The Wondrous World of Wattpad
Wattpad is a magical place for readers and writers alike; providing an outlet for writers to share their works, and readers with a nearly endless supply of stories to read. There are stories of all levels, from people who are in different stages of their writing career. Some have just started posting, some may have been doing it for a couple years like myself, and some are seasoned writers. This also means that not every story is the greatest. There are some that are riddled with errors, and you can’t follow the plot, because there doesn’t really seem to be one. There are also those stories that follow the typical cliché without any twists to make them original. That’s all part of the site, but there are some gems hidden within those piles as well. Ones that are worth searching for. There are even published authors finding their way onto the site.
Margaret Atwood is on Wattpad, and so is Scott Westerfeld, both sharing some of their work with a readership who may not have found them otherwise. It can help new writers find their footing in the literary world, and it can help already published authors grow their platform.
Wattpad is a social network for writers. The social aspect is something that can’t be stressed enough. Just like you would interact with followers on Twitter, or friends/followers on Facebook, you need to interact with users on Wattpad. It’s the only way to get the most out of the site.
You won’t gain traction overnight, it’s a gradual thing, something you need to work for. There’s a video out there called The Wattpad Moment, where a woman toys with the idea of writing her first story. She posts it before going to bed, and she wakes up the next morning to thousands of reads, and tons of votes and comments. For the majority of users, that’s not how it works. Only if you’re extremely lucky will your story become popular overnight. If it doesn’t happen for you, then don’t be discouraged. Getting readers on Wattpad takes quite a bit of work.
How do you work for readers? There are a few different ways to do this. First, as I said, Wattpad is a social network, and it’s a giant community, one that spans the entire globe. In order to get something, you have to be willing to give something as well; typically you have to give before you can get. Start reading stories other users have posted that are similar to what you write yourself. This will not only help put you out there, but it could help your own writing as well.
Second, leave comments. Thoughtful comments. If you’re reading stories, then leave comments. If you show that you’re enjoying the read, then a lot of times, authors pick up on that, and will reciprocate. You get notifications when someone votes on your story, and when someone comments on your story. If you want to be noticed, then you need to do those things. While commenting, interact with other commenters in the stories. People tend to stick to one or two genres when they read. If you see commenters continuously, and you interact with them, then they may check you out. If you have a story within the genre they read, then they very well may read you.
Lastly, if you use the website from a laptop or desktop, there are clubs you can access. Within this section of the site, there are genre specific clubs you can join as well as Improve Your Writing, and The Café. Improve Your Writing has people to help with the writing process in many ways, and The Café has discussions that don’t fit into the genre specific clubs.
Within each genre specific club, there is a pinned thread where you can share your story. In this section you can post the blurb to your story, as well as the image of your cover. You can then add the link to the story, and people can find you that way. The list is cleared out every week, so you can keep going back. If you figure out the schedule for the moderator that puts it up, then you can try to get in there right after it’s cleaned out. The sooner you get in there, the closer your advertisement will be to the front. The first few pages are probably the most viewed stories.
Many people say these don’t work. I’ve been skeptical about the club advertisements myself, especially considering the vast majority of Wattpadders are mobile users and don’t have access to the clubs, but many people swear these tactics work for getting readers. It’s a slow process, but it’s something that does work over time.
Something to keep in mind is that your story’s success does depend on the type of story you’re trying to share with the world. Wattpad is heavily a teen/early twenties site. Stories aimed at that age range are the ones that work best. YA stories, smutty stories, werewolves and vampires, those are the types of things that work best and thrive. That’s not to say you won’t find any readers for your stories aimed at a different audience. You will find your audience, you just probably won’t get as many reads as a werewolf story geared toward teens. The site is also heavily female. Now, this can work out to the male writer’s advantage. When people find out that a guy is writing, their page and story tends to see an increase of visitors, because it is a rare phenomenon.
One thing to remember when trying to put yourself out there and get readers, is to never advertise your story on the wall of another user, or within someone else’s story. It’s rude, and goes against the code of conduct you’re supposed to read when signing up. Unfortunately, you still get people who do it. If you become a Wattpad superstar, meaning you gain traction and start racking up the reads, you will most likely start seeing this on your own page. It’s unfortunate. I try to ignore the message and delete it, or reply to the person letting them know that type of behavior isn’t acceptable on the site, wait a few hours or a day, and then delete the comment. It doesn’t hurt to try to help other users. Some don’t realize that what they’re doing is wrong, but some just don’t care.
Another way to put yourself out there, and to fully utilize the site, is by entering contests. There are contests run by Ambassadors who have started Wattpad profiles, like the WattVampires, or the Wattpad Paranormal. There are also contests run by other users, as well as some by published authors. R.L. Stine and Margaret Atwood like to run contests on Wattpad. R.L. Stine had a fill in the fear contest, where the winner got their story published along side him. Margaret Atwood had one for the Future Library, and she’s running another one in promotion of her new book coming out. The winner gets an ecard from her as well as a signed copy of the book.
Wattpad runs a yearly contest called the Wattys where there are multiple categories authors can win in. The entry period for the 2015 Wattys just ended at the end of August. Within a few months, Wattpad goes through the entries and decides on the winners of multiple categories. If you win, it’s announced on the site, and you get a sticker for your book cover that shows you were a Watty winner.
Every so often, publishing companies will host contests on the site as well. They will hold the contest, and the prize is getting a publishing deal. Currently, the So You Think You Can Write contest is going on, the first round is over, and the top 50 stories have moved on to round two. The winner at the end will receive a two-book publishing deal with Harlequin. There have been other contests in the past as well.
