I’m a member of several writers groups and quite often you’ll see people asking, “What about posting the story on the free websites?”, and most authors will laugh the person out of there citing, “That’s crazy talk!”
Those are either authors who already have a huge following, or are hobby authors that haven’t done their homework. It’s pretty easy to get a copyright, plus you can join your local writer’s guild and get all sorts of advice to protect your work.
Here’s why I choose to publish on the free sites.
It builds audience! If it’s a good story, readers will want a copy of it. Plus the books are usually a lot more heavily edited and refined than the online version they’ve read. With an audience and followers, you have easy access to people that already like your story, so it’s easy to get user reviews. If a published book doesn’t have reader reviews, it often gets shuffled to the bottom of the search results. Having an available audience, you can give them a discount code to use to buy the book for free or cheap, in exchange for a review! Reviews are gold!
Make a couple of bucks! It’s called anticipation! If a story is really good, people don’t mind spending a couple bucks to have the latest chapter… especially if it’s a well written story. I’ve no doubt some authors actually make more money with their Patreon following than they do from their actual book sales. Many writers and artists have a Patreon page these days so fans of their work can support the creator. Most people don’t mind spending a buck or two to support their source of entertainment, readers know that the words don’t just appear, it takes a lot of time and thoughtful contemplation to write something and have it make sense and still relate to the rest of the story or even foreshadow something that will happen in future chapters. It’s like having a backstage pass to the creation. On my Patreon page, patrons can pay as little as $1 PER CHAPTER to get advance access to my scrivenings. $1 is something that everyone can afford, and it’s not like I sit at home writing for hours each day and pump out 5 chapters per month! Often it’s simply 1 chapter per month, maybe 2 if I get on a roll! By charging per chapter, rather than per month, you don’t get charged without getting something tangible in return!
Free Editors and Guinea Pigs! Many of the people reading on those free sites, do actually appreciate that they’re getting something for free, especially if you’re giving them a great story, and they try to be helpful. Many readers act as free editors. They will point out glaring plot holes, spelling and grammatical mistakes and stuff like that. Plus it’s quick and easy to make edits for future readers… they see a more refined story and give the chapter a good vote! The higher your vote count and ratings, the more readers you get. See #1!
Criticism I know that sounds weird, but with most free sites, there’s always assholes who seem to just enjoy trying to stir up shit! I’ve gotten some pretty scathing emails from readers. While 99% of the time their criticism is baseless and non-constructive… everybody is entitled to their opinions! Criticism makes your skin tougher and acts like a reality check. If it’s all sunshine and roses, that’s the same as getting a participation award just for showing up, it breeds laziness and entitlement, which is a big part of the reason why the world is in the sad state it is!