Wattpad and the Unpublished Author Hell-Bent on Being Published – Part 2
For the unpublished author truly serious about publishing their first novel (the category I fall into at the time of writing this), what are the pros and cons of posting some or all of your yet-to-be-published work on Wattpad?
This is the second post on my experiences with Wattpad. In Part 1, I introduced Wattpad and explained how to best to get set up so that you drive early attention and quickly gain a following. In this post, I’ll examine the pros and cons of Wattpad from the point of view of the unpublished writer who is serious about publishing their work.
Not having joined any local author’s circles, I’d never allowed anyone to read my work previously. Through Wattpad, I found it a positive confidence building experience to receive such great unsolicited feedback. Many of my readers were actually other authors, which made it even more heartening. The feedback ranged from people catching spelling and grammar mistakes (which, if nothing else, convinced me I needed to pay for a proper copy-edit) to character and plot suggestions to discussions around the pros and cons of cliffhanger endings. Be aware, that receiving feedback requires you to interact (or should at least) which takes time away from writing.
I’ve converted some of the better feedback soundbites into quotes about the book on my website. It gives people who discover my site some confidence in the quality of my work.
A base for marketing
As you or your work becomes more popular on Wattpad, you gain more followers. Like any social media site, these followers are a base to which you can market. For now, I make a point of staying engaged by sharing blog posts and updates about my writers journey. Once I publish, I will market to this audience as well. After all, these are people who’ve already taken time to read my work. (That said, the logic of marketing a group of people who are conditioned to reading for free is questionable!)
Discoverability outside of Wattpad
A handful of authors have secured publishing contracts directly because they were successful on Wattpad. They are few and far between and are mostly in YA genres to date.
The average age of Wattpad users is 20. It is dominated by teenagers and twenty somethings. If this is your target market then its a plus, but for me it’s a negative. However, despite this, I still managed to find a large readership that enjoy my work.
Although there are over 20 genres, sci-fi, fantasy, YA and fan-fiction are the dominant genres on Wattpad. Obviously, this might be a ‘pro’ for you if one of these is your genre.
Generating a following
This takes time and requires you to invest in searching out authors and readers of authors writing similar works to your own. You then need to spend time reading their work, voting, and reviewing. All in the name of getting yourself known and visible so that readers will discover you and take the time to read your work. It’s slow work to begin with. You can also do the same by becoming active in the Wattpad clubs, however this is yet another time consuming activity.
Your success on Wattpad lives and dies by how well you serialise your work. If you naturally write long chapters then you may want to break them up into smaller bite-sized Wattpad chapters. I certainly did. It has the benefit of slowing down how much work you release week-to-week, giving more time to generate a readership, but you need to make sure the smaller chapter breaks work well. Ideally, the more suspense you can generate each week, the more likely readers will come back for more. But you may find yourself artificially changing your writing to suit Wattpad’s bite-sized style.
If you intend to seek out a traditional publishing contract, then do not publish on Watttpad, or only post works you do not intend for a traditional publisher to represent. Publishers want works that have the highest potential (paid) readership, and having your works available on Wattpad means that you may have removed some of their target market already.
If you plan to indie publish and you plan to use Amazon KDP Select, then you will need to remove lots of your work from Wattpad at the time of publication. KDP Select only allows you to make up to 10% of your book available on other sites as a sample.
For me, Wattpad has been a worthwhile and valuable experience. Even when I publish my debut novel in a couple of months, I believe there will still be a major role for Wattpad in my writing life. After I publish, I’ll return to this series of blog post and write Part 3, all about exploiting Wattpad as a published author.
What about you? Are you a Wattpad user? Have I captured all the pros and cons? Are there other experiences you’ve had that are worth sharing here?