Introduction to Internet Writing Markets

Types of markets on the Web -
Print readership is falling around the world, from about 10% (in North America) to nearly 25% (Europe) less, but we’re reading more because of the Internet. For writers that means traditional markets are dwindling, but online markets offer lots of opportunities. Let’s take a look at some of the exciting ways you can get published on the Web.

Nonfiction, of course, provides the most opportunities for short works. But rather than trying to address all the different subject areas, I’m going to divide the markets by the way they pay writers.

  • Paying markets
  • Nonpaying or in-kind markets
  • Revenue-sharing markets
  • Self-publishing markets

Paying markets work much the same on the Internet as in traditional publishing. You also find them the same way except you use a search engine rather than scanning the magazine shelves at Chapters. There are some options though, if you’d like to take a few shortcuts.

  • Markets databases (my favorite is Wooden Horse Publishing, where you can purchase a 24-hour subscription for just $1.99 to check out the latest editorial calendars and requirements)
  • Freelance marketplaces like Elance (businesses post writing jobs—you can bid on corporate markets here, which are the highest paying gigs)
  • Global marketplaces (similar to freelance, except you post your services such as editing, or writing slogans, or composing personalized birthday poems, more like a directory in the mall—Fiverr is a good example, although you can charge more on sites like Tenrr and Twentyville)

Writing for nonpaying or in-kind markets isn’t an option for most writers, but they can be useful for content marketing purposes since they generally provide backlinks to the writer’s website. Check out article directories such as EzineArticles and ArticlesBase.

falling money

Revenue-sharing publishers are great for content marketing, too, as well as breaking into “print.” There’s no direct pay with some, like HubPages, but you can add money-making opportunities you qualify for, such as the big three: AdSense from Google, or affiliate earnings from Amazon or eBay. Some revenue-sharing markets, like RedGage, pay you a small amount each time your article is viewed, so you don’t have to qualify for a service and are guaranteed some money.

While self-publishing offers the most potential for income, it’s also the most work. If you blog or have your own website you can make money by adding from hundreds of different corporate advertising options using Rakuten Affiliate Network, or the big three that are also used in revenue-sharing markets. You can try the big three without any monetary investment by setting up a free blog on Google Blogger.

Not interesting in blogging or nonfiction? The good news is that there are lots of publishing opportunities for literary writers and poets. Payment varies, so you’ll need to investigate markets the same as you do for print publications.

Many literary journals have moved to the Web to fight the ever-increasing costs of print publishing and stamps. With hundreds of publications choose from, it may take some previewing to find the best fit for your writing. There’s a great guide to publications accepting literary short stories and longer fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, essays, literary criticism, book reviews, author interviews, art and photography on the New Pages website under the Magazines link.

For poets, the Poetry Library organization in the UK provides a great alphabetical list of online poetry publications (check under the Magazines link). The list only includes publications that follow an editorial policy similar to that of traditional printed poetry magazines.

Genre publications also abound on the Web for short fiction, with science fiction, fantasy, and horror leading in popularity.  The website has a good list of speculative fiction markets under Publishing Tips. Looking for paying markets here? These magazines are usually sold by subscription (Asimov’s Science Fiction) or by issue (Sanitarium Magazine), in an e-book format.

You’ll also find some online publications that focus on short fiction. These are the Web categories:

  • Short story: More than 1,000 words with a plot that’s not complicated enough to be a novel
  • Flash fiction: Up to 500 words, although some markets take up to 1,000 words
  • Microfiction: story under 300 words

And if you’re interested in trying some of the alternative ways to publish fiction on the Web, you may want to check out one of these types of markets:

  • Shared Worlds
  • Serial Fiction
  • Social Communities

Shared worlds are a great way to try out your fantasy writing skills, and try indie e-book publishing  at the same time, using Amazon’s Kindle Worlds program.

globe of the world

With Kindle Worlds, authors can legally write about worlds and characters that other writers have created—you split your income with the copyright holder of the original series. Of course not all writers license their worlds through this program, but the following are just a few of what’s available:

  • The Vampire Diaries
  • The World of Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ravenswood

After decades of being ignored, serials are popular once again. Readers find them great for reading on a smartphone standing in line at the bank, especially if you sell them in your favorite app store.

Writers often use serials to test the waters for new worlds and characters they’re creating or through short connected stories to promote other books. Check out services like SerialTeller online.

WattPadd is one of the world’s most popular online sites for story writers—it’s sometimes described as a YouTube for writers. With 35 million member readers, it’s a great place to try publishing in a social community. Building your brand? WattPadd is the perfect stop. It isn’t a site just for serials, but if you’re giving away a book you do have to release it chapter by chapter instead of in one download. While you do have to give away your content for free, you can do some fan funding where you ask readers to donate. The most popular genres here are science fiction, young adult, and fantasy.

Whatever you write, whether it’s in a single genre or one that blends elements from a few, there’s a place for your short fiction. And of course, the Information Highway, as we sometimes call the Web, is always receptive to nonfiction articles.

*** Note this article was first published in the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild publication, Freelance, winter 2016.

If you’d like to know more about finding Internet Writing Markets, click here.

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