Today marks the one week anniversary of a little experiment of mine: posting my fantasy short story Sword of Kings for free with two different mobile reading services, Wattpad (http://www.wattpad.com/3237579-sword-of-kings-part-i) and Scribd (http://www.scribd.com/doc/79242254/Sword-of-Kings).
If you haven’t heard of either service, don’t feel bad. I’d vaguely heard of Scribd before but only came across the possible sales and promotional potential of both it and Wattpad after reading David Gaughran’s attempts with both his own short stories and serially posting his novel A Storm Hits Valparaiso.
In essence, both services offer a variation on the same theme: they facilitate the process of writers finding readers. Writers post their work (though Wattpad is almost exclusively fiction and poetry) without charge; readers can download those works for free. The reasons why writers might want to offer their work for free are many: to find beta readers, to “field test” an odd-ball idea, to stimulate interest in your writing so that it leads to sales of other works, to simply spread your ideas.
While Wattpad and Scribd may seem like just another internet fad, consider that Wattpad claims 1 million users, 3 million comments/votes per month, and the average user spends 30 minutes twice a day on the site. The top stories in each genre of the “What’s Hot” category routinely register over 1-2 million reads. That’s exposure.