JukePop Serials Bloggity

Storytelling, one chapter at a time.

Want To Tap Into Library Readers? — March 25, 2014

Want To Tap Into Library Readers?

Libraries want self-published content. The challenge is to know what is good and manage the hundreds of thousands authors that self-publish every year.

Up until now, determination of quality is generally in the hands of professional book reviewers, but libraries know reviewers can’t keep up with the sheer volume of self-published content out there. Libraries also understand how the game is played at the usual places to buy eBooks, e.g. fake reviews, meaningless comments, etc. That’s where we come in – JukePop’s quantitative measurement of quality of a self-published book solves this problem. (Find out how and why, see here.)

JukePop’s platform detect quality stories based on the analytics of how readers are reading each story, then we provide a recommended list for librarians to curate for their community. Below we’ll provide the metrics we use to determine which stories we recommend to libraries. (See an example of how we’re working with libraries.)

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The Basics (Cover, Formatting and Commitment):

  • Cover must have title and author name
  • Chapters must follow our simple formatting guidelines
    • New line between each line of dialog and paragraph
    • No indents
  • Story must have at least 10 Chapters
  • Live stories must be updating regularly, e.g. one chapter a month, every two weeks, every week, etc.

The Analytics (Retention + Reading Time):

  • We’re looking at +Vote trend charts (under My Account -> Author Analytics). It’s ok to get lots of +Votes in chapter 1 only to have it drop off dramatically after chapter 3 – there’s not one book for everyone. But reader retention is vital. It doesn’t matter if you have ten thousand votes overall if you can’t keep the attention of your readers.
  • Average Read Time / Chapter must be realistic. If a chapter has 3000 words, but the average read time of that chapter is less than 10 seconds then it means the author was successful at getting +Votes but not necessarily converting them to readers.

Want to get listed in library catalogs? Submit your story to us here. If your story is already on JukePop and you think you meet our requirements, email us at editor@jukepop.com.

 

 

How to Interpret Author Analytics — March 19, 2014

How to Interpret Author Analytics

Most authors we talk to share this problem: after finally asking someone to read their story, it’s even harder to go back and ask for feedback because it’s a potential embarrassment for both the writer and friend(s).  What if they never gotten to it?  What if they couldn’t finish it?  Would they be honest and objective?  We’ve removed the need to negotiate those awkward moments for much needed feedback.  Introducing Author Analytics, a tool for JukePop authors looking to gauge how interested readers are in their serial.

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We’ve designed this tool to go hand-in-hand with our +Vote feature to determine What’s Hot. Authors can view graphs showing how many +Votes each chapter of their serial received, as well as the demographics for who is voting on each chapter. We call the first graph “the trend”. We believe studying the trend is critical for understanding why a serial is popular and whether it will be successful as a published work.

Usually if the author is successful at getting the word out about their story, it’s not uncommon to have a high number of +Votes on the first chapter of the serial and a steady drop off in the chapters which follow. This is to be expected because no one product (or the story) is built for everyone. Many readers may peruse the serial, then stop reading several chapters in when the story is no longer appealing. The key is to identify those that will keep reading until the end.

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Take a look at the above graphs. Notice anything?

We mentioned that the initial trend is usually a downward slope. However, it isn’t a straight line. For each serial this will look different–for different reasons–but generally speaking the +Vote pattern will have three to four phases:

Phase 1) The decline is always steep.  It’s ok because the opening chapters are an author’s pitch to readers, readers use the beginning of a story to figure out if they like it enough to keep going.

Phase 2) Once the trend levels out, this indicates the story has got a hold of a core group of readers. This is the desirable behavior because it indicates a high reader retention.  This is important for us and for our library partners.

Phase 3) Occasionally, there will be upward bumps. These bumps show that someone who wasn’t +Voting before finally decided to. This can come from a climactic chapter or a well-executed cliffhanger. This is a very good thing!

Phase 4) (see below) +Voting declines after a climatic chapter or story twist, this is expected in the pace of a story and is only alarming if the decline falls below the level established in Phase 2.

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Thanks to the trends generated by Author Analytics, authors on JukePop can now tell which areas of their serial are more appealing to readers and which are less. Understanding this behavior can help them a number of ways. They can go back and revise a climactic chapter where they lost readers. They can alter the direction of the plot if they see that the steep decline isn’t slowing. Or they can change their promotion strategy. It’s up to the author to decide which changes to implement to their serial to keep readers coming back for more.

Author Analytics can be found under “My Account” if you have published a serial with JukePop. We plan to expand the features of the tool in the future.  But for now if you have questions about what your Author Analytics is showing, drop us a comment below.

