Writing Wednesdays: Why you should be publishing your novel online

Are you publishing your novel online yet? In this post, I talk about why you should be.

My regular readers will know this, but for those of you who don’t: I started my writing career online. My novel The Kissing Booth (soon to be a Netflix Original movie!) was originally on Wattpad, accumulating over 19 million reads and winning a Watty award for Most Popular Teen Fiction. Not half bad, right?

You can read more about how I got published here

I’m planning a couple of posts in the next few weeks around publishing online, but this week’s post is going to answer the most obvious question:

Why should you be publishing your novel online? 

(Uh, for so many good reasons that I’m slightly worried how long this post is going to turn out to be…) 

I’m going to just go ahead and say the primary reason is the support.

Honestly, I’ve never known an online community as vibrant, welcoming and friendly as the writing community. Between fanfic, self-publishing, Twitter chats, and NaNoWriMo, you’ll find somewhere you feel comfortable. Places like Wattpad are packed full of eager readers and other writers who’ll encourage you, support you, and share your writing woes.

I’ve written before about this, but sharing your work online also helps motivate you to finish what you’re working on.

You might also like this post for advice on not giving up on your book.

When people are reading your book and are invested in it, you kind of feel a sense of duty to keep giving them the book you’re writing. And besides that – when you see people reading and responding to your work, it makes you believe in it (and your own writing ability) a lot more. That can go a long way, believe me.

I thought my writing was utter crap – I just did it because I liked it. I was shocked when anybody read it on Wattpad, said they couldn’t wait for the next chapter. At some point, it made me sit back and think, ‘Hey, maybe I’m kind of good at this.’ (I still doubt myself and my writing, but remembering how much people loved my work on Wattpad gives me a massive boost.)

I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to build up your confidence as a writer. You don’t need thousands of regular readers to feel important – even just a handful of people commenting and reading will start to mean the world to you. That’s where I started, and without them, I probably would’ve quit posting online pretty early on.

There’s also the constructive criticism. 

If you ask for it, you’ll probably get it (sometimes you feel a little mean giving someone helpful feedback if they haven’t asked for it, so invite it). An objective opinion can be crazy helpful – whether it’s a comment on how your pace is too slow, or just that you should use spellcheck.

Ooh, and speaking of objective opinions, that reminds me of my other favourite thing about publishing online: it’s as anonymous as you want to be. A huge bonus if you’re nervous about sharing your work. If you want to share your work with your friends, then that’s totally cool (and you’re way braver than I am – I still hate when people I know read my books). 

What really appealed to me about Wattpad was that I could be completely anonymous. If people commented that they liked my book, they weren’t saying it because they were my friend and wanted to be nice to me; I knew they really meant it. (Not that your friends don’t mean it. I’m just sharing my thoughts on it.)

So we’ve got the community of other awesome writers, and the motivation your readers give you…

You might also like this post on traditional publishing, or this post on the pros and cons of posting your work online.

And for your next question: sure, online publishing can help you get traditionally published. I was found by Random House on Wattpad, and I know it’s happened to other writers too. There are competitions on some platforms, plus Wattpad has its Wattpad Stars program which helps certain writers (the Stars) get paid for their writing. I mean, sure, yes, of course it doesn’t happen to every writer online. 

But who’s to say you’re not going to be one of the few who does ‘make it’? 

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