What's the Best Platform for Serializing Fiction? Royal Road vs. Wattpad vs. Laterpress
Learn to pros and cons of serializing fiction on Royal Road, Wattpad, and Laterpress.
Serialized fiction has exploded in popularity in recent years, as has the number of different apps and platforms offering serialized stories. Deciding which platform or platforms to publish your own stories or fanfic on as an independent author requires research and careful consideration.
Today we’ll contrast and compare Laterpress to two long-standing serial fiction sites, Wattpad and Royal Road. The goal is to illustrate potential advantages and disadvantages to each to determine which platform has the ability to help you as an author earn money from publishing while creating and engaging a reader audience. Note that unless you enter an exclusivity agreement with a platform, you could use all three platforms simultaneously, if you really wanted to.
Founded in 2006 by two University of Toronto students, Wattpad brings serialized fiction writers and readers together with free and paid stories. This 17 year-old platform has stories in every genre, though romance dominates. The potential reader pool is massive, as they claim to have over 85 million users (sometimes referred to as Wattpadders).
Built as a social storytelling platform, Wattpad thrives on its reader engagement. Stories are divided into chapters where users can read, comment and message authors and fellow readers. Wattpad makes sharing with friends and fellow readers on and off the platform easy, as stories can be shared with the click of a button. Tags and curated “hot” lists push stories into the hands of new readers. Wattpad Corp holds writing contests, such as the annual “Watty Awards.”
Why it might be right for you
One of the biggest advantages of Wattpad is its massive user base. With a global community of 85 million users, Wattpad writers have an enormous potential audience. This can be particularly beneficial for authors who are just starting out and want to build a following. Young Adult (YA) fiction, Romance and fanfiction stories are hugely popular.
Ease of Use
Joining the site is free as a reader or a writer. There is no approval process, which means you can upload your first chapter or your complete story, press publish and have your words live on the site in a matter of minutes.
With a strong focus on social interaction, including features such as comments, likes, and shares, the platform can help authors engage with their readers and build a community around their work. Readers can comment on a line-by-line basis, easily invite others to read stories, both in app and through social media and the ability to add images, videos and links to chapters. Direct messaging between both reader and author accounts is available as well as a conversation board on each author’s profile where they can post thoughts, advertise new chapters or promote other books.
Wattpad also has a range of tools and resources that can be helpful for authors. For example, the platform offers analytics that can help authors track their readership and engagement, as well as publishing tools that make it easy to upload and format stories.
The Wattpad Creators Program is a paid program which offers additional support and resources to selected writers who are chosen based on their popularity and engagement on the platform. Only an elite few are chosen and the team at Wattpad helps promote these stories within the app and on the website, pushing them with premium placement and in-story advertising. They also have business relationships in place to adapt serials into other media. Wattpad Studios works with partners like Hulu, Syfy, and Sony Pictures to adapt wattpad stories into film and television projects, while Wattpad Books acts like a traditional publisher, offering publishing deals to bring the platform’s most popular stories to bookstores as paperbacks. Anna Todd’s After became a movie with a theatrical release. Wattpad stories have been picked up by Netflix too.
Why it might not be right for you
Wattpad offers a paid subscription service called Wattpad Premium, which allows readers to access exclusive content and removes ads. The revenue generated from this service is not distributed to writers. Instead, Wattpad keeps all the subscription fees for itself. This means that even if a writer's work is read by thousands of people on Wattpad, they will not receive any financial benefit from this exposure.
If making money is your goal, Wattpad’s paid program, Wattpad Creators is your only option. But beware, it is by invitation only. Essentially, you must get “noticed” by the platform, rising above the plethora of stories available, and even then there is no guarantee of admission. To qualify, your stories must first be added as free chapters and garner thousands if not millions of reads and have a certain number of Engaged Readers.
Even if a writer's story does become popular on Wattpad, earning a substantial income from the platform can be challenging. Once in the program, the opportunity to make money still relies on readers purchasing in-app coins to spend on chapters to unlock them. Popularity is the name of the game on this site.
Another factor that can limit a writer's ability to earn money on Wattpad is the platform's focus on free content. In fact, the majority of its content is available for free to readers. This means that many readers on the site expect to read for at no cost and are not willing to pay for content, which can make it difficult for writers to earn a substantial income from their work.
