Online community Wattpad has a large and dedicated following around the world. In this guest post Rowena Wiseman explains how writers can use Wattpad to reach a whole new audience.
Wattpad is the world’s largest community of readers and writers with over 30 million people using the platform. I’ve heard that only 10% of these users are writers, making it 90% of readers looking for their next great read. This is where Wattpad is superior to other writing sites that I’ve used in the past where it’s just been writers reading and commenting on other writers’ work. Sure it’s great to connect with other writers, but Wattpad offers the unique experience of attracting masses of actual readers.
I started an account on Wattpad earlier this year and I now have followers from places as far as Mexico, Latvia, Vietnam, India and the Philippines. I’ve been lucky enough to have my short novella Bequest showcased on the homepage and as a featured story. Bequest is about a man that has been almost fully tattooed by a well-known artist and he wants to donate his skin to the National Gallery when he dies. This story attracted almost 30,000 chapter reads on Wattpad and is now being published as a short eBook by Tenebris Books.
A few years back I became stuck at around 30,000 words on a YA novel of mine called Silver. I loaded a handful of chapters on Wattpad, just to test the waters with it. Given that there are so many teens on the site, I was curious to find out what their response would be to that story. Very quickly I started receiving comments from people saying ‘you have to finish this story!’ They started telling me what they wanted to hear more about, which characters they liked, who they hated. And it inspired me to finish writing it. It’s been such an interesting experience, after working in solitude for so many years, it’s almost as though Wattpad readers have helped shape this novel.
After using the platform for a while now, here are my best tips for writers using Wattpad:
- Have a good author profile picture and a professional-looking book cover. Write a short, catchy blurb for your stories. Include something interesting about yourself on your profile page, as well as links to other social media sites.
- Load your chapters separately, because every chapter someone reads or votes on counts! If you’ve got short stories, consider making them a collection – this consolidates the votes you receive and helps with your rankings.
- Follow some people and introduce yourself in clubs.
- Consider serialising your fiction and posting a chapter or two a week on regular days.
- If you’re unsure where to start with reading, check out the recommended reading lists to find something to your taste. Create your own reading lists – these are like a personal library, so once you save a story in there, you can come back to it easily. Comment and vote on other people’s stories and invest some time in the Wattpad community – they’re really friendly! I’ve used other author sites before, but Wattpadders are especially supportive and encouraging.
- Don’t ask people to read your work, I find that bad manners! If I find something and like what I see … I’ll read it!
- Use multimedia to promote your work. I’ve created book trailers in Animoto for a few of my stories and posted these in the sidebar. In my story Bequest his tattoos were based on historical images – so I posted those actual images in some of the chapters as a reference for readers – taking the reading experience beyond the normal text format. I’ve even heard of Wattpad fans drawing illustrations of characters they love and authors can post these too!
- Include a ‘call for action’ at the end of each story. Ask readers to vote and comment and tell them where they can read or purchase your other work.
- Use the newsfeed to see what your ‘friends’ are liking. On Wattpad the audience has an audience, so if someone comments on a story all their followers can see this too. This helps with discoverability. The notification tab tells you what has been happening on your own work (this tab took me a long time to find, but is now my favourite tool!)
- If you see that someone has liked a number of your chapters, stop by their page and say thank you. If they take the time to comment, respond! Being approachable and friendly goes a long way. Wattpad is all about interactivity.
- Pay attention to the stats on your stories – these are valuable market research tools for writers. I can see chapter-by-chapter stats of how many reads, votes and comments I’ve received. If I lost a whole heap of readers on chapter 4, then that tells me something needs fixing.
- Don’t expect to become popular overnight. Like any community, it takes a while to find like-minded people. Give it time, be patient and open minded. There’s no need to be a snob on there – yes, there’s lots of 1D fan fiction, but there’s a place for everyone on Wattpad. I see anyone reading or writing anything as a really positive thing! And maybe even us more ‘mature’ writers can learn a thing or two about popular culture from those teens on there (I’ve recently discovered what youtubers are, for example!).
- Once you build up a fair amount of reads and followers, contact email@example.com and ask to be considered for the ‘featured’ stories list. If you can get on the featured list, then the almighty Wattpad power machine kicks in and you can sit back and watch your read stats soar.
- Use your other social networking platforms to promote your work on Wattpad. I often tweet my microfiction or put links to them on Google+. I even listed Bequest as a Wattpad book on Goodreads and have received a number of reviews. This is great advanced endorsement on Goodreads before it is published by Tenebris Books.