If you are writing a novel and would like some unofficial "beta" readers - or if you have published a short story, and the readership of the literary magazine has run its course - it's not a bad idea to post your work on a site that has a devoted readership.
Reading and writing communities can be a great way to get feedback on your writing. They also host competitions for the most popular stories, which are then publicized. On some of the larger sites, notably Wattpad and authonomy, there are tie-ins with media, publishing houses, and, in the case of WEbook, a service that helps writers pitch directly to agents.
Be sure to read the "about" and "FAQs" sections of the sites before you start posting. Each community offers something a little different, so, given that when you post your work it will be made available to thousands, if not millions, of readers, it is important that your goals mesh with what the community has to offer.
Please note that not all of these sites block the copy/paste function.
With over 18 million users, Wattpad is the world's largest reading and writing online community. It began in 2006, as the result of a collaboration between Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen. In February 2007, Wattpad added over 17,000 eBooks from Project Gutenberg making them available to mobile users. Over 64,000 stories are uploaded to Wattpad or expanded every day. Wattpad is mainly geared to a young audience, with a large number of readers in the Philippines, where several Wattpad stories have been adapted into teleseries. Wattpad blocks the copy/paste function, so you can post unpublished works on the site.
Scriggler describes itself as "a place where anyone can share their stories, opinion, essays, poetry, research, ideas or reflections without constraints on topic, genre, or length of publication." The start-up was founded in 2013 and is run by three partners in New York, London, and Russia.
Scriggler holds a monthly writing contest in four categories - opinion, story, poetry and author of the month. The piece with the highest popularity score (based on number of views, likes, comments, etc.) is promoted across multiple social networks, and gets featured in their newsletter (currently 1400 subscribers). While Scriggler does not yet have the number of readers that Wattpad and other established reading communities have attracted, its presentation is elegant, and the pieces submitted do not get lost in a sea of daily publications. Scriggler also emails a selected publication of the day to its members, which is a great way to reach readers. Scriggler does not block the copy/paste function. To be on the safe side, only post pieces that you have already published.
WEbook is geared towards discovering new writers and helping them on their path to publication. It brings together writers, readers, and literary agents, WEbook was launched in 2008, with corporate offices based in New York City.
In addition to providing a venue for writers to reach an audience, WEbook actively helps writers find agents through their AgentinBox service. This service pre-screens query letters, guaranteeing that queries will meet industry standards, and allows writers to choose agents from the list of those interested in specific genres. Writers can also easily tailor manuscript samples to make sure every agent gets what they’re looking for—AgentInbox will automatically match each agent with the right sample version. Because the ultimate goal of writers joining WEbook is to get an agent (and get published), the copy/paste function is blocked on this website.
Authonomy is owned and operated by HarperCollins. Unpublished and self-published authors may upload their manuscripts, in full or in part, for visitors to read and critique online. Every month, five authonomy manuscripts are selected to be reviewed by HC editors for possible publication. Users retain copyright. Authonomy also maintains a blog, features writing tips by published authors, and hosts forums for writers.
"Booksie is a free social publishing site that provides a place where writers and readers can connect from across the globe. Over the past seven years, tens of thousands of writers have posted hundreds of thousands of short stories, novel, poems, articles and more. Booksie is for writers 13+ (no adult content). Booksie organizes your portfolio and gives you tools (including a micro-Blogger) to connect with your audience. You can Feature certain work in your portfolio, embed images and video, tell your writers about the latest news (micro-Blogging), and keep tabs of your fans." Note: A Booksie spin-off, Booksiesilk, is for erotica and adult content. Booksie blocks the copy/paste function.
