Once you’ve decided that you want to post fiction online, the next question to ask yourself is where you want your work to appear.
The common wisdom among freelance writers is to maintain a personal blog and to direct all of your readers while you post your work elsewhere online. The most common web platforms for this type of work are Medium and LinkedIn because they are the most open to individual writers. However, a freelance writer should be writing for other websites, blogs, etc.
Much of this advice applies to online fiction. It’s always wise to maintain a personal website, blog, and social media that your readers can follow. The main difference is that as a fiction writer, you are less likely to gain traction from your personal blog or on the same platforms, and monetizing your content will be a different process.
There are a huge variety of platforms that allow you to publish your fiction online. Most have their positives and negatives, and you may find that more than one suits your needs as a writer.
Here are a few common websites you may want to post your fiction on:
Summary: Medium works best for literary short fiction and (occassionally) poetry. You can join their partner program to possibly make money and submit to their small online publications to help build an audience for your work. However, the site is mostly geared towards nonfiction content, so you'll have better luck with essays than short stories.
Medium is a mostly nonfiction-focused platform that looks highly curated, like a professional publication with editors, but in reality, allows anyone to make an account and post content. A writer has the option to submit their work to be reviewed by editors, but it’s not mandatory. This is a double-edged sword, but for the fiction writer, it can be quite appealing. You won’t get comprehensive feedback on the quality of your writing, but you will know if you’re on the right track, and your work will look glossy beside all the other widely-read.
Importantly, you can make money on Medium. Their system for reimbursing their writers is explained here. I’m not going to sugar-coat this: you are unlikely to make even enough to buy a cup of coffee on Medium as a fiction writer. Their system works well for large, established writers who cover current events and political subject matter. It does not work very well for fiction writers or poets.
These days, most literary publications don’t pay either, though, so maybe the possibility of a little money is worth it.
There are several publications on Medium that will host your work and send it out in newsletters. These function in the same way print and independent online journals do, but if they reject you, your story will still be out there, tagged, on the website.
The biggest drawback of Medium for fiction writers is that the platform is meant for nonfiction, and that is what it promoted most. However, if you’re writing literary fiction, and you hate the long turn-around times on traditional journals, Medium might just be the place for you. Genre writers, unfortunately, do not do as well here.
Summary: Tapas is best for long-form genre fiction with a strong narrative voice. The stories that thrive here are similar to YA novels and contain heavy romantic themes. They have plenty of stories with LGBTQ+ characters. Novels with more "literary" aspects don't seem to perform as well here. Because of the serialization aspect, stand-along short-stories will not do very well here.
Tapas brands itself as the “Youtube for Storytellers.” Their platform is focused on comics and serialized long-form fiction. Like Medium, anyone can publish on Tapas and submit their work to the editorial staff. Unlike Medium, these editors will help to develop and edit your writing. The novel writing team at Tapas is very new, but so far, their work looks promising.
Tapas has several things going for it. It’s well-known and has a good reputation; it’s friendly to genre fiction and the LGBT community, and it offers monetization options. Premium users are given the option to support creators directly. The sorting method gives your work a chance to be seen even if you’re brand new to the platform.
Genre fiction (fantasy and sci-fi especially) suffer from a distinct lack of publication options and a general disdain in the traditional publication space, yet they are wildly popular. Tapas is definitely taking advantage of this.
If Tapas does have a downside, it’s that their platform is so heavily tied to genre, romantic, and YA-style fantasy that a writer with other sensibilities might not be able to get a foothold. A high fantasy novel in the style of Tolkein, for instance, may not be able to gain momentum very quickly. I say “might,” because I have no real evidence of this. It’s pure instinct on my part and may be completely off base.
Summary: A huge online platform for both original fiction and fanfiction. Has a reputation for poor-quality writing, but is long-standing and offers paid opportunities and writing contests. Longer-form stories will perform better on Wattpad than standalong pieces.
I will not lie to you: I haven’t spent much time on Wattpad. When I was in middle and high school, it had a reputation for being a disorganized fanfiction platform where writers threw story ideas without much thought.
Wattpad is probably the longest-standing website on this list. It has a reputation for having young writers and readers and for not moderating its content very well. This has not changed. The tagging system allows fanfiction and original fiction to mix, and it becomes pretty clear that the fanfiction performs better overall.
While there’s a wide array of ontent on the site, Wattpad is most known for its romantic and erotic stories (in fact it just started publishing original adult fiction under its own publishing label), so those stories are more likely to thrive on the platform.
There is a program for being paid for your writing with direct support from readers, and the editors will develop your work with you if you match their standards already.
Because of the fanfiction, I don’t feel I can recommend Wattpad for a writer who wants to keep their fan writing and original writing separated. However, if you already have a fanfiction following on the website, it is probably easier to transition into writing original fiction there with good results.
Overall, I have to acknowledge the critical place that Wattpad holds in the online fiction space, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be posting there.
These three platforms are the largest and most promising for the everyday writer, but there are numerous others available with only a single web search. Commaful, for example, is geared towards short stories and poems. r/NoSleep is specifically for horror stories, and serialized horror performs very well there. Other websites have specific audiences in mind.
The important thing about choosing a platform for your fiction is that you choose a website with the right genres and audience. Fantasy goes on a site for fantasy, romance on a site for romance, and erotic fiction on a site for erotic fiction. If your story is suitable for an audience in their teens, make sure that the platform you choose has teens already in its user base.
After you’ve selected a platform, connect your social media and whatever adjacent websites you want to associate with your writing, and make sure that your readers can find you there. Then, you just have to post your work! The appeal of a platform is that it will, like traditional publishing, bring readers to you. You might still promote your work to relevant communities or on social media, but if your writing is good, the readers will come to you!