A contract is required to join the Creator’s program, of which one of the stipulations is story exclusivity for up to two years. This means that your story cannot be uploaded or published on any other platform during this timeframe, ruling out conventional self-publishing as a way to earn money from their writing.
Lost in a Crowd
With over 85 million users, the advantage of popularity can turn to a disadvantage. It can be difficult for new or lesser-known authors to stand out and get noticed. In addition, Wattpad also has a reputation for being over-saturated with low-quality writing, which can make it challenging for authors who want to be taken seriously.
A potential disadvantage of Wattpad is its focus on shorter, serialized stories. While this can work well for some genres, such as fanfiction or romance, it can be a hindrance for authors who want to write longer, more complex stories. Chapters have a 7000 word limitation per chapter and 200 chapter limit per book.
Wattpad can be a great platform for writers to share their work and connect with readers around the world, with a model built on engagement, sharing and commenting. However, there are some reasons why writers aiming to profit from their writing might want to avoid putting their story on the site. Making money on Wattpad can be difficult due to the saturation of content and the limited earning potential of the stories. Story exclusivity is required to join the invitation-only Creator’s Program.
About Royal Road
No, we’re not talking about the royal road of the Persian Empire, which ran through Mesopotamia and Babylon. We’re talking about Royalroad.com, a popular web fiction platform. Created in 2014 by readers of fan fiction, the online site focuses heavily on fantasy and sci-fi, with LitRPG also being highly popular. The over 1 million registered users are mostly loyal fans who come back weekly or even daily for content doled out in chapters. Readers can access a majority of the stories for free, follow their favorite writers, and comment on each chapter.
Why it might be right for you
While the platform has a significantly smaller readership than Wattpad, the 1 million readers there are loyal and your story has the ability to be found more easily. It's a place where readers come to discover new original stories, and if your work is engaging and well-written, it can quickly gain popularity.
Ease of Use
The platform is user-friendly and straightforward, making it easy for writers to publish their work without much technical expertise. The process is as simple as creating an account, uploading your story, and submitting it for approval. The initial review process can take between 12-24hrs.
Like Wattpad, commenting is available on Royal Road, but only at the end of each chapter. Readers can leave reviews and include star ratings on overall, style, story, grammar and character development.
The Author Dashboard available on Royal Road provides an overview of essential stats, including how many books, chapters and words are in your stories, the number of reviews received, and how many unique followers are reading your story. (Note that the most detailed analytics can only be unlocked via a $4.99 a month subscription.)
Readers can donate to writers to show their support for their work. This can be a great way for writers to earn some extra income while building a loyal fanbase. Note that this means Royal Road allows linking to a Patreon page or a Paypal account. Royal Road is not involved in the transaction, so authors have to set that up themselves.
Really, really, really want eyes on your story? Royal Road allows authors to purchase advertising for their stories, so the story stands out from the crowd for anyone visiting the site. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s worth it to pay to advertise a story on a site that only allows for third party donation support, and not direct monetization.
Why it might not be right for you
The Right Audience
Royal Road has a reputation as a site for amateur writers, which may limit readers’ perception of your stories and thus the ability to make money. If your story is not fantasy or science fiction based, you may find it difficult to attract readers.
Royal Road does not provide a direct way for writers to make money. They do at least allow authors to link out to donation options. Like Wattpad, Royal Road is known for its free content, so converting readers to a paid version might prove difficult.
Royal Road is a popular web novel and serial platform for amateur or first-time fiction writers, with a reputation for loyal fans of fantasy, science fiction and LitRPG. While it can be a good avenue to get your writing some exposure, it may not be the best option for everyone. For writers whose books are not in popular genres or themes, it can be difficult to gain a following. While Royal Road may be a useful starting point for some writers, it is important to consider all the potential drawbacks before posting one's work on the platform.
Established in 2022, Laterpress gives authors the freedom to publish ebooks and serialized fiction online to link to off your site and social media. Books are web-native and can be read from anything with a browser, be it a PC, iphone, tablet, even a game console’s browser. No app to download, invitation required, or contracts to sign. This platform caters to every genre.
Laterpress offers a new and unique way to get your stories in front of readers with a string of advantages built with authors in mind. The process is streamlined to ensure you get to focus on what you do best - writing.