"Critters is a member of the Critique.org family of on-line workshops/critique groups, and is for serious writers of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. You get your work critiqued in exchange for critiquing the work of others, both of which are invaluable ways to improve your writing. It's run by Andrew Burt, former vice-president of SFWA and his army of software minions." Critters is listed as one of the 101 best websites for writers by Writer's Digest,
CritiqueCircle.com officially opened on October 21, 2003. There are 3,112 active members. Over 100,000 stories and 475,661 critiques have been posted, with over 24 million visits to the site. "During your first visit to CC you will be a Trial user which means there are restrictions on what you can do. Once a CC Moderator has reviewed your application you will be upgraded to a full registered member and these restrictions will be lifted. This usually only takes a couple of hours. Critique Circle runs on a credit system. You "pay" three credits to submit a story, and receive credits for writing a critique of someone else's story. The credits you receive range from 1/2 to 2 per crit, depending on the length of the crit and the length of the story." Critique Circle is based in Iceland, where 1 in 10 people will publish a book.
Elfwood is a popular sci-fi and fantasy writing site owned and operated by a Swedish company called Usify. Elfwood claims that it currently gets around 3,500,000 page views a day and around 3 million unique visitors every month. Their terms of service include the right to "use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the services in any media formats through any media channels and through third party services." In addition to providing a venue for stories and art, Elfwood offers a series of tutorials on writing and drawing. For ages 13 and up.
"Figment is an online community and self-publishing platform for young writers. Created by Jacob Lewis and Dana Goodyear, who both worked at The New Yorker, the site officially launched on December 6, 2010. Figment currently has over 300,000 registered users and over 370,000 'books', or pieces of writing. Other features include frequent writing contests, a blog, forums, and The Figment Review. On February 27, 2012, Figment announced it would purchase and merge user bases with its rival site, Inkpop.com. On March 1, 2012, the two sites merged userbases and works. In 2013, Figment was acquired by Random House Children's Group." Make sure you read their terms of service before you sign up.
Mibba is a reading and writing community aimed at teens. Users can post stories, poems, blogs, articles, book reviews, and get feedback, Mibba hosts a forum, and provides writing tips and a grammar handbook. Good for budding writers.
"Protagonize is an online creative writing community based in Vancouver, BC, Canada which was established in 2007 . It is owned and operated by Taunt Media. The site caters to both amateur and experienced authors interested in online collaborative creative writing, and is currently home to over 32,100 pieces of writing and 126,000 pages, and has over 22,000 members from around the world." Protagonize has FAQs that give detailed information about how the site works, which sets it apart from many other less well-organized writing communities.
Scribophile is an online community where writers can post their work and get critiques from other writers. The site works on a "karma" system. Before you can post your work, you must earn karma points either by critiquing someone else's work, or when other members like your critiques. The longer your critique, the more karma you earn. You "spend" these karma points when you post your work, Posting on Scribophile does not affect first publication rights, as your work can only be read by members, For more information, read their FAQs.
"Twimagination is a free Twitter application that allows you to share your imagination through Twitter like you used to share your opinions, experiences or media. With Twimagination you can instantly publish your writings such as fiction short stories, poems, novels, fairy tales, fantasies, dreams or any other products of your imagination. Even without login you can: read short stories and poems online in various languages on the main page (using language filter); view authors' timelines; mark any posts you like and then export them using 'Export' link in the top menu. There you can convert the posts to your favorite reader format. Output formats are: html, epub (iPad and many others), lit (MS Reader), pdf (for printing), mobi (Kindle)."
Twimagination is an interesting concept, but because it allows all formats, including printing, and because everything you post will be available on Twitter, I would suggest limiting your posts to work you have already published.
With 1,137,125 members, writing.com is one of the largest online writing communities. Started by a husband and wife team, writing.com promotes a friendly environment for writers. The site offers writing portfolios, email, a newsfeed, groups, contests, survey forms, madlibs, and submission tracking, as well as tutorials. Writing.com is geared to amateur writers.
Young Writers Society
"Formed in 2004, the Young Writers Society serves as a keynote global community for young writers. We aim to promote creative writing as a pastime, prepare aspiring authors for future publication, and create lasting bonds across continents and cultures alike." Membership is geared to writers between the ages of 13 and 25.