Want to Reach Readers Who AREN’T Your Fellow Writers? Try WattPad

Getting_Ahead-frDoes this sound familiar?

You spend hours upon hours blogging, Tweeting,  posting on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest–where you’re successfully engaging with people who love your blog posts, Tweets, status updates, and images.

But you’re a fiction writer. You’re spending all this time on social media…and can’t help but wonder: How many of the people you’re reaching are actually the target audience for your fiction? 

Now imagine spending time on a social media platform where most of the people you engage with are fiction readers–not just readers of blogs, Facebook posts, and Tweets. Sure, some of them are writers, too, but people are on this particular platform because they are readers, first and foremost. They’re not there to critique or do market research or learn the craft of writing. They’re just there to discover awesome stories by awesome authors.

They’re just there to discover awesome authors like you.

Social Media for Reaching Readers

I kinda wish I could tell you about this AWESOME social media platform that I was creating to help writers connect with readers. Unfortunately, I’m not that lucky.

Fortunately, I CAN offer the next best thing. Someone else thought up this amazing platform to connect people who love to read with people who love to write: Wattpad. Established in November, 2006, Wattpad now has about 35 million users, about 90% of whom participate primarily as readers. And it’s a unique social environment where writers of all levels post their work for readers to discover, enjoy, and share.

It’s easy to connect with other writers on social media. The real challenge is connecting with readers.

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Who’s on Wattpad?

1. Best-Selling Authors

You may be surprised to see some familiar monikers on Wattpad…

MargaretAtwood RLStine bobmayer

Many published authors are using Wattpad as a way to reach broader audiences and interact with their readers.

2. Publishers

Harlequin Romance and Wattpad co-hosted the So You Think You Can Write contest to search for talented writers of new adult romance. It was such a success that they reported:

Harlequin and Wattpad hosted the So You Think You Can Write (SYTYCW) contest to discover four talented romance writers. The community brought forth so much talent that Harlequin couldn’t pick just four winners; instead they picked six!”

3. Literary Agents

More than one book deal has arisen from Wattpad success. Wattpad’s communications manager, Nadia Khan, told the International Business Times:

There are many Wattpad writers who have landed a publishing deal after sharing their story on Wattpad. Conservatively, we estimate the number around 100. Examples: Beth Reekles (Random House), named one of Time magazine’s most influential teens in 2013; Abigail Gibbs (Harper Collins); Lillian Carmine (Harper Collins); Taran Matharu (Macmillan), a male writer in the fantasy genre; and Jordan Lynde (one book with Random House and one with Sourcebooks).”–in Barbara Herman’s 4/27/2015 article “What Is Wattpad? The ‘YouTube For Stories’ Is Transforming Book Publishing”

Getting Started on Wattpad

Getting started on Wattpad is as easy as creating a username and password or connecting your Facebook account. But don’t just sign up and start posting your story. Take some time to look around and see what the platform has to offer. Check out the types of comments that readers leave for writers–people aren’t usually critiquing the stories. They’re having conversations about what they think might happen next, or asking questions, or sharing an emotional response.

Cover1I’ll be back on Thursday to share 7 ways authors can rock Wattpad. (Hint: You have to remember that you’re on a social platform!) Meanwhile, if you’re curious, I’m using Wattpad to motivate myself to rewrite a story that’s been too long on my back burner–Waveborn, a paranormal tale of love and orcas. Come and check it out!

Your turn: Do you read or post stories on Wattpad? If so, what’s your experience? If not, would you? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Check the Label–and Avoid These Common Creativity Zappers!

Check the label! 

You probably do this without a second thought when you’re shopping. You check to see that foods contain healthy ingredients, to make sure cleaning products are nontoxic. Maybe you check labels to see where something was made, or whether it contains the kind of wool that makes Aunt Ethel itchy.

But how often do you notice the labels YOU put on things? Specifically, the labels you apply–probably without thinking–to yourself, your writing, your needs and desires?

