Serials on the Web: Useful Site Features

I know a lot of writers use Livejournal for their blogs, but as many of you know, a dedicated location is best for your web serial. This can simply be a section on your author website, or even a separate website dedicated to your web serial(s). But it can also just be a category in your main blog, though I don’t suggest the latter so much….

It all depends on how you set it up, not where you host it specifically, or what software you use, or even if your web serial has its own web address.

Primarily, the following are the features that matter. They make it easy for existing readers to easily access your weekly chapters, and for new readers to jump on board!


Strong identification.

Even if this is just a section of your author website, it should be obvious to any reader, especially new ones, that this site/page/section is where to find your web serial. This is one of the main reasons why a dedicated location is best; not just for housekeeping, but so that people know where to go and know they’re there.

This is easiest to do with a dedicated site or a section of your website, and hardest to do if your serial is sharing the same blog as your life/writing/etc blog.

In many cases, what you need is a distinct banner. A friend can create this, or you can just use a large fancy font. It doesn’t matter, as long as it looks unique, even if it’s elegantly simple.

Easy access to the most recent chapter.

As your serial gets longer and longer, this becomes more necessary for your existing readers who visit your site. Most of your readers will be site visitors; this is true for any website, even blogs that are written for other bloggers who are quite familiar with RSS.

Links in each chapter leading to the next one (and the previous one).

Otherwise it’s difficult for people to find the next chapter, even if a chapter list is provided.

(Added; Kate reminded me of this important point.)

Omnipresent link to the first chapter.

This should appear either as part of that horizontal menu so often seen on websites, or as something on the side, or even as an automated part of every chapter. It should be easy to see and obvious as to its function. New readers will be able to on-board easily; even if you include a monthly archive box on the side, getting to the very first entry can still involve a lot of clicking and paging.

RSS feed

This allows people with RSS readers to subscribe to your story and get new updates. This feed can simply provide a link to the new chapter, or it can go further and provide the full text—just make sure that, if you do provide a full text feed, that you include your copyright information either in each entry or as part of the RSS feed’s meta information.

Just about any blogging platform makes this easier, of course.

Organized archive of chapters.

Aka, table of contents. Whether this is a recent-to-oldest list, or an oldest-to-recent list, doesn’t matter (especially if you have easy access to the most recent chapter and omnipresent link to the first chapter). But sometimes readers will want to find something they really liked in the past, or they want to discuss it with someone else, and so it will also help if your listing of chapters includes a description or a name.

I tend to think a descriptive name is best, since it allows a quick scanning of a LOT of chapters; for examples of evocative, fun, and concise chapter names, see web comics like Sluggy Freelance or Girl Genius.

For the above reasons, it’s often best for your archive of chapters to not be automatically generated, unless your archive generator is for some reason really smart, or is a web elf.

A reasonable about page.

About pages are important, as all writers know, and the omnipresent link is fairly obvious. Here are useful things to put in your About page for your web serial:

  • Quick intro blurb about what the story is about.
  • Quick introduction of the main character(s) and possibly the world/location. New readers like these very much, as it gives them quick grounding.
  • Author blurb about yourself.

An other works page.

List your other works, including Amazon/B&N/Webscriptions/Fictionwise/Paypal links.

(It’s actually kind of amazing how in ebooks publishers often forget to include a link to this part.)

Link to author website front page.

Even if your serial is part of your website.

I think that’s about it.

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