So I’ve never done this before and I’ve never seen anything like this on Royal Road, but I thought it would be cool to contact some of the writers on the Rising Stars list to ask them questions about their fictions and to get information on how they actually made it onto the Rising Stars.
If truth be told, I could have asked each of these Rising Stars writers one question: “How did you get onto Rising Stars,” and left it at that. But I feel this post is more “conversational,” which gives readers a little bit of a perspective behind the folks writing these fine stories, and they’ve all been really friendly and fun to work with. I broke out laughing quite a lot, as you’ll probably see from my overly exuberant tone in the interviews.
For format’s sake, I’m in bold where my name (LambentTyto) is not expressly shown, and I left each of their responses in normal typeface.
Not only will this post serve as en exposé regarding the concepts and strategies these authors have used to get onto the Rising Stars list, but it also serves as an exploratory post in case any of you fine readers are looking for something new to read and you haven’t gotten around to checking these folks out.
What originally caused you to start posting on Royal Road?
The death of Deviantart and its sale to Wix corporation. Many artists fled to websites like instagram, twitter, tumblr. I left to the pastures of Royal Road, as I’m both writer and artist.
If you could sum up the single most important thing that helped you get to Rising Stars, what would you say it was?
Isak Asimov Psychohistory and my sacred knowledge of fractal mathematics and probability theory. But seriously though, persistence. Technomagica is my 7th book on Royal Road and it got first place on rising without any issues.
You call that persistence? I have eighteen fictions on RR with another on the way and I’m yet to hit any lists. Now I’m starting to get a little worried here…
There’s a few more keys to it: 1)Friendship with other writers 2)Understanding your audience 3)Loving, caring for, and guiding your audience [audience interaction]. For example I’m maxing out the third point with my next book series Path0gen.
Can you tell us a little bit about the different elements in your fiction that draw readers?
Science + history + fractal mathematics + wholesome elements + pretty art.
That’s a little short. Can you delve a little deeper into one of these topics for our readers?
I delve VERY deep into Fractal manipulation in my book Technomagica. Fractals and probability are entwined and are all around us, completely invisible to most people who are unaware how math can define something that looks as random as a mountain range. Those who know how to use fractal math and probability can defeat almost any system. There are real life examples of people using probability theory to beat improbable odds such as Richard Lustig and other mathematicians who managed to hack the lottery system and win millions several times.
As for pretty art, I create the art myself for my series, I’ve been working as full-time illustrator since 2002!
What aspects or tropes about your fiction are you favorites?
Apocalyptic backstory, trope inversion, min-maxing.
Yeah? Which trope inversion do you enjoy writing the most?
I enjoy twisting “Deus Ex Machina” into “Diabolus Ex Machina” aka Devil in the Machine, which greatly confuses and angers some unprepared readers as can be deduced from my reviews, since they have never encountered this trope in the wild.
For example in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the Eagles are a Deus Ex Machina – they magically solve a problem and cause no issues and are never seen again. If Tolkien reversed it into “Diabolus Ex Machina” the Giant Eagles would demand payment from the fellowship for transit and when not paid they would slowly begin to hunt down each of the hobbits one by one, peeling off their flesh and taking their organs as “collateral”.
My novel Technomagica is all about consequences of easy solutions and actions and how they impact the mc. For example if something is too easy it’s a monkey’s paw of wishes temporarily solving one problem but also horrifically screwing the mcs over in the future.
What about your readers, what are their favorite tropes about your fiction?
Readers enjoy that the mc is a Soviet history buff.
Okay, now that’s interesting. I’m sensing a sort of magnetism between that statement and your username Atomicallyours. Are you a Soviet history buff, or do you have a background that comes from Russia? I guess that last bit is a personal question, so you can ignore that if you want.
I was born in USSR and lived through the time of the collapse in 1991, plus I did tons of research for the book itself on specific topics that I wasn’t 100% sure of.
Has your experience getting onto Rising Stars been a good one?
Yes and no. I like the nice readers, but there’s a lot of brutally harsh reviews too which make me cry a lot of sugar-cubed shaped tears.
Are there any negative aspects to being on the Rising Stars list, and if so, could you tell us a little about them and how you’re handling it?
The aforementioned harsh reviews. I try not to cry but I Cri Evrytiem.
