Bytown Episode 4 Postmortem

MCMTuesday, June 30, 2020

Bytown episode 4 was late, and as expected, things are starting to fall apart. The surprise is that they're falling apart for really stupid reasons to do with internal organs.

Numbers Numbers Numbers

Marketing has all but stopped, mostly because it wasn't having a noticeable effect. I checked the bounce rates for new visitors off the ads, and it was 95% on average, which is just silly. So we're working with the goodwill of the existing reader base now, which is possibly a dangerous idea, but probably not all that bad.

I expected to lose a certain amount of readers after switching to the monthly release model, but the reader base actually increased to a reliable 2,100 visitors per week. I assume that's people just stopping by to see if I've released anything new, but it's still nice to see. It gives me the guilt I need to carry on.

Chapter Sizes

Episode 4 is the longest chapter so far, at 29,963 words. There was a lot of ground to cover in this one (literally and figuratively) so every word counts. Here's the tricky part, based on where I am in writing the next few episodes: the total word count for the theoretical Volume I is 85,693 — a respectable number and a good-sized novel. The way Volume II is shaping up, it may break 95,000 words. I generally try to keep the books in a series the same approximate length, but this will be harder to smooth over. It means I either have to seriously beef up Volume 1, or... well, I don't think I actually can trim back Volume II too much, given what has to happen.

This is going to be fun, is what I'm saying. Fun in a bad way.

Writing Pace

This month was punctuated by gallbladder catastrophes, which have made it very hard for me to function in a reliable manner. There are strategies for dealing with ths pain, but they tend to leave me extremely drained of energy, which makes it even harder to write. That said, I'm still able to function well enough to do paying work, so it's not as bad as it could be.

The end result, though is this: Chapter 4 was very nearly late, and Chapter 5 is 100% going to be delayed. There's no way around it, I'm just too far behind. I'll let you know the details as soon as I can put my finger on 'em, but at this point the only question is "how many days", not "if".


When I initially planned Bytown, it was going to be a fun and possibly buzzy little project (at least in Ottawa) with an addictive hook that would give me the energy to do something fun for a year — a kind of vacation, if you will. What happened instead was a pandemic and health issues that made it next to impossible to get my footing back, and now I'm in a battle to reach the finish line in one piece.

Depressing? Maybe. But one thing keeps me going: you still have no idea how much episode 5 is going upset you...

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