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The Channillo Challenge

NNickleby

Nicholas Nickleby, published as a serial in 1838-39

I’ve finished my gig with Channillo. 52 piece of WaLWaD, starting with Calliope, who kicked off the series on June 1st a year ago. You won’t have heard of it – WaLWaD, I mean, not Channillo. But if you haven’t heard of Channillo either, it is, to quote their site, ‘a subscription-based digital publishing platform that allows writers to share their work with readers in regular installments.’ In other words, (most of the time) serialized fiction.

Now we’ve had some discussion about this here on the site, thanks to GD’s serial Bob Versus the Aliens (which is, incidentally, as zany and entertaining as the title implies). So how does it work on Channillo? The main point is that readers actually pay to read. Yes, you read that right. Strange as it may sound, such readers exist! The cheapest option is $4.99/month, which gives you from one to ten series of your choice. Might as well go for the whole ten, right? In which case, it’s not a bad deal – you just have to find the time to read them. You’ll be spoilt for choice – at least 400 titles in a broad range of genres, from historical to paranormal, but also including nonfiction and poetry. And for writers it’s not bad either – 80% of the royalties, with the first payment made when $50 is reached.

So where’s the catch? Well, that brings me back to WaLWaD – What a Life! What a Day! The reason you haven’t heard of it is that I didn’t promote it. I did a few tweets at the start but they soon fizzled out. Oh, and a blog post back in January. That was it. My apathy had a number of reasons. Firstly, WaLWaD is humour, totally different from my books, which are mystery. So I wasn’t sure that promoting it would be of much use for the books, which are challenging enough to promote already. But more importantly, though I’m pleased enough overall, some of the pieces were pretty close to first drafts, penned in haste on a Sunday evening to meet the Monday deadline. Would readers notice? I don’t know. But I wasn’t too happy promoting material I knew could be better.

As for my earnings, well, put it this way: that first payment is still up ahead in the distance. Which is a shame because it’s not for me but the Against Malaria Foundation. That’s one of the options – you can pass on the royalties to a charity of your choice. Will I get there one day? Let’s be optimistic – yes! And the quicker the better – fewer people will die of malaria in the meantime. You see what I did in that last sentence? Hint, hint. And because the series is completed, you could sign up for just a month and get the whole lot in one go. Crafty, eh?

So yes, you have to promote. And I’m not the only one who didn’t do enough of that. After seventeen weeks of posting a chapter each Sunday, I went from having four subscribers to two. I asked for analytics of how many people visited the site, clicked on my chapter descriptions, etc, but was told they wouldn’t make that available. So writes Philip Carroll, who took his serial down and put it on his blog instead.

So is this another blog post about something that doesn’t work? It would be unfair to leave you with that impression. So I approached a couple of other writers, rather more active than I am, to see if they could report more success. My sincere thanks to Bill McStowe and Chris Waltz for answering my questions.

Bill McStowe, author of the humour series Uncharted.

How actively do you promote your series and where?

I’m active on Twitter and try to draw attention to my series at least once a day. You can find me @BillMcStowe. I also promote Channillo itself and some of the other writers. Similarly, there are writers who help promote my work.

 How positively would you rate Channillo overall?

 It has been a positive experience for me, but I am aware that this is not the case for everyone. Some very talented writers have left the site and I miss reading their work.

Channillo has given me the opportunity to reach more readers. I like that. A lot of the readers on the site are Channillo authors, but I see a consistent effort to draw an outside audience. We’re asking people to pay for a subscription for the right to read when there are thousands of sites out there with free material. That’s a tall order.

 Would you say it has driven interest towards your writing in general i.e. beyond the Channillo series in particular?

No, I can’t say that. I’d like to believe it, but I’m not sure it’s true. Actually, I haven’t done much other writing since my series began. Spending hours a week meeting a self-imposed deadline has left me little room to do much else. This weekend, though, I’m making time to cut my toenails.

Chris Waltz, author of the horror-comedy series, Hellbound.

Generally, I promote my Channillo series through Facebook and Twitter. I’m a part of several writer and reader groups who are fairly supportive. Twitter has been my best avenue, because other Channillo writers tend to share the posts with their followers as well. As far as popularity goes, I have to say I’m not 100% sure how popular my series is on the website, but I know it has garnered some popularity as far as new followers and social media interactions outside of the Channillo site.

I never had plans of getting rich or famous from my Channillo series, and I haven’t, but I have been pleased with the number of people it has gotten my name to as a writer. It’s also something I feel comfortable using as a resume builder of sorts, because I was approached to write the series and it was the first writing project I began that wasn’t self-published. Since then, I have had several short stories published in more well-known publications. I have a second Channillo series debuting in a couple of months, and I am generally happy with my experience.

So yes, there are happy authors on Channillo, which I continue to believe is a highly commendable initiative. You can read a fuller review of Channillo here. And while we’re on the topic of serialisation, stay tuned to this site for an upcoming set of posts about it by Mimi Speike. Also, don’t forget to check out Bob Versus the Aliens, as well as the excellent serial Voyage of the Ballyhoo, posted on his website by Atthys Gage. Though Atthys is our resident maven of gloom, you’ll see that anyone who can spin such a yarn has nothing to be gloomy about.

As for me? Call me crazy if you like, but I’m planning another series for Channillo. Those damned mozzies, you understand.

Are you running a series on your own blog? If so, let me know in the comments – I’d be glad to go on over and take a look.

