If you haven’t heard of Wattpad before (improbable if you’re a regular to this blog) then Hello! Howdy” Good to see you!
Wattpad is a social media community where anyone of any age can create a FREE account to read or write their own stories. If you’re an avid reader, there are a lot of famous writers you might not expect to find there:
- Abigail Gibbs (author of Dinner with a Vampire) started off there.
- Margaret Atwood (author of MaddAddum, The Handmaid’s Tale)
Some people, who start on Wattpad either get discovered by publishing houses (like Abigail Gibbs) or they choose to go down the self-publishing route. Here are some Wattpadders who are now published:
- Brittany Geragotelis (author of What the Spell)
- Dianne Greenlay (author of Quintspinner and many more) has won awards for her writing.
Success is possible. But even if all you’re looking for is to expand or test your target audience, then Wattpad could be the place for you. This How To guide is simply a group of tips that I have discovered from my own journey there. Whether you’re a reader looking for some FREE reads or an author willing to post FREE stories to gain an audience, there is something for everyone. I currently have sneak peeks to the first two novels in my The Secrets of Avelina Chronicles, as well as 20 novels published there and another 8 in the wings. This guide will attempt to guide you through using Wattpad and making it work as a marketing tool for you.
HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL
These are my tips on how to get noticed on Wattpad. They are my own personal opinion. If you want more advice or tips, please see the Further Reading section at the end.
1. Be Active
I am not a member of the community groups because I don’t have the time to dedicate to it. But this is an option for you. There are numerous groups that you can join, to get to know other writers and Wattpadders, or even just to get yourself noticed. HOWEVER, beware the rules! Each group has its own rules and you MUST abide by them or you can get kicked out and get a bad reputation.
Be smart. I am active in a different way – I reply to every fan/vote/comment and personal message I get. I set up notifications to e-mail me whenever someone contacts me so that I can reply to them. You DO NOT want your fans thinks you’re ignoring them. Send regular messages on your page and always tick the box ‘broadcast to followers’ to make sure they all see it.
Not being part of the groups doesn’t have to affect you. I’m not active on them and I have 77 fans, 3 dedications, nearly 500 total votes and a whopping 1,200+ reads on ONE story. The trick is to make it work for you.
2. Update Often
You have to experiment with this. Your readers will tell you what is right. I tried various methods: updating every day, every week, once a month and finally found that every second day works for my followers. You don’t want to post more than 2 updates a day. This bombards everyone’s pages with your work and spams their e-mail with 8+ e-mails saying you’ve posted a new story. Once or twice will do. Even when you’re starting out. Two of my stories have been consistently ranking in the Wattpad top 1000 since before Christmas, because I’ve kept my updates regular.
3. Reward your Readers
If you go away or are unable to be online for a long period without updating, prepare a pre- and post-absence message. Apologise in advance and after you return for not being able to update and then treat your readers to something special. Whether it’s a One Shot (a one off, 2-3 page short story) or a double update, they will love you for it. Give them sneak peeks of upcoming stories, give them holiday specials based on loved characters, but keep it fresh. If your fans love certain characters and BEG you to bring them back for more, then plan a One Shot or a Holiday Special around those characters. Create a story called One Shots or Holidays Specials and name the chapters after the characters it involves. SkeneKidz, a writer I follow, does this especially well.
4. Create Conversation
Get your readers involved. Simply post something that can start a conversation – a poll, a question, a quote – in your status or post it as a message to your followers. Insert an Author’s Note at the end of a story or in the middle, asking for their advice. Readers love to decide where a story will go. If you’re not sure, just ask them. They’ll be happy to give you ideas. SkeneKidz has set up a separate account promptingskenekidz requesting prompts from her readers. You don’t have to do the same, but she is living proof that asking them will work. The key here is to keep your readers active and interested in what you are writing.
5. Link Up
It is highly recommended, by me, that you link your Twitter and Facebook accounts to Wattpad. Never underestimate the power of advertising. I only requested 5 readers to get The Alpha and the Oracle to a milestone 500 reads and instead, I got an extra 200 reads in one week! How? By utilizing social media. Wattpad provides you with a ready made link to your story, all you have to do is choose to share it. Customize your message, ask for more reads or votes or comments, invite new readers to explore your work. Anything. It will work.