Lol, don’t sweat it. We’re artists. We can’t be without a few critics. What advice do you have for other writers trying to hit Rising Stars?
Make friends with other writers on discord. For example, pm me! Lets be friends. It’s legit easy to get on rising with friends.
Well, I’m going to admit right now that you’re the first person who’s told me this. What’s your handle so I can message you? Lol
Vitaly S Alexius [Technomagica]#1825
Can you tell us what your plans are for the future—will you continue with this fiction for the next million words, or do you have nineteen other fictions you plan on creating?
Am continuing Technomagica but I am also writing new books! :]
That’s awesome! The more you write, the more ideas flow into your mind–at least that’s how it is for me! Thanks a lot for doing this interview, Atomicallyours!
ThinkTwice (Mark of the Crijik)
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. My first question is really a small set of questions. Can you tell us what your current Rising Star fiction is called, and how many followers you’ve gained since hitting that trending page on Royal Road?
Hi. Happy to be here.
My current fiction is called Mark of the Crijik, and I’ve gained almost four thousand followers since I’ve been on rising stars.
What is it about your fiction that attracts readers, and if anything, what do they complain about the most?
That depends on the timeframe you’re asking about. When it comes to fictions on Royal Road the main attraction will always be your title, your cover, the genres/tags and your synopsis.
Before you reach rising stars these will be your main draws. This is because you will likely not have many chapters posted before you hit the list.
That is important because you will gain more readers over time by having high quality chapters for the beginning of your story. High quality will always beat quantity when it comes to your first 10 chapters.
These initial chapters are what will hook your readers, and if you gain followers because of them, then your fiction will attract more readers. People take chances on things that they know others have liked.
Once you are in rising stars there are many things that will attract readers.
It is common knowledge that a good cover will attract readers. What is less common to know is that two or more covers will attract even more readers.
Once you have hit rising stars and are there for a while it can be beneficial to you to change your cover. This is because people will skim through rising stars often and grow used to your cover, and their eyes will Slide Over it whenever they are browsing. Changing the cover will grab their attention and they may give your fiction a try even if they didn’t before.
However, this should be done sparsely, and it is important to have the second and/or third cover be the same quality or higher than the first cover.
It has become a common trend to add the genre of your affection into the title. For example; I Punch Babies [A LitRPG Portal Fantasy Adventure].
Strategies such as this can be beneficial in many ways. For one thing, a reader will know what they are getting. People that are interested in your genre will read, and in general this will be a more pleasant experience for you in rising stars because they will rate you more positively, and they will comment more positively.
However, it is also a good idea to later change your titles for the benefit of the general population. This is because after a while (especially if you reach the top 7 rs fiction) most people who will give your fiction a try have come and gone, and you will need fresh readers.
Changing your title by removing the genre will aid with this. For example; I Punch Babies [A LitRPG Portal Fantasy Adventure] will change to I Punch Babies.
This accomplishes two things, it refreshes the title with the same impact as a new cover, and it attracts readers that weren’t interested in your genres.
If your writing is good then you will get a lot more followers. However, you will also get a lot more criticism. This is because people will see the tags, but they may hope to read something else.
I could talk all day about the art of titles and how to craft them, but ultimately you want something that fulfills one or two of three categories.
Comedy, genre and mystery.
Here are some famous titles on RoyalRoad:
Beware of Chicken, Perfect Run, Paranoid Mage, the Last Orellan.
All of these titles for fill one or more of the title categories.
Beware of Chicken: Comedy, mystery. this title is funny, and provides a mystery to hook the readers in. Why do they have to be weary of a farm animal?
Perfect Run: Mystery, genre. Readers with common knowledge of a video game run will recognize that this is possibly a Time Loop stop. The title makes them ask what is the perfect run? How do we achieve it?
Paranoid Mage: Genre, mystery. It lets the reader know that there is magic in the fiction, and makes them ask ‘why is the mage paranoid?’.
The Last Orellan: Mystery. The mystery is clear here, what is the last Orellan?
If your title fulfills one of these three categories or more, it is more likely to attract readers.
These are some nifty little tricks. Can I ask what prompted you to use them, Really, did you come up with them, or did you have some help?
That depends on the trick.
Changing covers has been done for years now. I would never claim to be the 1st to have invented the concert, nor am I the last.
