Self-publishing takes many forms, but most people think of the print-on-demand (POD) version of self-publishing first. They look to Lulu, BookSurge, CreateSpace, Blurb, or a similar service that permits writers to upload their manuscripts to a website that provides template formatting, sells ISBNs, and has an online storefront through which the books can be sold or sometimes, if the author prefers, downloaded as an ebook at no charge. When someone orders and pays online for a bound book, a single copy is printed by the publishing service in response to the demand and shipped directly to the customer. Authors can order their own books from the service in bulk and fulfill orders from customers, but doing so isn’t always economically feasible. POD self-publishing services on the Web have been successful because there is relatively little up-front cost to the author. However, it doesn’t take long to discover the downside of self-publishing: the author takes full responsibility for marketing and advertising.
For writers who simply want to share their creations with readers at no cost to either party, the Web is the place. Some writers quickly discover how to put up websites, others launch blogs, quite a large number gather in forums online, and now a new hybrid is emerging as a place for them to post their manuscripts. As far as I can tell, there’s no commonly recognized name for these sites. For the moment, I’ll refer to them as manuscript sharing sites or online slushpiles. They are sources of free ebooks as well as social networks. Anyone willing to experiment and unconcerned about giving work away for free might be intrigued.
Part of me cringes when I think of manuscript sharing sites as forms of crowdsourcing. Another part senses the beginning of a transformation in the way some intrepid readers search for new and entertaining authors. It’s fascinating to observe as these self-published ebook sites multiply, evolve, and attract either criticism or acclaim. If you’re watching or exploring them too, what do you think?
Author Salon [Added on February 15, 2012]
Book Country [Added on April 26, 2011]
BookieJar [Added on July 10, 2010]
FanFiction.Net [Added on June 2, 2010]
FanStory [Added on July 25, 2012]
FictionPress.com [Added on April 20, 2009]
Figment [Added on June 2, 2010]
inkpop (managed by Figment) [Added on February 16, 2010] iwritereadrate.com (ebooks are also sold on this site) [Added on March 17, 2011]
Jottify [Added on February 17, 2015]
JukePop [Added on October 23, 2014]
Lebrary [Added on July 1, 2010]
Liboo [Added on September 24, 2012]
Mam Talent [Added on September 16, 2013]
Movellas.com [Added on July 11, 2012]
Myebook (ebooks are also sold on this site)
obooko [Added on February 11, 2010]
PostPoems [Added on February 22, 2017]
Re.ad [Added on June 18, 2014]
Recanto das Letras [Added on July 7, 2013]
Red Lemonade (utilizing the Cursor platform) [Added on May 9, 2011]
Scribd (ebooks are also sold on this site)
Share Your Book [Added on April 24, 2013]
Smashwords (ebooks are also sold on this site)
Storiad [Added on July 28, 2011]
Sweek [Added on March 23, 2017]
Swoon Reads [Added on September 30, 2013]
Tablo [Added on July 31, 2014]
Taylz [Added on August 29, 2015]
Textnovel (cellphone novels)
TheWriteDeal> [Added on November 8, 2011] vook.tv (still in private beta, so I’m not sure yet what it is)
Widbook [Added on February 18, 2015]
Write On by Kindle [Added on October 2, 2014]
WritersCafe.org [Added on April 20, 2009]
Writing.com (WDC) [Added on July 16, 2012]
I’ve certainly overlooked sites similar to these, although I deliberately omitted a variation that’s more of an online manuscript critique group. Feel free to clue me in, if you’ve found a site you like that’s not listed.
[Added on June 18, 2010:] In its Digital Writer Spotlight, the GalleyCat blog features nominated authors who are members of manuscript sharing sites.
[Added on May 17, 2014:] In “Posting your work for online crits?” Literary agent Janet Reid encourages writers to find critique partners who are more skilled than the novices found on a particular manuscript sharing site.