- E-PUBLISHING UNLOCKS WORLD OF WRITING *
I'm reading the new Margaret Atwood; some mountaineering stories by Jon Krakauer; a bit of Haruki Murakami; an anthology of articles written over the past 10 years by people who never believed Lance Armstrong; and a thing about stopping to smell the roses when you are post-40.
That's on Byliner. On Wattpad, there's more Margaret Atwood, the 13-part Happy Sunrise Zombie Home; a wannabe Fifty Shades of Grey and a thriller that 49 other readers and I have been suggesting ideas for the next chapter as it gets written. And it's all free.
As the world of online publishing explodes into its most accessible form, websites providing the platforms are a goldmine for known, anonymous and undiscovered authors.
Byliner is full of famous literary names, and quite a few lesser-known (but no less interesting) ones. The concept is writing to be read in under two hours - short stories, essays, musings.
There are Byliner exclusives, such as Atwood's Positron, which she has delivered in three parts, links to articles and fiction (many go straight to The New Yorker online) along with excerpts from coming work.
The basic site is free, although you can subscribe for $US10.99 ($10.45) a month, which gives you greater access to Byliner exclusive fiction (there's currently a free 60-day trial on offer).
Wattpad is slightly different but no less addictive. Favoured genres include vampires, zombies and romance.
Writing in The Guardian last year, Atwood describes it: "On Wattpad . . . you can post your own writing. No one need know how old you are, what your social background is, or where you live. Your readers can be anywhere.
"And if you're worried about adverse reactions from your teachers, your grandmother or others who might not like you writing about slavering zombies or your relatives, you can use a pseudonym."
It does feel younger - the Wattpad One Direction launch generated more than 12,000 pieces of fan fiction - but there is no doubt Wattpad is huge. In the six years since it started it has grown into a platform in 25 different languages with millions of members and 1.7 billion hits a month. One of those One Direction stories has been read 8.6 million times. I'm off to read how Rachel is going to win Harry Styles' heart at a masquerade ball . . .