Most authors will change their covers every few months in order to keep it fresh and attract new readers. Similarly, the concept of a higher quality cover is always going to work better than downgrading to a lower quality cover.
With the titles, this is a recent development. I know an author did the same, and as far as I know they were the 1st to give it a try because it wasn’t considered (and likely still isn’t) a method that will work.
I tried it as well and found that it worked amazingly. Maybe it will become a trend, maybe it will be dismissed, but I standby it as a new strategy that could work and has potential.
The research on titles was done by me, although many authors that love writing will delve into different books and guides on how to do titles and blurbs.
Do people complain about anything in my fiction?
Yes. Yes they do.
When you are on rising stars there will be many complaints, with my fiction personally the main complaint was that the main character was a baby. I will delve more into that in other interview questions.
So how exactly did you manage to get onto Rising Stars anyway? My best rated story is placed at #4,980!
My personal tactics were fairly simple.
Posting: I posted three chapters a day.
Cover: I had a nice cover that attracted readers.
Genre: I wrote a genre that is popular on RoyalRoad. This was done in order to practice the genre, but it ended up becoming popular even as a practice fiction.
This is how I got onto rising stars, but it is not all that I did to stay on there and rise. I used many of the tactics I listed in the previous question, including changing my cover, and also changing my title.
Artwork: I also had artwork in numerous chapters which got a positive reception. I strongly believe this gained me followers and ratings which helped me rise through rising stars.
I often miss uploading chapters on time. Do you feel pressured to write and upload on time now that you have a lot more followers than before?
I do feel pressure to write and upload on time, and the larger follower count does influence this.
I have been writing on RoyalRoad for about eight years now. The chapter pressure never disappears even if you are writing for a single follower.
However, it can be mitigated.
There are two ways to place less pressure on yourself during the posting process.
Many authors will recommend that you create a backlog of chapters. These chapters will not be posted immediately, but they will relieve you of pressure because they will be readily available for posting if you ever fall behind.
A larger backlog means less pressure. The recommended number given for chapter backlog is 10 chapters unpublished and ready to be posted.
This number is made small on purpose so that new writers aren’t scared off.
You should really have 30-100 chapters of backlog. However, that is only if you are taking the pressure off completely. It can be tough to get this much backlog when you really want to show your story to the world. It is a trade off of gratification versus long term sustainability.
It will also mean you are more likely to hit rising stars and stay there because you won’t miss posting days. Rising stars can last up to a month or longer and that is 30 days of posting chapters.
Write for yourself:
On the other end of the spectrum is writing for yourself. Post whenever you like, and you won’t feel as much pressure. This method works, but it can be harder to gather a following or ratings. However, it is good for pressure relief especially if you are doing this as a hobby.
I really like this last thing you said about writing for yourself. I write 3,000 words a day, and I don’t think I could if I wasn’t enjoying what I was writing! Has your experience on Rising Stars been a positive one?
It is exciting to watch yourself go up in ranks and gain followers. It is also recommended for your own peace of mind to turn off ratings.
Seriously. Turn them off.
The single biggest cause of writers dropping their fictions is the rating average and ratings in general.
This is because we pour our hearts and souls into our writing. We spent days, weeks, months and years crafting a story that we want others to like.
If they don’t consider it perfect, it can really hurt us.
I have talked to a lot of writers, many of whom use the proper tactics and are wonderful at crafting out a world that readers want to read.
Then they get a bad review or rating and drop their fiction.
I have seen dozens of writers come and go and each time they say similar things to themselves, and the people around them.
Generally the stages of ratings decline and writing fatigue go like this.
Stage 1: “I like ratings, they motivate me.”
Stage 2: “I don’t want to close it since I want to see what people think.”
Stage 3: “I want to close it, but I can’t stop looking at them.”
Stage 4: “I don’t feel happy anymore, I’m deleting my fiction and I’ll try again later.”
Stage 5: Writer213 has been offline for 6 months.
There are ways to combat this, which I will get into below, but the most important and the easiest is to simply go into your settings and turn off ratings.
I did it and it instantly improved my mental health.
