There is no shortage of content these days. Almost everywhere you look, there are books, articles, short stories, comics, poetry, graphic novels, and everything in between. It can be overwhelming to know where to find new books online, especially if you are looking to save a buck or two. If you’re on the hunt for hot new writing talent, you can find plenty to read for free or discounted, and you’re also paying the authors directly (and not a huge publishing house).
The following websites and book recs will have your wallet thanking you, as most of these reads are free or very cheap.
If you’re wondering where you can read books online, one of the top sites to find new writing talent is Wattpad. Wattpad is known for serving up titles that just may become the next bestsellers. Many writers who have gotten their start on Wattpad have gone on to get huge deals with publishing house giants or had their book optioned for an adaptation.
Whatever genre you’re looking for, Wattpad has it. From sci-fi to fantasy, romance to adventure, you can find it all, and all the subgenres in between (including poetry and non-fiction). You can also search by Editor’s Picks, From Our Stars, or The Wattys to find the best offerings. It’s quick and free to make an account, and Wattpad will curate a reading list based on your likes. Not too shabby! You can read in your browser or download the free app to read on your smartphone.
*Note: If the story is not free, it will have a little dollar sign and the words “Paid Story” beside the book title.
A new kid on the block compared to Wattpad, Fictionate.Me is the same kind of site for both writers and readers: writers can publish for free, and readers reap the benefits. There are many offerings for free, or you can preview chapters before you commit to buying. Most books range from $0.99-$5.99, although some are a little more. The most popular books are in the speculative category: horror, paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi, but there are other great genres to find, like drama, mystery, and romance, and even poetry.
Genre tags on the home page make it easy to quickly find books in your favorite genre, or you can search by Top paid, New Books, Consistent Writers, or Top Trending. Another cool feature is you can interact with your favorite authors and leave comments on their books.
It’s free and easy to make an account. If you plan on buying books on the site, you’ll need to sign up for a Stripe account, or you can connect your current one. You don’t have to download books either; you can read right from your browser. If you read on your phone, the interface is very much like an app, with customizations like text size, light or dark themes, and your place is automatically saved when you’re done reading.
If you’re ready to find the next big writing talent, definitely start your search here as well as Wattpad!
A self-publishing and global ebook distribution platform, Smashwords has over 500K novels, stories, poetry, nonfiction, and memoirs for you to read either for free or on the cheap. Signing up is quick and the site is super easy to navigate. Books on this site range from free to $9.99. You can search by price, word count, bestsellers, highly rated, newest, or most downloads right from the top of the page, or you can use the genre list on the left side of the screen. With over 88K free books, you’re sure to find something you (and your wallet) will appreciate!
You can read right in your browser, or download your books on your smartphone or e-reader, including Kindle. Once your account is created, you’ll have a personal library with all of your purchased and downloaded books so you can access them at any time. You will only need to enter credit card info if you plan to buy books.
Royal Road calls itself the home of web novels and fan fiction, where authors can publish for free and readers can read free or at a discount. Royal Road, like Fictionate.Me, allows you to connect with your favorite authors via DM or forums, making this a great reading and writing community. Royal Road also boasts illustrators who create book covers for the site’s authors, so you can also support visual artists here as well (the book covers on this site are really amazing and worth a look!).
After you create a free account, you can access thousands of titles at various price points. The drop-down menu on the upper left allows you to sort by Best Rated, Trending, Ongoing Fictions, Completed, Rising Stars, and Popular This Week, to name a few. To find the titles most recently published, select New Releases. The most popular genres on Royal Road are sci-fi, fantasy, and Lit-RPG, so if these are your favorite, you’re in luck! You can read in your browser, and some titles are available on Amazon, but the titles on Amazon may not be free like they are on the site.
Webnovel is a global reading platform that boasts over 100K novels, comics, and fanfiction. Like Fictionate.Me and Royal Road, you can read WIPs and serialized content in small, quick bites. This kind of microtransaction reading and “in-game” purchase mode is being heralded as one of the new trends in the future of publishing.
Making an account is very simple, especially if you use your Facebook or Google login. When you first land on the home page, a pop-up box will ask your preferences for what genres you’re looking for so they can better curate a personalized reading list for you.
You can browse by genre (many are included, such as horror, fantasy, historical, and sci-fi) or by male or female lead characters. There is a Rankings drop-down menu, so you can search for the top-rated novels, comics, or fan-fic, all separated by genre. You can search for books by most popular, trending, or fandom, and the book covers on this site are also worth enjoying, especially if you love anime.
Another plus? All books on the site are free! You can help your favorite authors by voting and commenting on your favorite works. You can even make comments in the chapters themselves, giving authors invaluable feedback. Like Royal Road, Webnovel also has a community forum to chat with authors, other readers, and artists on the site. Read in your browser or on the app.
Author bio: Heather R. Parker is a freelance writer, editor, and published poet from Georgia. She works as a writer and editor for the self-publishing platform Fictionate.me. Her work has been published by Nightingale & Sparrow Magazine, Goats Milk Magazine, Analog Submissions Press, Friday Flash Fiction, Clover & Bee Magazine, Medium, and others. Heather lives in Georgia with her husband, son, and a menagerie of pets. In her spare time, you can find her doing yoga, taking long walks in the woods, birdwatching, or picking flowers in sun-dappled meadows. You can follow Heather’s writing on Instagram and Fictionate.Me.