So there are usually pros and cons of both, especially as an up and coming writer.
Reads don’t count (as far as retention goes) until after deadline. That means that if you publish too early, and get a lot of reads before deadline, but barely anyone reads after, you’ve shot yourself in the foot.
However, retention doesn’t get measured until you hit 100 reads. So publishing well before deadline gives you a better chance of hitting 100 reads sooner. Also, readers that are just looking for contest stories (not specific ones) tend to read stories with more reads than with very few reads. It’s the same reason why stories with millions of reads keep growing. The perception is that more reads = better story (which definitely isn’t always the case.)
The caveat of all this is unlike other contests, this one next one requires 8 published Episodes. That means all the usual norms are thrown out the window. I would publish 4-5 chapters well before deadline, if you can, and then publish the final 2-3 after deadline (I say 2-3 because Episode readers get 4 passes every 4 hours. I want to read as many stories as I can in one setting. 2-3 gives a bigger possibility of readers who read the already published chapters to read the final ones in one setting.)
I guess I already answered this one in the previous.
It depends on the gem choices. As far as contest entries, I would steer away from gem choices that many readers might find unappealing (of course I try to do that in general anyways). You definitely don’t NEED to add gem choices, but it will help boost your rank and make it easier to be seen once your story passes review. If you add gem choices, I would recommend “support the author” “buying points” and “skipping mini games and getting points”. Don’t use gem choices for customization, outfits, and it’s a 50/50 on bonus scenes.
I made a whole post on my IG page about tips on winning contests. Granted, I made the post before I won the Fairytale Contest, but I used those tools in the Fairytale Contest and won Best Directing.
The link to the post is here: