Today, I’m going to try to convince you to try something new. Creative. Maybe even a little scary.
And yes, it has to do with Wattpad.
In case you missed it, I blogged about Wattpad on Monday and why you–fiction writer extraordinaire–should consider spending some time on this unique platform. If you missed Monday’s post, go check it out.
Got it? Great!
Because that post was all about getting you excited about a social media platform that offers writers a way to connect with their readers…but that isn’t all I want to do this week. I also want to give you some specific ideas and strategies that you can use to get started on your Wattpad journey.
See, I figure you have some questions about Wattpad. Questions like
- How can I build a readership on Wattpad?
- Even before that, how can anyone even FIND me on Wattpad?
Although there’s a great ratio of readers to writers on Wattpad, it can be challenging to get noticed, especially at first. In fact, you may be tempted to give up before you even start…
I have good news for you. First:
If you’re reading this, your work is probably better than 80% to 90% of what’s on Wattpad.
That’s a pretty bold statement–and one supported only by the limited time I’ve spent on the site–so don’t go throwing my numbers around as fact! They’re more a guesstimate.
The point is that writers of all types, levels, and ages are using Wattpad. Some are working to hone their craft; others are just having fun making up and sharing stories. If you can tell a great story, in a way that readers will enjoy, your work will stand out. People will want to find it. You just need to get the ball rolling…which brings me to good news #2:
There are a few simple strategies you can use to get your writing in front of Wattpad readers.
What strategies are those? Read on–they’re covered in the 7 steps I’ve discovered to help you rock writing on Wattpad!
7 Steps to Rocking Wattpad
1. Define Your Goals
Before you dive into Wattpad, think about what you’re hoping to get out of it. That will let you tailor your strategy accordingly.
Are you a published author? You might want Wattpad to help you:
- Introduce your work to new readers
- Make the first book in your published series free, to spark interest in your other titles
- Give your readers a platform where they can interact with you directly–in the context of your stories
Are you unpublished, in an earlier stage of your writing journey? Wattpad might help you:
- Get reader reactions to character and story concepts
- Build a platform of loyal readers you can use when pitching your book to editors or agents
- Build a platform of loyal readers who might be interested in your published works down the road
2. Be Willing to Experiment
If you’ve been doing this writing thing for a while, you’ve probably heard advice like “Don’t put your writing out on the web!” or “Polish to perfection before you make your writing public.” That’s great advice when putting together a submission for an editor or agent, so does it apply to Wattpad?
I’d argue that no, it doesn’t.
I’m sure some folks will argue with me, but in my opinion, Wattpad is a platform where readers can get a birds-eye view of the author’s writing process. Wattpad provides the opportunity for writers to solicit feedback on their works-in-progress from the kinds of readers who might pick their books off the bookstore shelf.
Be willing to be imperfect in the name of getting your work out there. See where it takes you!
3. Make Yourself Discoverable
- Invest in a terrific book cover, one that lets readers know your book’s genre and sparks interest. (I owe my lovely cover to author/illustrator Anna-Maria Crum.)Wait, you say. I don’t want to spend big bucks on a cover for a book I’m not even publishing! Wattpad also has a community of graphic artists, many of whom will create low-cost or free book covers for their fellow Wattpadders. Or trade your writing or editing skills to a friend with graphic arts abilities…you don’t need perfection. Or expensive.
- Write an awesome book description. (ugh, I know–my least favorite part of the process!) If a reader is interested enough to click on your book cover, though, the book description is what will entice them to enter your story. It’s worth some extra time here.
- Use tags to help readers find your work. Tip from Wattpad Head of Content Ashleigh Gardner: choose reader-friendly tags rather than industry terminology. In her interview with Joanna Penn, she reported that many authors will tag their books with terms like “juvenile fiction,” when readers are searching for tags like “teen love.” Skip the jargon.
4. Serialize Like a Pro
Every time you post or update a book chapter, your followers on Wattpad get a notification. If you want to keep your story fresh in your readers’ minds, don’t post huge chunks of your story at once. Instead, follow these tips:
- Post on a schedule–once or twice a week
- Post only a chapter or two at a time
- Post enough that readers aren’t frustrated–you don’t want them to visit your page and be annoyed that you’ve only added a paragraph–but not too much
- Try to end chapters (or your weekly/biweekly posts) on a cliffhanger
- According to @MichaelLimJoco, every time you post a chapter, it bumps your book up in the ranks of Wattpad titles–making it easier for readers to discover
- @MichaelLimJoco also reports that Fridays are the best day to post new chapters–due to the way Wattpad’s algorithm works. He explains the details in his book Cracking the Wattpad Code: Insider Secrets the Pros Don’t Want You to Know!
5. Be Social
It’s important to remember that Wattpad is a SOCIAL community. Sure, you can post your writing and ignore others’ works, but you’ll get far more engagement if you spend time exploring the community.
At a minimum, you should try to answer comments from your readers. If people take the time to leave a comment, they like to know you’ve heard them! Here are a few more tips on how and where you can engage in the community:
- Read and comment on others’ stories. Note: That doesn’t mean you should critique others’ stories. In my experience, most Wattpad writers aren’t looking for critiques. They’re looking for your response as a reader. Keep in mind that Wattpad has a lot of young writers. Be kind!
- Respond to others’ comments on others’ stories.
- There are also Clubs and forums on Wattpad, where Wattpadders discuss everything from what they’re writing to title suggestions to homework woes.
6. Include a Call to Action
Many Wattpad writers will include a call to action at the end of some or all of their chapters. What do you want readers to do? Leave a review? Comment and let you know what they like or don’t like? Share they story with friends? Maybe you’re looking for a book trailer or a better book cover–fans often love to show their appreciation by helping out.
Including an “author’s note” at the end of your chapters helps create a personal connection with your readers. Some authors use this space to ask for critiques (which you probably won’t get unless you ask, since Wattpad isn’t a critique-ing platform). Others give updates–when readers can expect the next post, what’s going on in the author’s life. In one Wattpad title, the author ended some of her chapters by asking readers what they thought was going on and asked for input into what should happen next.
7. Seek Advice From Other Wattpad Writers
There are tons of resources for new Wattpad authors created by other Wattpadd authors. I’ve listed some below; there are also clubs devoted to improving writing. Confused about something? Ask! I’ve had nothing but positive responses in my interactions with other writers. Follow the obvious guidelines–be polite, be generous, don’t be creepy–and I think you’ll find plenty of people willing to help you out!