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What's your first chapter reader retention?

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Skeletaure, Aug 16, 2020.

  1. Skeletaure

    Skeletaure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Mar 5, 2006
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    Here's an interesting exercise: look at your FF.Net stats and identify how many readers you lose on the first chapter of your story.

    The One He Feared

    Chapter 1 views (Legacy Story Stats): 85,458
    Chapter 2 views (Legacy Story Stats): 37,191

    Chapter 1 Visitors, June 2020 (Story stats): 849
    Chapter 2 Visitors, June 2020 (Story stats): 378

    So by the legacy stats TOHF has a retention ratio of 44%. By the Story Stats page its retention ratio is 45%.

    Victoria Potter

    Chapter 1 views (Legacy Story Stats): 92,578
    Chapter 2 views (Legacy Story Stats): 19,599

    Chapter 1 Visitors, June 2020 (Story stats): 2,950
    Chapter 2 Visitors, June 2020 (Story stats): 680

    So by the legacy stats VP has a retention ratio of 21%. By the Story Stats page its retention ratio is 23%.


    I'm not too surprised by the results. VP has a much slower start than TOHF and takes time to diverge substantially from canon. If you're flicking through fanfic and just reading opening paragraphs to see what fics grab you, VP isn't going to do a very good job of that. It's targeted more at readers who like the tropes the fic advertises, and have settled down for a long read.

    Still, 20% is pretty bad. Makes me consider adding some sort of prologue to grab attention, or a rewrite of the early chapters to add more attention-grabbing AU elements from the start. But that sort of rewrite is dangerous for forward momentum/progress. I'll consider it when I finish second year.

    The other interesting thing here is the uniformity of the figures between the legacy stats page (which shows cumulative hits since publication) and the new story stats page (which shows unique hits by month).

    Finally, it's interesting to note that despite its awful retention ratio, in absolute terms VP is still getting more readers making it to chapter 2 on a monthly basis. There's no substitute for actively updating.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
  2. Download

    Download Auror ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Aug 6, 2014
    Adelaide, Australia
    High Score:
    What's long term retention like?

    The only long story I'm working on with plenty of published chapters right now has 2,137 views for chapter 1, 701 views for chapter 2, and 161 views for chapter 10. This seems pretty bad to me, but I don't have much to compare it to.
  3. Skeletaure

    Skeletaure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Mar 5, 2006
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    Long term retention is difficult to measure. I think the legacy user stats page is useless for it because there's a lot of weird inconsistencies in it. For example, chapter 24 has almost double the views of chapter 23.

    So I think you have to use the month-by-month visitor stats contained in the new Story Stats pages. But that's also less than ideal because of its monthly nature - the month in which a particular chapter was published will contain a lot more hits for that specific chapter.

    Even if I pick a month where I didn't update the fic, there's still a lot of difficulty: the most recent chapters have higher counts than the chapters preceding them, showing that people are still reading the latest update, and there are plenty of points where visitors goes down then up again.

    With all that said, for July 2020, the VP figures were as follows:

    Chapter 1: 1,903
    Chapter 2: 395
    Chapter 23: 218

    (I am excluding chapter 24, which had 977 visitors.)

    So to put that in percentage terms, chapter 2 retains 20% of chapter 1 readers (in line with my OP), and around 55% of readers who make it to chapter 2 continue all the way to the end.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
  4. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Professor

    Dec 21, 2011
    Let's see. On my most popular story I have:

    Chapter 1 - 38,692
    Chapter 2 - 13,981
    Chapter 3 - 8,957
    Chapter 4 -10,803

    So 36%.
  5. Heather_Sinclair

    Heather_Sinclair Chief Warlock

    Jan 19, 2008
    The Eighth Circle of Hell
    Something to keep in mind. Some people don't use the alert system for whatever reason, (i know the ones I have are crappy) so they bookmark your story somewhere along the line and check on it later for updates.

    The only way I could see this working is by being very consistent about updating and then do your figures from there, so long term would actually be a better way to judge. Letting them know up front that you'll be updating once a week, month, whatever, would make it work moreso.
  6. Nexis

    Nexis Third Year

    May 20, 2017
    High Score:
    For my only multi-chapter story (Draco Malfoy meets a Dark Lord):

    - chapter 1: 5,268 visitors
    - chapter 2: 2,283 visitors

    So 43%, but the 2nd chapter was uploaded a year after the 1st one, so that's something to consider.

    For the month of July:
    - chapter 1: 657 visitors
    - chapter 2: 388 visitors

    So 59% in that month, other months seem to be similar.
  7. Lindsey

    Lindsey Chief Warlock DLP Supporter

    Dec 1, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    One question is, does it count you twice if you visit a chapter twice?