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21 thoughts on “The Channillo Challenge

  1. mimispeike says:

    A few thoughts, to start. My motivation for presenting Sly as a series is, to give, chapter by chapter, a final intensive look, and at the same time, give myself a deadline for creating a small piece of line art for each installment. I see that you had the same idea:

    I give each chapter a thorough scrubbing and serious rewrite before posting on a biweekly basis. It’s been a great way for me to reexamine my first book and actually make it publishing worthy.

    My big concern as a reader would be: I have so much waiting to be read already, do I want to pay another monthly fee for something I might not use? Your comments about the level of quality also give me pause.

    They won’t release figures on membership? I don’t like that at all. How do they promote themselves? I’d never heard the name until you mentioned it.

    I have a book written, and a serial may give me the discipline I’ve lacked to whip it into final shape and get it up somewhere. But I have more faith in attracting a following to my web site, with all the free-use graphic-goodies to supplement my own notoriously slow production, and the design capability that rivals InDesign, on Wix. I’ll think it over as I continue to research serials for my next post.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, as Bill says, it’s a tall order asking people to pay when there’s so much available for free. But that’s what we hope for with our books… You’re right that a serial can motivate you to get down to it – nothing works better than deadlines! As for the quality, it’s no doubt variable. Channillo gives you a preview of one instalment before you decide to commit (or not). In my own case I’m talking about half a dozen pieces out of 52 that I would have polished more with more time, so nothing calamitous. But time management is something to be aware of, especially as you can’t be sure how long you’ll need to spend on each instalment – some will flow, others get stuck. Your best guarantee is to get it all practically finished well before you post the first instalment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. atthysgage says:

    Fascinating site, Curtis. (Also, thanks for the shout out re: Voyage of the Ballyhoo.) I like the idea very much. I wish it weren’t such an uphill struggle to get people to read your stuff, but that seems to be a nearly universal problem regardless of format or forum. But exposure is exposure. Gain one reader here and another there, and before you know it, you could have, gee, dozens. (Did someone call me maven of gloom?)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. GD Deckard says:

    Great blog, Curtis! It’s packed full of experience based information and insights for writers like myself who were unaware of Channillo and the scope of serialization on the Net. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. danflore says:

    Thanks for the background info. I’m really enjoying Channillo.I’m reading some really talented authors,with unique voices. My daily poetry series on Channillo is the arrows on the clock are pointing at me.
    I’m happy with the interest in it so far and I enjoy the challenge of putting out quality product every day to my subscribers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the comment Dan. I agree Channillo can be rewarding and I hope to get back to it sometime. All the best with your series. Daily – that’s quite a challenge indeed, but I guess it keeps that creative muscle working!

    Like

  6. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Channillo reached out to me today over twitter to ask if I would be interested in writing a series for them. Since I’d never heard of them I googled them and your blog post came up. I guess they noticed tweets about the serials I have running on my blog. I was wondering if Channillo might be a good place for my back list. I have one serial on its 70th post/piece/chapter/whatever. That way I could keep my readers happy by putting out the new ones on my blog while (re)posting the earlier parts to Channillo. (And replacing their copy on my site with an intro, the main teaser graphic and a link for new readers to catch up on Channillo). I recently started promoting the older parts on Twitter and that’s how I came to Channillo’s attention. After reading your post, I am considering applying.

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the comment. Yes, I think your approach could work well. Much of Channillo’s traffic seems to come from other Channillo authors, so mutual promotion and support is quite important. I do intend to put more up there sometime, and meanwhile, I’ll follow your progress with interest – wishing you all the best!

    Like

  8. I have started a series with Chanillo, “There’s a monster in my bed. Oh wait. It’s a baby” and I am enjoying the writing. It’s surprising that people (on other sites I have read) complain about paying $5p/m. It’s not a lot.
    But mostly, I subscribe for Bill Mcstowe’s series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment, Briana. Yes, it’s not a lot of money, indeed, but unfortunately there’s so much available free that it seems a lot to some people. Right now I have so much on my plate that it’s more the time that’s my problem, but I hope to get back to Channillo before too long, both as writer and reader. Best of luck with your series!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I have just created my account on Channillo!

    I have been writing my series for 5yrs now, and still only a quarter through my content edit…it’s a long struggle! After cutting a chapter and releasing it as a novella available on Kindle and KU, and updating a second novella to parallel it, marking my landmark in all literary fiction, I am planning to release the book (and parallels) bit by bit on Channillo. If this encourages readers to go to my Kindle instead, then that’s just as great as knowing my books are being read in the least.

    I already have 1 subscriber and no chapters have been written yet….

    A question on the site: can you copy & paste work and submit chapters ahead of release date?

    Thanks all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks for the comment, Luciain. I think Channillo is one option among others of getting your work noticed and perhaps driving traffic to your website or other links. It still needs a lot of promotion, of course. To answer your question, yes, you can copy and paste, and fix the release date ahead of time with the calendar feature. So it’s quite flexible in that respect. And you can add pictures too. Good luck with your series!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The copy and paste must have been a temporary glitch as it is working now. I have the first 19 instalments preloaded to release on a weekly basis from November 1st!

        Any authors on there, please do friend me and I will return the favour! I am also open to helping anyone out with some social media posts to help boost your works.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. wordfoolery says:

    Useful article, thank you. I launched my comedy serial novel “Hamster Stew & Other Stories” on Channillo this week so it’s interesting to see how others have found the experience. Finding readers is always challenging but I’m hoping having the serial available will feed readers to it and to my other writing – fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting, Grace. I haven’t been good at promoting my series – I keep promising myself to revisit, update and promote it. Maybe you’ll be better at it than I am – good luck!

      Like

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