February Grace has had amazing success on Wattpad: her book Of Stardust has had over 1 million “reads.” To put that in perspective, Wattpad is strictly electronic. To read anything on Wattpad, you must either use a computer, or an app on a smart device — phone or pad. For those of us who eschew the dawning digital age of reading, we should appreciate that this is no small feat. So how did she do it? And how might you take advantage of this enigmatic social media platform? Read on to find out…[divider style=”10″]
When I decided to join Wattpad on New Year’s Day 2013, my heart raced and my hands shook. I had no idea what would happen, I just knew I had a story I wanted to share with as many people as I could and joining Wattpad seemed the best way to do it.
I could never have imagined where it would take my books — to a worldwide readership that I don’t believe I could have reached any other way.
I independently published my steampunk romance Godspeed in June of 2012. It was well-received by the readers who found it, but as is common for most indies, I had a hard time getting the word out. All you have to do is spend any amount of time on Twitter to see that just about everyone has a book out these days! How do you stand out? I thought I’d give Wattpad a try.
I wasn’t concerned at all about the potential for lost sales, as I figured that most Wattpad readers wouldn’t be in a position to buy the book anyway. Many are students, and/or people in locations where it isn’t easy to buy from an online retailer. (These folks read Wattpad stories mostly on their phones.)
In fact, the thing that really sold me on Wattpad was an article I read somewhere that mentioned a classroom in a small country where everyone huddled up around one phone to read books on Wattpad. The image of that scene was enough for me: I was all in.
A year and a half and a few other works added later, and my stories have now collectively reached nearly 1.5 million reads (or chapter views, as I like to call them) on Wattpad — 1,498,804 to be exact, as of this writing. So exciting!
What would I say is the best thing about Wattpad? Why would you give your work away for free when you could self-publish and put it in online stores?
Well, that’s a great thing about Wattpad, it’s not either/or. You can do both. I did. And I’ve had some readers purchase the books after reading them on Wattpad, especially if they loved them so much they wanted them in print. But mostly, I was overjoyed to be reaching people, interacting with them often in real time, responding to their comments, and feeling the emotion in their reactions to the story. There is nowhere else I have found where you can get as passionate a response to your work as readers on Wattpad can offer.
Later, when I signed with my wonderful publisher, Booktrope, (a side note: my getting a book deal was not tied directly to Wattpad, but several writers HAVE been signed because their stories had a huge Wattpad following — so it does happen) they fully supported not only my leaving Godspeed posted on Wattpad, but also worked with Wattpad on a plan for me to serialize my next novel, Of Stardust, there. Then when it was complete, Wattpad made it a featured title.
We also held a ‘cover-off’ in which Wattpad readers were able to choose Of Stardust’s cover before it was finally published.
I believe it is this wonderful relationship between myself, Wattpad, Booktrope, and Wattpad readers that is responsible for Of Stardust reaching 1.1 million reads (and climbing)! I am thankful to all for their amazing support.
What advice would I give someone who is thinking of trying Wattpad out?
First, I think if you’re going to have a satisfying experience, you can’t go into it thinking it will cost you sales OR lead to sales. In my view, you have to take the thought of sales out of your head if you’re going to be happy there.
Writing and promotion aren’t all about money, they’re also about exposure. With Wattpad, you gain access to a potential audience of hungry, excited readers who cannot wait to see what is new there, every day. Readers who, if they get hooked on your story, will beg you to update it with new chapters and set their phones to remind them when new material is available. They will read, comment, vote for your stories, and they will let you know what they like (and don’t) about your work! They will tell their friends about it.
You must remember that Wattpad is, first and foremost, about readers, not writers. Think in terms of what you can give them, not what they can do for you. Posting your work on Wattpad is a generous gesture; if you go into it with an open mind and heart, you might be surprised what can happen. If the idea of “giving it all away for free” is going to haunt you, then Wattpad might not be a good choice for you.
You will find a LOT of young people there, but I have found that my audience crosses demographics. People from all walks of life — stay-at-home moms, people who read on their commute to work or school, other writers, even agents and publishers are now keeping their eyes on Wattpad. Famous authors like Cory Doctorow have even put books on Wattpad!
A few things I have learned along the way:
- You may have to copy and paste chapters from your book into Wattpad from a WORD doc. I had to, it was the only way to save the formatting (italics and all). I also recommend that you align all text left if you have it laid out as a ‘real book’ would look with indented paragraphs. For some reason, Wattpad never seemed to consistently put the text in the right place unless I just went ahead and aligned it all left. (That could have been something I was doing wrong, but others have experienced this as well and had to do the same thing. So, just a tip there.)
- You should break your story up into interesting, bite-sized servings. That does not always mean by the chapter. If a chapter is very long, you might want to break it in two. Try to leave off at a spot where the reader will want to shake their phone and shout “BUT THEN WHAT HAPPENS?”
- Wattpad only considers featuring stories that are complete works; meaning if you only want to post a few chapters of your book to try to stir people’s interest in perhaps buying it, Wattpad won’t make it a featured title. I consider myself extremely fortunate because Wattpad offered to feature Godspeed just ten days after I posted it. This came about when a staff member invited people to post a blurb and a link to their story on her personal page, and she happened to take note of it and passed it on to the people who review stories to be featured. They liked it, and the rest is history. But there is no guarantee that by posting your whole book on Wattpad it will become a featured title.
- I recommend promoting your story as much as is allowed in the Club forum at Wattpad that corresponds to your genre. (Check each forum for posted rules.) Post a picture of the cover there and the blurb along with a link to your first chapter. That is the best way to get it in front of the readers likely to be most interested in your story. Give it time. I don’t know many authors who found what is called “Wattpad success” overnight. You should interact with other users, read their stories as time allows you to, comment, and tell them what you liked about their story. Many Wattpad readers are just starting out as writers, and they are seeking input from others on their work. As you are able, share your time there, and then in turn, others will be more likely to share their time with you and comment on your story.
- DO NOT ask for people to vote for your story! This is strictly against Wattpad rules. Also do your homework: if you write adult material, there are rules for posting it, and you must be aware of them going in before you upload your work so it can be properly labeled.
- Check out the Twitter chat #Wattpad4, which takes place on Monday evenings at 8PM (Eastern). Experienced Wattpad writers are there to give tips and to share their knowledge. It is a GREAT resource!
- Have FUN and relax. You can’t go into Wattpad thinking about what Wattpad can give to you. I believe you should go into it thinking of what your stories can give to the world.
So, that’s my personal experience, and take on Wattpad 101. Thank you for reading, and thank you to Upgrade Your Story for generously hosting me![divider style=”10″]
In Starlight is currently available to read on Wattpad for a limited-time only.
She has also written a novella that is currently only available to read on Wattpad: Fireworks Flowers.
Her latest Booktrope release, One Wish: The Of Stardust Collection, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble Online, and iTunes. All three of her novels can also be ordered in print from many online retailers or at any bookstore near you!
You can find her…
On Wattpad: FebruaryGrace
On Twitter: @FebruaryGrace
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/februarygrace