr posts. You and I communicated via email around the same time, and then you went AWOL and I didn’t even see you posting on Legion of Nothing or WFG until this week. I kinda worried some Malaysian government official kidnapped you or something (y’know, for your subversive website here).

    uh oh, will that joke get you killed?

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    Oh God. I think I just burst an aneurysm from laughing. =) Nice one, Gavin, thank you.

  • http://gavinwilliams.digitalnovelists.com Gavin

    See, that joke almost WAS lethal. I need to be more careful with what I write.

    I recommend you don’t (DO!) read my Animal Krackerz strips. If I’m this funny here, that might be dangerous too.

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    WHERE?! Link me!

  • http://gavinwilliams.digitalnovelists.com Gavin

    I’m not promising that they’re great, but this is the direct link to issue 1:

    http://gavinwilliams.digitalnovelists.com/node/280