Serialization as Writing Process: Moving Forward, Listening to Readers (A Guest Post from Grant Faulkner of NaNoWriMo) — March 13, 2014

Serialization as Writing Process: Moving Forward, Listening to Readers (A Guest Post from Grant Faulkner of NaNoWriMo)

Of course you know JukePop loves the serial format, but it’s always good to hear writing professionals advocating the powers of publishing in installments.  This blog post is from Grant Faulkner, the Executive Director of NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo

One of the biggest challenges a writer faces is moving forward. Sounds simple, but it’s all too easy to get caught in a condition I’ll call “the endless loop of perfection.”

I have suffered from such a malady. The part of writing I like best is the shaping, shaving, and sculpting involved in revision. I can tweak a sentence or a first chapter endlessly, looping back, and then looping back again, caught in a state of near aesthetic paralysis until I have everything just right. I tend to get so ensnared (and outright dizzy) in the loop that I endanger “the next”—the second chapter, not to mention the rest of the book.

Now there’s a place for such perfectionist tendencies, and I don’t want to belittle them because obsessive fine-tuning is necessary to write subtle subtext, riveting dialogue, and surprising character development. But there’s also a lot to be said for moving a story forward with an urgent, fevered pace, and even showing it to readers chapter-by-chapter. That’s why I’m intrigued by the comeback of serialized fiction.

Comeback? Yes, there was a time when serialized novels actually dominated the publication of novels. A serial is a work that the author writes in progress—sometimes without a preconceived middle and ending—and publishes on a regular schedule, much like TV shows. In the Victorian era, a rise in literacy, technological advances in printing, and improved economics of distribution ushered in the serialization of novels in magazines and newspapers, not dissimilar from the growth of mobile- and tablet-based reading that is sparking serialization today. In the Victorian era, serialization wasn’t just a way to publish, it was the primary mode for novel publication. Think Charles Dickens, who published most of his novels in monthly or weekly installments. Think The Count of Monte Cristo, which included 139 installments. Among American writers, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote and published Uncle Tom’s Cabin over a 40-week period, and Henry James published several novels in serial form, including The Americans, The Turn of the Screw, and The Bostonians, which he then revised for publication as books.

Like most writers, I like to reflect on my writing process and enjoy experimenting with it (hence my love of NaNoWriMo’s “writing with abandon” approach and all of the creative moxie it spawns), so I’m intrigued by how serialization might enhance writers’ creative processes. One benefit is the built-in reader expectation of more, which puts the writer to a test that involves improvisation, derring-go, and stamina. In Victorian days, many writers made writing an extreme sport of sorts. Alexandre Dumas wrote twelve to fourteen hours a day, working on several novels for serialized publication at once. The main point was to keep the story moving forward—to tease out the plot in titillating episodes to meet reader demand. As Ray Bradbury said, “First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him [or her]!” Serialization is all about that wild pursuit—the writer existing in a state of creative incipience.

The chase, though, doesn’t occur in a lonely writer’s office, but with readers practically looking over the writer’s shoulder. Because regular installments of stories created a nearly real-time environment of writing and reading, serial authors in the Victorian era heard immediate reader feedback and altered their tales to more deeply engage their audience. Dickens was especially known to keenly listen to reader reactions and then modify his story based on the feedback he heard. Writers and readers became collaborators, in effect.

The Internet obviously provides tools to amplify that sort of writer/reader “discussion” is many ways, making it the kind of give and take an author might hear from a writing group, or even an editor. Such reader input and demand can prod an author onward. Consider Hugh Howey, who on the eve of National Novel Writing Month in 2009, heard so much demand for his 12,000-word story Wool that he decided to add more segments to it over the next months. It became an informal serialized novel, with each installment building an avid discussion among a growing audience of readers clamoring for more. That “more” turned into a self-publishing phenomenon.

With an engaged audience and such immediate feedback, I think serialization can be an amazing tool to overcome writers’ no. 1 enemy: self-doubt. As Erica Jong said, “I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged. I had pieces that were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.”

I wonder how many writers get trapped in the finishing instead of the giving of one’s story to the world? Deciding when a work is done will always be a tough decision, but serialization offers a pathway out of “the endless loop of perfection”—and perhaps toward a better novel, sparked by regular deadlines and constant reader feedback that can be used in not only story creation, but revision.

We write to move readers, but the story must move forward to do so.

Questions or Comments? We want to hear from you!

The 3rd Biannual $500 award is here! — March 10, 2014

The 3rd Biannual $500 award is here!

We at JukePop believe the most outstanding fiction writers on the web deserve to be properly compensated for their work. That’s why we’ve awarded over $10,000 to our top 30 serials since our inception in late 2012, as well as a $500 cash prize to our top stories every six months. We’ve also given authors the option of enabling donation or payments for their stories so they can make extra cash. There’s never been a better time to start publishing your story in serial format with JukePop!