Fans not on Wattpad are just as likely to Retweet or Share your story updates or messages as your Wattpad fans are. The Bonus is that you are encouraging people to join Wattpad and follow you. You’re encouraging people to read your FREE stories. Those who read and love your FREE stories may become paying fans who buy your latest novel.
6. Choose Wisely
This goes for every aspect of your story. From title, to tags, to your blurb, to your categories. If you want your book to rank on Wattpad (in the top 100) or if you want to gain readers who will eat up your words, then make sure you PROMOTE yourself properly. Readers will be angry if you rate your story a 13 if there are steamy sex scenes in it. Worse still, Wattpad will make that story private, only available to your followers. If you promote your work as a Teen Fiction Romance and it’s really a horror or psychological thriller, your readers will think you untrustworthy and might not read your work again.
7. Be Generous but Smart
Remember – your readers are most likely reading your story on their phone or their computer/laptop. They may be in school, at work, at home or on the bus. You DO NOT want to bore them or take up their valuable time, or worst still get them caught by a teacher, reading ridiculously long chapters. Wattpad have a general rule here, to keep your chapters around 5 pages (by their formatting) which is usually around 2000-3000 words. This is the recommended length of chapter so that people can comfortably read one, if they want, or a few if they have time. You don’t want a 16 page chapter that people have to take two hours to read. What you have to remember is that Wattpad is not a paperback novel and it is not High Literature. These are stories written by people of all ages for your enjoyment. That includes not getting a numb bum or getting squinty eyes from reading their stories.
ALWAYS keep your stories in chapters. The only exception to the chapter rule is a One Shot. Notoriously, One Shots are short stories, around 2-4 pages or 1 chapter, with characters and stories that you will not continue or work with again. One Shots do have the exception that you can use them to create one off situations for loved characters. These can be characters you are bringing back time and again for regular One Shots, but the events do not usually follow one another. So one time might be a pregnancy, Christmas time or a special Summer, and then the next might be a year or months later or before that event. There are no set rules except that if you want to do regular chapters of these characters again, One Shots are not the way to go.
Remember – to always post your chapters in order. There is nothing worse than having chapters 1-3 updated and then missing out chapters 4 and 5 by mistake. Wattpad lets you pre-upload your chapters, along with covers etc, while keeping them as unpublished drafts. This is great for preparing a story that you’ve already completed but not yet uploaded. I have lots of these ready to have one click publish them, so that I don’t have to spend a lot of time uploading things to the site. You may prefer to write into the Wattpad ‘create’ box as the ideas come. That’s fine, just remember where you left off.
This is vital! You might not want to be part of the groups, but you will have to participate in the community somehow, or else nothing will ever happen for you. Read/vote/comment on other people’s stories. Make covers for people’s books, join groups, start conversations, do something! People will only see you and your work if you let them.
9. Be Civil
Wattpad is just another social media site. Like Twitter and Facebook, it has regulations and moderators checking up to make sure you’re being smart about what you post. There are report buttons all over the place and if you do something seriously wrong, someone will report you for it.
It is important to remember that there are people as young as 13 on Wattpad, so always make sure you use appropriate language. If you have an R rated book, then mark it so. There is an R-rating option. If you’re unsure, hover over each rating and it will tell you what is appropriate. Sometimes, if there is no explicit detail a 13-PG will do.
10. DO NOT Plagiarize
If you are posting ANYTHING, make sure it is your own work. If you are using a picture for a cover that isn’t yours, give credit. My format is that if it’s off a stock photo site, leave the watermark on it or buy it. If it’s from a site like Pinterest or We Heart It, then go to a site like Ribbet and add a notice at the bottom with something simple – Photo Credit: name, website. You CAN and WILL be caught if you plagiarize and you will be punished for it. Nuff said. If you can’t find out who the photo belongs to then DON’T USE IT.