[Note: I just want to disclose I’ve had my book published by Bookkus, it can also be found on Goodreads, and I’m a member of Book Country. I’m much less familiar with Wattpad (I do have a short story posted there) and Smashwords.]
You’ve finished writing your novel – congratulations! But now what do you do with it? Where do you send it? If you follow the old rules, you carefully print it out, mail it to a publisher with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and eagerly check your mail each day. Now, of course, there are a number of other options. You can self-publish an e-book very easily, or you can post it to Wattpad, or Book Country, or send it to Bookkus (among numerous other options). So what’s the option that is most likely to get you to your goal (no, not to have it published, that’s easy in the e-book age) – to get some readers?
At this point you need to take a hard look at your novel – how well polished is it? Is it a first draft or a tenth draft? Have you had it read by anyone who would be honestly critical (this excludes your mother, best friend, other close family members, and that person who really, really wants to be your significant other)? Look, it’s a great ego boost to have someone tell you your novel is the best thing since (fill in the blank based on genre), but what you need is someone who will say: “Hmmm, have you run spell check on this?” or “That plot twist doesn’t make any sense – no one is that stupid.” Yeah, this will deflate the old ego, but more important it will tell you what you need to do to really make your book as publishable as possible. On the other hand, if you belong to a writer’s group and have been getting honest feedback as your book has developed and grown, then you’re in an entirely different league. This is where the decision comes in.
Think of your options as a spectrum. On the really well polished end (lots of valid, critical feedback received, been through multiple drafts) you can try sending to an established publisher. If it’s only a first draft, and you have no opportunities to get critical feedback then you need to post to a writer’s workshop like Book Country. From about the center of this spectrum (been through a few drafts, gotten some critical feedback and considered it carefully) and ranging towards the well polished end is Bookkus. I should add there’s always the option of self-publication (and plenty of companies that will be more than willing to help you for a fee), you can also post to Wattpad or Smashwords, but I think of that as just dropping out of the system and literally going it alone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s worked for some, but a) your novel better be damn good, and b) you’d better be prepared to spend a lot of time marketing, etc.
Okay, next time – when Book Country works for you.