The Writer's Guide to Wattpad: The Comprehensive Guide to Building and Sustaining a Successful Career

The Writer's Guide to Wattpad: The Comprehensive Guide to Building and Sustaining a Successful Career

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440352935
Publisher: F+W Media
Publication date: 08/07/2018
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 512,541
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

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CHAPTER 1

Why Wattpad Works

by Benjamin Sobieck, Editor

On Wattpad: @BenSobieck

Wattpad works because it makes it easy for readers to fall in love with your words.

I should not be writing this. When I joined Wattpad in 2015, I was skeptical. No, wait; that's not doing it justice. It was more than that. Try "suspicious." Post my stories for free? Why? What kind of scam is this?

I'd written what was some of my best work, or so I assumed, and put it up for sale using the usual self-publishing methods. Few readers cared. Even fewer picked up copies. Self-publishing, this panacea for jaded writers turned off by the typical grind, didn't work. The small presses I signed with weren't much better. The big, traditional publishers weren't answering the door. To be blunt, I was stuck, feeling hopeless and more than a little frustrated with myself, my writing, and the publishing game.

So I had every right to be cynical back in 2015. Soon after my meltdown, I read an article about a writing conference featuring a website out of Toronto called "Wattpad." The article detailed how writers post their works for free on Wattpad and then benefit from the readerships they build. Not "free*," not "free," and not even "free for a limited time." Just free. Free-free. As in, forever free, until the sun turns into a red giant and swallows the Earth or I delete the story from Wattpad, whichever comes first.

Were I not so thoroughly finished with the "normal" rules of the writing game, I would've given in to my skepticism. But at that point in time, listening to the digital crickets chirp — or maybe laugh — at the frozen response to my fiction, I had absolutely nothing to lose. I shelved my skepticism for the time being, posted a couple of works, and sat back to listen to the echo of my writer buds: "This is against the rules. You're not supposed to post your work for free." There were, of course, exceptions but none reserved for this "What-pad."

Like most rules about writing, this one was to be tossed into a meat grinder and scraped into a dog bowl. Posting those stories to Wattpad turned out to be the best decision I ever made. The reason is the same one that explains why Wattpad works. It's a simple reason, really, and brilliant. But like so many brilliant things, the apparent simplicity disguises the genius beneath. Wattpad works because it makes it easy for readers to fall in love with your words.

If you take nothing else away from this book — although I hope you take a lot more — let it be those sixteen words. Highlight them; memorize them; cut that sentence out of this book, and staple it to your forehead, whatever it takes. Because that same sense of panic and self-doubt that pushes your writing forward with questions like "How can I get better?" and "Am I good enough?" will also interrogate this decision to give your life's work away on this "Wattpad thing." And make no mistake: All writing is your life's work. The response is that same statement: Wattpad works because it makes it easy for readers to fall in love with your words.

It took me a solid year on Wattpad to learn that. I wasn't even floundering during that time. My reads on the site were going up, up, up. I understood that much, but I didn't grasp the meaning behind the metrics. What does one hundred thousand reads on a story mean to my larger writing career? Are four hundred thousand reads four times better than that? So many questions. The light bulb popped when that sixteen-word statement hit me. I wrote it down at the time, not even knowing it would end up in a book. To pull from Hemingway, it is the truest statement I can make about Wattpad, and that's why it's here.

How else can one explain the site's popularity? As of this writing, sixty-five million people visit Wattpad every month. That'd place it at number twenty-three on the list of the world's most populous countries. Wattpad didn't start out with sixty-five million users, though. The key is, again, in how Wattpad makes it easy for readers to fall in love with your words. The stories, from novels to short works to nonfiction to epic tomes, are available to read for free. It couldn't be easier to dive in. Go to Wattpad.com, or download the Wattpad app. Create a free account. Start reading. Were it any simpler, it would cease to exist in this particular corner of space-time. And speaking of laws of physics, here's one about the way people behave: They're like water. They'll pick low barriers over high barriers every time. With that in mind, sixty-five million seems low, not high.

Still, that's only part of the reason why Wattpad works. Were free content alone enough to build an online audience of readers in the tens of millions, I wouldn't be writing this. I'd be busy copy/ pasting public-domain phone books to my proprietary e-reading app. Readers need writers and vice versa, so Wattpad made the experience of writing as easy as the experience of reading. If someone can type out a text on a smartphone, write a sentence on a word processing program, or compose a blog post, then writing on and publishing to Wattpad is easily within reach. Log in. Click "Create." Observe a blank screen. Type words. Hit "Publish." Done.

