June 07, 2020, 05:11:51 AM

Author Topic: A Guide to Webnovels  (Read 208 times)

Offline Crisyah

A Guide to Webnovels
« on: January 11, 2020, 03:36:20 PM »
(I originally wrote this for reddit and my blog but I figured people here might appreciate it too! Let me know if I did anything wrong and I'll change it ASAP.)

Some of you may have heard of webnovels / webfiction by now. Huge successes like Worm or The Wandering Inn have certainly not gone unnoticed by speculative fiction fans and most of us have heard whispers about that legendary site: Wattpad. Still, webnovels remain a niche product, with its audience being mostly teenagers. People might avoid them because the quality of the novels wildly vary and it takes too long to sift through so many options until you find something decent. But how is that different from looking through self-published books? Another reason is that people might simply not know where to look. Especially with webfiction guide not accepting new users, there's no other sites that list webnovels from various sources for you to look through. Or are there?

Well, buckle up, fellow speculative-ists, I'm about to help you out with finding new, free fiction that releases at a faster rate than that one book if you've waiting for for 5 years!

(Full disclosure: I am a webnovel author. You may find my name / novel pretty quickly on one of the sites I will mention in this guide because I'm on trending and high up on the dark fantasy tag there. I'm not writing all of this for self-promotion purposes, however. It honestly makes me sad to see amazing webnovels doing poorly while average ones do amazingly simply because the audience is severely skewed. This is my attempt to broaden the audience a little bit, while giving other speculative fiction fans the chance to find amazing stories and fellow authors another outlet for their creations.)

Let's get into it:

The cons of webnovels

- Quality does vary greatly and you'll have to sift through tags and read synopsis, reviews and first chapters looking for something you like and that is a bit timeconsuming. I still think it's not much different from looking for books you might enjoy, if you search efficiently.

- Novels tend to be dropped. A lot. The golden rule that everyone tends to follow is: if it's less than 20~30 chapters or 200 pages, don't touch it. Filter out everything that is on hiatus. Big yes to novels that have at least one arc / volume / book finished.

The pros of webnovels

- They're almost all completely free. Authors will have patreons, paypal and ko-fi if you want to tip them or get extra rewards, but that's it. If you don't like something, you've wasted nothing but a bit of time.

- Fast releases. To make their novels competitive, authors tend to release new chapters at the very least weekly, with the most common release schedule being 2~3 times a week. Some even release daily. Some, still, release several chapters a day. You can follow the novel, forget about it during the week or for a month and end up with quite a stash of chapters to binge.

- Being part of something that is being created "in real time". Webnovel authors will often ask for input from their readers, have fun polls where they ask them to vote on certain things, active discord servers, etc. You can also come up with and discuss theories and character growth as the story advances. It's a livelier community than getting a book that's finished and then you just talk about a full, finished project.

Where to look for webnovels?

With webfiction guide not accepting new members, it becomes a bit harder to find an impartial list of quality webnovels. You can still look at their top webfiction guide, but you're likely to have heard about some, if not all of the authors there. So, what to do when you've read through this list already (or browsed through it and nothing caught your attention)?

Muse's Success - This is a "sister site" to webfiction guide that serves as a directory. Webnovels have to be added manually either by fans or the authors and there is a rating system, but I can't vouch for how reliable it is.

If you want to forego directories and go right to the source, however, I'd say RoyalRoad is the biggest site for speculative webfiction. Yes, Wattpad exists, but it's largely for romance (some with speculative elements, of course), but it's also a bit of a mess to navigate and it's very unkind to new authors and works more like a SNS than an actual writing site. RoyalRoad offers better options in terms of following webnovels, looking through and filtering tags, getting rid of fictions you don't want to see, etc. It's a very good platform, overall, the best of its kind, I would say. It does lack a mobile app, but that's being worked on at the moment.

The Tops and Lists

Of course, the first place most people will look at is the tops and most viewed lists on any site. Don't be surprised if you find yourself disappointed with some of these. It happens. Make sure you don't stick to the first page only.

Best Rated - As the name indicates, this is a list of the best rated novels in the entire website. Some of them are already finished and have been so for years, some are still ongoing and have been so for years. You can select the complete only and active only best rated depending on whether you're looking for completed or on-going novels, too.

Trending - This is a list of 50 fictions that are doing the best at the moment, on the site. They call them the "rising stars" because they tend to be newer fictions, but you might find some older ones there as well.

Popular This Week - Again, as the name suggests, the novels that have been most viewed and rated the past week.

These lists tend to be somewhat repetitive. If you're on the top 7 on trending, you get a lot of exposure and that makes you rise on Popular This Week and Best Rated. It's kind of a cycle. So, what to do if you're done reading everything that interested you on these?

Search Feature

Maybe you're out of more popular stuff to read and want to dive deeper. Maybe you like finding hidden gems. Maybe you want to scratch an itch for a very specific genre. Don't fear, the search feature is here. And I'm too. I'm going to link you directly to the speculative genre tag searches. All you have to do is further filter the searches for anything else specific you might want or not want, choose whether you want on-going or complete fictions, pick which content warnings you're fine with. Filter as little or as much as you like! Though I'd say to filter a little bit if you want something specific, don't filter too much or you might end up missing on awesome novels just because the author forgot to tick a box or decided to put in a gore warning for that one scene where someone gets an arm cut out.

Fantasy - Historical Fantasy - Horror Fantasy - Horror - Sci-Fi - Horror Sci Fi

Final Notes

- Don't filter for completed if you want finished books but are fine with ongoing series. Authors will usually make a listing for a series but not mark it as completed until the entire thing is done.

- Some webnovel authors will self-publish. If you become their patron early on, you'll be getting cool stuff, helping them on their journey and getting a free book at the end. You might even get a character named after you!

- Rate, review, all that, but please be kind. A lot of webnovel authors are very young and / or just starting out. If you see a story that you absolutely despise and / or can't read, it's best to move on and click the "don't show me this novel again" button than to rate them a 0.5* and ruin their day. Did you enjoy a story, however? Splurge. Make an account (or log in with google) and slap on that 5* advance review on it.

- You're gonna see a lot of, hmm, particular tropes. Don't give up. Please. For the sake of all of us that don't write them and need more readers. I'm begging you.

To paraphrase something another user said on the RR discord: "You tend to find good writing and the same boring old ideas in mainstream fiction, while webfiction is filled with original ideas and worldbuilding but the writing is sometimes not the best". I think that sums it up pretty well. If you're looking for innovative ideas while seeing and helping writers grow at the same time, give webnovels a try.

I hope this guide was useful and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: A Guide to Webnovels
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2020, 07:57:24 PM »
Interesting, thanks! I'm planning on releasing my novel chapter-wise on Patreon. Any suggestions for people on that end? I've not begun looking into it, but I'm definitely open for listing it or publishing it on other sites if I think it's worth the effort.
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Offline Crisyah

Re: A Guide to Webnovels
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2020, 09:41:11 PM »
Well, Patreon only works if you already have an audience. Sites like RoyalRoad help you build that audience. They're meant for completely different purposes, even though they can and are often used together. The idea is: post on RR, get readers, put a link to patreon there and the people who are interested migrate over if you offer interesting rewards or simply if they want to support you.

Offline Magnus Hedén

  • High Lord of commas and Grand Master of semicolons
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Re: A Guide to Webnovels
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2020, 09:53:03 PM »
I've had a Patreon for quite a while. Mainly I'm curious as to where it might make sense to publish sci-fi chapters beyond that, to increase my reach. I'll have a look at that RR place.
You can find stories on my Patreon
I'm also on Twitter and the Book of Faces