What is a webnovel?

A webnovel is a story that is delivered online through a site that publishes webnovels for readers to read from or from the webnovel site that the author owns.

A webnovel is not delivered in its entirety, it is drip fed one chapter at a time. The chapters range from 1000 to 2500 words most of the time, but can be shorter or longer.

The delivery rate of the webnovel chapters normally range between three times a week and once a week.

In short, you are given a story that is delivered slowly on a website so you can read it in bite sized chunks. Think of it as a television series but you read it instead.

This format of story delivery is not unique. The only difference is it is done online.

Between the 1860s and 1920s stories were commonly delivered as a series. Serial novels went through the best years during that period of time because people were beginning to learn to read and wanted stories. Since most people could not afford a novel, publishers created cheap to make weekly magazines instead.

Their popularity dropped mostly because people began to earn more money so they slowly transferred to buying a novel in its complete form.

You may be surprised to learn that some of the literary classics found their feet as a series.

Stories like:

  1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Duluas
  3. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  4. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  5. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Over time, the format lost ground and almost disappeared entirely.

Until the internet arrived.

In recent years the idea of a drip fed novel has grown in popularity again.

Since most webnovels are able to be read for free, people began to read them.

But it seems like the likely reason for the rise of the webnovel is how it is read. Most people read the chapters on the mobile devices. These are not a great way to read on for a long time. In fact, most people are only prepared to read up to 1500 words at a time.

This is one of the reasons why the most popular webnovels stick between 1000 and 1500 words.

To make up for the short chapters, the writers compensate that with one to three chapters per week. Short chapters that are easy to read on a mobile device that are delivered often enough to keep the person hooked is the way forward.

The future of the webnovel.

Given the fast growth of sites like Wattpad and RoyalRoad, with several others following, it is clear that the serialized novel is making a serious comeback.

Add in a growing number of writers testing the waters and learning the craft of story writing, it is only a matter of time before the webnovel format takes off and becomes mainstream.

As a reader, this is great news because it means a lot of material to read for free.

The down side of it is many writers tend to give up on their stories without finishing it. A common complaint and annoyance among readers.

Another downside is the writers do not get paid when people read their free story.

What is beginning to happen is the author will deliver the story for free in a rough form, tidy it up and sell the ebook for money. They also ask their readers and fans to donate money to them voluntarily as a one off or as a subscription. There are still others that using advertising on their site to earn advertising revenue.

Whatever format the writer takes to earn a living, we need to do our part to support them or the good writers will stop writing webnovels and go to the traditional novel selling format instead.

In the end, webnovels are going to become a growing force in the world of storytelling, and as it becomes more mainstream, expect the publishing world to take notice of webnovels again to earn their money as well.