To Wattpad or not to Wattpad... that's the question.
In the book and writing world, there are many varying opinions regarding Wattpad. The ones that surprise me the most, however, are the ones that come from writers. After speaking on a panel at the Rocket City Lit Fest last year, an attendee said they thought Wattpad was useless and a waste of time for writers, since it was putting your work out there for the world to read for free. Well, I'm sure Anna Todd, now a NY Times best-selling author because of her After series, which was originally 'just a Wattpad story', disagrees. Her simple Wattpad story has been picked up by Paramount Pictures, so this is proof that Wattpad has its perks.
The real question, in my mind, is why not? Firstly, you have the potential of gaining new readers who may enjoy your writing so much they become loyal readers, purchasing anything you write. Secondly, you get free feedback from readers who are (sometimes brutally) honest about your story and writing. This information is vital to authors and often gets sugar-coated by beta readers. Personally, I only have a handful of betas, but with Wattpad, I have thousands.
Aside from the free feedback, there are many Wattpad stories, like After, that have garnered a huge following, not to mention a loyal fan base, and have gone on to be published, with some being optioned for film. Many literary agents and publishing houses are taking notice, as well. Why wouldn't they? Everything they want to know is right there; author's writing ability, story interest, established fan base. It's the perfect hunting ground for a possible next best-seller.
Oh, did I mention WATTPAD STUDIOS???
With all that being said, not everyone who uses Wattpad will become the next big thing, no matter how amazing your story is. The sad truth is that many stories get lost in the vast ocean of other stories, and a lot of those stories are even better than the ones that have gone viral with millions of reads. In the grand scheme of things, it seems to be the luck of the draw as to which stories get read and voted on and which ones don't. However, there are ways to help your stories get seen and establish a following.
Get Your Story Featured
Wattpad has it's own list of stories that are featured by category on their home page. This is the list all readers go to when they are looking for a new story to read, so you want yours on that list. The list is chosen by Wattpad staff, but you can request that yours be considered. For all the information you need on how to have yours considered, click HERE.
Wattpad is not only a reading site, it's a social site, so be social. When someone comments on your story, reply back to them. If they vote on a chapter, thank them for voting. Find stories you like in your genre, add them to your reading lists and comment/vote on them, as well. It's like being at a party; if you sit in the corner and expect everyone to come to you, you're more than likely going to be partying alone, which is never any fun.
Readers like knowing when you're going to update your story, so make sure you update regularly, preferably on the same day each week. Not only do readers like this, but you will, too, since updating regularly seems to help with your story's rank, keeping the interest flowing. When your story is in the top ten, or reaches number one, it only draws in more readers. So keep that story hopping, jumping right up that ranking list, and update weekly. Personally, I like Fridays, but whatever day you pick, let your readers know.
Share Your Story
No one will read your story if they don't know it's there, so make sure you share it. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social site you use. One of the great things about Wattpad is the ability to share stories, including your own, right from each page. When using their mobile app, they have cool tools that allow you to easily turn quotes into shareable photos, which are great for Instagram.
Aside from sharing new stories, you can share samples of books you've already published. My published books are all on there, but only the first few chapters, giving new readers a sample, which has led to book sales. If you decide to do that, make sure your publisher is okay with it first.
Still Not Sure About Wattpad?
Wattpad isn't for everyone.
Some writers don't want to 'give their stories away for free', even though that may very well be what puts their story in front of millions of new readers, which could include someone who can take that book somewhere besides a slush pile or lost on Amazon. To remedy that feeling, I added chapters from alternating POVs to my most-read Wattpad stories once published, making Wattpad readers want to buy it for the bonus chapters, alone.
Some writers don't want their work being seen among some of the frivolous stories that litter Wattpad, thinking it's more of a children's/teen's site. Yes, Wattpad includes some younger writers who are a bit, shall I say, *clears throat* immature. However, Amazon does, too.
There are also several contests, as well, including the world's largest on-line writing contest, The Watty's. Harlequin even hosts a contest where the winner gets a contract. So, as you can see, some of the contests can be lucrative to many writers.
Who's on Wattpad?
I am! And so are some amazing, best-selling authors, such as R.L. Stine, Jennifer Armentrout, and Colleen Hoover, just to name a few. There are also several movie profiles, companies, and even musicians, not to mention publishers, such as Harlequin and Source Books. All in all, there's some pretty cool people on Wattpad.
My Wattpad Experience
Haunted was the first story I posted on Wattpad, which was just an idea I had while in a funk writing the second book in my For Always series. Once it became a featured story, reaching #1 in paranormal, I wrote Unleashed, which never became a featured story, however, it still reached #1 in paranormal. Haunted was featured on the Paranormal Activity and Sinister II movie profiles as a promotional story, and Unleashed was featured on the Ouija movie profile, which I found to be super cool, being somewhat of a para-geek. Despite the fact that Haunted was thrown together rather quickly, and is my lowest rated book on Amazon to date, it has over half a million reads on Wattpad and is still my most popular Wattpad story.
Because of the stories/sample chapters I've posted on Wattpad, I've gained new readers, been a part of some great groups of people, have made some great friends, and constantly get feedback on the things I've written. Sometimes I get involved in other things and can't post every week, which has happened lately, but I'm still gaining followers and new readers, despite my temporary absence.
Am I a Wattpad All-Star with thousands and thousands of followers? Or do I have publishers filling up my inbox with contract offers? No, or shall I say, not yet. With Wattpad, you just never know what might happen.