I joined Wattpad in August kind of as a fluke. A Netflix show I really liked got canceled (Gypsy with Naomi Watts) and when I was google searching why, I found a Reddit thread where someone had posted a fan fiction story about what happens to Watts’ character and her lesbian lover after the show ends. Intrigued, I checked it out and discovered a site I’ve since grown to love. Shout out to you, @AnnaGold1 for bringing me there. I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of Wattpad, before then, but as soon as I joined I was hooked. It’s become my destination social media site since I defected from Facebook. And, I’ve found, a much more productive one.
I quickly made a profile for myself and put up a few of my short stories that no one read, then I eventually put up my two completed novels currently lost in the Amazon jungle. They got a few reads on Wattpad, but it wasn’t until I wrote a novella-length story that catered to a specific audience (YA) in a popular but not over-used genre (paranormal), and got a stunning cover for it (credits below), that my story got featured by the site without me having to submit a request. I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but this is considered grabbing the brass ring on Wattpad. That, and reaching the #1 spot out of millions of stories (mine is currently ranking at #5).
I also wrote what I think is a pretty good story that keeps the pages (or screens) turning. It’s something I try to do with all my fiction, along with a good twist near the end. Since I first posted it as a draft, I did quite a bit of polishing and editing: some of it formed from the comments I received from readers.
What’s cool about Wattpad is that there are millions (like 40 plus) readers on that site from all over the world. They can vote and comment on your story. I’ve gotten that occasional reader who treats your story like they’re giving it an unsolicited line-edit (other writers mostly) and that can be annoying at times, but it’s also helpful. I don’t always agree with their comments, but it’s good to get feedback. So far I haven’t encountered any trolls.
Usually the editing process is a private pain, which is why the recent Milo Yiannoupolos editing notes exposé is so delicious. Publishing a story in-progress (you can always wait till it’s perfect, but there’s no fun in that) and open to criticism is a skin thickening experience.
The best part of Wattpad is connecting to other writers and readers. I have a few stories that I’m following (meaning reading the new parts whenever they’re updated) and I have many more on deck waiting for my attention. And it’s all free. No more regrettable Kindle purchases. Now, of course, these are mostly amateur writers (aren’t we all), so you’re generally not encountering perfect prose, but I have read some surprisingly good stuff on that site. I’m looking forward to more discoveries.
I’m still a noobie, but below are some of my tips that (I think) helped to get my story featured.
- Write a good story. This seems obvious, but just because you’re offering your story for free doesn’t mean it should be any less quality than something you’d submit to a publisher or self-publish (you still own the rights and can take it down any time). In fact, several writers have gotten publishing contracts as a result of that site (fingers crossed).
- Cater to the audience. I’ve resisted this idea in the past, but I am now woke to that reality. Most of Wattpad’s audience are teens and young women, which is why New Direction fan fiction has millions of reads.
- Keep the chapters (parts) short (average 1200 words) and end them with a cliff-hanger. Most Wattpad users are reading your story off their phone. Distractions abound.
- Add video and images to your story. Wattpad gives writers a cool option to add media to their stories. Cut and paste a Pinterest pic or YouTube Video in the theme of your story or music to read by. I made this book trailer to go with mine.
- Have a fantastic cover. I bought this on the thebookcoverdesigner.com by Consuelo Parra, model: Mjranum-stock.deviantart.
- Respond to your readers. One of Wattpad’s cool features is you can check the demographics of your readership. It’s exciting to see that I have readers from all over the world. I make sure I thank every reader and follow back.
- Keep the story moving. “The one unforgivable sin is to be boring.”