You can easily share your work with your audience if you want to write a book online. Long gone are the days of the hermit writer and the mystery of the writing process.
The internet has fundamentally changed a lot of the art professions. The barriers to entry are lower, and you have a more direct connection with your audience. I mean, hell. I’m writing this on a website that anyone can access if they have an internet connection, and provided it’s not blocked where they live.
All of this is to say that if you’re a writer, you can write a book online and reach your audience more easily than ever before.Should you write a book online? Click To Tweet
Should You Write a Book Online?
I don’t know. Should you?
There are a ton of traditionalists that would tell you not to write a book online. There are a ton of renegade writers who would tell you that you should totally write a book online.
Your writing career is your own. So don’t ever think you can get the advice you need from someone else. Instead, think about what you want out of your writing. Do you need to belong to a specific group or institution? Do you want to do whatever the hell you want? Do you care about what the ivory tower of the publishing world thinks of you?
That will tell you if you should write a book online.
Also, at the end of the day, you can do whatever you want. You can write a book online for fun if you think that’s something that would be fun. I mean, it’s going to be a lot of work. But it also may be fun.
And you can also write a book online and get paid. (We all know I’m team Write Words Get Paid.) I’ve got some options later in the post for places you can publish your book if you’re interested in how you can write a book online and get paid. But take note, friend:
You are not going to publish a book online and suddenly rake in the dollars if you don’t have an online platform. And if you’re not treating your writing as an intentional writing business, you may never make some sustainable cash.
So, if you’re interested in making money from your writing, maybe it’s time to consider building an evergreen author platform so when you write a book online, people come a-running and you do get paid.
How to Write a Book
There’s no one way to write a book. And even if you think you know how to write a book, there’s a good chance that you’ll re-learn how to do it every time you start a new novel.
What can I say? Different stories demand different things from us as writers.
With that in mind, here are some different things to try when you decide to write a book online.
I live and die by my outlines. Which is not to say that I always follow them. In fact, there are times in the middle of a draft when I realize I need to update my outline, or change the order of events, or just alter the story all together. But having one is a great way to write a lot of words quickly because knowing the basic plot points and story beats means not having to spend time brainstorming your story when you’re actually writing.
If you want a quick and dirty look at outlining, I have this post on how to outline your novel.
Maybe you’re like me and like to modify existing outlining systems. I have this post about creating a romance novel outline using Romancing the Beat that might be interesting to you.
And for those of us who like archetypes and the hero’s journey, I have a whole post about how to outline a novel using tarot cards.
If outlining isn’t for you, then you should check out this post on how to write a discovery draft. It’s all about how you can figure out your story by writing a quick, messy draft.
If you want to try that discovery draft method, but don’t know if you can write a quick draft, then you should check out this post on how to write fast.
Sometimes you want to sit down and get a lot of writing done all at once. And if that is how you’re feeling, here’s a post on how to write a lot of words.
How to Write a Book Online
To my knowledge, there is no “write a book online template.” And even if there were a “write a book online template,” I don’t know if I’d recommend it. After all, your story is your own, and I recommend approaching your story however you need to.
Also, I feel it’s important to define what I mean when I say “write a book online.” If you want to write a book online, in real time, while people watch the words you’re typing on your screen, this is not your post. I don’t recommend doing that at all, and I think beyond sharing your screen in a live streaming scenario, there’s no way to do that.
However, this post is all about the ways you can write a book online free, meaning the softwares you can use that are online, or the ways you can publish your book online easily.
So, with that in mind, let’s get into it.
Free Book Writing Software
Long gone are the days of there being only one word processor in town. I mean, I guess there have always been options, but there haven’t always been a lot of free options. If you’re interested in writing a book online, check out my recommendations for free book writing software.
001: Google Docs
What is there to say about Google Docs? It’s great, robust, and autosaves. And since your docs will be saved in Google Drive, your writing can be saved close to all your research should you choose to save your research in your Drive folders.
