Once Upon a Time I Stumbled Upon a Publishing Site

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Once upon a time, Shelby Lindrick was just a part of a street name Emily Yuill grew up on before it became her pen name, and fanfiction.net was just a name of a website Cassandra Risler stumbled upon scrolling through a Facebook fan page. The story that lies within this tale  is that by coincidence and a dedicated fan base, both writers discovered the world of online publishing.

The Storyline

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For book enthusiasts needing a fix for their murder mystery genre addiction and eager writers looking to put pen on (virtual) paper, the online publishing world is for you. Creative online publishing is a wonderfully, confusing place. Wondering what the heck I’m talking about? Let’s break down of these free websites from people who’ve already mastered the art of story-telling.

Wattpad

Wattpad holds every genre you can imagine. Full of ongoing stories written by amateurs and perhaps a few professional writers, this site seeks eager readers to review this literature. Joining Wattpad not only allows you to check out these works, but it also provides an opportunity for people to check out your vampire novel featuring guys that don’t sparkle. Become inspired by enthusiastic comments and learn what your audience wants to read from you. Will you give them the ending they’re looking for? Or will you pull a Shona Rhimes and kill off everyone’s most beloved character? Reading other writers’ pieces and talking to them on message boards is the the virtual version of a brainstorm sesh. Bounce ideas back and forth and until you break through that writer’s block.

Fanfiction

Welcome to Fanfiction! On Fanfiction, you won’t just write original stories, but you write stories based on characters from shows, movies and even other books. The best part comes with sharing these stories with other fans of the show. Because you probably aren’t the only one wished for an alternative ending to One Tree Hill. “With fanfiction I am able to share my work and get honest feedback without any bias as well as keeping my identity to myself if I choose to,” University of Wisconsin-Stout alumna, Cassandra Risler said. If you’re a die hard Castle fan and want to write a new adventure featuring Beckett and Castle, #justdoit.

The Plot Thickens

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Publishing your first action thriller online can seem pretty daunting, even more than that super ninja your character is currently battling. But don’t let the world wide web scare you from clicking publish because you’ll lose more than just owning published work when you chicken out of posting your murder mystery. Websites like Wattpad and Fanfiction also enable you to unlock your creative side by sharing ideas with other writers on messaging boards. “A lot of times when you brainstorm with someone else you begin to really dig into the story idea and develop it with more clarity,” Risler said. So, what’re you waiting for? “Just go for it. There is a saying from an author that a bad page can be edited, but a blank one can not,” Risler said. “You won’t know what you are capable of as a writer unless you write.” Someone’s already posting their next young adult romance novel and that thriller you read last week has already made it on the “What’s Hot List.” Better get a crack a’ lacking on the next spinoff of The Hunger Games series.

Everyone’s a Critic

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If you’ve ever heard the saying that “you are your harshest critic,” then you’ve never visited Wattpad or Fanfiction. Read some of the comments people leave on stories and you’ll understand. Let’s face it, people can treat others downright mean online. Believe it or not, not everyone is a fan of Harry Potter (cue gasps) or vampires that sparkle in the sunlight, so don’t expect to please everyone when you start writing a spin-off novel. “If someone says something negative, somebody else out there is going to say something positive. You run that risk with any sort of personalized self-expression,” Yuill said. “As long as it’s what you want, what other people say shouldn’t matter.” Some constructive criticism genuinely helps you improve your skills, but the important part is feeling proud of the work that you created from your own brain.

Pro Tips for Your Next Novel

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Feeling lost about where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve lined up some helpful tips to boost your story in the rankings and develop your own fan base.

  • “The story description needs a good summary. The summary is what is the “click bait” to the reader. I rarely, if ever, will click on a story who states in their summary that it’s their first story and they don’t think it’s any good,” Risler said.
  • “It’s also important to just start following people. I know if I get followers, I always check out their writing to see what they’re all about,” Yuill said.
  • “Posting on a schedule or as close to one as you can also helps keep the reader until the end. This will make it more likely that you will keep your readers until the end,” Risler said.

Anne is a sophomore studying journalism and history at University of Wisconsin-Madison. A native Wisconsinite, Anne loves all things Wisconsin including sporting events, the outdoors and its summer concerts.

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