Of course, there's a little bit more to the process than that, as will be covered in other parts of this book, but that's the gist of it. A time-traveling Neanderthal could write several cave walls' worth of prehistory on Wattpad and not blink (if that isn't already a story on Wattpad, it needs to be). Compare this to how I and many other writers are accustomed to publishing full-length fiction in the digital era. It takes time, technical understanding, and tools to get what is traditionally thought of as an e-book live. That creates a barrier for someone lacking one or more of those necessities or the finances to make up for any deficiencies.

This isn't a theme common to the writerly zeitgeist. The advent of e-books, specifically in the area of self-publishing, was supposed to usher in a great era of democratic writing and remove many of the gatekeepers preventing a writer from publishing her work. This is true in many cases, but there is room for improvement. Trading a vertical gatekeeper (traditional agents, publishers, distributors, retailers, etc.) for several horizontal ones isn't quite what a truly democratic model would look like, at least in my mind. E-book formatting, cover creation, editing, marketing, and sales management don't fall out of the sky.

Wattpad, with its ground-up simplicity, is a step in the right direction. In addition to boiling down the act of writing to its most basic granules, it's given cover creation, editing, and marketing the same treatment. Got a simple cover? Upload it. Done. Not sure if the edits are professionally polished? Readers still appreciate raw writing. Is marketing an issue for you? Social media is baked into the platform, and readers are eager to share.

That brings to mind the third reason Wattpad works. Were reading and writing enough on their own, Wattpad would've been a product of the first century, not the twenty-first. Social media, and the sharing and community it builds, is also why Wattpad works. This is where it gets interesting. Ninety percent of Wattpad's online audience falls into the Gen Z or millennial demographic. What's a safe assumption about those demos? They're eager to share with one another on social media.

Wattpad is itself a social media network. Readers and writers can talk about chapters, specific passages, entire works, and their day-to-day lives with ease. It's like readers are all writing notes in the margins of the same print book while the author looks over everyone's shoulders. Everyone can talk to everyone else in real time. Such discussions expand the boundaries of a story's real estate in readers' heads.

This social experience is far from endemic to Wattpad. Since Wattpad doesn't ignore the rest of the digital world, other social networks are plugged into the site for quick and easy sharing, with Wattpad at the core of the web. There's plenty more to be said on that topic, and it's covered elsewhere in this book. This level of social engagement allows us to see the acts of writing and reading in a new light. No longer are these solitary ventures. Everyone in the world (or at least sixty-five million people) is on the same page, so to speak.

Combine low barriers to entry for reading and writing with social media, and the result is something greater than the sum of its parts. That difference dangling in the equation could be called the X factor, the ghost in the machine, the special sauce. Some sites have it; some don't. I could give this mysterious component another name, but it's impossible to truly define it. Why do readers and writers keep coming back to Wattpad? The secret to the site's success is best expressed by those same sixteen words: Wattpad works because it makes it easy for readers to fall in love with your words.

Wattpad's interior may be wallpapered with that phrase, but what about the digital environment outside of its ecosystem? Note the most popular digital properties and how they keep their users engaged. I won't list them here, but I'm sure their names come quickly to mind. Whatever it is that they do, they work because they make it easy for their users to [fill in the blank]. This is the epoch of digital convenience. If it isn't quick and easy, it won't exist for long because either a competitor will come up with a better way of doing things or users will lose interest. There are simply too many alternatives.

I only belabor this point about ease and simplicity because it runs counter to the self-loathing and masochism of writers in general. If it isn't hard, if the writer isn't suffering, it must not be correct or worth doing, right? Though sometimes this is true, often it's all in writers' heads, along with everything else. But something must be doubly wrong if that simple, easy thing involves giving away content for free, right?

Recalling my skepticism from earlier on, the answer to that question was a resounding "Absolutely yes, something is wrong!" However, that was before that sixteen-word phrase became abundantly clear to me. There is, in fact, nothing wrong with giving content away for free. It's been done before, and it's being done right now, albeit in a different way. Wattpad doesn't work without free content.

Let's not confuse "free" with what it isn't, though. "Free" reflects price, not value. The difference is that "price" is what a person pays and "value" is what a person gets, as Warren Buffett might say. That's something that the Wattpad experience understands better than any other player in this social-reading experiment, and it's another reason why Wattpad works.

