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Webnovel: Is It a Legit Author Platform?

Drew is an online novelist with three e-published works. A bibliophile and a voracious reader. A writer who loves to muse about life.

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Is Webnovel Legit, or Is It a Scam?

Webnovel is not a scam. But why do authors call it a scam? Well, Webnovel doesn't follow the common western template for e-book or printed publishing.

Webnovel's business model follows a chapter-by-chapter pay-to-read template. Heard of Kindle Vella? Yes, almost like that, but Webnovel came first.

Webnovel is one of the fastest-rising pay-to-read online literature platforms in the world. It is technically the English arm of China's largest web novel company, China Literature (Qidian). It started with Chinese novel translations but soon expanded towards English original novels, and later, comics.

And contrary to what might others say about them, Webnovel.com is a legitimate company owned by Cloudary, which is owned by Tencent, a massive conglomerate that owns stakes in companies such as Riot Games, Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, Epic Games, Bluehole, and more.

Webnovel Platform: Its Authors and Market

According to Webnovel, the company has tens of thousands of authors from almost all countries in the world. They also have more than a hundred thousand novels and comics intellectual property rights (IPO) under their belt.

The number might sound absurd, but considering that there are more than a billion people in China. It sounds possible.

If you’re planning to become a Webnovel author, here are the pros, cons, and little tidbits about the platform to read first.

Pros:

  • Minimum Guarantee System (MGS) for contracted works
  • Low entry barrier
  • Less focus on editing
  • They’ll handle the marketing for you
  • Excellent reader/writer interface
  • Massive audience (just check their app downloads)

Cons:

  • High level of competition
  • You can’t delete your novel (but you can delete the chapters you’ve downloaded)
  • Your editors are project managers (they don’t edit)
  • You must release chapters daily and meet the quota to get the MGS
  • Webnovel expects your novel to have 100+ chapters

Contents and Market. As a long-time Webnovel reader, their content is mostly Asian-culture-inspired novels. But with the rise of English originals, I’ve been seeing an increase in variety in paranormal romance, horror, lit-RPG, regency romance, etc. Their current market revolves around earning young adults.

Availability. Webnovel is available for download both on Android and iOS. They also have an active website both for their authors and readers.

Two Major Issues About Webnovel

Just to be clear, this is not a rant, but from my personal experience and research.

1. The Infamous Webnovel Contract

The first main issue is their contract. Once you sign your book to them, Webnovel technically owns your work. They will distribute and sell your work at their discretion.

Aside from that, there are many people saying that their contracts are exploitative and their payment meager as compared to their counterparts (Amazon Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, Kindle Vella, Indie-Publishing, Patreon Model). It is also the reason people call them and their contract a scam.

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2. Hardcore Content Piracy

Another bone to pick against Webnovel is the rampant pirating happening to the novels on their platform. I don’t know if they’re being targeted, but a huge number of their contents have fallen victim to online piracy. It is just terrible.

I’ve tried and posted a few of my novels over there before, but it soon got pirated by a random pirate-aggregator site. A few months later and two or three more pirating websites began pirating my work. This event discouraged me from publishing my works in Webnovel.

Anyway, I also scoured the internet for common questions asked about Webnovel. Then I compiled them along with my answers for all aspiring web novelists out there.

Exclusive or Non-Exclusive Webnovel Contract?

Exclusive Contract

It means you can only publish your entire novel on the platform you have signed with. And on Webnovel, it means they own your work. In exchange, they will offer better benefits. But don’t get confused; better doesn’t mean great. You will get a 50% net profit cut from the earnings.

There might be a few loopholes like getting direct fan support through Paypal, Patreon, Ko-fi, and others. Still, always read your contract diligently.

Non-Exclusive Contract

In this contract, you trade the benefits of the platform for the right to publish your work elsewhere. You still own your work and only allowed Webnovel to host your novel for a fee.

You may sign a non-exclusive contract with platform A and sign another non-exclusive contract with platform B. Non-exclusive contracts usually offer around 30% net profit. Note the word ‘net-profit’ since it means considering all operational costs involved.

Webnovel Offered Me an Exclusive Contract, Should I Sign?

Alright, good for you. But hey, hold your horses for a moment, especially if you’re a new author. I’m not discouraging you, but don’t jump the gun with the signing stuff yet.

