Is it better to host your story on multiple sites, or in just one?

There are now a lot of feature-rich platforms that offer to host your web novel for free. Wattpad, fictionpress, royalroad, etc., all with a high volume of viewers. On the other hand, I have heard that it may dilute the prospective of your work for publishing, and if you again have it hosted on your wordpress site it might impact ad revenue.

Individual hosting seems better if the goal is to get ranked and on adsense, while cross-posting spreads your work around in hopes of getting more readers for patreon funding. Is this right?

"But B-pen," you might say "Writers should write for the sake of writing itself, doing this for money is just crass. The best way to get support is to have something worth supporting!" and this is true. However, it is also true that if they can't find you, they can't help you. Cross-posting and having to maintain so many different links through regular updates is enough of a pain in the ass there has to be something to make it worth doing. Getting more fans is great motivation, but we have also sufficient examples here of people who host only on their site and are appreciated by their fans for having to remember to go to only one place, and others more who acquire fans via their exposure on high-traffic sites. Wildbow and TanaNari, to start with.

There is also the matter of control, for self-hosting, the ability to customize the text to your desires with formatting and images, the presentation of ancillary information, and easier updating. It may be more attractive to publishers who are looking for proven audiences.

On the other hand, being placed on story hosting platform for them to earn ad revenue off your own work means non-monetary compensation in the form of more readers and built-in review/rating/ranking systems.

And on the gripping hand, the mote in god's eye is made of money. You can't eat pride.

What do you recommend? What works for you?

I've done both, but I honestly prefer having everything on one site that I 'own.' It's just easier that way, and if I do manage to build an audience, they'll be going to my site to read my story, not someone else's site to read my story. There's a lot more freedom to work with on one's own site, I can't go back to publishing across multiple platforms.

But that's just me.

If you're just starting out and nobody's ever heard of you, any ad revenue is purely theoretical. Not even just a lack of profit, but I'd imagine the unrelenting lack of feedback would kill most people's will to write.

Maybe worry about the split in your readership once you have a couple hundred followers. It's pretty easy to stop posting on other sites and only update your own.

"Writers should write for the sake of writing itself, doing this for money is just crass"

I don't think it's crass at all! Making money is a 100% legitimate reason to write. Money is nice. That said, I know a little bit about ads, and I don't think they're the way to go.

I have written serials where I only post to one site, and I've written serials that I've tried to spread around to as many as I can. I'll be posting my next serial in multiple places, so I suppose that tells you which I prefer. Nippoten makes a great point about having a site that you own that allows for more freedom, but for me the higher visibility wins out. It also helps that I own my "main" site, so no matter what happens I will always have at least one venue where I have complete control.

Since I've never been about the money I can't speak to that (not that there's anything wrong with it, as MaddiroseX said... heck, maybe it's something I should consider, I simply don't think I have the reader base), but I will point out the time element. Updating the story on multiple sites is something of a time sink. You probably also want anyone linking towards you to be aiming at one particular site (unless they're also on the alternate platform where you are), possibly even a domain you own, so that your reader base doesn't automatically fragment as it forms... comments tend to drive more comments. Which is kind of favouring one site.

To toss in an anecdote, when I first started publishing "Time & Tied", I pushed it out both to Wattpad and my own website (staggered by a week, to see if an audience would clump at the location of the most recent updates). Wattpad was literally showing ZERO views to some updates (even though it was my second effort there; my one reader didn't cross over), whereas I actually got a WFG review. So after a few months, I stopped putting it on Wattpad altogether. Not worth it - particularly because sometimes their site updates would mess with my formatting.

THAT SAID, I've now started putting T&T onto RRL as well, because doing that forces me to make some much needed minor edits, justifying the extra time. And doing that got me a new reader, someone who's actually commenting with every couple new parts. Which is SO WEIRD, and kind of magical, and wouldn't have happened otherwise. So now I've made a case both ways (and while I know I'm talking single digit readers, I remember reading that Jim got some additional traffic onto his site via RRL too). Meaning, as I said, I think it comes down to whether you feel another few eyes is worth the extra cost in time. (Time that could be spent on marketing or on banners or on whatever successful marketing types do.)

Oh, there are definitely sites that are worth posting on and sites that aren't. The two sites I post on that have actually netted me a decent number of readers are RRL (almost 3000 followers) and FictionPress (almost 100 followers). There's also a light novel translation site I posted on where maybe 10 people are reading. There were a couple of other sites, including Wattpad, that I started posting on, but gave up after zero response. It's up to you to figure out the sites that are worth the couple minutes it takes to post a chapter there.

From an ego perspective, more readers is more readers. From an exposure perspective, more readers is more readers. From a business perspective, it depends on what you want to get out of your readers.

The problem with putting your stuff on someone else's site is that it's someone else's site. Pay Me, Bug! is on Wattpad, and people have read it there -- but I don't think I can count them as part of my audience. They're Wattpad's audience, and they read my story because it was on Wattpad. If my story hadn't been on Wattpad, they would have read something else.

That's the big trick with putting your stuff Somewhere Else -- are the readers reading and enjoying your stuff and making a connection with you as a writer and your story world because you, the writer, have won them over, or are they reading and enjoying your stuff because they have a social relationship with the site, and your stuff is good enough that they count is part of the cool stuff on that site they enjoy?

It's not always an important distinction to make, but if you ever try to do things that require a reader go beyond that site -- for example, to sell ebooks, or to readers interested in another project not hosted there -- it becomes a very important distinction to make.

It's not always a practical decision to make, of course. Starting out where the eyeballs are is important, because writing in a vacuum gets you an audience of... vacuum.

Thank you very much for your practical replies. :)

From what I've gathered here, certain sites are better than others in terms of reader involvement. That RoyalRoadLegends is superior to Wattpad and Fictionpress despite being so new is a surprise, though in retrospect it has some features and an aesthetic that make it that much more convenient. It may have an audience already looking for longer and more serious works, which fits more neatly into the audience you'd want to cultivate.

A writer certainly won't lose anything mirroring to it, specially if ad revenue is only one small part of the stream. Patreon support is a larger deal. Also, in many ways feedback is more valuable to the writer than naked cash; the feeling that that one is appreciated enough for others to spend their time reading and commenting is what makes writing worth it.

What other fiction repositories are out there?

Bear in mind that a site being "better than others" is relative, and can depend on what genre you're writing in. If you're doing a LitRPG/RP story, you'll find an audience on RRL. (I'm not, and to clarify my earlier response, I only have 10 followers, and picking up the loyal reader was a bit of a fluke -- she herself admitted my writing was outside of her interest but she had spare time. This is after posting daily for almost 50 days, including an April Fool guest post for Unice.) If you're doing a romance story, you may do well with Wattpad, I know a couple authors who have. You also kind of need to know the WPad system; if you have a finished story you're releasing by chapter, and can get a publicity boost on the main page because of that (don't ask me how, but I've heard it's possible), you may do better. (I actually posted a third story there daily, after connecting with someone more popular. The only comment I got came after it was marked complete.)

I suppose that all reinforces a bit of what ubersoft was saying about other sites having "their own audience" that you might be able to redirect. I don't know about Fictionpress or Patreon or anything though. I feel like I'm already spread too thin.

I'm going to give some really blunt advice to everyone who might see this thread and be wondering about what the OP asked.

When asking questions about making money with writing, you should ask people who are monetizing what they do.

I've transitioned from being a web serial writer to a professional author. I did this partially by asking specific questions to writers I trust, doing my research, and realizing that opinions have different weights coming from different people.

I'm not going to belabor the point, but I see a lot of really bad advice given on the internet by writers who have never sold a book in their lives but still have an opinion about how /you/ should be making money with your writing.

In any conversation about monetizing, research who is giving you an answer and whether what they said makes any sense. This especially goes for Facebook groups (there are a lot of blowhards on there). If you truly want to make money at this, you should be doing /tireless/ research. Research the market, research other writers, figure out what works, what doesn't, and what will work for you.

If you're a web serial writer and you want to be in the top 15, you should at the very least have read the beginning of the top 20 fictions on TWF. You should be familiar with their sites. You should recognize successful authors by name and by work.

Making money at writing is not easy. It's not for the faint of heart. Most overnight success...isn't. Odds are you probably suck (at everything), you need to get better, and it will take a lot of work.

There are no shortcuts.

I'm currently one of the 3 LitRPG genre leaders in the West. This was through a combination of hard work, business savvy, more hard work, and luck. Luck is the one aspect you can't control, so all you can do is just work your ass off and wait for a door to open. When you see that opportunity, don't hesitate. Take it, and prepare to work some more.

Writing really has to be a labor of love or you'll burn out. I've seen quite a few other writers burn out after a single book. Don't be like them.

To answer the original question, each writer is different. Some writers like to consolidate everything to their website. My strategy was to cast a wide net and consolidate over time. At one point I was posting 4 or 5 places. Was it exhausting? Yeah... but it also helped me build my audience faster.

Ultimately, you have to decide what works for you.

My best advice--to anyone--is to figure out what kind of writer you want to be, and try building a relationship with one or two other, successful writers who are further along on the path you want to follow yourself. That's what I did. If it wasn't for the contacts I've made and the excellent advice I was given, my own path would have been much harder for me.

I don't really have anything to add but wanted to say "hear hear" to Blaise Corvin's post. Very wise words and absolutely excellent advice there.

In the end, one gets out of writing what one puts into it. The people who get the most out of it are invariably the ones who treat writing seriously, like a business.

