I guess it won’t surprise you too much to learn that Snake-Boy, the protagonist of Snake-Boy Loves Sky Prince, my current webserial, is going to survive the predicament he’s in at the moment (which could be any number of predicaments, depending on when you’re reading this, but the one in play while I’m writing it is that he’s unconscious on the roof of the home of a superhero/vampire who loves to suck the blood of snake-boys). Anyway. What might surprise you is that Twitter is an anomalous web service that actually spans all space/time and every plane of existence, so his personal Twitter feed (@snakeboysahero) is available for you to follow (along with all the various Hulks). He hasn’t actually started yet (he doesn’t have a computer or cellphone in-story yet), but he will, soon — and some of what he tweets will be story info that’s only available through his Twitter. Nothing absolutely essential to enjoying the serial, mind you — just extra info. Maybe early info. Maybe trivia for the eventual party game.
Here are the pageview stats for the last couple of weeks on my webfiction site Snake-Boy Loves Sky Prince:
It’s kind of hard to make out specific numbers, given that the August 8 spike sort of obscures everything else. Specific numbers aren’t very important to the question behind this post, but just to give you a way to get your bearings, the August 12 number (the first column after the spike to rise above the others) is 99, and the very next day, August 13 (the first weekend day on this chart), the number of pageviews dropped down to 39.
Ignore the spike. It came about because StumbleUpon went crazy one morning. 800+ pageviews happened on that day in the hour before 5am and then stopped immediately. It means nothing.
What you see here is that every week, the pageviews start out low (on the weekends, understandably), rise slightly every day through the week, then peak at around 100 on Friday. This weekly pattern seems to have no relationship to the days that I post. On that first week, for example, I skipped Thursday, but it was the second-most popular day of the week (discounting the spike). Likewise, the second week, I updated Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, but Wednesday and Thursday were much stronger than Monday and Tuesday.
I’m wondering what all of this means.
Here’s the subtext to my concern, which may have nothing at all to do with stats. I’m a little afraid that I’m breaking my story up into pieces that are too small, just to hit that near-daily update schedule (which, as you can see from the paragraph above, I’m not actually hitting anyway). One way to interpret these stats is that readers just come in once a week anyway, whatever day of the week that happens to be for them, and catch up on everything that they’ve missed. It would explain the consistency from week to week. There’s x number of Monday people, X+y number of Tuesday people, and so on. If most people are just coming once a week anyway, should I save everything up for one day, and post a deeper, more satisfying chunk of story? I’ve noticed that, especially during the opening, a couple of people who responded to the story, writing reviews or comments or whatever, seemed frustrated and confused by the events in the first few posts — a confusion that could have been caused by my poor writing, surely, but could also have been caused by the tiny bite-sized pieces that they were being fed; the things that were frustrating them were getting addressed, just not, in some cases, for several days.
It’s likely that I’m reading way too much into all of this. I just don’t know. I ask you. Tell me. What do you think should I do here?
From the most recent chapter of my WiP:
They assumed, he supposed, that he was simply cooking them in the Execution Chamber ovens, like any other supervillain.
“Supervillain” refers not to “he,” the one doing the supposing, nor to “they,” who are doing the assuming, but to other people he would have cooked in the execution chamber in the course of normal events. Should “supervillain” be plural here, then, since the “them” he is assumed to be cooking (but is not) is plural? Does this question make any sense? Blah?
Here’s a screengrab from today’s stats for Snake-Boy Loves Sky Prince.
As you can see, three people so far today have found my webfiction site by Googling the title of it, almost verbatim (they left out the dash).
In fact, the only people who have ever found the site via search engine found it because they Googled the title.
I don’t understand this. How is it possible that there are people in the world who know about the title, but didn’t learn about the title by actually, you know, being on the website already? It’s not like I’ve got a marketing budget. And anywhere else you may be on the web where you might read the title, there’s going to be a link right there beside it. Because I know everywhere that the title appears. Those places can be counted on one hand. It’s that un-famous so far, you know? It’s only been around a couple of weeks.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy this is happening. I love you people. It makes me think that the title is really strong. It makes me think that there are a lot of awesome people out there who have been waiting for a story like this, and who are finding it. I’m very, very happy that people are searching for the title on Google.
I’m just confused.
Oh, one other thing: it’s been happening since before I actually launched the site. Before SBLSP launched, all the Googlers were ending up on this blog, joeymanley.com, where I had mentioned the project a couple of times. Some 5-10 people end up here every day, still, after Googling the phrase “Snake Boy Loves Sky Prince.”
If you’re one of those people: help me figure this out. How did you hear about the title? What made you decide to Google for it? Once you found Snake-Boy Loves Sky Prince, was it what you wanted it to be? If not, what were you expecting? I’d love to hear from you.
One of the earliest observations about webcomics that people made — I think I was one of those people, maybe the first, I dunno — was that, weirdly, there weren’t a lot of superheroes running around.
That was a long time ago. There are probably more superhero webcomics these days than there were webcomics, period, back in 2000, 2001, when people started saying this. But still, given the dominance of the superhero genre in the world of print comics, you’d think that there would have been a larger and more prominent spot for capes ‘n tights in the webcomics world. It hasn’t turned out that way.
