If I hear one more story about a teenage girl who sat up all night tapping away at the keyboard on Wattpad while her parents had no idea she was even penning a novel, only to find that she’s got 1.9 trillion followers and 3.7 gazillion reads and now a book deal with a major publisher, well…let’s just say I think I’ll have a cow if I don’t just start using Wattpad, myself. Not that I’m not thrilled for her and all the others with success stories, of course. But I want a piece of the action, too.
Yesterday, I read yet another one of those stories after it trickled across my Twitter/Medium/Wordpress/Have Lost Track Which feed. So I made the decision right then and there to start really using the site.
So now I’m using it despite the fact that very little of what is found on Wattpad are stories for children. They don’t even list Children’s or Middle Grade as a genre in their Discover dropdown menu.
~Image screenshot from Wattpad.com
However, there are some children’s novels and short stories on it (I’ve dug around), and since half my battle in selling children’s books is in reaching the parents/aka. Gatekeepers of young readers anyway, I figure I can find a few who might take note of my books while browsing for their own hottest new reads. What is there to lose, after all? It’s free, after all, and very, very quick and easy to use.
Yes, in case you’ve been living under a rock, Wattpad is a FREE app/FREE site. Yes, that right. It’s FREE for writers AND for readers. If you don’t like typing or reading on your phone, you can use the site on a computer. That is, if you’re not like the 90% of Wattpad users who use it on a mobile device.
The idea behind Wattpad is to publish small pieces of your story at a time, maybe one chapter per week to keep readers coming back for more, patiently, again and again. (I guess I like that fact that it encourages patience. This is rare in today’s world, after all.)
The 45 million readers on Wattpad apparently love the site/app because they can find great new books at no cost, and read the books in their entirety—even if it is piece by piece.
In most cases, aspiring new authors use Wattpad the most. But, from what I understand, in many cases, established authors, even some very well known authors, also post their work here. I’ve still got to look around the site more to find out if the established authors are posting partial works of already-published books or posting chapter by chapter, new stories still under development.
If used effectively, Wattpad helps new and established authors grow a nice fan base. It’s also a discovery grounds apparently for TV, movie, and book deals, it seems. Personally, I hope to use it to build a bigger fan base for my Rosco the Rascal books and my other RtR projects.
Reading what Wattpad has to say about itself through its tutorials and posts, I’ve found that many writers publish while still actually writing the book. Meaning, they’re publishing chapters before they actually finish the novel!
This makes me cringe(!) because I will edit and edit and edit before I publish anything, often entirely changing the first few chapters once I’ve completed the last ones, swapping things around, completely redoing some parts, taking out others. You know, the usual. So that worries me about the content on Wattpad.
~Image screenshot from Wattpad.com
But of course, who’s to say that many other writers on Wattpad aren’t editing first, too? That they aren’t writing the full story first, fully editing and finalizing it, and then posting it chapter by chapter, just to keep the fans chomping at the bit? (As opposed to writing it each week ‘on the fly’, so to speak. AND as opposed to publishing the whole novel or short story all at ONE time. How dreary and old-fashioned that would be…a’hem) Regardless, whatever they’re doing, readers are loving it.
Now, for a children’s novelist like myself, even of relatively short novels like the ones that I write for kids about 6-9 years old, containing anywhere from 10,000-20,000 words each, I think the Wattpad framework is going to work well for me. I also think that since I self-publish and can make all of my own publishing decisions, that this is a great tool for me to use.
I admit that I had actually been using Wattpad last year, but only halfheartedly, having posted only one chapter of one of my books, and never reading anyone else’s work on Wattpad or following any other writers. And I didn’t really advertise the fact that I was even on Wattpad. So of course it all amounted to absolutely nothing.
But I was probably completely missing the point, that, like so many other marketing tools on the internet today, it’s a social one. People interact on it, comment on each others’ work, spread the word about good books by voting for stories and commenting about something they read and loved. And of course those writers that are successful with it, visit and use it regularly. I wasn’t doing any of that so it’s no wonder I saw Wattpad as Not For Me.
But I’ve decided this time to really give it the old college try by posting the various Rosco the Rascal short stories that I wrote last year, which I had decided not to use in a book of short stories.
I’ll post them in their entirety, one chapter at a time. They’re instantly usable material. I’m not using these stories for anything else right now, after all. And very few people ever read them. So, like a re-gifted present, the stories will be new again! Voila!
Then, regarding my published full-length books, I will only post 1-2 chapters of each and state at the bottom of each one that the book is available for purchase on Amazon in Kindle or paperback, and I’ll provide the link. I’ll mark each of these stories as ‘finished’ (which you do when you’ve finished writing any story on Wattpad).
Because in using KDP, which is how I publish my ebooks, I have to follow their rules, which say, as I understand it, that you can only electronically publish roughly 10% of your ebook anywhere else on the web. So, depending on the length of each of my books, that comes out to about 1-2 chapters each.
By the way, I have not figured out a way to put any html into Wattpad yet—they must not want you putting links inside of your text because they don’t provide an easy way to do that.
And incidentally, they encourage writers to add images to their posts (stories with images score higher among reader votes), but they do not allow you to upload any images. Instead, you must provide the url (ie. the web address) for an image and link to it from there. What I’m not sure is does this mean you can link to any image, anywhere, and use it? I doubt it. But I will keep digging around to find out.
Anyway, with any luck, I’ll grow a decent little following and spread the word about Rosco the Rascal and myself as an author. I had my first follower this morning, and I had to message and tell him he was my first follower on Wattpad and how nice that was to wake up to. He wrote back saying he was much obliged and appreciated that I had followed him yesterday. (See, already it’s totally a “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” world on Wattpad, like any other social media platform.)
On another note, I also think that if enough children’s novelists would start using Wattpad, we might together make a large enough impression on the darn thing that maybe they will add Children’s Books as a genre, and then all those eight-year-olds out there with smart phones and tablets might start reading more and playing Clash of Clans less! (Yeah, right!) Fingers crossed. But Wattpad could probably nearly double it’s user numbers if they would;)
One more side note: I’m doubtful the platform will work well for picture books. But who knows?
From Wattpad’s Press page:
Wattpad, the global multiplatform entertainment company for original stories, transforms how the world discovers, creates, and engages with stories. Since 2006, it has offered a completely social experience where people everywhere can participate and collaborate on content through comments, messages, and multimedia. Today, Wattpad connects a community of over 45 million people around the world through serialized stories about the things they love.
~Image screenshot from wattpad.com
And for those who’d like to learn more about using it or follow me https://www.wattpad.com/user/ShanaGorian
and countless other writers, first you’ll need to set up an account, and then you can read this free, very short, very informative ‘book,’ among others! How Wattpad Works – Writer Tips for Being Successful