Labels_not_for_people1

We humans are hard-wired to name things, to give them labels. Unfortunately, our brains are also hard-wired to pay more attention to negative information–which means that those negative labels are often on the tip of our mental tongues.

Have trouble getting started on that next chapter? Your inner critic slaps on labels like lazy or  not very creative. Skip writing for a few days or weeks? That inner critic labels you “not serious about writing.” 

What labels do you apply to yourself or your writing? They might be getting in your way!

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There are three common types of labels that can block creativity, reinforce self-doubts, and even paralyze our ability to imagine. 

Name-Calling Labels

My writing coach once asked me if I would talk to a friend the way I talked to myself. This question is a good way to gauge whether you’re engaging in some unhelpful name-calling, putting down your muse, yourself, or your work. Labels like lazy, stupid, slow, scattered, and blocked don’t spur your creative side; they shut it down.

If you wouldn’t use a label to describe a good friend, don’t apply it to yourself or your writing, either!

Common “Name-Calling Labels”

For Themselves…

For Their Writing…

Slow
Uncreative
Not good enough
Not a “real” writer
Undisciplined
Lazy
Unfocused
Blocked

Unpolished
Unoriginal
Unprofessional
Bad
Boring
Crappy
Beginner
Derivative

Excuse-Making Labels

Labels don’t have to be obviously negative to get in your way. All they have to do is turn your attention away from solving a problem. Common excuse-making labels include too busy and too stressed. 

Excuse-making labels often begin with the words “I can’t write/create/brainstorm right now because…”

Excuse-making labels often focus on placing blame for the problem on someone or something outside of yourself.

Are you “too busy” to write? Maybe. I often am! But if you accept “too busy” as a label, it’s easy to let it define you. It’s easy to forget that we usually have some control over how busy or stressed or overwhelmed we are.

Grandiose Labels

You might be surprised to hear that seemingly good labels can be just as harmful as obviously negative labels. Think about it, though: what happens when you tell yourself that your latest book/story/essay concept is

The Best Idea Ever!

Does the thought help your words to flow effortlessly from your pen? If so, more power to you!

For the rest of us, though, labels like greatest and best and breakout create an enormous amount of pressure. Suddenly you face a daunting standard when you sit down to write. If the idea is so great, your writing better measure up to it!

Grandiose labels create stress, and stress is the enemy of creativity.

Chuck those labels–good and bad! Just focus on doing the work.

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So what labels sneak into your writing process?

The good news? Once you’re on the lookout for them, harmful labels are pretty easy to spot. Once spotted, you can replace them with labels that reinforce your creative journey rather than hinder it. I’d love to hear what labels you’ve had to eliminate from your vocabulary as a writer! Please share your examples and insights in the comments.

I also hope you’ll come back on Thursday, when we’ll dig deeper into how to replace those negative labels with a problem-solving mindset!

Care and Feeding of the Discouraged Writer

This post was originally published in April, 2011, but it seems to be particularly relevant during the craziness of the holidays. Hope this encourages you as we hurtle toward the end of the year!

Jami Gold’s recent post Have You Ever Been Tempted to Give Up? is thought-provoking and true. In a weird way, it’s encouraging to realize that even published, successful authors struggle with this question.

Jamie’s post ends with a question: “What pushes you to the edge of giving up (lack of time, rejections, something else)?  What things help motivate and encourage you (a support system, wanting to prove something, finding successes wherever you can)? ” Visit her blog to see what other writers have to say.

Have I ever been tempted to give up? Absolutely! As has every writer in my critique group. As has every writer I know personally. And yet, most of us don’t. What keeps us going? I think the answer depends on why we’re tempted to quit, the way different illnesses respond to different treatments.