Simply put, there is value in a reader paying attention to a story or a writer. It might not be measurable in strict monetary terms, but there is definitely a transaction occurring. A writer puts out work and receives two or two hundred or two million people's attention in return. A reader devotes two minutes or twenty minutes or two hours of attention in exchange for entertainment. That this is wrapped up in a medium like Wattpad is innovative, but it's nothing new. Broadcast media built an entire industry on this model, and radio and TV are still "free" to this day. Whether through ads, branded content, or up sells, the value is monetized, but it's not for the sake of price.

What does this mean to writers on Wattpad? How can that value be exchanged for something that helps a career? That's what this guide intends to dissect. By the time you're finished with it, you'll be in a much better spot to understand this burgeoning publishing model and how it complements, not competes with, the rest of the publishing and entertainment industry. The short version is, once again, those sixteen words: Wattpad works because it makes it easy for readers to fall in love with your words.

That brings me back to my own experiences on Wattpad. Why Wattpad works is also why my work works on Wattpad (try saying that three times fast). What was missing was a corps of readers who would follow me and my writing with passion. Without that, I was wordsmithing into the wind. This speaks to the standard advice many writers hear in guides, online, and at conferences: Writers "need a platform" and they should "go build one" before doing anything else, as if readers were nails in a house. Go get your hammer, dear writer, and pound.

Maybe I'm just dense, but I missed the part that's supposed to come after that, where the creation of a platform is detailed in "do X and get Y" terms. Sure, there aren't any guarantees in the writing game, but nebulous assumptions about what social media, blogs, and e-newsletters can do to build a platform only go so far. That's frequently because writers cannot know exactly who is following or subscribing to a social media account, a blog, or an e-newsletter. "Where are all the readers?" is a common and exasperated question I've heard from many frustrated writers.

I'm not saying that social media, blogs, and e-newsletters can't build a platform. I'm saying there is more value in pursuing that goal somewhere that's full of readers in the first place. Nine out of ten of Wattpad's sixty-five million users are strict readers, and on average they read thirty minutes per session, according to Wattpad's statistics. The value of a single follow on Wattpad is therefore greater than one from another social media network. And why is that? Again, it's because of those sixteen words: Wattpad works because it makes it easy for readers to fall in love with your words.

With time, focus, and a little luck, my platform of readers grew faster than at any other point in my writing career. That led to branded content opportunities, publishing deals, speaking engagements, and more. Heck, what you're reading right now is only possible because of the platform I built on Wattpad. In other words, with a dedicated following, there isn't much a writer can't do.

If all of this isn't enough to convince you that Wattpad works, the remedy is to start posting to the site/app and see what happens. Use the tips and tricks in this guide to help you. What you'll find is that those sixteen words really are that one true sentence: Wattpad works because it makes it easy for readers to fall in love with your words. Feeling amorous?

CHAPTER 2

How Wattpad Works

By Kevin Fanning On Wattpad: @kfxinfinity

Wattpad bridges the gap between the solitude of writing and the need to be everywhere at once online.

WRITING ISN?T JUST FOR LONERS ANYMORE

The best and worst thing about writing is that it's a predominantly solitary pursuit. The best parts are those times when you're alone with your ideas and everything clicks: A scene emerges from a blank page, and the world shuts off around you as you chase ideas from one chapter to the next. Sometimes we wonder if we'd be happier at home on the couch, watching Netflix, rather than stressing about a line of dialogue in a crowded coffee shop while your neighbor slurps his latte directly into your ear. But at the end of the day, there's nothing else we'd rather be doing. This is what you're meant to be doing. This is what you love.

The worst thing, on the other hand, is that writing isn't wholly a solitary pursuit. You won't get your book into the hands of potential readers by sitting alone in the coffee shop forever. You have to switch from writer mode to marketing-and-networking mode as you attempt to navigate the world of publishing.

This is where writing often feels the loneliest — the days you spend wandering the literary landscape in pursuit of a home for your writing. The long, sluggish slogs through agent queries or Writer's Market. Checking and rechecking the submission guidelines at the literary mag where you sent your piece weeks ago, thinking surely you should have heard back by now, but they've been publishing pieces that are nowhere near as good as yours. The #PitMad sessions that seem to spring up around you on Twitter like lawn sprinklers you didn't even know you were standing on. (Wait, are you on Twitter? Should you be? What is #PitMad? HELP!)