I don’t know this like you do, but I do know that big name authors say not to read your reviews online, because even the good ones put pressure upon you to do better, and some writers just stop functioning under this new pressure. So when you say “turn off ratings” is that a UI disable for yourself only, or will that also prevent readers from rating the fiction, sort of like turning comments off on a youtube video or something?
Disabling ratings will only disable your personal UI from displaying the star rating for your fiction on Royal Road. Readers can still rate, and will still see your rating, and it is the same for reviews. You will be able to read them, but you will be unable to see their rating.
Are there any negative aspects to being on the Rising Stars list, and if so, could you tell us a little about them and how you’re handling it?
When you hit rising stars it doesn’t matter what rating you had before, it will go down. This is because you are being exposed to a variety of readers and they all have differing opinions. You cannot please them all.
Solution: turn off ratings.
You will get mean comments. Especially if you hit the homepage (top 7 rising stars). These will range from ludacris to accurate but hurtful.
Personally, I try to read the first page of comments. However, many authors forgo comments entirely.
It is up to you how many comments you want to read, but be aware that you can get a dozen positive ones and it will be the one negative comment that sticks out into your mind for the whole day.
I’m really glad you’re going into detail about this topic because I don’t think most readers realize how much pressure this can bring down upon them. In fact, I’d say readers are unaware as well. What advice do you have for other writers trying to hit Rising Stars? For instance, Atomicallyours (Technomagica) said to make friends with other writers. Would you give that same advice, and if so, can you expand on that?
Making friends with other writers is absolutely one of the top priorities you should have if you wish to be hitting rising stars.
Many people like to think of writing as being free from marketing, or free from networking. This is not true.
However, my main concern is the mental health of the writer. The truth is that the main thing that will stop your fiction from reaching rising stars is yourself.
People becoming demotivated or hurt by comments or ratings is the single biggest stopping point for fictions trying to reach rising stars.
Talking about your experiences and going through your emotions with other people that understand you will help you cope and continue writing.
Getting to know other writers will help you with this. They know what you are going through, and they will help you through it. Motivation doesn’t last if you are being overwhelmed by negative emotions because you have nobody to talk with
There are several points I can cover that will get you into rising stars.
I have already mentioned covers, titles, genres, and your synopsis.
Marketing is a big one. Having other offers read your affection and then give it a recommendation on their own fiction page is a big help.
Posting your fictions on Reddit, Facebook, discord servers and other locations will also help.
Having good quality writing is also important.
Having a consistent or rapid release rate will also get you there. This means a minimum of three chapters a week.
When I got onto the top spot of rising stars I had been releasing three chapters a day, and then switched to two chapters a day. I am currently at one chapter a day and still on rising stars more than a month later.
Don’t have the time? That’s when a backlog can come in handy.
Having a previous following can also help, you do not need your first fiction to get into rising stars. If you finish your book, you will attract more readers and you will have dedicated followers looking forward to your next fiction. This can help your next fiction get onto rising stars.
Now this last point is interesting. So is Rising Stars only for newly posted fictions? Let’s use one of my fictions for example: The Jinni and the Isekai. I’ve been posting on this for six months now and I’ve got a little over a hundred followers on this one. What if I was to see a sudden jump in growth and a number of five-star ratings, could my fiction reach Rising Stars, or is that not possible?
This is a difficult question to answer. According to my understanding, you will most likely end up in trending. However, what I have not tested is whether or not you will end up in rising stars if you do receive a sudden jump and growth consistently in ratings after being quiet for a long period of time.
In other words, I don’t know.
What are your plans going forward? Do you stay on Rising Stars as long as possible, or let your fiction fall away naturally and hope to get another one to hit the trend?
Rising stars is a means to an end, not the end itself.
My time in rising stars is already finishing. I have been there for over a month and rising stars will begin to drop your position after a certain amount of time.
It is important for people to know that their fictions will always drop off the list. It can be a real grind afterwards to gain followers and views. That is when the real challenge begins, but it is also when you prove to yourself that you are an amazing writer. Finishing a book is a lot harder than creating many novels that will all hit rising stars.
I’m sure it’s great having a lot of followers. Here’s to many more successes down the road for you, and your continuing journey for your fictions after they’ve come off of Rising Stars!