There are/were probably a lot of reasons that superheroes are less prominent in webcomics than they are in print, not the least of which is that superhero fans are pretty well-served by the “Big Two” publishers, while the fans of other kinds of comics weren’t always able to find what they wanted at the comic book store, so they turned to webcomics more quickly. Makes some sense.
How to explain, then, the prominent presence of superheroes in the nascent world of serialized webfiction? It’s one of the most popular genres, apparently (judging by sites like webfictionguide.com and topwebfiction.com, as well as a purely anecdotal survey of sites that come up when you Google the term “serialized fiction” or “webfiction.”) A lot of them are really good, too. There’s the Legion of Nothing by Jim Zoetewey, for example, which sits at or near the top of almost every popularity chart. (Personally, I like the stories but hate the web design — or, more specifically, the navigational structure — but that’s just me). There’s Warren Hately’s awesome Zephyr, too, which is my personal favorite. There’s a whole section dedicated to the genre at webfictionguide.
I’m interested mainly because of my own little project, of course. But I’m also interested generally. Why do you think the superhero genre is taking off in prose fiction (it’s not just on the web — have a look at superheronovels.com, a blog dedicated solely to prose superhero stories coming out in print and ebook form)?
‘The Foundation Trilogy’ by Isaac Asimov is still my favorite science fiction story, despite its old-fashioned not-rightness (politically and any number of other ways). What’s your guilty reading delight?
My curiosity has been piqued by this line from the “history” section of Wikipedia’s entry on Franklin County, Alabama (where I was born) that raises more questions than it answers:
Colbert County was originally established on February 6, 1867 after it split from Franklin County over political issues after the American Civil War. It was abolished eight months later by an Alabama constitutional convention and then reestablished on February 24, 1870.
This is referenced by a link to the Colbert County website, which says even less:
Politics after the Civil War caused the creation of Colbert County.
Now. Come on. I need to know more.
Some context to my curiosity: Franklin County is only one click north of the “free state of Winston,” the county that famously broke away from Alabama during the Civil War and declared itself a non-slave Union state. Generally, I’ve been told that counties with larger economies, and access to the means of agricultural production and transportation (Colbert County is on the Tennessee River) tended to be more pro-Confederacy (and pro-slavery) than the poorer counties out in the mountains, where agriculture, and the apparatus of slavery to support it, were literally thin on the ground.
I’m no historian. This is just what I’ve been told. The people who did the telling (southern grade school teachers who had, in turn, been taught by southern grade school teachers, who had, in turn, been taught by southern grade school teachers who actually lived during the war and supported the southern cause) were far, far, far from reliable witnesses. So there’s that.
I smell a conspiracy of silence in these vague histories.
I’ve got to imagine that these “politics” leading to the split between the counties must have had something to do with different attitudes about race and Reconstruction and the war itself — especially given the establishment, abolishment, and then re-establishment of the new county by the state legislature (in the throes, itself, of Radical Republicanism and Reconstruction — correct?) All of this really feels weird to me.
What went down between those two counties, way back when? Who knows where I can find an answer?
My webserial, Snake-Boy Loves Sky Prince, is (among many other things) a gay YA romance, so one of the big target audiences (but not the only target audience) is GLBT youth. But I don’t have a big organic community of GLBT youth following me on the social networks or whatever, the way I have a reasonably big community of comics creators and prose writers and non-youthful GLBT folks following me.
I mean: why would I? I’d have had to go trolling for them, they’re not going to come looking for an old dude like me. And that would be creepy. I mean: I use the word “dude,” which means I was alive in the 80s! I’m not somebody they’re going to follow, until and unless they discover this webserial, which they are not going to discover, because they do not follow me.
So. Simple question. Given all that, how do I promote this webserial to GLBT youth in a grassroots way? Without spending money I don’t have, obviously.
I was scared to serialize my new novel, Snake-Boy Loves Sky Prince. I know how difficult it is to build an audience for something new on the web, at this late date. I know how insecure I am. I thought maybe nobody would pay attention, and that that would hurt my feelings.
I decided to half-ass it: post character profiles and other world-building stuffs while I worked on my novel.
I started this week. In case you missed them, I’ve posted one for the Great Hunter, who is going to be Snake-Boy’s mentor, sort of, one for Lady Dogface, who is going to be his only friend in Crimebuster School; and tomorrow there will be one for Sky Lord, the father of Sky Prince.
The response has overwhelmed me.
Don’t get me wrong. The site is not climbing the Alexa charts or anything. But people are responding — including people who aren’t my mother. Including people I’ve never talked to before. And they’re saying nice things to me. I had thought maybe four, five personal friends might come look. It’s tens and tens more than that! And most of them are strangers! Yay! It’s given me more confidence as a writer than I”ve had in years. Thank you for that.
And I’m going all in.
Look for Chapter 1.1: Snake-Boy is Born on Monday, August 8, over at sblsp.wordpress.com.
I am going to try to continue to update almost daily.
Every update won’t be a story chapter. I’ll still use character profiles, and maybe some other world-building stuff, to fill out the schedule, since those can be written independently of whatever is supposed to go before or after them, and held in the hopper until I need them.
But yeah. I’m in. I’m excited.