Perhaps even worse, once your writing does manage to make it out there into the world, no one seems to be reading it. After all those hours toiling on your manuscript, now you spend hours staring at Facebook and Twitter (ugh, there it is again) and maybe even Snapchat, thinking: How do I get people to notice me and read my work?

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Writer's Guide to Wattpad"
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Copyright © 2018 F+W Media, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of F+W Media, Inc..
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Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword Anna Todd, @imaginatorID 1

Part 1 Getting Started 7

1 Why Wattpad Works Benjamin Sobieck, @BenSobieck 8

2 How Wattpad Works Kevin Fanning, @kfxinfinity 16

3 The Writing Process and Wattpad Neilani Alejandrino, @sweetdreamer33 22

4 Preparing Your Writing for Wattpad H.J. Nelson, @hjnelson 34

5 Design a Great Wattpad Cover for less than the Price of Lunch Jakayla Toney, @Ms_Horrendous 43

6 Creatign Usernames and Crafting a Wattpad Identity Katie Hart, @Lilohorse 53

Part 2 Crafting Your Platform 63

7 Taking the Leap; Publishing Yours Story M.C. Roman, @MCRomances 64

8 When and why to Chance a Story Jordan Lynde, @XxSkater2Girl16xX 76

9 Interacting with Readers: Your other Job as a Writer Lauren Palphreyman, @LEPalphreyman 84

10 Turbocharge Storytelling with Multimedia Jenny Rosen, @jr0127 95

11 10 Secrets to Getting Reads, Votes, and Comments Debra Goelz, @BrittanieCharmintine 107

12 Plug into other Social Media Platforms to Maximize Wattpad Rachel Meinke, @knightsrachel 116

13 Network with other Wattpad Writers to Build Communities Kelly Anne Blount, @Kelly Anne Blount 123

14 Writing Outside of English Ariana Godoy, @cold_lady19 132

15 Fanfiction: Wattpad's wild Frontier Noelle N., @hepburnettes 141

Part 3 Building Your Writing Career 151

16 Define Success, or it'll Define You Benjamin Sobieck, @BenSobieck 152

17 Using Wattpad to Leverage Success in Traditional Publishing Sara Sargent 161

18 Selling Books Available Outside of Wattpad A.V. Geiger, @adam_and_jane 170

19 WATTPAD AS A tool for Advocacy Tahlie Purvis, @TahliePurvis 179

20 The Wattpad Stars Program Tim Johnson, @Tim 186

21 From Wattpad to Hollywood Tim Johnson, @Tim 192

22 Win or Lose, Contests offer big Opportunities Amber K Bryant, @amberkbryant 200

23 Writing for Wattpad Campaigns Darly Jamison, @Monrosey 209

24 The Wattys: one award to rule them all Kara Barbieri, @Pandean 216

25 Wattpad Labs: Redefining storytelling with tap by Wattpad Jo Watson, @JoWatson_101 225

Part 4 Inspiration 235

26 Words of Wisdom for Wattpad writers Benjamin Sobieck, @BenSobieck 236

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The Writer's Guide to Wattpad: The Comprehensive Guide to Building and Sustaining a Successful Career 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SRKirchner More than 1 year ago
As a reader, I've never found Wattpad to be particularly engaging or intuitive, but as a writer, I've been curious about the benefits. This book answered a lot of questions I've always had about the platform. Not being in the target age group, it makes sense now that I'm not drawn to the site or the content, but this book gave in-depth information about many facets of the site so I could make an informed decision about whether it would be useful to me as a writer. As I don't write YA fiction or works that would appeal to the 16-25 year old age group the site targets, the answer is "No," the efforts of building a following on the site wouldn't be worth it for me. However, that doesn't mean this book wasn't informative. It saved me a lot of effort I might otherwise have wasted. For someone whose writing targets those age groups, this book is a useful tool for learning the ins-and-outs of the website. Is a lot of this information available elsewhere for free on the web? Of course it is. But the benefit of this book is the way it lays out out the information in a progression from posting your first story through building your author brand to taking advantage of some of the partnership opportunities. The personal stories provided by the contributors in each chapter provide even more insight. In the writing communities online, I've heard both positive and negative things about Wattpad. Armed with the knowledge I gained from this book, I'm now better able to evaluate those comments