Taking advantage of all these contests, would definitely be in your interest. Especially if you’re trying to use Wattpad as a stepping stone into the publishing world.
If you absolutely love the site, and would like to give back to it, like I have, there are a few different options. You can apply to join the Ambassadors. You submit an application, which you can find on the Wattpad Ambassador page, and if you’re selected, you’ll be accepted into the program. The Ambassadors are a group of people who work to make Wattpad a safe and enjoyable place to be. They make sure stories are correctly categorized, that users aren’t harassing one another, and that the clubs stay friendly and clear of clutter. They also manage some of the profiles. Joining the Ambassadors is definitely a rewarding way of giving back to the community. And you get to meet a great group of people when you join.
Another way is to start a group or run a contest. I’m part of a couple different groups on Wattpad, the first one being the Wattpadres, formally known as The Wattpad Class of 2014. We were a group of people who joined Wattpad around the same time in the summer of 2014. We started reading each other’s stories, commenting, and interacting with one another in the comments. A real example of what I was saying above. We joked about forming a group, and after a while, we actually did. We started a closed group on Wattpad so we could stay in contact with one another. A place to vent, a place to get ideas, a place we could do all of this without cluttering up each other’s message boards on the profiles.
Since the formation of the group, we’ve guest judged a contest for another group called the Wattpad4, which is another fine example of a group giving back to the community, and we have people in our group who run contests. We are also starting weekly Twitter chats with the tag #Wattpadres where we will talk about different writing and Wattpadding tricks, and we’ll be running contests of our own. One of the prizes will be a profile makeover. That means we will remake a banner for you, one of the book covers, and book blurb.
Another group I’ve become a part of is The Corner Booth, which has live weekly broadcasts on YouTube on Sundays that discuss different aspects to the writing process and different things on Wattpad. It’s aimed to help veterans and newbies alike have online writing success. Since being with the group, we started a contest where, in the spirit of community, the only way for your story to be entered, is if someone else enters it for you. The winner of the contest gets some Wattpad swag and a short interview in the contest book.
As I mentioned, the Wattpad4 is another fantastic group that also does weekly Twitter chats on Mondays. They host contests every so often, and the winner of their contests can receive some Wattpad swag, one example being a Wattpad mug.
These groups and friendships are probably the best thing about Wattpad. I’ve met some people on the site that are fantastic people. I was lucky enough to meet these wonderful users from all around the world. From London to Australia, to India, and the United States. People who are making their mark in the publishing world. Three of the people in the Wattpadres have self or Indie published. One is getting published the traditional way, her book is coming out December of 2016, one won a contest by a publishing company on Wattpad and her book will be getting published, another won not only Margaret Atwood’s Future Library contest, but also R.L. Stine’s Fill In The Fear contest.
Like every site, and really anything in this world, Wattpad has its good and its not so good. Some of the cautionary things I mentioned earlier, like some of the stories not being the best. It can be frustrating sometimes, because a story riddled with errors can have millions of reads while yours is struggling to get a couple hundred. You just can’t give up though. Those are the stories playing right into the hands of the stereotype. They are the teen werewolf or the smutty stories that are playing right into the hands of the reader and giving them exactly what they all want. Sometimes they’re telling the story they want to tell, but a lot of times, they’re telling the story the readers want to read.
There are also some less than friendly users, and getting readers is a slow and time consuming process. The site has been under construction and constantly changing for about a year now. If you’re just joining, the changes won’t be much of a problem, but for those who have been on for almost two years and longer, they’re having a hard time coping with the changes. The site is updating itself, and the workers at Wattpad are constantly trying to make the site a better place. Glitches do happen with the site when some new features are rolled out, but there is a place to submit a ticket, and Wattpad is good with getting back to you within 24-48 hours if submitted on a weekday. They do whatever they can to help with the issue you’re having, and I’ve found their assistance to be really helpful the couple times I’ve had to submit a ticket.
For all these downsides, I’ve found the good parts to far outweigh the bad. The fact that you can build a close community within the site as a support system to help you through all sorts of good and bad times is remarkable. The fact that you can write your story, and people can comment on it is amazing. Sometimes readers have better ideas than you do, they’ll come up with things you may never have thought about, and maybe you’ll want to adapt those and change the story a bit. The fact that you can share your work with the world, and get experience to add to a query letter if you ever want to attempt that process is the icing on the cake.
You can publish and unpublish chapters. If you want to make changes or edits, there is a feature for that. If you want to pull the story down, you can either choose to unpublish it, or you can delete the story from the site completely, and new features are always being created to help improve user experience.
Because of Wattpad, I’ve actually gotten paid to write. I was commissioned by Warner Brothers and Wattpad to write a short story in promotion for The Gallows movie. There are tons of companies partnering with Wattpad and commissioning writers to write things for them. These help a resume when you want to start the search for an agent. Even if your manuscript doesn’t find a home with a publishing house, it will find its home on Wattpad with a readership that appreciates the time and effort you put into creating it, and they’ll most definitely show it.
If you’ve thought about joining Wattpad, I would recommend giving it a shot. It’s definitely not the place for everyone, but if it’s the place for you, you’ll definitely know it.
Lindsey Lippincott is a Journalism and Mass Communications major and a Wattpad user. She’s been a featured author on the site, is currently an Ambassador, and was comissiined by Wattpad and Warner Brothers to write a short promotional piece for The Gallows. She’s heavily involved in Wattpad and writing, doing what she can with other users to give back to the community that has given so much to her.
Usernames on social media are Linna1029 on Wattpad and Twitter
Author page on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/
Wattpadres Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/
The Corner Booth Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/
Corner Booth YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/
Wattpad Moment video talked about in article – https://www.youtube.com/