In my experience, there are several factors that can push me to the edge:

  1. Too much rejection/too little affirmation: This ailment is best treated by interaction with other people. Turn to your critique group, writer friends, Twitter tweeps, or a trusted first reader for encouragement and perspective. Or read the thoughts of a successful author in writing books like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Jane Yolen’s Take Joy, or Stephen King’s On Writing.
  2. Physical exhaustion: When a writer is juggling multiple jobs and responsibilities—as most of us are—sometimes we spend so much time living inside our heads that we forget to take care of our bodies. Are you physically worn out? Try treatment with a brisk walk, plenty of water, a restful foray into nature, or a good night’s sleep.
  3. Mental overwhelm: When juggling too many to-do’s—writing or otherwise—it’s easy to get mired in too-much-to-do-itis. Overwhelm is not conducive to creativity. Treat with a hefty dose of self-kindness, lightening your load, word play, and small, achievable writing goals to help you rediscover the joy of writing.
  4. Negative creative balance: In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron describes the source of an artist’s creativity as a “creativity pond”, something that can be overfished and emptied if we don’t take are to refill and restock. If you spend too much time working—even doing work you love—you may discover that your muse is not longer speaking to you. Treat with Artist’s Dates, infusions of beauty and sensory delights, and creative stimulation such as a conference, class, or writing book.

Sometimes, you have to have faith and keep pressing forward; other times, mere willpower is not the answer. If you’re tempted to give up, ask yourself why. It might help you puzzle out the best remedy for what ails you.

:) Cheryl

Photo courtesy of Paolo Camera

The Joy of the Writing Conference

Now that I’ve written about how to get the most from your next writing conference, and how to dress for your next writing conference, I’ve realized that I may be putting the cart before the horse. You may not yet be convinced that you should invest the time, money, and emotional energy to GO to a writing conference in the first place. Conferences and travel and lodging and all that aren’t free, you know. So why bother?

Helga Weber Photo by Helga Weber

Changing Your Vision

I wrote an entire “Tuesday Ten” list of reasons to attend a conference—and they’re all good reasons. I’ll post it tomorrow. But I feel like the list doesn’t get at the heart of the issue, which is that attending a writing conference can change you. A good conference can meet you wherever you are as a writer, and give you what you need plus a little extra.

Every year, I attend my local Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference. Every year, I see people attending their first writing conference.

There’s the young mother, nervous, who doesn’t know anyone. This is her first weekend away from her two preschoolers, and she wonders if she made the right decision in coming.

There’s the high school student, who looks somewhat mortified to have his mother in tow. He’s eager to learn EVERYTHING and will tell anyone who will listen of the epic fantasy he’s written.

There’s the retired schoolteacher. He’s written his entire life but never had the self-confidence to do anything with it. He’s only here because his wife gave him conference attendance as a gift.

There’s the art student, winner of the illustrator’s scholarship contest. He acts cocky and self-assured, but you can tell he’s nervous during the portfolio reviews because he keeps dropping his papers.

There’s the mother of two teenage girls, who has finally allowed herself to spend money on her “writing hobby.” She feels like an imposter at first, but she’s determined to stick it out.

Do you see yourself on this list?

I coordinate the manuscript critiques for this conference and it’s one of the most rewarding things I do. Sometimes when I pair a hopeful young (or middle-aged or older, because we’re all hopeful, aren’t we?) writer with an editor or agent for a critique, I feel as if I’m reaching back in time to a younger version of myself—the terrified young woman attending her first conference, afraid to speak to anyone because they were REAL WRITERS. I was welcomed into the writing community by wonderful (and much more experienced!) writers who have since become some of my best friends. Attending that conference changed my life.

Not because of the great information (although there was plenty of great info.)

Not because I learned the latest industry trends (although I did.)

Not even because I made connections that later enabled me to join a critique group (although that happened, too.)

The REAL WRITER

It changed my life because it enabled me to see, feel, hear, even taste what it meant to be a real writer. It gave me the courage and knowledge and support to realize that I WAS a real writer. At that conference, I clarified my understanding of who I was and who I wanted to be. And, for the first time ever, I caught a glimpse of how I could become that person.

So come back tomorrow check out my logical lists of reasons to attend a writing conference this year—but don’t forget that a conference’s greatest benefit may be some intangible shift in understanding that, right now, you can’t even see that you need.

If you’re a veteran conference attendee, how did conference attendance impact your life? If you *haven’t* gone to a writing conference, what’s holding you back?