Wattpad a guest post by Nicole Colett

When I first heard about Wattpad, I wondered if it was something else I needed to sign up  to. So when I saw Nicole’s name on Twitter I asked her to write a post about her experiences.

Wattpad: the good, the bad and the ugly

I discovered Wattpad in 2012 when I stumbled across a news article about a fellow Brazilian Lilian Carmine. She wrote her YA story in English, posted it on Wattpad and was picked by Random House. I took a mental note to follow her footsteps. The next year, I wrote my first novel, translated it into English and opened an account on Wattpad.

That’s how my journey as a writer began.

Much to my surprise, after a couple of weeks my book squeezed itself into the site’s Romance Hot List and remained there for over two years, reaching a #36 rank out of a thousand titles. Wattpad’s hot lists are generated according to the number of hits per chapter and votes. Since my novel gained exposure and popularity, I received a number of comments from real readers—which leads us to the amazing potential Wattpad offers to writers.

The good

Wattpad made me a writer and helped shape my book. Readers commented how much they loved my story and, slowly, I started to gain confidence in my work. A writer without readers is incomplete, and Wattpad gave me the opportunity to find a readership and incentive to keep going.

Along with the positive comments, I received constructive feedback and criticism, which gave me pointers to improve my story regarding inconsistencies and passages that didn’t work or were confusing. I realized readers may not be professional editors but possess a sixth sense: they understand storytelling in an intuitive way. I would say at least 95% of their feedback was incredible useful.

Besides connecting with readers, I also met wonderful writers in the community. You have forums to advertise your stories and even forums where you can find writing tips plus informal help with writing, editing and proofreading. I met a wonderful editor to work on the first draft of my novel RED: A Love Story, and I provided feedback for her book in exchange. Often, the “payment” for a service consists of following that person, dedicating a chapter of your story to them, or voting and commenting on their work.

Several indie publishers are on Wattpad looking for new talent, and the platform provides many incentives to writers, along with contests and conventions around the world. The annual Wattys Award selects the most popular stories and undiscovered gems in different categories. Wattpaders can participate in other contests too and even create their own. The Stars Program connects successful Wattpad authors with companies for creating stories for film and TV, besides helping promote book signings and other events. In one of those contests promoted in partnership with one of the Big 5, author R.S. Kovach landed a contract. Her story is here.

Besides connecting with readers, I also met wonderful writers in the community. You have forums to advertise your stories and even forums where you can find informal help with writing, editing and proofreading. I met a wonderful editor to work on the first draft of my novel RED: A Love Story, and I provided feedback for her book in exchange. Often, the “payment” for a service consists of following that person, dedicating a chapter of your story to them, or voting and commenting on their work. Wattpad provides programs to incentive writers too, along with contests and conventions around the world.

Last year I was accepted in their Ambassador program to serve as a point of contact between users and the Wattpad team, but unfortunately I couldn’t manage to finish my training as life got in the way. I still had a chance to learn interesting facts, though. For example, among the millions of wattpaders, only 10% write content. The remainder 90% are readers, and from those, less than 20% ever comment or vote for a story. I don’t know how many users the site has, as the numbers keep growing, but Wikipedia tells me over 100 thousand new stories or chapters are uploaded every day to the site. The most popular genre is romance, followed by teen fiction.

The bad

As in any digital community, in order for your work to be popular you need to network. Connecting with people can be as wonderful as time-consuming in our social-media-obsessed era, and the building of a reader platform will take some time and can lead to dead ends. You need to stay active or you may be forgotten.

I posted all chapters of RED in one go. What I learned later is that serializing it and posting chapters once or twice a week may be a better approach: you get readers coming back and following you, plus they tend to vote and comment more often. That’s what I plan to do with my next novel.

Should you decide to post your work on the platform, update it consistently—the best time to post new chapters is Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Once your story is completed, you can submit it to the site’s Featured List; if accepted, it will receive a good boost. The Featured list only includes novels or non-fiction books. Short stories are not in the menu.

