As wonderful and creatively fulfilling as writing is, it can also be a very lonely process. Most jobs involve an office full of potential pals—and even if you’re not friends with your coworkers, there are still other people around, period. Writing is even more isolating than other solitary endeavors like painting or baking, since a friend is likely to be a lot more willing to look at a picture or eat a muffin than to read a whole book.
My interest in writing sparked around the age of twelve. But as someone who was used to the community of performing in plays (as I had done from a young age), I didn’t like the idea of tackling a whole creative project on my own without any support or feedback.
Luckily, I didn’t have to! I started out posting Harry Potter fan fiction on FanFiction.net, and later graduated to posting an original story on FanFiction.net’s sister site, FictionPress.com. Instead of toiling alone, I got regular reviews of each chapter from readers and fellow writers who offered the support and feedback I was craving.
FictionPress sadly isn’t as active now as it was two decades ago, but there are still plenty of self-publishing platforms online where writers can find a sense of community. And in some cases you might catch the eye of a major publisher, or even be able to start earning money right away on your story as you write.
Royal Road is a self-publishing platform not unlike FictionPress where you can post stories, gain followers, and receive comments and reviews. Getting started self-publishing is as easy as creating an account and clicking “Write” on the upper right. Here you can add a new story, choosing your genres and tags and filling in the title and content of the first chapter.
If you click “Read” on the upper right, you can also read stories by other authors. When you’re just starting out, it’s good to read a few highly rated stories to get an idea of the flow and format. Plus it’s always fun to read a great story, and make connections with other writers. Readers are able to both comment on each chapter and review the work overall. This feedback is invaluable to an author, and the interactions between readers in the comments really help to foster a sense of community.
Another great perk of Royal Road is that you have the option to link to your Patreon at the bottom of each chapter, where fans of your work can donate. Some authors earn hundreds of dollars a month this way.
Fictionate.Me is another site where you can post your work in progress and receive feedback as you go. All you need to do is create an account, click your account icon in the upper right corner, and select “My Books” from the dropdown menu. Then you’ll be all set to start entering your book’s information and uploading your book.
On each book’s page, you are able to read the book right there on your browser on an aesthetically pleasing online reader. Each reader has the option to both “like” a book by clicking the heart on its page, and to comment. A huge advantage of posting on Fictionate.Me is the fact that you can start earning money on your work right away. You can set your book’s price and post chapters as you write them. It’s up to you how many chapters you want to offer for free, and how many your readers will have to buy the book in order to see.
Fictionate.Me is also great about promoting books on social media, which is helpful when it comes to both gaining readers and fostering community. There’s a blog on the site as well that offers plenty of book recommendations and writing advice.
Wattpad is an extremely popular site for self-publishing online. While most writers don’t actually earn money directly from the site, many have gained enough exposure there to land book and film deals. All you need to do to get started is create an account, click “Write” on the upper right, and select “Create a new story” from the dropdown menu. Then you can get right down to entering your story’s information, adding or creating your cover, and posting your first chapter.
One unique quality of Wattpad is that readers can not only comment on each chapter, but they can actually leave feedback on each and every paragraph. Getting to know what’s going through a reader’s mind on this level is invaluable. It will also warm your heart to see readers palling around with one another in the comments. Readers can comment at the bottom of each chapter as well, and upvote their favorite stories.
Wattpad may not be the best place to self-publish if you’re looking to make money off your story right away. But what you definitely will find is a thriving community of writers and readers. Wattpad’s social media accounts are also very popular and regularly post engaging questions like, “If the last Wattpad story you read had a theme song, what would it be?”
Critique Circle is less of a place to self-publish your work, and more of a community to help you on your way to the finish line. The name describes the site well—it is a space where writers give and receive feedback in order to learn from one another. Critique Circle has a credit system where you gain credits for writing critiques, and then you can spend them in order to submit your own work. This creates a real sense of give-and-take amongst the site’s writers.
After you create your account, go to “Stories” on the upper left and select “View Stories” from the dropdown menu. Next, select a story that is up for review. On the story’s page, click “WRITE A CRITIQUE” on the right. On the critique page. you can write opening and closing comments, as well as any comments you like throughout the text (if you’ve ever done Track Changes in Microsoft Word, it’s similar to that). Then you review, submit, and earn credits! Once you have at least three credits, you can start submitting your own stories for feedback.
The site also has forums where writers discuss everything from indie publishing to research to brainstorming. There are forums dedicated to specific genres like Mystery and Suspense and Science Fiction and Fantasy as well. While it’s not the same as publishing your work for a large audience, Critique Circle is a really great place to get used to sharing your work with others. It will also help you to improve your writing and make more writerly pals.
Author’s Bio: Jillian Karger was born in Ohio but has lived in and around New York City for over a decade. Since graduating from NYU in 2009, Jill has had a long string of jobs doing things like scouting books to be adapted for film and researching trivia questions for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.
She has done freelance writing as well for sites like Cracked.com, and had her Twitter jokes featured on BuzzFeed and funnyordie.com. Jill has also self-published two novels on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Jillian-Karger/e/B07B894DNW).
Follow her blog posts about books and writing advice, read books and publish them for free at: https://www.fictionate.me.