Wattpad Readers don’t want a ‘Free Sample’

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:
My MeWe Group for ‘Dissident’ (non-Leftist) Wattpad authors:(you are welcome to join.) https://mewe.com/group/5bb8a4c8a40f3041e0150490
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Your First Problem on Wattpad

Many writers find Wattpad a useful resource. For beginning writers it can be a way to get feedback on your writing from other people without paying some internet stranger for a ‘critique.’ For more advanced writers, even well-known writers, it can be a way to gain new readers— often younger readers who can’t afford to buy many books right now.
When you start up on Wattpad, your first problem is finding Wattpad friends. I think when I joined, I got to add my Facebook and Twitter friends who were also on Wattpad. Alas, most of them did not stay active on Wattpad. And you need a core of active Wattpad friends who will at least read the first bit of your story.
If you ‘follow’ other Wattpadders, they might ‘follow’ you back. Or not. But be selective! If you are fairly serious about what you write, avoid following a lot of teenagers who write nothing but cheesy fanfiction. Or, worse, smutty cheesy fanfiction. [‘Cheesy’ is just another word for ‘low-quality’ or ‘second-rate.’]
You want to follow people who are writers-like-you. If you write science fiction, don’t follow a load of romance [or sex-romance] writers. If you are Catholic and put Catholic things in your fiction, Christians who are Evangelical and have biases against Catholics might not be good choices, but Evangelicals who won’t mind your Catholic faith as long as you seem to know the Bible are fine people to follow. If you write lesbian romances, you don’t want a straight, conservative follower who is uncomfortable with lesbians or who fears lesbians as people who might lose him his job.
One way to find Wattpadders to follow is to read the works of others on Wattpad. If they have written works you like or can stand, follow them. Also make encouraging comments, and very kind criticisms if warranted. But this can be hard as many of the stories are weak. Keep trying, though.
Make sure your author photo and description are set up early. Also, don’t let your author bio be generic. Tell the things about yourself that are unique, and even things that some people might not like, such as your political or religious/antireligious convictions. You want to attract the like-minded and scare away the other kind.
My author photo is an older one, since Wattpad is a very ageist, youth-oriented zone, and anyway I have few recent photos of myself I wish to share with the public. I also have a ‘cover photo’ of a kitten in a boot. I like photos of kittens in boots. [Note to self: remember to take pictures of my current kittens in a boot while they are still small enough to fit.]
My profile page https://www.wattpad.com/user/NissaAnnakindt is not perfect, but at least I haven’t left important things blank, which would signal to other Wattpadders that perhaps I wasn’t serious about Wattpad and didn’t intend to stay active there.
Being active on Wattpad is the best way to meet more Wattpadders. Writing something on Wattpad, and posting to it regularly, is another way to get attention there. Wattpad stories are like the old movie serials [that I am not old enough to remember.] It’s exciting to the readers to experience a story part-by-part as it is posted. Though some more experienced readers pick only stories that are finished to read, since many Wattpadders lose interest in a story and quit writing it.
If you think Wattpad is for you, you might want to read ‘The Writer’s Guide to Wattpad’ by Benjamin Sobieck, and co-written by many Wattpadders. It will give you some advice to get started. There are also Wattpad guides on Wattpad itself, and some of them are worth reading.
If you join Wattpad, or are on Wattpad already, please feel free to follow me there: https://www.wattpad.com/user/NissaAnnakindt  Currently I am following everyone back that follows me, though in time I may unfollow some (and I hope they will unfollow me back) if we are very incompatible. I am currently working on ‘What Do Readers Want?’ which gives some writing tips in what I hope is a faintly amusing way. I also have some old stuff that I need to work on at some point, or take down.

Could Alien Invaders Exterminate Rural Humans without Ruining Earth?

I was bored yesterday, and so I watched Independence Day. Again. And at one point a character said that within 36 hours the aliens would destroy every major city. Which meant the human race would be exterminated.

Hello! What about the rural people? For the rural people getting rid of the cities would be an improvement. We give them the farm goods that keep them alive, and they give us drug dealers, taxes and laws that limit our ability to make a living. In other words, they give us liberals.

Well, I guess the aliens could use their visually cool explosions to kill the rural people like they killed the city folk. But rural folk are more spread out. They would have to explode us house by house, and each explosion would damage more of the Earth.

The aliens want the Earth for something. That’s a big, expensive space fleet they have. Why expend it— risk it— if they didn’t care whether they conquered Earth or not?

The aliens are somewhat like humans, so they need food to live. Where will they get it if they blow up all the farms? They would be better off enslaving all the farmers and taking their produce, or else driving the farmers off their farms and replacing them with alien farmers.