The ugly

I had over 3 thousand followers on Wattpad at the time and received high praise from many of them. When it came to selling my novel, however, it was disheartening. Even the ones whose comments I had included in the Praise page of my book wouldn’t purchase a copy. I then realized a few things. Most wattpaders are teenagers living on allowance and, once they have read your story, few will buy it. There’s more to it: people on Wattpad are looking for free reads. The fact that my book was not available on digital format (cheaper) made matters worse.

Sending collective messages to followers is not very effective, as few will respond. The best way to reach them is via private messaging, which means a lot of leg work. In addition, the system won’t allow you to send the same message twice to avoid spam. So if you want to ask ten followers to write a review for your book, you will need to create ten slightly different messages to send out. It’s time consuming, but that’s how I got votes for my book and the permission to use readers’ comments for promoting it.

Prior to publication, I advise writers to have a plan to attract wattpaders to their personal blog and other social media. This article suggests some strategies to that end.

Conclusion

Try out Wattpad! Popular writers and great names such as Margaret Atwood (Wattpad’s godmother) and Paulo Coelho have works there. For the rest of us, mere mortals, accessing a global audience of beta readers is a rich experience that will benefit your writing. Wattpad includes features that allow you to monitor your audience for demographics and other stats too. Can you imagine the thrill of having your first draft read by people from all five continents?

That’s priceless.

___________________________

Nicole Collet is a Brazilian-born writer and translator with degrees in journalism and cultural management. She has edited and translated works from authors as diverse as Ken Follett, Nora Roberts and Machiavelli. Nicole’s writing explores why people fall in love and what it takes for them to stay in love. Her plots invite readers to think outside the box, merging story with psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, music, and literature. Her debut novel RED: A Love Story received over two million hits on Wattpad and was released by Something Or Other Publishing in March 2016. It was endorsed by Debra Pickett, former columnist of The Chicago Sun-Times and contributor to CNN, as “an intriguing first novel—a thinking woman’s Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Links:

http://nicolecollet.com

https://twitter.com/NicoleCollet

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8192176.Nicole_Collet

https://www.facebook.com/NicoleColletAuthor

When I first heard about Wattpad, I wondered if it was something else I needed to sign up  to. So when I saw Nicole’s name on Twitter I asked her to write a post about her experiences.

Wattpad: the good, the bad and the ugly

I discovered Wattpad in 2012 when I stumbled across a news article about a fellow Brazilian Lilian Carmine. She wrote her YA story in English, posted it on Wattpad and was picked by Random House. I took a mental note to follow her footsteps. The next year, I wrote my first novel, translated it into English and opened an account on Wattpad.

That’s how my journey as a writer began.

Much to my surprise, after a couple of weeks my book squeezed itself into the site’s Romance Hot List and remained there for over two years, reaching a #36 rank out of a thousand titles. Wattpad’s hot lists are generated according to the number of hits per chapter and votes. Since my novel gained exposure and popularity, I received a number of comments from real readers—which leads us to the amazing potential Wattpad offers to writers.

The good

Wattpad made me a writer and helped shape my book. Readers commented how much they loved my story and, slowly, I started to gain confidence in my work. A writer without readers is incomplete, and Wattpad gave me the opportunity to find a readership and incentive to keep going.

Along with the positive comments, I received constructive feedback and criticism, which gave me pointers to improve my story regarding inconsistencies and passages that didn’t work or were confusing. I realized readers may not be professional editors but possess a sixth sense: they understand storytelling in an intuitive way. I would say at least 95% of their feedback was incredible useful.

Besides connecting with readers, I also met wonderful writers in the community. You have forums to advertise your stories and even forums where you can find writing tips plus informal help with writing, editing and proofreading. I met a wonderful editor to work on the first draft of my novel RED: A Love Story, and I provided feedback for her book in exchange. Often, the “payment” for a service consists of following that person, dedicating a chapter of your story to them, or voting and commenting on their work.