    Like, whenever you click on a fanfic link, it will take you to chapter 1. This could really screw up results if it's not looking at unique users. Even then, if you are on your phone, then computer, than laptop, all can give a sense of lower retention.
  8. darklordmike

    darklordmike Headmaster

    Mar 14, 2009
    This is why I pay more attention to total hits than visitors. It's just not clear how they're counting visitors, and and I don't think FFN is putting resources into ensuring their stats are accurate.

    Plus, I've read elsewhere (and I don't know how true it is) that search engines can 'ping' the first chapter of a fic somehow and generate a hit. If that's the case, first chapter numbers won't be accurate at all.
  9. OOC

    OOC Muggle

    Jul 19, 2020
    I had been wondering this for a while. Didn't even know about the Legacy Page.

    Old Blood

    Chapter 1 views (Legacy): 27,723
    Chapter 2 views (Legacy): 7,452
    Chapter 14 views (Legacy): 4,568
    Chapter 15 views (Legacy): 1,540

    By this, Old Blood has a retention of roughly 27% readers to the second chapter, but only 16% as of the 14th (before I took a year-long break). And a depressing 5% after the break.

    Chapter 1 views July 2020: 1,761
    Chapter 2 views July 2020: 540
    Chapter 14 views July 2020: 481

    For the update in July (Ch 15), 30% of the readers continued on to read the second chapter. This ratio might be misleading though since probably some of the old readers might have clicked on the story title before advancing to the newest chapter through the dropdown. 89% of what imagine are new readers read it to the end.

    While I agree that an active update schedule is good for the final retention rate, I really have no clues to raising the retention rate from the first chapters to the second. Readers are fickle and sometimes just want to read something that appeals personally to them. I imagine the ratio for the people who pick up a book from the shelf to those who actually buy it is much, much worse.
  10. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

    Dec 12, 2009
    A Portage to the Unknown (my published SW/HP cross, not my good one). Story in a fandom with an extremely low bar, also incomplete with 6 chapters.
    Chapter 1 views = 34,593
    Chapter 2 views = 17,337
    Chapter 6 views = 22,791

    Bonfires at Midnight (7 chapters, "complete")
    Chapter 1 views = 39,021
    Chapter 2 views = 17,688
    Chapter 7 views = 20,776
    Chapter 6 views (lowest) = 11,407

    Harbinger of Blood. vampire!Harry story with a popular pairing, incomplete, 11 chapters.
    Chapter 1 = 62,500
    Chapter 2 = 29,698
    Chapter 11 = 26,756
    Chapter 9 (lowest) = 15,401

    Euphoria (my best fic). Complete, popular pairing, shitty summary, 23 chapter
    Chapter 1 = 104,120
    Chapter 2 = 37,793
    Chapter 23 = 25,137
    Chapter 21 (lowest) = 15,031

    Harry Potter and the Unexpected Changes. My most viewed fic (2.2m). Popular pairing, complete, also terrible.
    Chapter 1 = 368,355
    Chapter 2 = 202,552
    Chapter 16 = 101,469
    Chapter 14 (lowest)= 78,604

    I've got a fair amount of stories posted, and all my multichapter stories are over 100k views which perhaps makes me a bit of an outlier. But there is an obvious pattern here. The chapter before the penultimate chapter is almost always the lowest view count. And these were just the first 5 stories I picked, because I thought they would show a good spread. Upon further investigation, I only had one other story that didn't follow this, where the low point was the 4th to last chapter instead of the 3rd. It was also mostly true that a lot of the final chapters have a surge, and that's likely due to people reading the first chapter, and then reading the last to see if it gets any good. Same thing whether the story is completed or not. The final chapter is always more viewed then the previous few, but not necessarily more viewed than chapters 2,3, or even 4 (as in the case with Euphoria). With Unexpected Changes, the final chapter is actually the 9th most viewed chapter, kinda weird. I guess the story is just so bad that not nearly as many people cared to see what the ending was.
  11. Microwave

    Microwave Professor

    Oct 21, 2017
    I feel like the pageviews on the first chapter have more to do with the people who click on the story and click out without reading it than the people who read the first chapter and don't read the following ones.
  12. Steelbadger

    Steelbadger Death Eater

    Nov 9, 2013
    United Kingdom
    It's pretty hard to make anything much out of the stats FFN provides. Much though I have tried.

    There's a lot of things gumming it up, and not many ways to control for them (that I've been able to think of, anyway). First chapter retention is something I'd definitely love to be able to work out, but just taking the plain numbers doesn't seem to be all that informative.

    the numbers that follow are legacy views, with last month's per-chapter visitors in brackets.

