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I'm currently writing my first novel and as a particularly young person, I have no clue on how to send my book to a publisher or how I can self promote it online. I know that Wattpad is one option, but I'm not sure how I can actually get people to read it. What other ways are there for me to share my book?

Writing fiction is a hobby of mine, but at the same time I'd like to share it with people. I've put a lot of effort into researching and planning. It's no where near finished, but I'd like to know what my options are going to be once I have it finished.

  • Rather than simply asking "How do you share your novels with people?", which has no right or even "best" answer, this question would be improved by changing it to something like "How can I effectively share/promote my novel to others?" – V2Blast Aug 2 '18 at 7:33
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Oh boy, this one will have a thousand plausible answers. But I'll do my best to help as I can. There are, of course, a plethora of options, so please do not think this answer is the be-all end-all of it.

So let's try breaking this down.

If you are writing fanfiction (based on the works of others), you can publish on http://www.fanfiction.net where there are likely millions of published works. Note, though they are 'published', they are not meant for monetary gain. In fact, it's apt to be illegal (making money from the Intellectual Property of others), or at the very least unethical. But, there are many examples of novels that started as fanfiction of other works (Twilight, Fifty Shades of Gray, what have you).

There is also https://archiveofourown.org/ which started as a response to fanfiction.net's crackdown on... shall we say certain content. They do have to 'approve you' as a writer on their platform, but as far as I know it's merely a waiting game. I'm unaware of the typical content or the quality thereof on the site.

If you are writing original fiction, http://www.fictionpress.com (affiliated with fanfiction.net) can be a wonderful platform for it. I cannot tell you how it compares to fanfiction.net, because I am not as active there.

There are, of course, scores of other options, including hosting your own website. Just google "free website hosting", and sure you'll find lots of information. If all you mean to post is stories, I doubt you'll have any issues with even 20MB is data, but that does mean you will have to get the word out yourself. I've found and read lots of excellent stories hosted on independent websites, some of which remain my favourites of their genre.

Next comes the NaNoWriMo contests.Check https://nanowrimo.org/ for one (not the only, but certainly a good place to start). It stands for National November Writing Month. It's a challenge for all writers to complete a novel (typically in the range of 50K to 70K words) in the month of November. There is a March 'drive' as well, but that's not as common. The point of this community (/challenge) is to get a lot (and I mean a LOT) of writers working on their project/novel together, so we can keep each other motivated.

Some competitions offer cash prizes, but not all. The point is to get writers into the habit of thinking in terms of novels (as opposed to stories), and help each other stay motivated.

Now, onto more paid content. While this shouldn't be your first step, it is a logical step and one many try to take. What you can do is look into writing competitions. They usually have a set genre/theme and often your target audience is laid out in the prompt as well. There are most often cash prizes, but it is a competition, so you are pitted against others.

There are also writing commissions you can look into. Think magazines, online publications, and the like. Google will take you far, just know that it isn't easy to turn a hobby into a workable income.

If you want to self-publish, you can look into publishing for Kindle, Amazon, and other e-book centres like that. On their websites you can often find all the data you need for it, and there are plenty of authors that have self-published willing to explain the ropes.

One example I've found, but haven't delved into (because I don't want to take that route), is Jenna Moreci. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUOBQwlQ480 Is a video of hers talking about it. She's self-published two books I am aware of (The Savior's Champion and Eve: The Awakening), and is (was, seeing as she's currently on hiatus) a regular on YouTube. She also talks about a lot of things about the craft of writing, if you are interested.

I, however, am far more interested in the traditional publishing route. That means finding a literary agent, who will approach publishers and deal with all the crap I have no patience for. I could give websites and the like, but simply googling "literary agents" and adding your genre (fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, etc) will point you in the right direction.

In this I can offer you far less guidance, because of my niche (Young Adult and New Adult and Adult Romance fantasy with LGBT+ characters, which is a bit trickier than one might think). But you should find what you're looking for easily enough.

Be aware that it's difficult to 'get' an agent, because you need to query them. They need to be available to represent you, be interested in the genre and target audience, and be interested in your current project/novel. It gets more complicated still, because not all of them will tell you why they reject your project--this makes it frustrating when trying to figure out where you are going wrong.

Full disclosure. Though I am not actively querying, I have had my fair share of rejections. It's disheartening, but I am not giving up that easy. I take every 'no' as 'you need to try harder', and have used that as motivation to continuously step up my writing game. (Personally, I can see no downside to getting better, and there is nothing that will stop me from continuing my journey to becoming a better writer).

  • Ah yes! My very first shared stories were published on fanfiction.net! Poorly planned Spider-Man and Batman adventures back in early High School. Never knew about Fiction Press though, I'll definitely use that. I'll also look into websites and competitions, as well as publishers. Thanks! – Clarkey Aug 2 '18 at 11:20
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I'm going to give some unpopular advice:

Wait till you get older.

Let me explain:

Some kids like to play football or run, but they don't compete at the Olympic level until they are much better. Some kids like to write little pieces of software or find fossils with their dads, but they don't work for Microsoft or publish scientific papers until they know much more. Some kids play an instrument, but they don't usually get signed by a major record company and perform on national television until they have achieved mastery. Yes, there are exceptions, but generally a person who has just begun to do something will need to learn much, much more than they know now before they can become professionals.

