I am deciding on a writing platform that will accomplish two things: build an audience and create interaction with other writers.
I will be recording here my path in the hopes that it may benefit others who are both beginning their craft and/or want successful marketing of the finished project.
I have a self-published book on Amazon, Challenge the Way You Parent: Strategies That Work With Difficult Kids, that I wrote and published in 2015, then edited and republished last year for the express reason of establishing my ability to complete a non-fiction book, handling all aspects of self-publishing from the cover design to formatting. It’s not sour grapes for me to state I had no hopes it would sell. It is a first attempt, and it hasn’t, and I stand by the original plan. It accomplished for me what I intended.
We’ve all known, and likely at various times, been, the writer who never finishes anything. It’s a scary world out there. Internet trolls, the looks of barely-disguised pity our friends and family may give us, it’s daunting even to apply the blood, sweat, and tears involved in writing the damn thing, never mind tossing it out into the public arena. Writing has been described as giving birth; publishing is like abandoning your newborn in a large mall in a sketchy neighborhood.
So, whenever someone who writes but never lets the world see their creations criticizes self-publishing, I lose interest in any of their opinions. They have no idea how hard it is and have never had the cojones to do it themselves.
That said, this and the following blogs are for the brave ones, the writers who create with the dream someday someone other than their mother or their writing group will read their work.
Beyond that, the next goal would be to pay the public to read your work. In my last post, I briefly discussed the target audience. In choosing an online writing platform, that consideration has moved up in priority. The following are two platforms I am currently exploring, and a few of their pros and cons in relation to my own ongoing experiences. In future blogs, I will list more pros and cons of these two platforms and their success or failure in providing what I need.
Wattpad is a free popular online platform currently home to a community of over 90 million people. Readers and writers share stories, poems, and other forms of creative writing. The following are my pros and cons of using Wattpad as a newbie to the platform.
Wattpad launched in 2006 and had a surge in 2020. Searches are up 188% in 10 years. The website and app are built around a social community of storytelling. Authors post their stories. Then users read the stories they like and provide feedback.
It is user-friendly on desktop and mobile for editing work and designing a cover.
Wattpad is free to use.
Some users may find it difficult to stand out among the thousands of stories on Wattpad. Additionally, I have found that for my paranormal niche, Wattpad seems to be more popular for a combination of paranormal and romance, which I have no interest in writing.
Explodingtopics.com states: “More than 90 million people use the platform to read and write, spending over 23 billion minutes monthly engaged in different stories. 90% of these users are aged 13-40 years old, and many of the writers are older teens or young adults.”
Several days ago a serial entry I had made the day before displayed the date of December 31, 1969. I was ten years old at that time; a widespread glitch that Wattpad users on various online forums have lately noted. The question is, is this indicative of future issues?
“Substack helps anyone set up a blog and email newsletter. No tech knowledge is required. Without ads and algorithms to get in the way, you can sustain a direct relationship with your readers and retain full control over your creative work.”
Substack is free to start. If you turn on paid subscriptions, Substack will keep a 10% cut of revenues for operating costs.
When it comes to growing your audience, new free subscribers make up about 40%, and 12% are paid subscriptions as readers already within the network. This means you are going to where the audience already is, not struggling to bring outside readers to a website or blog.
Not only can you import your email lists and published posts from another site, but you also own your email list and can take it with you when you move up to another platform. That alone is huge.
At this point, I’m seeing few drawbacks in Substack, but according to a reviewer of their services, “Substack lacks advanced features like automated campaigns and customizable landing pages”. This could be an issue farther down the line.
I will be transferring my serialized work to Substack and will keep you updated on the results.