One of my WIPs, Fake-Married to My Billionaire Boss, was a kind of experiment.
I thought it might be fun, after every chapter, to list 2 or 3 possible story/plot directions for the next chapter and ask my Patreon supporters to pick which one they want. So far, it’s been fun! Not only has it been a great way to keep my readers involved, but I finally have some use for my habit of thinking of multiple plotlines.
Because of Radish’s rules about paid stories, the only way I could serialize FMMBB simultaneously on Patreon, Wattpad and Radish was to publish it as a free story on Wattpad and Radish with weekly updates (an update Wattpadspeak for a new chapter in a serialized story).
Now, my usual pricing model from the time Radish launched in 2016 was Freemium (each chapter is paid when I post it, then it “unlocks” and becomes free after a week), then I’d post each chapter on Wattpad two weeks after it becomes free on Radish. The WP bit wasn’t a thing I did originally because Radish wanted the Freemium stories to be exclusive on their app until a certain period of time after it’s completed, but they soon figured out that allowing us to post unlocked chapters on WP was a great way to get new users. (They were right.)
I thought my readers on Radish would appreciate having a free story. And some of them did. As of writing this, FMMBB on Radish has gotten 180k reads (about 3.75x the 48k reads on Wattpad, which was a surprise, since Wattpad has way more active users than Radish). However, while the reader comments on Wattpad has been lovely, the past few weeks nearly all the reader comments on the story on Radish have been complaints about how I was updating the story so slowly. How I should be posting more than one update a week.
I’m used to readers asking for more updates, but for almost every comment on a new chapter be complaints was super annoying. Especially since (1) it was a free story, I wasn’t charging anyone money to read it, and (2) anyone using the Radish app could see that the schedule for updates was once a week. The app is chock-full of great completed novels, some of them are even free. If one knows a story is only getting updated once a week and one does not enjoy a once-a-week update, a sane, rational person would just go read something else, right? But apparently some people would rather read the story anyway and then complain.
Because I am fiercely protective of my mental health, I made a decision to pull the story from Radish. A week ago, I emailed Radish and asked them to archive FMMBB (an archived story is still still there, but it won’t show up on the app). It’s a free story so there shouldn’t be any problems with pulling it from the platform. I haven’t heard back from them yet, but I sent that email during their holiday break so that wasn’t surprising. Nevertheless, I’ve stopped updating the story on Radish. It’s still getting updated on Wattpad, though, and my Patreon supporters will continue to get early access to each new chapter. I’ve informed my readers on Radish about pulling the story and my reasons for doing it, and hinted that they can still continue reading it on a different platform, with details on my website.
My issues with some of my readers isn’t going to be of much interest to anyone else. However, what I think is interesting is what this shows about Radish reader behavior vs that of Wattpad readers. While my Wattpad readers will occasionally express their excitement to read the next new chapter, no one has harassed me about updating more than once a week. They understand that a once-a-week update is a reasonable schedule, a minimum expectation they can live with. Radish readers, on the other hand, seems to have gotten used to getting updates faster. There’s a lot of money that can be made on Radish — any author publishing on the platform can post paid stories and most authors know that they’ll earn more if they update these stories more times a week. While Wattpad allows anyone who signs up to publish stories, only a few can publish paid stories. This means most stories on there are free. And if you’re serializing a free story on Wattpad, there really isn’t much incentive to update more than once a week. It’s not surprising that reader expectations are different on these two platforms.
While I’m understandably annoyed at having to pull a story that has already gotten 180k reads, I’m not losing any income or sleep over it. Nothing changes for my Patreon supporters — they’re still getting early access to new chapters — and the rest of my readers can still read FMMBB on Wattpad. This entire experience has given me stuff to think about, and what I’m learning about reader expectations and behavior will help me make better decisions about publishing on serial fiction sites.