Writing Wednesdays: Will publishing online stop me getting a publishing deal?

Will publishing online stop me getting a traditional publishing deal? The answer might surprise you.

Regular readers and people who know me from Wattpad/Twitter/whatever know that I started out publishing online. That was how I got my publishing deal. 

But because I have experience with online publishing, one of the questions I’m asked most often is: If I publish my book online, is that going to stop me getting a traditional publishing deal?

Short answer? No.

Long answer? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

But since it seems to be a source of confusion for a lot of people, I figured I’d go into a little more detail with a whole Writing Wednesdays post about it.

If you publish your book online, you’re giving yourself a whole host of opportunities. I’ve gone into more detail before about why you should be publishing your book online in this Writing Wednesdays post, but here I’m going to focus on everything publishing related.

Maybe you’ll get ‘found’. 

Obviously, it doesn’t happen often, so don’t be disheartened if you publish online and nobody contacts you offering a publishing deal. But who’s to say you won’t be one of the few who gets found? When I say ‘found’ what I mean is, sometimes a book gets really popular when it’s published online, and that catches the attention of professionals in the industry, like literary agents and publishing houses. So there’s always a little hope there!

But think about it: if publishers and agents are willing to publish something they found online, why would they reject you if you try to publish your novel after posting it online?

I know there’s the argument that if you’re giving the book away for free, who’s going to read it? And yes, platforms like Wattpad have huge followings, but they’re still a portion of the market. There’s still people who would read your book who aren’t on those platforms. 

Plus, the book you share online is usually a first draft. 

And let’s not forget: readers are loyal. I’ve bought different editions of novels before just because one novel has some bonus content, or a special edition cover. So many of my readers from Wattpad have messaged me to say they went out and bought my book. It’s exciting for them as well. 

If you’re publishing your novel online, there’s nothing to stop you from trying to go down the route of traditional publishing.

If you build a strong core following of readers online, have people who like reading your story, you can use that when you write to agents looking to get published. They don’t want to hear that your best friend or your grandma liked your book, but hearing that you’ve got ten thousand followers who read your story every time you update?  They’ll want to hear about that. They’ll want to hear that your audience like your story. It reinforces that people like it, and that it could sell. That won’t hold you back.

More and more people in the industry are taking notice of online publishing now. For instance, Hachette just partnered up with Wattpad to create audiobooks (and you can read more about that here – it’s super cool).

I wanted to mention here as well additional writing work and opportunities. Wattpad have brand partnership opportunities now for some of their writers – I recently worked with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast campaign, and you can read my story for it here. If you got involved with opportunities like that, they can help build your credibility as a writer.

It doesn’t even have to be anything that ‘serious’. Maybe you just end up partnering with another writer to work on a project – like the Cheaters Club collaboration some of us have going on.

Whatever happens, you’re not hurting your chances of getting published traditionally if you publish online.

You might also like this post on why you should be publishing your book online.

If you’ve got any more questions about it, feel free to ask me here, or leave a comment about a Writing Wednesdays post you'd like to see. 

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