Like any legal paper that would land on your lap, you must look at every nook and cranny of the contract. Make sure you understand what you’re signing for. Read and thread carefully.

So did you like that contract or not? If you’re still not sure, I would advise you to let a legal professional look at the contract. But also realize Webnovel is not forcing you to sign.

Webnovel offered me a contract before, but after long deliberation and research. I didn’t pursue it since I didn’t like the contract’s terms (and I’m lazy). I knew I wouldn’t be able to do what the contract demanded from me.

However, my experience and your experience might be different. I have a lot of author friends who got contracted at Webnovel and are earning well. And I also have author friends contracted to Webnovel that are not earning that well.

If you have already signed the contract, realize that you’re committing your work to Webnovel. All I can say to you at this point is—I wish you luck! No sarcasm intended.

What Is Cloudary Holdings Limited?

You might have heard of this company if you’re aiming to get a Webnovel contract. Cloudary Holdings Limited is the one operating Webnovel itself. So Webnovel is the same as Cloudary Holdings Limited.

Which Is Better? Webnovel vs. Indie Publishing?

I’ll immediately pick indie publishing. After all, going indie allows you to wield your intellectual properties better to your benefit. You own the copyright yourself.

You can even go wide through various platforms, such as Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, and more. As an author, I have been following a few six-figure authors on their podcasts and websites.

This might be my bias, but I believe it is better to go the self-publishing route. Still, whatever you choose, if you have a good mindset and are committed, consistent, and hard-working, I’m sure you’ll succeed in any author platform.

Which Is Better? Webnovel vs. Traditional Publishing?

This is where everything gets a bit nit-picky. Traditional publishing, as people in the industry say, has high gates and requires a lot of work. Once you pass the gates, people say that it validates all the hard work.

Webnovel has a lower barrier of entry and requires not-so-much processes, unlike traditional. However, it requires a larger amount of word output and long-term commitments.

I’ll be honest. I’ll pick traditional here for the long-term outlook. But in terms of short-term outlook, I’ll choose Webnovel.

So How Much Can I Earn Writing On Webnovel?

That will depend on the popularity of your novel. Some of my friends earn around $200–1,000 per month. I heard their top authors earn more than $10,000 per month, but this requires a lot of hard work and skills like everything else in life.

How Do Webnovel Authors Get Paid?

After signing the Webnovel contract, you are now entitled to 50% net revenue from your novel. If they make an audiobook, translations works, and physical publications, you’ll get 50% net revenue. But again, please note the words "net revenue."

Webnovel also supports contracted authors through MGS (Minimum Guaranteed System). MGS assures you a $200/month check if you successfully publish at least 1,500 Premium Words/day a month for four months.

How Do I Market My Webnovel Series?

Here are some quick tips on how to promote your web novels:

  • Post on the Webnovel forums and promote your works.
  • Always interact with your audience.
  • Use social media.
  • Keep your work of good quality (Webnovel markets quality novels on their own).
  • Start an email list.

How Do I Get a Webnovel Contract?

Consistently publish your work at Webnovel, and once it reaches 50,000 words, you can contact and ask the Webnovel Editors in Inkstone (they have their chatbox) for a contract.

You can also join their available contests and get a contract through that path. Sometimes, a Webnovel editor will even contact you personally if your work shows promise.

I Signed a Webnovel Exclusive Contract, but I Want to Back Out Now. What Should I Do?

I have warned a lot of authors about this issue before. Many new authors get so dreamy when they get a contract that they’ll just sign right away.

Remember, once you sign off your work to Webnovel or anywhere else, it will bind your novel to the contract. What the contract says goes.

You can’t just say I want to back out and sell it to other places. Read the contract again in greater detail and ask an expert for their opinion.

Takeaway

I did my best to sort out what I know about Webnovel for authors and aspiring authors. During my research about this article, I took note that the current author’s payment for Webnovel isn’t for high-income countries but for rising lower and middle-income countries.

Here in the Philippines, $200–400 is already a good amount of money. But as someone who once lived in a high-income country for two years, I can’t recommend it. It can be a good hustle, but not as a primary source of income.

Still, Webnovel sounds appealing for those seeking stability and can churn out daily chapters. Of course, it wouldn’t sound too good once you’re aware of its Western competitors, such as Amazon.

And remember, Webnovel is a business.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Drew Agravante

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