I know this advice is unpopular today, when everyone thinks that the fact that anyone, no matter their age, can upload any kind of crap on the internet is proof that they can be stars without the long years of learning that were once required before you even considered showing what you did to anyone outside your immediate family, but I know for a fact that publishers and agents will consistently reject your submissions until you have achieved that level of skill, and even if you self-publish, the large majority of readers expect really, really good books, before they waste money or their scarce time on reading something half-arsed.

So really:

If you are not some proven whiz kid and everyone who reads one of your stories is totally flabbergasted at how absolutely astonishing your writing is, allow yourself to take the time to learn to write.

Do get feedback (e.g. in a writing group), to check your progress, and if you feel that you are getting there, submit to publishers. But if you get no reply or just rejections, please don't litter the web.

  • I would have to disagree on principle. A 12 year old published 2 books I'm aware of. And then there's this: independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/… – Fayth85 Aug 1 '18 at 16:44
  • I'm not saying they shouldn't learn the craft, only that age is irrelevant in the equation. – Fayth85 Aug 1 '18 at 16:45
  • @Fayth85 Look at this post that explains at what age most writers publish their first novel: writing.stackexchange.com/a/15904/32282 As you can easily see, very few children publish novels. Some do, yes, but the probability that the asker of this question will be one of them is extremely small. It is much more likely that he or she is one of "us", who have to work hard for many years, before they are successful. Believing you are the one in a million is really not a very helpful mindset, because the continuing lack of success wil discourage you. – user32282 Aug 1 '18 at 17:05
  • @Fayth85 And as for the 6-year-old who published a novel (which is actually only 1500 words long, which is six pages), his book was published by Aultbea, a vanity publisher who takes £10,000 from his authors to publish their books (see grumpyoldbookman.blogspot.com/2006/07/…). Apparently Christopher's parents paid to get his "book" published. Not the success I would want for myself ... – user32282 Aug 1 '18 at 18:39
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    @FredBob So your answer is to pre-discourage them on the theory they are too weak to handle being discouraged? I say let them dream their dream, and deal with whatever happens, when it happens. We all have to learn how the world works for ourselves, it is better to try and fail than it is to not try at all, which is effectively your advice. Why doesn't that apply the vast majority of adults on this site trying to write? Aren't they in the same boat? Only a tiny percentage of them will ever make a living as novelists! Should they all give up because they will most likely fail? – Amadeus Aug 1 '18 at 20:07
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From OP in comments:

I turn 19 in a month. I've been writing fiction since I was about 8 or 9. I love it. I'm not in it for the money, I just want people to read my stories. I wouldn't care if I lost more money than I make ...

In that case, The advice of Faythe85 is good. I'd say your next step is to start learning to write a query letter that will find you a literary agent. Those are the keywords to search for; how to write a query letter, and how to find a literary agent. Here is one site: Agent Query. Here is another useful one, Manuscript Wish List where literary agents tell you basically what they'd like people to send them (and implicitly by the types of things they represent, what not to send them); so you can narrow your target to those that like the kind of story you write. e.g. if your book has explicit sex scenes and the agent doesn't list something suggesting she represents that kind of work, don't send it to her (most agents are women, btw).

At 19, I presume you are Internet savvy enough to find the resources you need.

By far the best way to get people to read your stories is actually to MAKE money, by selling them. That is how most people read stories, they buy them. The typical self publisher sells about $100, mostly to friends and family. tens of copies. The typical published book sells about 3000 copies, hundreds of times as much, and will earn you $1 or $2 per copy and paves your path to publish your next story.

If your goal is only to be read, you can spend that money on self-promotion, your agent or publisher will be happy to help you devise a self-funded tour of book stores and perhaps even ads to promote your book; they make money from those (but don't run any ads without their input, they don't want you to sabotage their own sales effort. Your contract with them may prohibit that).

If you have been writing diligently for ten years, you should be good enough to at least get answers to queries. But writing queries is an art in itself, keeping them short while generating interest is difficult and both are necessary. And don't sign any contracts without them being reviewed by a real lawyer, and ditch anybody fast that starts out by pressuring you to sign; there are some toothy sharks in these waters.

But your next step, after you finish a novel, if you think your writing is comparable to professionals that are selling big, will be to start querying and shopping your novel. You can start learning the tricks of query letters and start applying them to writing drafts of your own query letter, and looking for likely agents, now.

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There is the self-publishing route in which case you can utilize Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Another that I like, though more is required of you, is Smashwords. However, the act of self-publishing a book does not mean that your book will sell and that people will read it. Self-publishing also means self-marketing and there are more posts and blogs on that subject than can easily be counted (unless you are Google in which case they counted 171,000,000 such posts).

If you take the advice of Stephen King from On Writing (which is brilliant and I am fan) you can find magazines and publications that will take your shorter stories (likely not the novel you are writing). For some you might be paid and for others you may just get a few copies of the magazine/publication for free. In both cases however you get get the invaluable "story credit". Meaning you can then state in your query letters, "I've been published by such and such".

Then you can also write for and apply to writing competitions where the winner is published. some are free with good prizes and some make you pay an entry fee. Some are entrant age specific while others are open to all.

Your question however was:

What other ways are there for me to share my book?

Which we've all turned into how to get launched, how to get published and even advice to not "litter on the web". If you just want to "share your book" you can get a few copies (or as many as you think you can sell) printed with Create Space and give these / sell these to friends and family. It really depends on what your goal is for writing.

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