And you could even use Google Sheets to outline your novel, if that’s your style.
You can use Google Docs for free, and if you are only using Google’s office products for writing, you probably won’t ever fill up your Google Drive. But if you do, a paid account isn’t too expensive and gives you tons of space.
002: Free blog platforms
WordPress, Weebly, and Wix are all great places to write blog posts and share them with the world. If you wanted to draft out your novel in posts, you could easily sign up for one of these free platforms. You don’t have to own your domain if you don’t want to, but be warned that some sites will take ownership of your content if you don’t own your domain.
And don’t count out Medium. Medium is a great place to write and share your work, and you can even get paid there.
003: Free newsletter platforms
TinyLetter and MailerLite are great, free newsletter options that allow you to send emails to large groups. If you like the idea of writing your novel as a newsletter, this might be something to try.
Though, it’s worth noting that you may want to try this as a drip sequence and not just a weekly newsletter. That way, when someone new subscribes, they start the story from the beginning. With a weekly newsletter, they’d miss all the story before they subscribed.
004: Social media
In the early 2010s, I seem to remember a story about someone writing a novel in tweets. Basically, they were publishing tweets and when you read them all, they’d form a story.
Honestly, that seems like a really bad option, but you do you. I could see using Instagram or TikTok as a means to publish a multimedia novel bit by bit, and it would be easier to go back to the beginning than Twitter, which would require someone to scroll through the entirety of your profile to get the first tweet.
For the record, I don’t recommend doing this at all, but if you create a private profile (that will never be completely private, by the way) you could post content on any social media platform you like. There won’t be much in the way of formatting options or writing tools like spell check, but it’s something you could try if you wanted.
Free Book Publishing Platforms
So, what if you’ve already written the book? Then it’s time to share it with the world! If you want to publish your book online in actual book form, there are tons of ways to do so for free, and even earn money doing it.
If you want to write a book online, Amazon gives you tons of options for publication. You can publish your work as an ebook, a paperback, and depending on where you are in the world, potentially a hardback too.
And if you’re interested in serialization, that is, publishing your book online in increments, there’s Kindle Vella. This platform allows you to publish chapters or episodes at whatever intervals you decide.
So no matter how you want to share your story, Amazon gives you options.
Draft2Digital is a company that will format your document into an ebook, and also push it out to whatever platform you’d like. You can publish to places like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Overdrive, and so many more.
If you’d like your book to be widely available to shoppers all over, and even to public libraries to keep in their digital catalog, I can’t recommend Draft2Digital enough. Granted, you can upload your book to all the places I’ve mentioned on your own, but you can’t do it as quickly and easily as D2D.
Full disclosure: I don’t know much about Wattpad. But I do know the people who love it really love it.
Wattpad allows users to upload stories and connect directly with their audience. It also hosts contests and even partners with publishing houses.
If you want more of a connection with your audience and don’t mind the comments section, Wattpad may be a good option for you.
004: Patreon or other subscription options
If you already have a devoted audience, Patreon is a great way to write a book online and get paid. You can easily upload chapters or whole short stories or even novels for your patrons. And you have the option to charge them per month or per thing you give them. So if your process is a little longer, you can still make money even if you’re not the fastest writer pumping out chapters every week.
But it should be noted that Patreon isn’t the only option here. You can create a paid newsletter using Substack, or create an online community around your writing using platforms like Mighty Network or Podia.Wanna write a book online? Here's how to do it. Click To Tweet
Would You Write a Book Online?
There are tons of ways to write a book online, and no matter how you choose to do it, all of them can be a great way to build an online platform, or even make some money. But before you start, consider your audience. Figure out where they are. Knowing where they hang out online is crucial so you can post your story or share links to your book where they’re going to see it.
Have you ever tried writing a book online? Are you interested in trying out a new platform I mentioned? Let me know in the comments!