Ever heard of Wattpad? Listen up! My guest Kimberley Grabas is sharing the scoop about this reader-centric social media platform that could mean free promo and lots of sales for self-published authors. “More than 500 writers have published pieces that have been read more than a million times.” ~ Wattpad
As every self-published author knows, the road to ‘getting known’ is a bumpy one, often filled with unexpected twists and sheer drop-offs at the next turn.
Wouldn’t a straight, paved and well-lit highway be a gift?
Writers sharing their work on Wattpad have the ability to connect and engage with these readers, testing new projects, soliciting feedback and expanding their promotional reach.
Billed as “the world’s largest community for readers and writers to discover and share their stories,” Toronto-based Wattpad presents an incredible opportunity for writers to forge a fan base before they are even published.
Ready to trade your off-road vehicle for a sporty convertible?
But What Exactly is Wattpad?
Founded in 2006, Wattpad is a unique social media platform that optimizes digital storytelling by supporting direct and interactive communication between authors and their fans.
Content is made easily accessible through Wattpad’s website, mobile site or with Wattpad apps. This gives readers the ability to choose from millions of stories to read – for free! – on their computer, tablet or phone.
Writers can post their current projects and readers can comment, note their impressions, ask questions, vote for their favourites and share the author’s work – introducing new readers to the work and expanding awareness.
The marketing potential is tremendous, as stories with the most votes and comments are also promoted and featured by Wattpad, which can ultimately lead to hundreds of thousands of additional readers for an author’s published piece.
How Wattpad Works
Registration is free for both readers and writers, and only takes a few seconds to sign up. You can post any amount of material (in parts), and because you retain the rights to your work, you can also remove it when, or if, you choose.
You gain readers with each posting, and if those readers become ‘fans,’ they will receive an email update each time you post a new part to your story.
A book’s ranking is linked to the number of votes, the number of comments, and the number of reads – the higher the rank, the easier it is to find on Wattpad.
Readers will find everything from novellas and fan fiction to full length novels. And although many genres are represented, YA is the stand-out, as the Wattpad demographics (although expanding rapidly) are skewed toward a younger, female readership.
How to Make Sharing on Wattpad Work for You
Adding and sharing your work on Wattpad is simple. But, although it’s easy to get started, the real work comes from spending the time it takes to develop a strong connection with your readers.
Like everything else you do to build a platform and increase visibility, your goal is to produce amazing content, and then pursue every opportunity to interact with, engage, entertain and otherwise fascinate your audience.
Here are 5 easy steps to getting started on Wattpad:
- Go to www. Wattpad.com and choose ‘Join Now’ to create a free user profile.
- Set up your user (author) profile. Include a profile picture, add a page background, include your social media links, your website URL and an author bio in the ‘About Me’ section. (You can even link your Wattpad page to your Smashwords page to make it easier for your fans to discover all of your work).
- Book (project) setup:
• Click ‘Create” and add the title and a description (similar to back cover blurb, so make it matter).
• Choose the genre/category carefully, as this is very significant for discovery (you are allowed two). The more popular the category, the more competition; less popular, less competition.
• Tags, like keywords, also aid readers in finding your book, so include them.
• Select copyright protection and your rating. Under advanced options you can add your YouTube book trailer link, include additional photos, or add an external link to your author blog or book website.
- Add cover art. You can add cover art by using Wattpad’s cover creation tool or upload your own. There are even cover art forums with people willing to provide this service. Remember, people will judge a book by its cover, so make it count.
- Add chapter heading and chapter content. Wattpad allows you to add additional tags for each chapter (one more way for readers to find you). You can also update the copyright and even share the chapter on Facebook if you wish.
Best practices for getting discovered and captivating your audience on Wattpad:
Be professional: Whether you are a published author or writing the first sentence of your first book, proceed like a professional. Be friendly and helpful, respond quickly to comments and feedback, ensure your bio is engaging and your author profile section is as complete and up to date as possible. And although it is expected and understood that much of the literary compositions you are sharing are ‘works in progress,’ edited work will stand out. So weigh the pros and cons of spending a little more time on your manuscript before it’s shared. People are much more likely to respond favourably if they can see your commitment.
Get connected: There are hundreds of thousands of readers on Wattpad waiting to read your work. Getting featured will lead to massive exposure, so set that as one of your goals. Network and collaborate by finding artists that will create original artwork for your book, consider using editors offering their services, collaborate with other writers and encourage your readers to promote your work.
Socialize: In order to develop a relationship with your readers, there has to be some back and forth. Interact with your readers and other writers on Wattpad by responding (promptly) to comments from readers and leaving thoughtful, useful comments for others. Join clubs, be interactive and helpful, and encourage follows so that your ‘fans’ can be notified via email of your new updates.
Have a Plan: Building your authority and influence as a writer takes time, so don’t anticipate that a fan base will materialize instantly. Consider whether you will add multiple projects in progress or only one at a time. Strategize your timing for a series. You may want to add the first book of a series to Wattpad several weeks in advance of the release of book two on Amazon. Or, you may want to pull a book from Wattpad and publish it elsewhere. Another option may be to post the first few chapters, and let readers know where to buy the book.
Experiment: A huge advantage to developing engagement with your readers – and even other writers – is the ability to gain feedback and insights regarding your work as you write it. This gives you a great opportunity to test new ideas and find what resonates with your readers, or even learn if your characters or story line is compelling.
Be predictable: Although you don’t want your plot to be predictable, you do want your readers to look forward to your postings, so be consistent. By updating regularly, you hook readers into coming back for more. Another upside to being predictable? You will be motivated to complete the writing that you know your fans are eagerly anticipating. (Deadlines, anyone?)
Is Wattpad for You?
For an aspiring writer or self-published author with limited budget, time and resources, Wattpad provides a bounty of possibilities.
- Wattpad is free for writers and readers.
- Young Adult, Romance, and Fan Fiction are extremely popular genres on Wattpad (approximately 40% of user base is under 18), so if you write in those areas, the pool of potential beta readers would be massive. The drawback? There is a lot of competition in those genres. Therefore, those authors writing in other genres may have a smaller body of potential readers, but considerably less competition for those eyeballs (big fish in a smaller pond).
- Great work stands out; the more time and effort you put in, the greater the impact.
- You can use feedback to tweak and refine your work, as well as gauge reader engagement of your manuscript in stages.
- Hook your readers with the first scenes or the first book in a series.
- Every reader you connect with is a potential book buyer or future fan.
What do you think? Will Wattpad make the road to visibility easier for the self-published author? For you in particular?
About the Author of the article: Kimberley Grabas is a writer and the founder of YourWriterPlatform.com, where she provides writers with the resources, tools and inspiration they need to build their platform, engage their fans and sell more books. Connect with Kimberley on Twitter (@writerplatform), Facebook, and Google+
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