Why it might be right for you
Every story added on Laterpress platform has the potential to earn revenue. Authors can set up a Stripe account to receive payments, and have full control over how they monetize their work. Authors can make their work free, or set their price. Books can be sold as a single payment, or in pieces as chapter bundles. It’s also possible to create an annual subscription that covers everything. Laterpress takes 0% on direct payments, meaning more money is in your pocket.
Ease of Use
There's no need to worry about complicated formatting or coding. Write online or upload instantly. With an ePub conversion tool and upload options, your story can be up and earning on Laterpress in no time.
The clear and clean interface makes reading easy with screen options built for binge readers, including dark mode.
Publish where you want
Publish your books and serials to your own branded sub-domain (like planargates.nategillick.com). With your branding front and center, you can build a direct relationship with readers and they don’t even have to know Laterpress exists.
Publish what you want
No approval process is required for your stories on Laterpress. Books of all genres, fiction and nonfiction alike, are welcome. Science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, romance, memoirs, erotica, paranormal thrillers, and any other genre or genre mash-up can be published through Laterpress.
Laterpress has no limitations on location. With global access to stories for readers and authors, every story has the opportunity to be seen, read and enjoyed. Stripe, who handles payments, does have location limits to be aware of, however. Authors living in the 46 countries listed here would be able to monetize their fiction.
No Exclusivity Clauses
Goodbye exclusivity restrictions. Hello to publishing your story on your terms. Authors can use Laterpress as a distribution platform for new stories, old stories, even previously published stories. Your books always belong to you.
The system makes it easy to send an automated email directly to readers when new chapters or stories are updated, and gather newsletter subscribers along the way. With story recommendations, reviews and ratings, your book can be front and center.
Reporting and Reader Data
Authors can download their customer data to see who is reading and / or buying their stories, and how many chapters those readers have read. YOU own your customer date, making it easy to migrate to another platform if you ever decide to leave Laterpress.
Why it might not be right for you
Laterpress is built as a way to start directly selling to your audience. Because the proceeds of any sales go directly to the author, authors are responsible for handling any taxes that may be owed on such sales. Look here for more information on each state’s laws about when tax is owed. For most states, the bar is at least 200 sales in that state over a 12-month period before tax is due. When in doubt, talk to an accountant for the best advice for your situation.
You are responsible for your traffic
The appeal in sites like Wattpad and Royal Road are their large user bases. Authors publish there in hopes of being found and discovered. As Laterpress is designed as a conduit for direct sales, you should expect anyone finding your story on Laterpress is a reader YOU brought there, either via a newsletter, social media, or other direct interaction. That’s a big part of why Laterpress takes 0% of direct sales revenue. You worked to make that sale, you should keep the money! While not currently an ideal location for growing an audience, Laterpress helps you earn better revenue from the fans you have.
Community Features are currently limited
Author community features are how Laterpress intends to make the bulk of their revenue, and these only kick in when these features help readers find new authors. Thus, you can count on Laterpress adding to and improving upon these over time, as it’s in their financial best interest to do so.
Readers can find recommendations through their bookshelf, as shown in this reader experience overview. Readers and authors can also generate affiliate links. However, anyone looking for an Wattpad / Royal Road like experience where a reader visits a site and immediately sees a lot of stories is going to be disappointed.
Conclusion: Which is best for you?
When considering where to publish or serialize your writing, it’s important to consider each platform’s strengths, and how they align with your goals.
If monetization is your goal, Laterpress offers the most control and flexibility, as authors get to name their price for their works, and receive the full sale price, less payment processing fees. Royal Road monetization involved giving the work away in hopes of funneling to a Patreon or donation link. Wattpad monetization means giving your work away for free in hopes of being discovered and invited into their Creator’s Program, and it’s hard to determine what authors are making there.
If reader feedback and growing an audience are your primary concern, Wattpad and Royal Road may be stronger options, given their larger user bases, greater number of discoverability features, and the ability for readers to leave comments.
Outside of the Wattpad Creators Program, there are no exclusivity clauses here, making it entirely possible to experiment with two or even all three of these platforms simultaneously. If you are giving away writing for free on Royal Road or Wattpad, we have suggestions on how Laterpress can be included for monetization, especially as an “Early Access” platform.
Serializing your book can be a great way to stay motivated on your writing, grow an audience, and bring in some revenue while you're still writing a book to help offset publication costs. Wherever you take your writing, have fun and enjoy the process!