I got into a discussion recently about a webcomic that had been put on what seemed to be an unintentional hiatus for a few years. The comic had been going along for a while and suddenly stopped mid-story. This isn’t terribly unusual in and of itself, even if it’s not ideal. As I’ve noted before, most creators have to do something else besides their webcomic to earn the majority of their income. It’s unfortunate, and I wish there were a way I could change that, but it’s the reality of the situation.
In any event, the author left a post some time after the comic had stopped updating, in which he apologized for the delay and noted that any status updates could be found over at the comic’s Facebook page. Sure enough, he was keeping the Facebook page relatively active with character sketches, and the odd announcement or two. The latest was from the last week in December in which he said that the story had gotten picked up by a small-time publisher and would see print sometime in 2017.
The question that then came up in my discussion was: would he continue updating the webcomic as he had before (since clearly all the artwork would have to be done for this book) and use the webcomic as a lead-in to the book’s release if that didn’t come until late in the year, or would he only post the first chapter or two as a teaser? But there was another possibility that I brought up, one that I think works reasonably well, but I haven’t seen it in practice very often.
The possibility is to continue to release the webcomic on a regular schedule, but have the book launch before the online story is complete. However, instead of just leaving it as a teaser, like I suggested above, still continue publishing the webcomic as normal, extending well past the book’s launch. The thinking is that posting the webcomic allows readers to still get the story for free, but if someone is really eager about it, they can spend a little money to get the entire story much faster.
I’ve only seen a few comic creators try this, but it’s a model that’s used with some frequency in games. The game is free to play, but for faster leveling up or completing missions sooner, the player can spend some money to avoid long waiting periods. The idea in webcomics is the same—you can read for free if you’re willing to wait for the slow drip of pages over the next weeks and months, or you can pay to read the whole thing now in one sitting.
That seems to me an option some people would be willing to pay for; why it’s not used more often, I don’t know. Why don’t you suggest it to your favorite creators and see if they’d be interested?