Several indie publishers are on Wattpad looking for new talent, and the platform provides many incentives to writers, along with contests and conventions around the world. The annual Wattys Award selects the most popular stories and undiscovered gems in different categories. Wattpaders can participate in other contests too and even create their own. The Stars Program connects successful Wattpad authors with companies for creating stories for film and TV, besides helping promote book signings and other events. In one of those contests promoted in partnership with one of the Big 5, author R.S. Kovach landed a contract. Her story is here.

Besides connecting with readers, I also met wonderful writers in the community. You have forums to advertise your stories and even forums where you can find informal help with writing, editing and proofreading. I met a wonderful editor to work on the first draft of my novel RED: A Love Story, and I provided feedback for her book in exchange. Often, the “payment” for a service consists of following that person, dedicating a chapter of your story to them, or voting and commenting on their work. Wattpad provides programs to incentive writers too, along with contests and conventions around the world.

Last year I was accepted in their Ambassador program to serve as a point of contact between users and the Wattpad team, but unfortunately I couldn’t manage to finish my training as life got in the way. I still had a chance to learn interesting facts, though. For example, among the millions of wattpaders, only 10% write content. The remainder 90% are readers, and from those, less than 20% ever comment or vote for a story. I don’t know how many users the site has, as the numbers keep growing, but Wikipedia tells me over 100 thousand new stories or chapters are uploaded every day to the site. The most popular genre is romance, followed by teen fiction.

The bad

As in any digital community, in order for your work to be popular you need to network. Connecting with people can be as wonderful as time-consuming in our social-media-obsessed era, and the building of a reader platform will take some time and can lead to dead ends. You need to stay active or you may be forgotten.

I posted all chapters of RED in one go. What I learned later is that serializing it and posting chapters once or twice a week may be a better approach: you get readers coming back and following you, plus they tend to vote and comment more often. That’s what I plan to do with my next novel.

Should you decide to post your work on the platform, update it consistently—the best time to post new chapters is Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Once your story is completed, you can submit it to the site’s Featured List; if accepted, it will receive a good boost. The Featured list only includes novels or non-fiction books. Short stories are not in the menu.

The ugly

I had over 3 thousand followers on Wattpad at the time and received high praise from many of them. When it came to selling my novel, however, it was disheartening. Even the ones whose comments I had included in the Praise page of my book wouldn’t purchase a copy. I then realized a few things. Most wattpaders are teenagers living on allowance and, once they have read your story, few will buy it. There’s more to it: people on Wattpad are looking for free reads. The fact that my book was not available on digital format (cheaper) made matters worse.

Sending collective messages to followers is not very effective, as few will respond. The best way to reach them is via private messaging, which means a lot of leg work. In addition, the system won’t allow you to send the same message twice to avoid spam. So if you want to ask ten followers to write a review for your book, you will need to create ten slightly different messages to send out. It’s time consuming, but that’s how I got votes for my book and the permission to use readers’ comments for promoting it.

Prior to publication, I advise writers to have a plan to attract wattpaders to their personal blog and other social media. This article suggests some strategies to that end.

Conclusion

Try out Wattpad! Popular writers and great names such as Margaret Atwood (Wattpad’s godmother) and Paulo Coelho have works there. For the rest of us, mere mortals, accessing a global audience of beta readers is a rich experience that will benefit your writing. Wattpad includes features that allow you to monitor your audience for demographics and other stats too. Can you imagine the thrill of having your first draft read by people from all five continents?

That’s priceless.

___________________________

Nicole Collet is a Brazilian-born writer and translator with degrees in journalism and cultural management. She has edited and translated works from authors as diverse as Ken Follett, Nora Roberts and Machiavelli. Nicole’s writing explores why people fall in love and what it takes for them to stay in love. Her plots invite readers to think outside the box, merging story with psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, music, and literature. Her debut novel RED: A Love Story received over two million hits on Wattpad and was released by Something Or Other Publishing in March 2016. It was endorsed by Debra Pickett, former columnist of The Chicago Sun-Times and contributor to CNN, as “an intriguing first novel—a thinking woman’s Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Links:

http://nicolecollet.com

https://twitter.com/NicoleCollet

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8192176.Nicole_Collet

https://www.facebook.com/NicoleColletAuthor

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