Last week I earned 5 +Votes.

The first came from Jerry Fan, the founder of JukePop Serials. He contacted me to let me know he shares my disappointment with Metal Shadow losing readership, that he considers me a top author, and to encourage me to try using the Unlock feature again, perhaps after another 15 chapters or so. While I can’t make any promises on the Unlock front, I’m hugely grateful for the support.

The second came from an old friend named Ben. He currently co-hosts a free video game podcast called Game Under. He’s been a forum buddy, editor and guide, and one of Metal Shadow’s biggest fans for as long as I can remember. Though we spoke over Internet chat, my neighbors heard his yelling through the walls. He didn’t understand why I was stopping the serial. He thought, at the very least, I should put out another 15 chapters, and gauge support from that. The conversation ended with me stubbornly saying no, that I had already begun work on GEV, and me inwardly feeling like I had just let someone down.

The third +Vote came from another forum buddy whom I know only as WaZelda. He’s currently the second-ranked member on the Write Now Wiki (behind myself, of course) and our most avid critiquer. Like Ben, he’s been reading Metal Shadow for ages; he read all of the Prelude on JukePop even though he wasn’t very fond of it. Upon reaching chapter 15 of Metal Shadow, the last chapter I published before putting the serial on hiatus, he gave it a short, positive review. That was all he did, and yet I felt ready to write another chapter because of that.

The fourth +Vote came from one of my followers on Twitter. She also read the Prelude on JukePop. She enjoyed it so much, she drew fan art. Imagine that! The news that the new series was on hiatus depressed her, and announcing that I was working on GEV didn’t seem to help. In her words, “Metal Shadow is the best serial on JukePop”. That still tugs at my heart strings.

The final +Vote came from Aden Ng, a fellow author on JP and member of the Write Now Wiki. His serial is 139: In Evening, a horror saga whose very prologue turned my dreams that night into nightmares. He expressed sharing my pain about the Unlock feature potentially cutting off some of my readers, though his angst was more aimed at the readers than the feature itself. What I was more interested in was his assertion that I should write the story regardless of readership, not stop it because there aren’t any. Um, dude, that’s my line. I’m the one who tells that to other authors, not the other way around!

Let me pause here to clarify something. The main reason I put Metal Shadow on hiatus had to do with the Unlock feature, not the loss in readership. I felt like I’d made a mistake in charging money for the story and needed to make amends for it, and then I was upset that I felt that way because I’d only charged a dollar and change. It was a vicious cycle of self-disappointment and disappointment in my readers. But as Ben pointed out, it wasn’t how little I’d charged, but the fact that I charged at all for something that was free for a long time that may have caused people to lose faith. And as Aden says, people on the Internet want shit free. (I’m paraphrasing.) I shouldn’t have been surprised by the analytics.

After taking in all these words of support from all these different sources on an almost daily basis, much as I’d like to say I stuck to my guns, I didn’t. These people’s outspoken remarks phased me. Heck, I probably changed my mind after Jerry. It didn’t matter that they weren’t all readers or +Voters of the serial. They were +Voters of me. They wanted to see my success continue. How could I say no to that?

On March 15, the epoch continues. We’ll journey to the Hollowlands and encounter legendary monsters, acquire arcane magic weapons, and wreak elemental havoc on a nefarious group of villains. I’ve plotted 19 chapters for this next arc, though I’m constantly slashing out needless scenes so the end result may be less. Thus far it’s looking about 130.3% better than the Prelude.

I won’t setup any paywalls throughout this publication. I still feel like I have to regain the trust of my readers, plus I’m curious to see if the series can compete in the new JP top 30. I also probably won’t release more than 1 chapter a week, since increasing the output didn’t change the fate of the serial one bit. Altogether this will be a smoother, longer, more thrilling ride. Expect awesome.

Whether people read to the end of the arc will probably have some influence on how quickly I put out the next set of chapters. However, I’m going to weed myself off reader approval. Along with my decision to resume serialization of MS comes my decision to follow through with its completion—payment or no payment, audience or no. It’s only in creating the greatest, longest-running story that I can earn the biggest +Vote of all: my own.

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