    Consider my oldest story (incomplete): Harry Potter and the Sun Queen.
    Chapter 1: 59,098 (378)
    Chapter 2: 26,710 (183)
    Chapter 6: 19,215 (113)
    Chapter 7: 23,120 (155)

    So, over the lifetime of the story, nearly 4000 people more have read the final chapter than the penultimate chapter. That's a 20% increase, which I struggle to explain. My guess is that those are a mix of old readers coming in to check if there's been an update, and new readers who skipped to the end to check if the story was actually complete (despite being labelled 'in progress').

    Its first chapter retention is, supposedly, 45%, and is probably buoyed up by the fact that the story doesn't see all that much 'footfall'. It's rare that it gets linked. That said, there's still apparently a group of people who don't tend to follow, and instead simply bookmark the story, and check it out every now and then, probably bloating the first and last chapter.

    If I look at just last month's stats, I end up with similar proportions (a 48% retention, 38% uptick on final chapter).

    So, what about an old complete fic: The Power He Knows Not.
    Chapter 1: 211,896 (1,982)
    Chapter 2: 109,727 (1,078)
    Chapter 10: 50,221 (449)
    Chapter 11: 63,720 (674)

    A nearly 52% first-chapter retention on whole-life views, and a 54% retention just last month. Hard to say why. Despite the fact that it's complete, however, it still manages a 27% uptick (or 50% in last-month visitors). Why would that be? It's complete. There's really no need to check up on the last chapter. I guess there are still 'bookmarked last chapter' people coming back for a re-read? Or maybe it's people checking the end of the story before they give it a go?

    What happens if the story is popular and updating(ish), though: The Shadow of Angmar.
    Chapter 1: 538,472 (15,580)
    Chapter 2: 137,241 (2,918)
    Chapter 29: 26,518 (5,369)
    Chapter 30: 28,738 (22,285)

    The last chapters' views of this one are pretty meaningless really because of the long hiatus followed by more regular updates.

    Really, though, all we can pull from this is that the retention rate is seemingly abysmal (just 25% in views, and a shocking 19% in visitors). The views for the final chapters are out-of-whack because that was the month 30 was posted, and at this point it looks like people are reading chapters as posted rather than sitting and binging the whole thing.

    This got me wondering. How does being an actively updating fic impact your 'retention' rate?

    I went back to The Power He Knows Not, but wound the clock back to February 2015.
    Chapter 1: 27,646 (20,474)
    Chapter 2: 10,542 (8,856)

    For a retention rate of 38% (43%).

    Well, I guess it's official. The Power He Knows Not is my greatest work. I guess I can retire.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
  13. MonkeyEpoxy

    MonkeyEpoxy Master of Death DLP Supporter

    Aug 11, 2011
    The unnamed crowd, "hEy PlEaSe CoNtInUe ThE sUn QuEeN"

    meanwhile me, yes please.

    Also, to counter the asskissing with some possible data, I have one story with 2 chapters. It started as a mind arts based story where Harry would eventually absorb the power of the sun, purity via legilimency from a sort of legacy Voldemort who defiled a runestone carved in the heart of the Chamber of Secrets with the aspect of Sobek, an ancient wizard whose charms protects river fishermen from beasts to this day, god of protection of the teeth of the Nile, carved by Salazar Slytherin after sacrificing the blood of his to-come progeny in order to usurp the powers of rebirth and life from an ancient egyptian wizard named Osiris, creator of the horcrux, who had created and perverted the transfiguration of the soul that the ancient pharaoh Hor-aha learned at the breast of Amun in order to protect his people. Unfortunately, all egyptians could be considered his people. Also I hadn't and haven't the dizziest daydream of how to keep on the story. I literally had two things in my mind when I wrote Cattle of Ra... an early occlumency/legilimency introduction to Harry Potter (after the climax of book 2) and pervasive ancient Egyptian mythology whereby their gods were wizards and/or witches playing with time. And those two things didn't anywhere remotely close to a story make. RIP

    Views, legacy

    Chapter 1 - 5,603 views
    Chapter 2 - 4,046 views

    Views, current

    Chapter 1 - 16
    Chapter 2 - 8


    And my goofy ass one-shot that was spawned here from a fanfic fight thread. HK-47 vs Dobby

    Chapter 1 - 2661 views

    and since the legacy update:

    Chapter 1 - 24 views lol

    Also, @Anarchy hurry up and finish "A Portage..." or grow a monumental set of balls and try and turn "HP And The Root of All Evil" into the legend it can be.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020