For anyone who’s been an avid reader for as long or longer than I have (which isn’t hard since I’m only 24), you’ll know that the world of stories and books has completely changed. Gone are the days of library cards or crossing your fingers that Barnes and Noble has that book you’ve been dying for. Instead, with the click of a button or the tap of a finger on a touchscreen, readers have access to every book they could have ever hoped for without even leaving their house.
Because of this, writers have had to change their ways as well.
Ever since I decided I enjoyed writing fiction, which was around age 13, I started looking at websites where I could post my stuff for free. It was very uncharacteristic of me since I was an insanely shy teenager, but something about the anonymity of being behind a screen gave me the confidence I needed.
I started on Buzzle, moved to Booksie, and then finally settled in on Wattpad.
Wattpad’s a site where anyone can upload anything they’ve written, ranging from Fan Fiction to full-fledged novels. Most users there post a new chapter to their stories about once a week, making it almost like a weekly television series. From there, other users can vote, comment, and become a fan to receive email updates. It’s a very, very social site, and with millions of users, it’s no wonder quite a few of the novels initially posted there have gone on to be published in the more serious, make-some-money kind of way.
That’s what happened to me!
So anyway, after spending six years on the site and posting to it four completed novels, I’ve decided to list out my pros & cons for using Wattpad and other sites like it.
Pro: Free Stories
What’s not to love about that? And reading all the stories may give you inspo for your next book.
Con: Lack of Originality
The books that do well on there usually fall into categories: Bad boys, werewolves, and CEO’s.
Pro: Critique Chapter by Chapter.
And by critique, I mean helpful comments. Instead of getting one final review at the end of the book, writers here are able to see what people liked and didn’t like sentence by sentence.
Con: It’s the Internet. There Will be Trolls.
Not all the comments will be helpful. And that’s putting it lightly.
Pro: Prepares You for Real Publishing
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the last pro. I know when I first started out, I despised people calling me out on my mistakes. But in the real life world of publishing, a manuscript you gave your life and soul to for two years will be torn apart and nitpicked by editors and beta readers. The comments can be a good preparation for getting used to this.
Con: But Could Give You False Hope
Having a book do incredibly well on Wattpad (millions of reads/comments/votes) doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fit for real publishing. Like I mentioned before, the vast majority of popular novels fall into a slim range of categories. And while some of those stories are absolutely incredible, some just ride the wave of the genre and not much else. So just because it’s loved by Wattpad users doesn’t mean it’ll be loved by publishers.
A really big problem for published writers is being stuck in a rut. No one’s going to read your first chapter, love it, and then cheer you on to keep going. That’s not the case for posting online, though. Having just one reader love your story and leave comments on every chapter can give you the motivation you need to finish the entire story.
Con: Negative Motivation
But on the other hand, one particularly mean comment may make you want to stop. Or having no comments at all. This is where you just have to trust in your ability and in your story, and wait for the readers to come. It took about a year for my first full novel to gain attention, and now it’s at nearly 2 million reads. It just takes time and patience.
Pro: You’ll Make Friends
When I was younger and posting to these sites, I was a shy and awkward teenager who was embarrassed of my writing. I didn’t tell anyone in my real life about it. And what’s so great about these websites is that they’re filled with people just like you who love the same thing you do.
Pro: It’s Fun
You get to make your own book covers, upload character pictures, and interact with people who love your writing. And not only that, but you’ll even have people sending you fan art. It turns books and stories into so much more than just that, and it’s incredibly fun.
So while there are some drawbacks of posting your work for free online, in my opinion, the benefits definitely outweigh them. It’s fun, it furthers your love for both reading and writing, and can help you grow and refine your skill. It’s so, so helpful, and as long as you don’t take the negatives too seriously, I believe it’s worth the try.
What about you guys? Have any of you ever posted online? What’d you think about it? Would you do it again?
Let me know!!