Damien Hanson (BuyMort: Rise of the Windowpuncher – How I Became the Accidental Warlord of Arizona. Apocalyptic GameLit)
LambentTyto: Wow, after interviewing two other Rising Stars authors before you, I’m realizing how massive this article/post is actually going to be! Anyway, thanks for agreeing to do the interview. Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Damien Hanson – possibly lol
LambentTyto: I’ve noticed that you have fewer fictions and far fewer words than our previous two interviewees. I guess word count and number of fictions doesn’t really play a role, huh?
Damien Hanson – Nah they definitely play a part. The more you write, the better you get at it. And the better you identify what aspects of your writing personality people enjoy. I tend to write stories here and then, later, take them down once they’ve had their run. Sometimes I publish them independently but mostly they just slip away into the nether. The big thing for me is that if something didn’t have a good run here then it probably needs improving. So I store it away for future perusal and play.
LambentTyto: So what’s your Rising Star Fiction, and can you tell us exactly how you got on that coveted trending page? because I’ve got a million words on Royal Road (literally) and I still haven’t managed any lists.
The story is very relatable. It started when a man who reads both my and my coauthors stuff told us that our styles would synergize perfectly and he’d love to see what we could come up with together. It took months of planning and went wildly from this very simple concept of a man who gained health by breaking things into a modern satire of the constant ads, consumerism, and upgrades that we must wade through in daily life. It’s a novel concept that everyone can relate too. And our styles work together so well that people have said that it looks all written by one person. That seamless blend absolutely rocks the style, so we haven’t been hampered as some author teams are by the awkward sense of having two narrators tell the same story.
Also the cover gits the story idea perfectly. It draws people in to read the blurb. The blurb in turn was lightning sharp and got people reading. That’s both good and bad because it also lost us a star as people weren’t prepared for the slow character buildup that is required to turn a slacker handyman into the King of Arizona!
LambentTyto: How long have you been writing for?
Damien Hanson – My first book was the story of my Dnd players made into prose for them as a Christmas Gift. That was the end of 2019 I think. So 3 years.
LambentTyto: If you were going to start over on Royal Road from word zero, what would you do differently?
Damien Hanson – I would leave up my failures and mistakes. I always pulled them down to work on them . . . and never really got on over to working on them. And some people I’m sure would enjoy them as they are. It is funny because I never really considered that to be a mistake until this question.
LambentTyto: What is the single best thing about getting onto Rising Stars, and conversely, what’s the worst thing?
Damien Hanson – The best thing has been seeing it on the front page. It is a moment of pride. I know the book is going to slip off the list but having made the list is like getting a medal at the Olympics. The bad side is the stars. Most of the bad ratings came when we hit the front page. I imagine because people found it without any context, and judged it not based on the genres it is apart of, but rather the popularity it had attained.
LambentTyto: What other advice do you have for Royal Road writers who want to get on the Rising Stars page?
Damien Hanson – My main advice is pick a cover that really resonates with your story and make sure the blurb does the same. Cover and blurb, done right, will get so many people to read your story and to give it the chance that it deserves.
LambentTyto: I noticed your profile says you’re in Korea? I ask, because we’ve just learned that Atomicallyours is from Russia back during the USSR days, which is really interesting!
Damien Hanson – I came here sixteen years ago! I’d finished the Army, then finished college, gotten a job with a computer company and I just wasn’t feeling it. So i put my resume up on monster jobs and amidst a number of offers from other computer companies I got an offer to teach K – 12 in Korea. That was such a unique opportunity that I jumped on it and I’ve never looked back.
LambentTyto: And I like to finish things off with this final question: What’s next—what are you plans going forward on Royal Road?
Damien Hanson – Phelps and I have a plan for the equivalent of a seven book series with BuyMort. So we’ll be writing that for a long time. And I am writing another series with Nolan Locke – we changed a bunch of stuff in the original story and I’m running rough on time so he’ll be hosting that one shortly. I’m also hoping to find a place to showcase my kids series. All books I wrote for my son. Maybe there is room here for that? I’m not holding my breath on that but if there are parents here who would like free reading for their children I will happily provide that as well.
Thanks for the interview, LambentTyto. Have a great weekend!
Tejoka (Path of the Hive Queen)
LambentTyto: I’d first like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Tejoka. So can you tell me a little about yourself and your writing, specifically your story currently on Rising Stars?
