Back in 2012, I started posting stories online to see if people would enjoy my work. I’d been writing for a while before discovering Reddit’s online writing communities. Seeing how this was the quickest and easiest way into finding an audience willing to read the work of unproven and unknown authors, I jumped at the opportunity and met with excellent results. Over those years, there were a ton of upvotes. Many, many comments. The recognition of my fellow amateur authors and the feeling of community they provided.
From the start, I also realized sharing my stories on the internet was probably a terrible idea. I didn’t know the basics of publishing, copyright, or anything else related to the business of writing. However, I did know and accept to a certain degree my work could and would be stolen. It’s the nature of the beast. It’s a shitty part of human nature to steal when there is no chance of getting caught and facing down the consequences. If people were illegally downloading movies, television shows, and music, there is nothing stopping people from taking my work and utilizing it however they wish. Pass it off as their own. Make derivative versions. Narrate them to their YouTube channel. Share them on the websites to generate traffic.
In those early days, my initial feeling was: Wow, someone thought my work was good enough to share with others! How rad!
Over the years, I’ve found my stories posted to Wattpad, Facebook pages, Tumblr, used as images on Instagram, and narrated on YouTube by channel owners who never asked me for permission to use my work. Being how I understood my content was going to be stolen and used, I would share the stolen work to my social media as a way to promote myself, even if this wasn’t the intention of the thief. Many times, there would be no mention of the original author. Most of the time, these folks would include a link to the original story or include my Reddit username, which seemed like enough at the time.
Now, it simply isn’t enough anymore.
While writing this, I searched YouTube for the very first story I posted in 2012 called “A Letter to My Future Self” and found uploads to YouTube as recently as 3 weeks ago of a story from so long ago. Granted, this story is under a different username, which I no longer can access, but it goes to teach me one important lesson – those works from years ago are as valuable today as they were back then. What you post on the internet stays up there forever and as long as everyone has access to it, people are going to be profiting from my work, endlessly.
Exposure is nice and everything but if the author isn’t making money and the other party is, there is clearly something wrong with this picture. From my experience, audiences aren’t looking back to the original sources. A link to a social media page or a personal website isn’t enough. No one clicks those. They’re usually buried somewhere in the YouTube description no one reads along with the link to the narrator’s Patreon page and merchandise store. Money should always flow to the author as well. Most of the time, audiences believe the narrators are the authors of the stories and the narrators aren’t too quick to correct them about it either.
For the reasons listed above, I’ve purged all my stories from Reddit except for stories which were written as a part of collaborations like anything from /r/NoSleepTeams, 13 Night of Christmas, or the Alphabet Soup series. I will continue to work in partnerships with other authors since I would still like a presence on Reddit and stealing a collaboration with a bunch of authors is much more difficult. It wouldn’t make sense to steal one little part of a bigger piece of the puzzle. I’ll also continue working on /r/NoSleepTeams since I do enjoy the contests and working with others.
However, as far as single shot stories go, I will not be posting my stories to Reddit anymore.
If you are a fan of my work, I’m incredibly grateful to you for the support over the years. I am currently working on putting together collections of my work previously posted to Reddit since 2012. These stories will be re-written to reflect the improvement in my writing. Stories from /r/ShortScaryStories will be fully fleshed out and go beyond the 500-word count limit. Once these collections are released, I will definitely allow promotions for free copies and advanced reader copies so you may have the stories collected once more and not feel like you are paying for content which you’ve already gotten for free.
Thank you again for all the support over the years. I will still be posting links to this subreddit and being active on Reddit as a moderator and member of the communities I love.