My Wattpad Experience

Posted filed under Experience.
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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.

8 Responses to “My Wattpad Experience”

  1. Robert Traynor

    Congratulations on your success (and all those views–wow!) through Wattpad. Here’s hoping you can parlay that into a financially rewarding career as a novelist.

    I posted a short story there yesterday and so far have notched up a mammoth total of 10 views. As your article indicates, Wattpad is really aimed at the “Twilight” market. My story’s about a clapped-out, middle-aged former karate champion who wears a wig and a girdle, so I can’t see it being a huge hit with Wattpad’s demographic. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Reply
  2. Phil Goetz

    Do you know what counts as a “read” on Wattpad? If one person reads your book twice, and your book has 20 chapters, does that count as 1, 20, or 40 reads?

    I just spent about 10 minutes browsing Wattpad. I didn’t find a single book that wasn’t a romance aimed at teenage girls.

    Reply
    • Michael Limjoco

      Robert,

      There are quite a few books now that manage to capture readerships different from the Twilight demographic. My own has done quite well, it’s not quite at a million reads, but close at 900K. Like Emily Benet, my book was Featured on the front page of Wattpad where it managed to hit #1 in both the SciFi and Fantasy categories of Wattpad’s Hot List. I also made finalist in the 2013 Watty Awards.

      From what I can tell, the categories with large amounts of readers are Teen Romance, SciFi, Traditional High Fantasy, Novels with Gay/Lesbian themes, and Fan Fictions.

      I agree though that your book’s content requires a certain reader because of the its niche, and that this type of reader is still quite scarce on Wattpad.

      Emily,

      Congrats on the success! Thanks for writing this article. I hope you keep us posted with finding an agent. My own experience has been that it is still difficult to find an agent so massive reads does not automatically translate into interest. Perhaps it is the genre I write in, as the Romance category has seen several Wattpad successes.

      Reply
      • Emily Benet

        Oh dear! I’m so sorry I didn’t subscribe to the comments section and didn’t see these. Thanks so much for your well wishes 🙂 I’m very happy to say I did find an agent and a publisher. Spray Painted Bananas will be coming out next month entitled The Temp. I’m updating on my blog with all the news! http://www.emilybenet.com

        It’s definitely worth investigating the type of books being read on Wattpad to know if your work will find a readership. I think the best way it can work for you is if you can somehow get your work on the featured section – it’s worth asking! Good luck everyone with your writing and thanks for reading!

        Emily

        Reply
  3. CeDany

    I’ve just joined Wattpad recently. I write Fiction/Fantasy/Romance gear towards New Adults 18+ Yes, it’s about Vampires and Witches. No, it’s not the traditional style – it’s the story and history of a family and their third-dimensional universe parallel to Earth. They have very little interaction with the Human race but they do live on Earth by an accident.

    They’ve helped many of the Humans during the reign of terror with the Witch-Hunters. There is no killing of Humans, no killing of Vampires or Witches. It’s a completely different style to the traditional. My heroine is 19, she has already discovered that she is a Witch and because of The Prophecy – she only knows that something special will happen to her on her 20th birthday. Her parents were going to let her know all a few days before her birthday. It didn’t happen! They were abducted – she gets into troubles herself. And so her adventure begins! Trieste-Her Journey is Novel One of the Seventh Heaven Universe Series – comprising of four parts.

    The follow up, Novel Two is containing six books and is about Trieste’s own Mother’s Diaries – Love Through the Centuries.

    Truths will be Lies and Lies will be Truths – she’ll discover things about her family that she never knew as she was being kept away on purpose. That purpose being that she is a major part of The Prophecy…

    Novel One-Part One is available in preview Chapters on Wattpad – I’ve been writing for nearly 20 years on these stories and I’m hoping to self-publish in early 2015. I’ve studied and research and found amazing things regarding the literary world. Finally, I write in British English with an International Flair with some words (that yes, are in the dictionary) spelled differently than you would expect. However, that’s the fun of it – reading and learning about genealogy, specific eras and maybe, just maybe the truth about Origins.

    I rest my fingers, your honour, you’ll like it or you won’t – I’m not worried – it’s a story of discovery and after all the ultimate goal in life – love!

    CeDany BB and V-V!

    Reply
  4. Brighid O'Sullivan

    I just joined Wattpad for my work in progress, The Nightingales Murder, which is a zany murder mystery with 3 nurses covering up a murder I am hoping to get some feedback since I now am without a writers group. I have one published novel out there, fairly recently, The Sun Palace, which is set in 6th century Ireland and a very different style and genre. I figured this book is more fun and light so Wattpad might be a good fit. We shall see. Thanks for your post and your encouragement. Brighid O’Sullivan @celticthoughts.com

    Reply

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