Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Opinion, Rant, Same Thing: Online Writing

In a world that has now converted to an online community, authors are left with many questions. Writing is something that used to be very quiet and small; a career which did not get the same exposure as it does now. Now writers have access to several platforms which allow for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of readers to be exposed to one's words. On the other hand, easy access means a higher chance of stealing and criticism. In this "Opinion, Rant, Same Thing", I'll explore the pros and cons of posting your writing online.

Pros: Exposure! It has never been so easy to have your work available to the public. There are plenty of platforms for  writers, such Figment and Wattpad, that I have used in my own writing career. These sites help writers receive feedback from their readers and other writers. It provides a stepping stool for writers who aren't quite ready to send their manuscripts off to agents. Besides that, having an online presence and even gaining a fan base is definitely a selling point in a query letter.

Cons: Having 3,000 Twitter followers doesn't mean that they'll buy your book. It's also arguable that since the playing field is so vast at this point that there's no point in burying yourself in it. You'd need to get to over 5,000,000 reads on Wattpad to even have a chance of being looked at. Even if you do get at chance at an agent, they can look at all of your online history so you need to be extra careful about what you post online. Along with that, there's the argument about stealing: someone could take it, claim it as their own, and make loads off of it. Some writers are simply afraid of the criticism. People online can be very mean when hiding behind a user name and computer screen.

My opinion remains very pro-online. If I hadn't put At Second Glance on Wattpad a couple of years ago, I'm not sure I'd have finished it. Besides that, I've met plenty of amazing writers (and people) through these online communities.

I do, however, agree that it's very hard to distinguish yourself online. Despite my following on the first ASG uploads, I currently only have three comments on ASG and 230 reads. It takes time to build up an online community of friends, but I believe that it's worth it.

As far as the stealing argument, I don't believe you should be too concerned. If it comes down to it, you can prove that it's your book. The thief will probably be too scared about you finding out to put up much of a fight. Worst case scenario, proving ownership to the hosting site is sometimes necessary, but easily done if you are the original creator of a work.

Finally, for the negative comments: writing is a tough business. You're going to have to deal with rejection, and the sooner you get a thick skin, the better.

What do you think? Pro-online? Pro-offline? Why? Have a suggestion for another ORST topic? Leave a comment below! 


  1. I'd say that an online presence and participating in things like Figment and Wattpad can definitely be a pro. If your attitude is good, anyway. You made the argument that an agent can look around and see what you've done, so if you haven't behaved yourself (gotten into flame wars, bad-mouthed someone who gave you a less-than-stellar review) then they'll see you're probably not the type of person they want to work with.

    Then again, that's kind of a pro, too. I'd rather a person with a bad attitude get weeded out early than have to deal with them as a peer if/when I get published myself.

    1. True, but you don't want to be turned down because of a few stupid things you say online. I'd hate to think that that would be what held me back from being published.