A lot of us authors are attracted by Wattpad as social media. It’s a social media full of actual readers, after all. In fact the site has little to offer people who neither read or write. But some of the things we make think of to do at first won’t really fly with the Wattpad reader community.
I know of a couple of Indie authors who have discovered Wattpad, and who have posted a couple of chapters of their self-published work as a ‘free sample,’ and sit back and wait for sales of the full book to roll in. And it doesn’t happen. Because the authors involved do not understand the Wattpad community correctly.
I don’t understand Wattpad natively myself. I have read The Writer’s Guide to Wattpad which was published by Writer’s Digest books, and have been trying to master and apply the principals to my Wattpad life.
One thing about Wattpad is that the readers are accustomed to reading stories there for free. They resent outside-of-Wattpad authors who give just a taste of their novels and then want them to buy. Very many Wattpadders are teens, and many don’t actually have much money for book-buying. They want to find Wattpad stories that are either completed or that are regularly being updated and are likely to become finished. They view ‘free-samples’ of stories as being just ads for books they probably won’t want.
If Wattpad won’t give you loads of sales for your Indie novel, what good is it? First, it’s a way to get feedback on your work. Much of the feedback will be of no use to you, because it will be coming either from trolls, from the terminally politically correct who want to admonish you for alleged violation of the politically correct rules, or from teens who don’t know much about writing yet. But you can judge which of your book’s chapters works best by the number of readers who actually read it or vote on it, and you may find out a persistent problem when multiple readers grouse about the same thing.
Second, if you participate in Wattpad, first by reading the works of others, and then by adding your own work there, you will in time develop some Wattpad ‘groupies’ who like your work and will read what you write. They may not buy your works outside of Wattpad yet, but they will likely do other things to help you out once they have read a few of your works and liked them. First they will start sharing your Wattpad work both among their Wattpad friends, and over their social media accounts. If you are really generous in sharing stories on Wattpad, you may develop Wattpad fans who will also share the launch of your real-world Indie work on their social media accounts as well.
Another gift of Wattpad is that it is a community with vast numbers of young people. Your work may not please the majority of young people, but the ones who are attracted to your work add some youth to your fan base. Personally I don’t care whether my readers are 9 years old or 99, but I must admit that the 9 year old reader is more likely to keep reading my work a decade from now.
Serialized stories, like old-time movie serials, have an appeal on Wattpad. I don’t mean stories you update once in a blue moon, but the ones you update on a regular schedule once or twice a week. If you have a good novella you are willing to publish on Wattpad, tap into this desire by adding sections to it weekly, rather than dumping the whole thing on Wattpad as quickly as possible. This can build excitement. Provided your story is exciting in some way.
Some Wattpadders don’t often start Wattpad stories that are not yet finished. That means after your story is all posted to the end, you will possibly gain new readers for it. That’s why you want to check in with Wattpad several times a week to check for new comments. Responding to a sincere and kindly meant comment may win over a new reader into your Wattpad fan base. (Ignoring the mean comments is also an important skill.)
My main reason for doing Wattpad is that I’m hoping it will help me with a persistent writing problem I have: I don’t finish projects often, not even projects I love and that I have been working on for years. I’m hoping that by writing shorter works (novella-length) specifically to be posted on Wattpad, I will be encouraged by reads, votes and comments and keep the story going until the end. I know, it is recommended to write your work to the finish before you start posting on Wattpad, but in my particular situation, I need something to keep me going in order to finish things.
What should you write on Wattpad, if you shouldn’t just dump a few chapters on Wattpad as a sales technique? Shorter works— short stories or novellas— related perhaps to other, longer works you are writing— might be well received. I’ve also started a non-fiction work on Wattpad called ‘What do Readers Want’ which is mean to help other Wattpad writers learn some techniques to make their Wattpad stories more readable.
I’m afraid that in the years I have written on Wattpad, I have started some Wattpad projects I never finished. Some of them I’ve returned to ‘draft’ status and may delete altogether. Others I may resume, or may even start over, someday. My current projects are a poetry volume, the ‘What do Readers Want’ book, and a work of reviews of Christian fiction on Wattpad. I am in the planning stages of a science fiction novella which is the first work of a series I’ve planned for years. I’m hopeful to start that soon.
Are you a Wattpad writer? Or do you have a Wattpad account? What have your Wattpad experiences been like? Is Wattpad something you want to do more with?
My Wattpad works: