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I recently read a very silly argument on a writing platform I use. I’m not going to link back to it, but it did get me thinking about the misconceptions writers have of writing platforms.

The gist of the argument was that authors should be paid to publish their work on a free (or almost free) writing platform.

Silly. The only time an author gets paid is when they submit their work to a journal/magazine/publishing house. And sometimes those publishers don’t pay either…

So what’s the point?

  • Exposure.
  • Getting your name out there.
  • Building your brand.
  • Name recognition.
  • Garnering fans across platforms.

I guess there are several points to submitting to journals and magazines, guest blogging and using writing platforms. And I didn’t even mention all the practice you get at writing beautifully… though, I did do an entire post about why writing platforms are good for your writing.

The silliest part of the other writer’s argument about wanting to get paid wasn’t even mentioned: there’s no gatekeeper for publishing on a writing platform. Meaning, you can publish just what you like and how you like it. (Though, if the platform has rules about profanity and blasphemy you’d better adhere or they’ll remove your work.)

I get that at a certain point in your writing career you’d like to be paid for your work, but don’t expect writing platforms (where readers read for free) to magically have the money to do so.

So how to get paid for your work:

  • Send your work to magazines/journals.
  • If you write poetry, select your best (unpublished) ones and publish an anthology. If traditional publishers don’t want it, self-publish.
  • If you write flash fiction/short stories, select your best (unpublished) ones and send it off to an agent/publisher. Again, if no-one’s interested (as in more than 100 rejections), send it to a structural editor and then self-publish.
  • If you write novels… Well, you know then the hours that go into writing, rewriting, editing, submitting to agents, crying over rejections, editing, submitting, the whole cycle over and over again until you finally succeed.

And for those who still think that all the work they put into their writing platforms must equate money… If your story is published online – no matter the platform – it is considered published and most (if not all) magazines, journals and publishers won’t accept it for publication. (Though, there are a few agents and editors who don’t consider Wattpad as “being published” and find new clients there. Check out the success stories.)

Please don’t cry/scream/throw your computer.

Think about it from a reader’s perspective: if you’ve already read the Great Adventures of Amy Ant for free on Amy’s blog, why would you pay a lot of money to read it in a different format (ebook/paperback/interactive whatever)? (Though, check out this article on Writer’s Digest for a peek into the future…)

If you self-publish, though, you can rewrite the Great Adventures of Amy Ant to add missing pieces and remove redundant chapters before publishing. Publishing your first draft as you go doesn’t have to end in disaster. That book might even become a bestseller. Especially if you already have a loyal following…

But where do you get your loyal followers?

A lot of the time I’ll meet someone on one platform and interact with them on several others too. Blindly following someone on a social network doesn’t create a true following of readers who’ll buy your work. Interacting with them, sharing their stuff and being more than a mindless bot will help you achieve a lot more.

I’ve said before that having a writing platform is like having an online portfolio. Readers get an idea of your writing style and what to expect story-wise. Which means they won’t feel like they’re gambling when buying your novel (books are expensive). Which leads to better sales. Which means that you’re finally getting paid for your writing.

My advice to the writers who argued over getting paid for publishing on an online writing platform: stop arguing and start writing. Or switch to a platform like Patreon where only patrons get to read your work… Oh, and don’t keep all your writing-eggs in one basket. We all know how easily a platform can disappear without warning. It’s devastating when all your hard work disappears into the abyss and you have nothing to show for it.

What are your thoughts about writing platforms? Do you think writers should be paid for publishing barely polished first drafts? Do you think writers should publish those first drafts or should they keep working on it to traditionally publish?