Each alien explosion drives up more stuff into the atmosphere. Their explosions aren’t nuclear, but they could cause a nuclear winter all the same— after all, a massive volcanic explosion once caused a ‘year without a summer,’ and may have caused US westward migration and affected the history of the Mormon church.

Would the aliens really want a world that is all ashes and suffering unseasonable coldness? Which would be made worse if solar cycle theory of Global Warming is true— the theory says we are at the end of a warm cycle and the start of a cool cycle. See ‘Dark Winter’ by John L. Casey. 

I would say that enslavement is a far more likely fate for rural humans than extermination, when the aliens arrive. After all, the aliens have a motivation. They are not just conquering Earth for the hell of it. They want to use the Earth, not ruin it, and why wouldn’t they use the surviving humans if they had to avoid killing them to keep the planet useful? Human beings are concentrated in cities. Without the city folk or military bases, the rural population would be easy to control.

The writer’s lesson is this: if you are going to have an external force destroy or threaten the Earth, think about the external force’s motivation. What do they want? How will they preserve the things they want about Earth while conquering it? You can’t just say that since they are aliens we can’t understand their motivations. In a real world alien invasion, humans may never know all the details of what the aliens want, unless they tell us helpful hints like how they want humans to die. But we can surmise from what they do. If they destroy mineral mines, they may not care about exploiting our mineral wealth. If they destroy our atmosphere, they aren’t planning to breathe here. If they spare certain things— farms, exotic African animals, meek-and-obedient humans— we can guess that they want these things for some purpose.

Should an agent specialize in BOTH LGBTQ fiction and MG/YA?

It’s kind of more professional to be a subscriber to Writer’s Digest, I know. But as an Antimatter Writer, it’s often a question of what they are going to outrage me about this month.

It’s not the fact that the mag is so agented-writer and traditional-publishing in its orientation. Maybe they were just ‘born that way.’ But when they have agents claiming that they want to see more LGBTQ fiction and more MG/YA fiction, they are just showing forth what is wrong and stupid about today’s traditional publishing.

The LGBTQ is an ever-growing acronym that refers to homosexuals/Gay persons and the other groups that homosexuals want to include in their political battles, like persons with gender dysphoria and the ‘questioning’ people.

MG refers to a kind of children’s fiction aimed at middle grade children age about 8-12 or younger. YA or young ‘adult’ fiction claims to be aimed at children 12-18, but as the heroes of YA fiction are aged 16 or 17, it is clear that it is mainly aimed at children under that age. Children like to think they are a year or two more mature than other kids, and when you are talking about children who read for pleasure, they really are more mature. So they can relate to characters a year or two older better than they can an ‘immature’ character their own age or younger. So let’s call YA fiction’s age group more of a 10-14 year old’s fiction. Though of course if either MG or YA fiction is worth reading by children, it’s worth reading by adults as well.

It used to be just common sense that you were very, very careful about what you said or wrote to other people’s children. I remember when I taught school I got in big trouble by telling my class that the donkey was the symbol of the Democrat party. It’s true, but it made little kids laugh, and so some angry Democrat parents demanded to know why I was insulting their political party when I should have been insulting the evil, lying, racist party on the other side (which I supported, though I wouldn’t mention that to other people’s kids.)

A literary agent who thinks LGBTQ fiction is now mainstream is likely someone who has very little knowledge about things like being sensitive about what fiction is not suitable for other people’s children. They may not care because they may think other people’s children are not to be protected, but to be exploited and made to change their viewpoints to ones that the literary agent and his cronies think should be the norm in future voters. I have read of YA books, at least, that have not only excessive sexuality, but excessive gay sexuality.

If an agent like that can get written up in Writer’s Digest, it just goes to show that modern parents who want their children to have a childhood can no longer trust the labels on books. Just because it claims to be a children’s book doesn’t mean it is suitable for children, especially YOUR children.

I hope things don’t get to the point where a reading child’s reading life has to be inhibited because Mommy or Daddy must read every book first to see if it’s decent enough for a child to read. Many parents are not big readers, or have little time to read. My parents could have never kept up with all the books I read during my teen years. Especially since in high school I started reading a few books in German.

I think that the new world of Indie publishing has something to offer here. If the major publishers start publishing excessively sexualized children’s books, or ‘diverse’ books that promote modern progressive stereotypes and leave majority groups out in the cold and despised, indie writers can start producing works that are better, and find their own audience.

 

3 Elements of a (Writing) Habit

What is your writing habit like? Does writing happen daily? Twice daily? Twice weekly? Or irregularly, whenever you feel like it, have a good writing idea, or have lots of free time?

