Self-publishing online is a way in which technology and the digital world has impacted how authors get recognised. This is important in showing traditional vs contemporary methods of publishing.

Self-Publishing Online

Many authors choose to self-publish content online. This can be in the hope that their writing skills will improve and to build up a fan-base of readers. These authors are therefore publishing their work for free. This may seem like a negative, however some books become successful which can lead to publishing deals. Other people choose to do this to build up their skills and practice writing for others.

Websites such as Wattpad and Quotev have allowed authors (or anyone really) to sign up and get publishing straight away. These sites are easy to use and allow the author to publish in any way they like.

Some people publish the whole of their work in one. Others chose to write chapters to see the reader’s response before releasing more. This means that they can correct any changes in grammar, for example, that they may not have noticed otherwise.

The main positive to this is that it allows authors to gain a fan-following of people who enjoy their writing. This means that if they were to have their content published, they would already have a number of people who would be willing to buy and read what they write. You may be wondering if this is something that actually happens… it does.

In Real Life

Now everyone has heard the story of how ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ started off as a Twilight series fan-fiction. I am not going to go into the details of that for your sake and for mine. Of course, it’s an important book in terms of how the internet has enabled authors such as yourselves to become recognised. However, there are other titles that have become published after being put online.

Orange and white logo for the website Wattpad
Image from – No attribution required

‘After’ is a fan-fiction novel published on Wattpad by novice writer Anna Todd. Todd would write chapters to her One Direction inspired story daily as a hobby. Her reader numbers began to grow and it changed her life. She received offers from publishing houses to turn ‘After’ into a multi-part series. Now with nearly 1.6 billion reads on Wattpad, and 11 million copies sold worldwide, the novels are a huge success.

Paramount Pictures have acquired the rights to adapt ‘After’ into a film, which is scheduled for release next year (2019). This just shows how it is possible for someone with no writing experience is capable of producing content that can be published in real life.

In the case with ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and ‘After’, the inspiration came from something that already exists. Both the Twilight series and One Direction already have fan. This means that the content written, even though they were loosely based on them, had the potential to gain a large audience. Titles with original material, however, may be more difficult to gain readers as there is a lot of content out there based on material that people are already familiar with.

Traditional Method

Traditionally, authors find agents and together they approach publishers in the hope that they will offer them a contract. This allows the author to work with a well-known company who can afford to spend money on the promotion and sales of their book. Therefore, the author gets their work out into the world for anyone to read without personally having to spend money on getting their work in stores. This traditional method has been made easier by technology as in the past, authors would send manuscripts by post which would waste both time and money. Now, due to a large online presence of publishers, an author’s work can be sent online with the press of a few buttons.

Penguin Random House Logo
Logo found on Wikipedia, “does not meet the threshold of originality needed for copyright protection”

Positives and Negatives

There are both positives and negatives to this traditional approach. For example, after the contract is signed the publisher deals with the production and sales of the book. This means that the author themselves do not have to worry about this process. This means that they can focus on other work. A negative however, is that the author themselves do not have total control over their work, and that they have to split any profits with the publisher, depending on the contract.

Saying this, there are also positives and negatives to self-publishing. As mentioned before, when an author self-publishes their work they are able to keep all of their profits, which is a positive. However, a negative is that (unless they publish online of course), it can be difficult to acquire the funds that you would need to publish physical copies of books. Without a publisher, it may be difficult to advertise/get the word out. Another negative is that some authors can find it hard to be taken seriously after originally publishing online. Some people say that they do not have the same qualifications/experience as other writers.


Overall, self-publishing is a good way to get work out there. Due to advances in technology, it is now easier than ever for anyone to start writing. Why not give it a go? Who knows, it may even lead to a publishing deal.

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