The current incarnation of the Independence Day series made its debut as a webseries on July 4, 2009. The first two books, then referred to as the first two arcs, were released to the website from 2009-2010, with one chapter traditionally being published every other Wednesday. On the Wednesdays in between, I would publish Insights from the Author on the Facebook fan page, with a closer look at the current chapter.
The pink site:
When we made our debut on Independence Day, 2009, the site was an evocative pink hue, something I felt was very fitting for the time period that the series was set in. Photos were sparse on the front page, instead focusing on story information, to draw any potential readers in. The site was in an iframe style, with an image map acting as navigation on the left side. This was considered cumbersome by at least one webfiction directory, who agreed to list me only on the condition that they link to chapter one directly, bypassing the iframe. I personally felt that this kind of defeated the purpose of navigation in the first place, but I wanted to get listed, so I went along with it.
The pink site was online from the premiere to late 2010, when I redesigned for our first anniversary.
Betcha didn't know: Originally, the main image on the homepage was that of Marnie, but within a week of our premiere, people had already started voicing their distress over seeing the image of beautiful Sharon Tate front and center on a site that talks about murder and mayhem. It was hardly my intention to upset anyone, and I acted accordingly, slapping Terri up there instead.
The gray site:
In late 2010, I unveiled the gray site, for our final few months as a webseries. This redesign took a while, and I never was quite happy with the navigation, but I did feel that the subdued grays suited the series a little better than the pinks of the first year. Also, by breaking out of the iframe, I made navigation easier, though that directory never did change my damn link. Redesigned were the characters page, the chapters page, the home page and pretty much everything in between.
The gray site was online from late 2010 (maybe November, but I'm not sure) until I made the decision to pull the website for the transition to book series in mid-2011.
Betcha didn't know: This sucker was a bitch to code, and I was ambitious enough to try to do it myself. As I've stated, I was never 100% satisfied with the result, especially when it came to that dropdown menu, but I've kept a copy of both sites on my computer ever since, and this is the one I pull up when I want to remember our humble beginnings - and the one I tried to emulate here.
During its time online, ID was affiliated with the Absolute Productions Network, later to become the Online Series Network. We were the recipient of five 2010 APN Awards, and remained affiliated with the network throughout the webseries era.
We also listed at directories for webfiction, such as epiguide.com (my preferred hub), webfictionguide.com and muses-success.info (where we stayed number two on their "most popular fiction" list until I pulled the site).
Webseries exclusives, not added to the books:
For the webseries version of ID, I put a lot of time into making the site and story interactive. Included on the website (and sadly not included in the ebooks version of the series) were the following features:
- Detailed character biographies. These did end up in the Kindle release of the book, but since many complained about them, they were subsequently removed. Live and learn, I suppose.
- A comprehensive trivia page, containing information about the series, its origins and the regrettable ID, Version 1.0.
- Score charts, (the modified version for the books is seen to the right) which illustrated the victims and suspects of each book (then known as arcs). The victim's ties to the community were examined, as were each character's possible motives for wanting them dead. It was a very popular feature, one I wish I could somehow incorporate into the books, but I can't think of a way to do it.
- The history of Haven Park, Wyoming, which I did incorporate at the end of the Kindle edition of the book.
- Interviews with the author, conducted by both webseries legend and epiguide.com administrator Kira Lerner, and fellow writer and big ID fan, J. Danielle Tauscher.
- A birthday week showcase, with features about our first year, including a timeline of ID's growth from 1997-present.
- Insights from the Author, which posted bi-weekly on the Facebook page, offering readers a closer look at the current chapter.
The decision to branch out:
It all started on Christmas Eve, 2010. I had been trying to establish myself within the webseries community for over a year, and it was hurtful that I could never quite find a place. The final straw came when I found a list that a fellow webseries writer compiled of pretty much every webseries that had ever been done. Ever. The damn list was at least 4 pages long...and I was not on it. It felt like a slap in the face. Many of my friends tried to convince me it was a mere oversight, but given that the person that compiled the list knew quite well who I was, I was not prone to believe that. That started the notion to back away from the webseries genre, but it would be another few months before I would actually make the break.
I compiled the first two arcs, which had been steadily published to the website since ID's web premiere, into ebooks and made the decision to remove my website and re-market the series as ebook only.