Chris Fox, who writes books about writing, has a book out with the title “Lifelong Writing Habit.” In the book (which I highly recommend) he talks a lot about habits. Habits you have, good and bad, and habits that can be changed, or ‘flipped’, into better and more helpful habits.

A habit, according to Fox, consists of 3 parts:

  1. The Trigger
  2. The Routine
  3. The Reward

The Trigger is the event that triggers the habit. In a writing habit, the trigger can be based on a certain time (4pm) or an event (getting up in the morning.) Getting an great writing idea can also trigger a writing session, or feeling ‘inspired’ or creative.

The Routine is the meat of your habit. In a writing habit, it is when you sit down and begin to write. The actual events of the writing session vary from person to person. One person does most of his writing in timed writing sprints, the next person does one long open-ended spontaneous writing session. One person outlines the day’s writing, the other person wings it.

The Reward is what you get when you do the Routine of the habit. When you habitually brush your teeth, your Reward is a clean mouth, and the hope of better dental health.

When you write, your Reward might be a feeling of accomplishment. When I was a kid and did writing assignments in school, my ‘reward’ for finishing the assignment was to have my paper all marked up with teacher criticisms. With a reward like that, you can bet I didn’t finish my assignments too often.

Think of the habits you have that you really do every day, without thinking. Make a list of at least 5 of them, and think about this for each habit— what triggers it? What is the meat of the habit? And what do you get from it?

For example, I have a habit of putting on clean clothes every morning. I don’t even think about it— unless I’ve gotten behind at doing laundry. The trigger is getting up in the morning. And my reward is that when I go out in public, I don’t feel ashamed when people notice me.

That’s an example of a good habit. What about a bad habit? One I’ve had for years is that when I see an appealing but unhealthy/carb-filled food I like, I buy it and eat it. The reward is nice taste and a sugar/carb rush, followed by a lack of energy, weight gain, and higher blood sugar. The immediate reward— taste and rush— often outweighs my concern about the long-term consequences. What I try to do is NOT look at the high carb foods (junk foods, even ‘natural’ ones) when I shop. And keeping plenty of the foods I can eat in the house, so I’m less tempted when I go shopping.

Exercise:

For the next week, track your writing. What triggers you to have a writing session? What is a writing session like for you? How many times do you actually write during a week? How many words do you write each day? In a week? And what are the rewards you experience when you complete your writing session for the day?

JUST 8 minutes: improving your writing habit

The problem with my daily writing habit is that I don’t have one. I mean to write every single day but then life happens— laundry, cooking, handling a sheep escape or a cat who wants to give birth in my lap— and writing is the thing that gets pushed out.

So I’ve gone back to Monica Leonelle’s book, ‘The 8-minute Writing Habit’ and started to do my 8 minute writing sprints. Miss Leonelle’s book has helped me— it’s gotten me to take up writing by dictation, and to track my writing sprints on a spreadsheet.

But this month I’ve checked my calendar and out of the 13 days in the month so far, I’ve only written on 3 of them (counting today.) What is wrong with me?

I’ve been thinking that over and I’ve decided this is the problem: though the Leonelle method would allow me to do just 1 writing sprint of 8 minutes and call it a day, I haven’t been doing that. I have been requiring myself to do 3 writing sprints. That’s 24 minutes of just writing, plus with writing down the results of the writing sprints, entering them into the spreadsheet, bathroom break, getting up to walk around a little to prepare for the next sprint— I’m doing 30 to 45 minutes, and even though I hadn’t calculated it out, my brain knows I’m not just asking myself to write for 8 minutes, but use up a significant chunk of time. So I put it off till later, and the late evening comes and my brain is tired from the day and just wants to play the Walking Dead game on my smartphone, and my body wants to take a bath and go to bed, and there went writing for that day.

So— change of plan. This morning instead of doing my writing just after getting dressed, I got up, put the cats off of me, and did urgent things like a bathroom visit and drinking a glass of water and feeding the cats, and then sat right down and did 8 minutes.

JUST 8 minutes. When I finished I put the result in my spreadsheet and put the flower sticker on my calendar (where I learned it was St. Anthony of Padua’s feast day) and now I have done my required writing for the day. I deliberately started to do other things to show my pesky subconscious mind that I really do mean ‘JUST 8 minutes’ now instead of ‘8 minutes that is really almost an hour.’

I may do more writing sprints today on my WIP. Or I may not. I have a lot of things to do today, like the blogging I’m doing right this second, or checking in with my online discussion groups, or folding clothes or moving the chicken pen with the GOOD chickens to somewhere the predator can’t find them….

