On Writing, Publishing and Promoting a Book Online (Getting an Audience): Use Blockchain?

What’s a writer or content creator to do eh? From engaging with other people’s work on a platform, to posting writing experiments yourself, to tokenising a whole document or posting it to a blockchain, or using Amazon Kindle tools… what is now the most effective way? What path do you choose to get your book etc. out there?

Publishing a book these days is a big subject. There are books on it, of course, many of them ‘easily’ and swiftly self-published. I’ve given it a go myself, and can only now reflect on whether or not there are better ways, especially since the writing felt like a tiny part of the process, (with the most spent on re-writing, and then on presentation and marketing). I’ve not even finished it yet, simply because I’ve gone back to the actual writing part. It is, after all, the thing that should take the most time, or as much time as possible.

Some books should never be finished; projects that take even the writer ideally years to ‘understand’ or come to terms with. Initial drafts might have to be torn up. One of the most important books ‘The Origin of Species‘ by Charles Darwin (the ‘White Paper’ on homo sapiens) was a very careful, ‘evolving’ work of science, until he figured someone else was coming to similar conclusions, and then set about publishing a.s.a.p. Many works have been written quickly, but often they’d percolated over many years of a writing career, until emerging ‘ready’. Some were funneled through much wine, cocaine or amphetamines, but also the minds of some bohemian artistic genius / romantic poet.

Anyway, these days, what’s easy to assume is that your book will just be found by people searching online. What a mistake. Time is needed to categorise and install your works into a setting which will be good for them. Yes, you can take a Google Doc and convert it to an Amazon Kindle file and upload it onto Amazon. Getting a book onto Amazon is relatively easy, but then… it’s more easy for it to sink without a trace.

What is more ideal is if there is some kind of online following already in place, because getting an advance on a book (if you’re already famous perhaps) is a dream after all, and one not many writers get to experience. Without this, you should get busy engaging somewhere, either on social media or writing platforms; interacting with fellow writers and testing the waters.

On Writing

Also ideally, a writer wants motivation all the way through writing a book, and never to face the demons alone. The demons of making it through the complicated art of it all, the working without immediate pressures and likely without any funding, and emerging on the other side. Unless it’s a technical book, that can be all planned out. Even for a story, you could still have as detailed a plan as possible. One tip is to start writing the ending, so at least you know what happens in your own book. Otherwise you may never get there to find out! Once you’ve tried that then you could write the beginning and try and connect the points. It can be a helpful experiment. In the same vein, start writing to write just a short story, and if it gets bigger then you know it’s because it probably needs to.

There are lots of books out there already, so only write if you love it, or you have to. Say what you want to say (I say) and indulgence be damned. Huge books are off-putting. Stories that you might think were long books, are actually really short. The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King is a big film, but a perfect short story. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is concise and brilliant; a beautiful work of art. But… each to their own. I’m pretty sure Darwin’s books in general needed to be long, and prove a point.

Are there platforms online that can help with the process?

Well, I wish I’d simply stuck to Wattpad all the way through, or a site like this. It’s got limitations, like any platform. But it has people there, reading and writing. Plus, it’s heavily integrated into social media, and functions as one itself. This is arguably the most important thing from any writing website or platform these days. You can also get a book deal from achieving success there.

Wattpad can help with the process and test your work in a community.

More on Wattpad etc

It’s recently had a nice-looking revamp. It has competitions. It’s even encouraging new forms of writing mediums, for the mobile age, like Tap (part of Wattpad): ‘Addictive interactive/chat stories’. It has a lot of resources for writers (this part of the website is a good place to start).

I’ve actually returned my work to Wattpad, in order to break up my books again into chapters, and proof-read to myself again, over time. I don’t mind it being ‘out there’ for free, because at least I feel that people can find it, even in unfinished form, which takes a pressure off, and they can even provide helpful feedback. This is rare, but then I’ve not been taking time to engage with fellow writers there lately (which is important). Like any form of social media, you get what you give.

The text editor can be a bit frustrating in Wattpad but no matter, the point is that above all, Wattpad can be a vital platform for connecting oneself to a relevant audience and for reading other people’s books who may be exploring similar things. Motivation and competition, and inspiration in writing… are essential.

If you post to a platform, a major consideration should be that of architecture and user-base. Wattpad is a centralised platform, which at any moment could disappear or start introducing a payment subscription, or even more ads. The user base is currently large however, so you can reach people, and it’s a great testing ground. It will probably keep growing, and adding features.

What I want to see in Wattpad are:

  • options for exporting/downloading my work now, even as a text file.
  • monetization or paywall features, and an integrated store.

There are similar platforms like Smashwords (more a store alternative to Amazon) and also Medium. Medium is free and also subscription-based, and stuff gets upvoted quickly by its ‘hand-clapping’ button feature, but it’s less for books.

As soon as I’m happy with re-reading and completing all my work on Wattpad (one day), it’s likely that I will transition to a decent, decentralised alternative (more about this, and about Steemit below).

Yours.org is also a centralised posting platform, which integrates Bitcoin (Bitcoin SV) on your posts, so you can earn as you write. You can also use paywalls to close off parts of your posts. Will people tip you? It’s likely you can gain a following if you write hard-hitting, screen-orientated creative content.