Sure, it’s my pleasure! So, I’ve been writing for quite a while, mostly science fiction and fantasy stories. I’m currently working on my second web serial. It’s called ‘Path of the Hive Queen’, and it’s basically a high fantasy story with LitRPG and kingdom building elements. It follows a modern girl who has lost her memory and been turned into a monster, and her struggles to learn about her new world and carve out a place for herself and her family (actually the minions she creates).
LambentTyto: Nice! I’ve considered doing some kingdom building stuff myself.
Good luck! Kingdom building is pretty fun.
LambentTyto: Since landing onto Rising Stars how many followers have you gained?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure, since I missed when it first got onto Rising Stars. But certainly several hundred.]
LambentTyto: That’s not bad, and how many do you hope to get by the time you’re done there?
I hope to reach a thousand followers total for the story. It will probably fall off Rising Stars soon, but I’m pretty close.
LambentTyto: So what would you say have been the biggest contributing factors to getting onto Rising Stars so that we can help people like me who’ve never managed it?
Frequent and consistent updates, for one. I varied the times when I posted, which might have helped, and I posted a chapter every day in the beginning, and several chapters a week later. Readers like regular updates, and I think it helps to be on the ‘latest updates’ list. And for a new story, especially, it might also help to assure readers that you’re serious about it and aren’t going to drop it.
Another important factor is probably your story’s concept. For example, which tags are applicable. There’s a broad reader base on this site, but certain genres tend to be more successful than others. Of course, you also need to be able to handle the genre and elements you’ve chosen to use well. I think I got a lot of readers who saw ‘hive queen’ in the title or description and decided to check it out.
LambentTyto: That’s cool. And how much effort did you original put into choosing that title “Hive Queen” anyway?
Not much. Usually I have trouble coming up with titles, but this time I thought of the title right away and it just fit.
LambentTyto: What do you like the most about writing web fiction?
The engagement with the readers and the opportunity to get feedback, hands down. I’ve read several insightful comments that have shown me a new perspective on a story arc or character. I find it very cool when that happens. Personally, it also helps keep me motivated to write.
LambentTyto: Speaking of feedback, do you rewrite, or do you take comments you agree with and only apply what you’ve learned going forward?
I typically don’t rewrite. If I do, it’s mostly small edits to make something clearer. I don’t want to lose momentum and get stuck editing instead of continuing the story, so I try to just do a better job going forward.
LambentTyto: All right, what do you like the least about it?
The flip side of what I just said, I think: very negative or even toxic responses to your writing. Most writers will have probably dealt with that before. I manage to shrug it off, for the most part, but it can be demotivating. Just to be clear, I love getting constructive criticism, but sometimes it crosses the line into simply bashing the story. Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with that often.
LambentTyto: That’s good. Like water off a duck’s back. There’s definitely a line between constructive criticism and downright negativity.
There is, and you will probably encounter more negativity as your story becomes more popular and visible, but I don’t think it’s as widespread here as on some other sites on the Internet.
LambentTyto: I noticed on your profile you say you’re not a native English speaker. Has this hampered your ability to gain readers in any way?
I don’t think so. It’s hard to be sure, of course, but I haven’t had any complaints about my language proficiency (my grammar ratings are pretty high, anyway.) But I’m hardly the only one, I’ve seen many stories from authors who aren’t native English speakers on this site. I’d say the readership is pretty forgiving when it comes to that.
LambentTyto: I’m glad to hear that, even though I’m not a native speaker, I often see people worrying about this in the forums. So if you were to give just a little more advice—maybe one primary tip to jumping onto Rising Stars, what would it be?
Don’t stress too much about it, just focus on writing the best story you can. If you haven’t started posting a story yet, I would recommend taking the time to write ahead and build a backlog before you start. That will not only help with regular releases, but give you the opportunity to edit it more thoroughly and make it better.
LambentTyto: Again, thanks for doing the interview, Tejoka. To cap this interview off, can you tell us one primary element—perhaps your favorite one—about the Hive Queen so that readers might want to go check that out?
Alright. My favorite part is actually a bit of a spoiler, but it’s about the world the story takes place in. It’s a fairly typical high fantasy setting at first glance, but as the story goes on I plan to slowly peel it back and show that there’s more to it beneath the surface, and how it ties in with the protagonist’s situation.
END OF PART ONE