As Miss Leonelle points out in her book, many writers who are NOT writing daily will do more words in a month with ONLY 8 minutes a day than they are doing now with longer writing sessions that they only manage to do 4 or 5 days a month.

EXERCISE: Stop right now. Close or minimize your browser, set a timer for 8 minutes, and WRITE! How many words did you do? How do you feel about it? Do you think you can do 8 minutes tomorrow? Please comment about it on this blog post.


My current WIP: Don’t have a title yet. It’s space colony fiction set in the same universe as some stories I’ve written. Main character is a girl from Earth who is sent to a colony where she ends up as a teacher of the children of a nobleman. I gave her the temporary name Amanda because my dictation software can spell Amanda, but the name is growing on me.

Dictate Your Novel: Built-in Mac Dictation improves with use

I have been using voice dictation to work on my current WIP for most of a month now, and thought I would give an update. I know that most authors who recommend using dictation say you have to buy Dragon NaturallySpeaking, but I have been using the dictation built in to my Mac to start. (There is also dictation built into Windows, I used it years ago for a little while.)

The most exciting thing I learned while Googling around looking for more info on dictation using the Mac’s Enhanced Dictation is that this dictation gets better on recognizing your voice over time. I’ve noticed that myself. Mistakes that I bother to correct sometimes lead the Mac to get it right the next time. On the other hand, I’ve just spent time dictating the word ‘caste’ into the Mac in various phrases. When I put the cursor at the very end of the word ‘case’ which it usually types, ‘caste’ still isn’t among the options. Since I use that word a lot in my sci-fi novel, I will have to google around to see if I can get more info on how to help the Mac recognize it. But I also can correct it during the editing stage as I do with the names of people and places the Mac doesn’t recognize.

I have a headset with built-in microphone that I use for dictation, but am planning on getting a better quality headset soon. I think that will improve the accuracy.

Some people ask me if I have problems with using the keyboard. No, not currently, though I do have arthritis in my hands that sometimes flares up. My real reason for using it is to learn to write faster, and overcome my ‘writer’s block.’

My problem is that I can make up stories in my head at a lightning fast rate, but getting them down into a computer is slower and thus frustrating. I easily lose interest in the project when I go through day-after-day of writing down things at a slow pace.

The dictation seems to be helping. I’m getting more words-on-page per writing session, and I have more writing days and fewer where I procrastinate until the day is done.

I have been doing the 8-minute timed-writing sessions recommended by Monica Leonelle’s “The 8-Minute Writing Habit,” and find I do more words in 8-minutes of dictation than in 8-minutes writing by keyboard. I continue to track my timed writing sessions on a spreadsheet, as I mentioned in a previous blog post. I think there is some improvement.

What I have to do:

Monica Leonelle, in ‘Dictate your Book,’ says that one value of learning dictation is that it will force you to separate your first-draft process from the editing/revision process, and she says that is a valuable thing.

I don’t quite do that yet. I am still correcting whenever the dictation fouls up. Now that I know that the Mac will get better recognizing what I want to say, I will probably want to correct. But that does slow down my writing. I’m trying to plow ahead. In cases where I might forget what I originally meant to say by the time I edit, I say the sentence a second or third time. If that fails, I correct the key word I might forget, and leave other mistakes for later.

The ‘space’ problem

One problem that happens over and over is that I end a sentence, and open the next one by saying ‘open quote’ and starting to speak a line of dialog. It puts the quotation mark at the end of the old sentence, puts in a space, and only then starts the new sentence. Googling around, I’ve discovered that this happens to other people too.

I tried ending a sentence and saying ‘space’ before I say ‘open quote’ but that just makes it spell out the word ‘space’. I needed to know the command to make the dictation add a space. Turns out, the command for that is ‘spacebar.’ I will have to try that next dictation session. Because, although you can certainly leave things to be edited later— I mean, some people even leave out all the quotation marks and much of the punctuation when they get started with dictation— anything you can do correctly the first time through voice dictation will be something you don’t have to fix later.

The Blog Post series

There are some people who might really be interested in this voice dictation thing, and so I am gathering my articles on this into a category or perhaps a tag. So people who are interested can find my other articles on the topic.

Do you have any questions about voice dictation for writers? Just ask. I will be glad to share anything I know. Or maybe I can find out for you.

Monica Leonelle books:

The 8-minute Writing Habit

Dictate Your Book

 


Links about dictation using Mac’s built-in software

Mavericks Dictation vs. Dragon Dictate: How good is OS X’s built-in tool?

The Complete Guide to Dictation Software: How I saved my hands

Can I print out the list of Dictation commands?

How to talk to your Mac: Using Dictation Effectively