As much as I love bullying the LitRPG community, they say something smart once in a blue moon ;)

I don't have all that much advice to give you. My serial got a decent number of views/viewers (more than some, less than others), but I never monetized. That was partially due to lack of confidence, I think.

I also think it was due to impatience. I've wanted to be a web serialist since I was a kid (like in the early 2000s, long before being a web serialist was a thing, oddly enough). And I definitely had an aggressive, "need to make money at it" impulse. Honestly, though I never made money as a serialist, the experience made me a better writer and Wordpress user, which has helped me in my SEO career. So, even if monetizing your web serial doesn't work out (that shit is hard yo), the skills you pick up may be transferable elsewhere.

So that's why it's ok to try and fail at making money as a web serialist. If you're looking for examples of who's making money? Top Web Fiction is definitely a good place to look. Wildbow' a classic example, though his method was very difficult and probably not for everyone. D D Webb earns something like a thousand bucks a month off her Patreon, making her an underrated midlist example of success, imo. Drew Hayes seems to have struck upon a good formula: he works hard and consistently, but you can do what he did while also holding a regular job. Also, though I'm loathe to admit it, the guys at Royal Road seem to have hit upon a good formula for making money.

(I suspect their formula is "strike while a genre's hot," but go over there and see for yourself.)

Man, I wish web fiction guide had a like button. Gotta have to settle for "That's damn useful and informative, sir! Thank you very much sir!" :)

It's better to post on a larger site that has guaranteed traffic. You can still post to your own site if you wish to. (I don't have my own site because I can't be bothered to maintain it).

It's also better to post regularly, especially at the start. Multiple chapters a week. Building up a stock before you start posting helps. Any buffer will eventually run out, though.

It's also better to write in a genre that is popular.

None of these things are essential, and there are those who have succeeded doing the total opposite. But, in my experience, the above points make things a bit easier when you're starting out.

As the junior member of the Legion of N00bs, making some of my mistakes right off the bat here, I'm really glad this thread has come up. I am ... a little older than the usual crowd starting on this journey and am likely much less social media savvy than a lot of younger folks. All this talk of making connections and reaching out and whatnot is giving me hives but I guess I gotta do it, eh?

My thing, which I'm curious to know if it's considered a dick maneuver, is to post on the bigger sites on a delay. My main site is at chapter 15 while fictionpress, which I completely screwed up and managed to post word garbage into and am fixing, is on chapter 3. Each chapter references my main site, so is that a dick move? Not sure. It's moot at this point until I get the chapters fixed.

In any event, I find the idea of actually making money off of this to be akin to playing the lottery. It's highly unlikely. Of the people who go into 7-11, the only guy who is likely to make any money at all is the guy behind the counter in a smock.

Personally, I'm turning my sites to just keeping my head down. I've already performed the cardinal sin of missing some updates, but my wife was in the hospital and I had to take up the slack for my son's eighth birthday party. Nothing like wondering if your wife is going to die on your son's birthday to take the point off the pencil. Now that everyone is back and joking around though, I'm back to keeping my head down. So while I have my ideas, I'm keeping my head down and generally advise writers to write. In this respect, writing is like anything else you do in life. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this thread for any way to be more targeted in my non-writing writing support time.


@ScreamingCandle: there's nothing particularly wrong with delaying updates on sites other than your own, but in terms of long-term success on the other sites, it's rather counterproductive. Getting reviews and ratings is pretty important in terms of where you're listed on sites like RRL and FictionPress, which strongly affects how many new readers will ever see your fiction. If everyone who enjoys your story is immediately directed towards your site, it will look like nobody is reading it on the larger sites, and then nobody will read it on the larger sites.

Unice, I'm the KING of counterproductive. Hell, if I wanted to make money doing something, I'd be better off being that guy in 7-11 with the smock! :)

@ScreamingCandle Unice is right that it's counter productive to get success on another site by diverting traffic. My take on it is: Who cares?

It's pretty common practice for writers to divert traffic from reading sites to the website. If you research the authors with the largest audiences who have websites, we have pretty much all done this at one time or another. It's almost necessary if you want to monetize, unless you're monetizing directly from posting on another site, like a translation site etc.

The reason is simple: metrics and control. When people are visiting your site, you can directly assess what works and what doesn't. You can also avoid a number of problems that can come with posting a serial to another website.

There is a symbiotic relationship between webserial sites and writers. As long as you try not to be dick, you should be okay. Ultimately, what a lot of this stuff comes down to is where you want your journey to take you as a writer...and plan accordingly.

How well do these other sites let you track readers? Certainly, one of the big advantages I've found in running my own site over using things like FictionPress and WattPad is that I can track reader engagement. Only a small percentage of people ever comment, after all (the good old 90/10 ratio), and view counts can be deceptive.

Well, in addition to comments and views, there are the number of people who chose to Follow and Favorite. I don't think any of the sites let you see unique views or anything like that.