Last night I experienced an interesting thing. I was at a high school graduation party for a family friend. My wife’s friend, who I had not seen for some years, turned to me and said, “so, what are you up to?”
I was about to go into what it was like being a substitute teacher all year, but he interrupted me. “I mean, what have you been writing?” he asked.
I told him but wasn’t able to SHOW him. Almost everything I have published within the last couple of years has been lodged behind one paywall or another.
I was in this liminal space. A published author that couldn’t show a friend, and potential read, what I’d been working on for the last couple of years because someone else was charging money for it. I was not paid any money for my work.
It was in this moment that I realized I wanted to have my work somewhere people could read it without a paywall. I wanted to be able to point to a place and say “my work is here.”
Today I was perusing literary magazines to submit to and all I could think was. . . nobody is going to read my work if I publish in these little, anonymous lit mags. At least if I put them out there for free I can tell someone where the work is, they ask, and they can read.
So I started a Wattpad account.
I know. Wattpad is mostly for teenagers who write fanfiction and dare I say poorly written romance novels. You know what? I’m not above having my work sitting along with that material. The fact is Wattpad has millions of users across the world, and if this is a place I can tell people to visit if they’re interested in my work–great. So that’s what I’ve done. I published the first 5 pages, or so, of a short story that I’m happy with. I’ll post again next week, on Wednesday, and each week after that until the whole story is on there–then I’ll do the same thing with another story. I think I have about 4-5 short stories that I’ve been sitting on, and I think I could even publish my backlog there too–because those magazines only get the rights for the story for six months or something like that.
So this is what I’m doing. Wattpad. Maybe I’ll get a few readers along the way, but most of all, I’ll be able to share my work with the people who are interested in it and ask me about it.