Money Button extends the tipping feature to allow you to earn on any blogsite, by letting you create and integrate a crypto-tipping button plug-in. At least then, you can cut down on the need for ads on your website, and focus just on the words. But if you use this, and go off-platform, how do you capture an audience without being part of a community or platform?

A true blockchain platform, on the other hand, will offer a permanent, distributed option which has no single point of failure. Some say these platforms are the future, but they already offer a great alternative today.

About publishing to a Blockchain

Blockchain means permanence, longevity and monetization without any intermediary (or advertising, preferably). Selling a book directly to a buyer will mean more money for you. Some very intriguing, blockchain-based monetized platforms and projects are emerging and improving. Despite market lows right now, these technology ‘ecosystems’ are warming up. The plan is to cover these here in this blog now and then. What might be the best platform for content creators or writers right now?

Steemit, and Steempeak (both posting to the Steem Blockchain)

Why not earn some Steem, on the Steemit site? You can swap Steem into real money (on exchanges), send it rapidly between other users, or re-invest it into the platform. [At time of writing, I’m investing most of my SteemPower into Share2Steem.io, a project that integrates Instagram with Steem.]

In general, the added bonus of getting a tip along the way is even more motivational, when you’re posting creative work online. Steemit only recently lets you edit all your old posts. This means you could now effectively write your book to the Steem blockchain, and edit any part, but… is this really the right platform? I’d say, it’s certainly an option.

Steempeak is a step further, as it interfaces even better with the Steem Blockchain. It’s an alternative ‘browser’ to Steemit.

It also takes a little time to get familiar with the Steem economics, and how the three platform tokens work.

Once all set up, how is your work to be found on Steemit?

The rewards are somewhat transient, and so are a lot of the posts in general. But it’s about community. You might get comments and a following, especially if you engage with other people’s posts. Don’t forget you can also get supported or delegated to by fans, which can mean that every post you write will get boosted, for however long you get delegated SP. You can even rent SP on some Steem sites.

You could invest in a large amount of SteemPower beforehand, in order to boost each entry that you publish yourself. Alternatively you could promote each post individually with Steem or Steem dollars, using bots and promotion services inherent in the platform.

Posting can be integrated with WordPress, so you could publish and categorise a taster of your work on a separate blogsite perhaps, by utilising the Steempress plug-in.

Under the hood is important

Under the hood, on Steemit etc, your book posts that you upload won’t be stored centrally, for they are distributed, or decentralised, which means your words aren’t so vulnerable to disappearing, or being owned in order to display adverts everywhere (at least, not as much). Your data and content is also safer and under your control.

For digital longevity, tokenising books or publications is very attractive, if the token is guaranteed to survive. It’s a feasible option. You could also find (or wait) for the right dapp that is sure to focus on writing especially. Trybe seems interesting, but it’s very new.

Publica is a blockchain-based project, where you can tokenise your book project, and raise funding for its production, reaching a target audience somewhat in advance of a release. When it is released, this can then be bought with crypto or PBL / Pebbles token within its special marketplace (where you can also buy with fiat money) which also happens to be a mobile app-store. Quite an alternative to Amazon Kindle, eh? It’s very promising, but early days.

Does any of this really matter though?

If you’ve got a golden project that you’re in love with, and can see that people (or test readers) like it too… well, it could be just a matter of publishing or producing it in its most suitable form, and spending all the rest of your days marketing it, or via some marketing company, for a big ‘hit’.

But, don’t underestimate the quantity of the competition. Sure, you could snap up a book deal with this golden ticket, probably if you’re a well-known star, or have been writing for many years.

Even then, I’d still suggest a site like Wattpad. Why? For one thing, real readers and writers visit here. It’s true, they are the (younger) sort with time on their hands to spend online, but not all of them. It’s also true, that they will read your first lines and if it doesn’t hook them then they won’t read more. Yes, they will also glimpse your cover image thumbnail and if it isn’t total eye-candy it’s unlikely they’ll even look any deeper. They judge books by covers, but hasn’t that always the way? It is a harsh climate, but these are harsh times. Such a climate will force you to find the best image for your book, and your best writing. Alternatively, it will allow you to place your ideas out there anyway, to reside, where it will find its own particular audience, influence others, or challenge people to return to it over time.

The only problem is that Wattpad is not yet a Dapp, and isn’t monetized or decentralised. You can’t tip stories yet with crypto, or certain segments you found impressive. However, as more and more things become tokenised, it’s quite nice to have this (centralised) testing ground to get an audience first.

For now, Wattpad has a community of active writers and readers, and this I say, can be the most effective realm for any writer of the future to find their feet, and later to find success. Write one book for free, and then write another (or more) for money…

Start with this, and you might be able to begin to consider listing on Amazon, some nicely finished books. Or, you can post parts onto a site like Steemit or blockchain-based dapp. Ideally, you don’t want to involve a middleman like Amazon, but only a marketplace of readers, ready to buy peer-to-peer.

Just be sure your readers are waiting, or that you can take them with you… Feel ready to finally spend the time and money that are required to publish a sellable package, if that’s where you want your ideas to live.

 

Hope this article provides some guidance.
Also published on Steemit / Steempeak.com
Follow me on Wattpad.
March 2019
Thoughts? Share on Telegram Group, down below, or above on Steem.

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