If you’re looking to grow as a fiction writer and want to branch away from traditional publishing, you’ve probably considered self-publishing. In this article, we’ll go over six popular platforms (in no particular order), what works they are best for, and the pros and cons of each.
Popular and established serial fiction platform.
Best for serial fiction, serious writers.
Pros: available worldwide, pays you for your work, popular, more curated than other platforms, good reader experience, can publish a story on Radish and another serial site (behind paywall), available on many devices, they keep you on track with a publishing schedule
Cons: application required along with the first 30 pages of your story (or another sample story with a synopsis of your new one), unclear TOS considering simultaneous publishing on other sites, pricing/payment formula unclear, strict schedule
Good alternative to publishing on Kindle.
Best for novels, novellas, non-traditional work, those wanting control over their work, those wanting to stay away from Amazon.
Pros: good review/sales tracking, nothing to do with Amazon, worldwide distribution, can use own ISBN, reasonable price for promotions, can publish with Kobo and others simultaneously, they have a deal to distribute through Walmart, straightforward publishing process, you keep all the rights to your work
Cons: not as popular as Kindle, lots of low quality work because anyone can publish, no print book options
Super popular web-comic platform, especially in Asia.
Best for comics and graphic novels. Here are some great recommended reads on Webtoon.
Pros: low barriers to entry, very popular, easy to use, can link Patreon to earn from readers, they might offer you a deal if you’re popular, lots of support for Webtoon Original artists, they provide editing and coloring assistants if you get popular enough, can partner with a writer/artist and both be credited, very supportive reader community, readers expect regular publication but are understanding of breaks, they regularly promote non-official comics on front page, can publish on other platforms simultaneously, available worldwide on most devices
Cons: visual stories only, hard to write and draw good quality episodes last minute (you must work ahead), rigorous publishing schedule expected if you’re popular, so many great Webtoon Originals that Canvas Webtoons (non-official comics) can get overlooked, you don’t get paid unless you have patrons or are chosen to be an Original
Old and established serialized fiction platform.
Best for serial fiction, poetry, building reader base, testing new ideas, improving craft, understanding what ‘works’ in near-real time.
Pros: very popular, entrenched readership, opportunities for further publication and even movie deals for most popular writers, they’re rolling out new features and programs all the time, all rights stay with you, easy to publish, available worldwide and on many devices, immediate reader feedback to help you grow, can publish poetry(!), Margaret Atwood uses it
Cons: you don’t get paid unless you’re very popular so not great if you’re looking to make money, immediate reader feedback can discourage you
By far the most popular self-publishing platform in the US. Run by Amazon.
Best for novellas, non-traditional novels, and writers who want complete control over their work.
Pros: very popular, low barrier to publication, lots of how-to info online, reviews available, easy access for readers, low/no cost, can order print copies of book, solid author communities available
Cons: very popular so market is rather saturated, lots of poor quality works competing for and discouraging readers, hard to stand out, some of your revenue goes to Amazon (ethical issues), formatting correctly can be a challenge, may want to buy your own ISBN, KDP Select requires exclusive rights for 90 days
New and popular serial publishing platform. Run by Amazon. Readers buy tokens to unlock episodes, amount based on word count. We interviewed two Vella authors/podcasters in this episode.
Best for serialized works. Can publish as a serial and then convert to a book, potentially making more income. Romance is the most popular category.
Pros: getting more popular, low barriers to entry, get paid for your writing, consistent deadlines for procrastinators, bonuses available based on performance, readers get a taste of your story with first three episodes free, readers accept that more frequent episodes mean more writing errors, solid author communities available
Cons: a lot of low quality work, not available outside of US, still new so there are some growing pains, token and reading systems annoying for readers, might need to release multiple episodes a week to build reader interest, you only get paid if you get readers
As a bonus resource, you can use the lists on the Poets & Writers website if you’re looking to publish in a literary magazine. The site is super useful and they update it often with new contests and calls for submission.