I was stuck in a rut. My blogging was sluggish and I’d been working on a novel for two years with no end in sight. I was moaning to my brother over Skype about the slow path my career was taking, when he said: “So write a novel on Wattpad.” He told me his girlfriend was reading a book on the online platform which had racked up millions of hits and the author had just secured a three book deal with a big publisher. According to him, Wattpad was the way forward.
Feeling a little overwhelmed and knowing full well a free online platform would not pay me a penny for a novel, I began my investigation. I found an easy to use site where anyone could upload their writing, posting as many or few chapters of their books whenever they wanted to. The uploaded novels were indexed within a range of genres; this included a ‘Featured’ section of work selected by Wattpad organisers. The featured novels were evidently benefiting hugely from the exposure, with the top ones attracting millions of hits and thousands of votes and comments.
At first I wasn’t sure if Wattpad was the place for me since a lot of the stories appeared to be written by and for teen ‘beleibers’ and ‘directioners’, which I’m definitely not! Writing a novel is hardly a five minute job and I didn’t want to risk it if the audience wasn’t right. Despite my reservations I signed up and added information in my profile about my past publications and social networks. Next I posted a couple of short stories to test the water.
The short stories didn’t get a million hits, they got a couple of hundred. What they did do however is catch the attention of someone who worked at Wattpad who emailed me with a question. ‘Seeing as you’re a published author,’ they said, ‘would you like to put some of your work on Wattpad in exchange for some marketing benefit?’ They attached a tantalising pdf telling me of their 8 million monthly readers and assured me that if I wrote a novel on their site it would be included in their featured section and be actively recommended to their readers.
Once I’d made the decision to do it, the idea for my romantic comedy, Spray Painted Bananas, came quickly. I wanted to write something light hearted. I plotted for a month, and wrote a ten thousand word buffer before I started posting chapters. Initially one a week, then two.
The votes and comments came flooding in immediately. I’d never experienced anything like it on that scale before. Each day I woke to messages of encouragement from impatient readers wanting to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?! There were times when I didn’t even know the answer to that, but with such a responsive audience I found myself writing faster and harder than I had ever done before. The best bit was realising how much I loved writing in the romantic comedy genre. I knew there was no turning back. I didn’t want to be a tortured writer any more, from now on I wanted to have a laugh with my novels!
Spray Painted Bananas took four months to write. When it had reached half a million hits and with four chapters still left to post, I contacted an agent. They signed me up a few weeks later.
My novel is still online and free to read but I’ve edited it for publishers. It’s been sent out and I’m waiting. Will it a find publisher? I really hope so. But even if it doesn’t and I don’t make a penny from Spay Painted Bananas, I’m so happy I took on the Wattpad challenge.
5 Top Tips for Writers on Wattpad
– Choose a genre –
Wattpad is the ideal platform for writers of YA fiction, trilogies, series and work that will fit comfortably into their genre categories. You don’t have to post a whole series of books on Wattpad, but if readers like the first book you post, they are more likely to buy the second from a paying platform.
– Ask to be featured –
If you have had work published then contact Wattpad and ask if they will feature your novel. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! You will need a good pitch and a professional looking book cover.
– Post regularly –
Make the experience enjoyable for your readers by posting every week. What motivated me is imagining if I had to wait a month in between every chapter of a book. I know I’d have given up reading very quickly!
– Be friendly –
Thank people for their comments and votes. If you are using Wattpad to get constructive feedback on a work-in-progress, then it’s only fair to give some feedback too. But don’t feel under pressure to read every book readers ask you to or you’ll soon feel swamped.
– Link to social media –
Wattpad users tend to stay in Wattpad and rarely migrate to follow you on other social networks. Despite racking up over a million hits on my novel, less than a hundred readers joined my Twitter and Facebook. That said, I really value those eighty who did and I know they are the ones who will be interested in buying my future books. Add your social networks links in your Wattpad profile to facilitate readers finding you on them.