Launching my seven book series as a web novel on Royal Road dispelled ideas about earning a living as a writer. I made it to their Rising Stars algorithm but realized that gaming the algorithm is how to find success in the web novel space. It’s not about writing good characters or stories. Gaming the system involves copycatting the latest trend, launching into action in paragraph one, and embracing novelty no matter how nonsensical.

For instance, in a typical web novel, the characters dies on page one and reincarnates as a seal, or butterfly, or generic dungeon. Somehow, gods get involved in a convoluted backstory, and, of course, the story unfolds inexplicably through the lens of a computer game, filled with stats, progression systems, childish villains, and throw-away stories leading to action-action-action.

It’s left me disillusioned of the audience. One post on Reddit/litrpg asked recommendations for a series that doesn’t spend time in plot or characters but delves into pure action, and the other fans in the forum answered as if were a reasonable question.

I’m serving a four-course meal in a candy store. Web novel readers want a quick fix, and other authors say I’ll do much better on Amazon where sugar rushes don’t perform as well. By Royal Road standards, the launch was very successful for a new author, even if the audience categorizes The Book of Dungeons as a slow-burn, slice-of-life, VRMMORPG—all unpopular genres on

Despite losing the overall popularity contest, my feedback has been critically helpful in identifying typos, plot holes, and character inconsistencies. These improvement have made my soft-launch a rousing success. I’m releasing chapters as fast as possible to polish my series ready for Amazon and audiobooks. This means editing 6-8,000 words a day while also incorporating feedback into released chapters. It’s an exhausting pace, leaving me no time to socialize whatsoever.

Other feedback tells me more about the readers than the series. Some rage-quit over basic concepts like friendship, morality, or subtext. One reader couldn’t believe why my main character doesn’t kill his friends and take their loot, because that’s obviously the way to be.

Cheddar surveys his new cat toys.

Playing Second Fiddle to a Feline

A documentary crew interviewed me about computer games. They showed up in my living room and we spoke for a couple of hours over an iPad using Zoom. Cheddar ruined many of our shots, rubbing against cameras, playing with cords, and jumping on my lap throughout the process. He wanted attention. As always, he got his way, and became a part of the process. They captured shots of him to explain the frequent meows, scratching, and surprise appearances. I had to repeat takes so often that answering questions felt unnatural. I’ll be amazed if they got a minute’s worth of footage.

The documentary also interviewed Mike Morhaime, Allen Adham, and Shane Dabiri, so I felt honored to be included. I went to Houston last year do to film another interview, but haven’t heard anything about the series since, so it’s anyone’s guess to its airdate. I’m told it’ll be on The History Channel around December of 2024, but those are guesses.