Now it’s time for our third biannual award. The award will be given to the story with the highest total +Votes that was live between October 1 and March 31. With nearly 700 serials competing for first place, this one’s looking to be our biggest blowout yet.

Let’s examine the top 10 candidates so far!

(Disclaimer: These votes were tallied between October 1, 2013, and March 5, 2014.)

10) Dread Lord Bob by Kevin Boyer – 831 +Votes 

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“Robert Goodman wasn’t looking for adventure in a Kansas public library – it came looking for him. Now Bob finds himself on another world, gifted with terrifying magic powers, and reluctantly in charge of an army of goblins and hobgoblins marching to war.”

9) Blue Bloods by Robert C. Roman – 887 +Votes 

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“Astronomers predicted the asteroid would miss the Earth. They couldn’t predict the fallout of its passing, or the incredible changes it would leave behind.”

8) Frost by Chelsea Clemmons – 901 +Votes 

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“Eighteen-year-old Lauren Frost’s life is split between two families and two continents. After spending the Christmas holiday in England with her mother, she comes home to a nightmare. Her Forty-two-year-old father has married his girlfriend, who is twenty-one and enjoys making Lauren miserable.”

7) Money Matters by Dean Moses – 951 +Votes 

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Money Matters is the story of four individuals and their unique relationship with the money that bound them all together during the 1930s.

6) Becoming by Glenn Rolfe – 1010 +Votes 

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“What happens when one man lets the genie out of the lamp? He begins to change. He begins to morph. He becomes something more, something wicked. Craig Hickey is transforming. No one, especially not Craig, is ready for what he is Becoming.”

Glenn mentions in his opening video, all proceeds for Becoming will go to The National Children’s Cancer Society.

5) The Goners by Billy White – 1073 +Votes 

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“West Hollywood. 1978. Billy is a punk rocker from Seattle who forgets all about his band and the recording contract he is supposed to be chasing when he gets mixed up with a loosely knit group of renegades and losers who scratch out their livings on the dark side of fame.”

4) The Watchmage of Old New York by Craig C. Sanders – 1586 +Votes

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“Nathaniel Hood is the most powerful wizard in New York City. As the appointed Watchmage, Nathaniel is tasked with regulating, protecting, and providing justice to the overwhelming mass of magical creatures immigrating to New York.”

3) I Feel Fine by Lelial Thibodeau – 2367 +Votes 

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“A brutal new virus emerged from seemingly everywhere at the same time and eradicated the human population to almost nothing. Except the dead aren’t staying dead.”

I Feel Fine is the previous winner of JukePop’s biannual award and currently our highest +Voted serial ever! Lelial has offered to donate possible proceeds from another biannual award to the Reading is Fundamental charity.

2) Hobson & Choi by Nick Bryan – 2831 +Votes

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“Enthusiastic teenager Angelina Choi has joined John Hobson’s one-man detective agency as an intern. Can she change the world before her two week stint ends, or at least find the undermotivated private eye a crime to solve?”

1) Half-Made Girls by Sam Witt – 3548 +Votes 

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“When someone begins leaving half-made girls hanging in Pitchfork county, only the Night Marshal and his strange family can stop the coming storm of evil.”

Polls close 11:59pst Monday March 31, 2014.  Authors, we suggest you start actively promoting your work—remember to use every marketing tool at your disposal. And readers, get out there and +Vote for your favorites. Until then, happy +Voting everyone!

Video Preview = More Readers — March 4, 2014

Video Preview = More Readers

JukePop authors, are you looking for a way to increase your readership? This blog is for you.

Earlier this year, our popular horror serial Half-Made Girls spiked to second place on monthly JukePop 30, and has yet to leave the What’s Hot list.

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All of this is remarkable because the shift occurred in the course of only a few short days. We noticed that author Sam Witt had included a video blog on his first chapter in which he thanked his readers for checking out his serial, announced that the serial was coming to an end, and politely asked them to click the +Vote button while reading. Could this have been the reason for his indomitable success?

There have been numerous authors who have used videos to liven up their serials. Art of Dispoal and E.L.F. – White Leaves to name a couple. What do they all have in common? They are all far ahead of the average serial in terms of +Votes.

It turns out that videos make content more engaging and readers wouldn’t mind taking 30 seconds to see who the author is or what the vision for the story is. The blogging industry knows this, as many bloggers have started Youtube channels to promote themselves. The popular sales website Fiverr encourages all sellers to include a video explaining their gigs on screen. Those sellers who do so see a 220% increase in sales.

So let’s try an experiment. Authors, write down your serial’s current +Vote count. Include a video on the first chapter of the serial where you talk to your readers about why +Votes matter. Lastly, promote your serial at regular intervals on a channel full of potential readers, such as Twitter or Pinterest. Keep track of how many +Votes your serial receives every week!

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