By Linda Poitevin
If you’re a writer and you haven’t yet heard of Wattpad (or you’ve heard of it but dismissed it), you’re not alone…and you may be missing out on a fantastic marketing opportunity.
What is this weirdly named Wattpad? Essentially it’s a social media platform for readers and writers. Based in Toronto, Canada, it began in 2009 and currently has 35 million users spanning the globe. Writers share their stories for free, and readers can vote for those stories and/or leave comments and feedback. The platform is hugely popular with the young adult and fanfic crowd, but its reach is growing rapidly, and such heavyweights as Margaret Atwood and bestsellers Scott Westerfeld, Julie Kenner, Colleen Hoover and others are now offering their works there.
Sounds like a pretty legit platform now, right? That’s what I thought, too…and why I embarked on my Great Wattpad Experiment.
At the time I joined Wattpad in April of this year, I was a published author with three urban fantasy books out through Ace/Roc (Penguin USA), along with a self-published contemporary romance. I was active on Twitter and Facebook, had dabbled in various other social media platforms, and was looking for new ways to increase my fan base. I began releasing my contemporary romance, Gwynneth Ever After, as a serial—one or two chapters at a time on Fridays. In addition, I posted links to the story on Twitter once or twice a day, and on Facebook a couple of times a week.
Within four weeks, the story had risen to #10 on the Wattpad romance list and received 814 votes and 116 comments from readers. Within eight weeks, it reached the #1 spot in romance and received 7,679 votes. I also had 771 people follow me so they would be notified by email whenever I posted a new chapter. At the three-month mark, the book remained in the #1 position and had 25,000 votes, and I had gained 3,200 additional followers. Currently, five months after beginning my experiment, the story is rated #2 in romance with 59,900 votes, and I have 14,500 followers.
All well and good, you may be thinking, but how will that help me sell books? An excellent question—and to answer it, I have more numbers for you.
I originally released Gwynneth Ever After as an ebook in June 2013, ten months before I began putting it up on Wattpad. During that first ten months, the book sold a total of 314 copies across all platforms. In the first nine weeks following its debut on Wattpad, it sold 399 copies. This has been followed by sales of 200-350 copies per month ever since. Yes, you read that right: the book is now selling almost as many copies each month as it did in its first year—all because of my efforts on Wattpad.
Now, I want to be clear in saying that not every book will perform the same way on this platform (results will vary depending on factors such as genre and your activity in other social media). My experience, however, suggests Wattpad is well worth exploring for most authors. If you’d like to give it a try, here are some tips to help you get started:
- Remember Wattpad is primarily a social platform. Respond to reader comments, thank readers who follow you, and so on.
- Release your story as a serial. This keeps you in front of readers over a longer period and helps you to build a more active community. (Sidenote: If you have a publisher, check your contract terms to see how much of the story you’re permitted to post.)
- Each time you upload a new chapter of your story to Wattpad, include a short reminder to readers that the completed ebook is available for purchase if they can’t wait to find out what happens next. You can’t put links directly into your chapter, but you can include them in a comment. You can also do as I do and direct people to the buy links on your website.
- Be consistent. Readers appreciate that (and you’ll wake to a barrage of messages from them if you forget to post a chapter on time!).
- Be patient. Building an audience on Wattpad can take time. Post links to your Twitter and Facebook followers (and any other social media you’re on) to let them know you’re offering a free read.
- Post often. The more activity you get on a story (votes, comments), the higher the story will rank and the more attention it will receive from new readers. While I posted chapters for Gwynneth Ever After once a week, I think two to three times is better for ratings, and that’s what I will be doing with my next book.
- Reach out to Wattpad itself (contact information is on their Help page). The people behind this app are enthusiastic, incredibly helpful, and all about promoting authors. They may even be able to include your story as a Featured Read or in some other promotion that will gain you new readers.
- And last but by no means least, make sure you’re putting up a quality, professional product. There are millions of stories on Wattpad, and proper spelling and grammar will help you stand out among the crowd (I’ve actually had comments from readers to just that effect).
And that’s it. I hope I’ve inspired you to give Wattpad a try, and that you’ll let me know how you do there! Questions? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my very best to answer.
P.S. For a complete look at the evolution of my Great Wattpad Experiment, check out the article series on my blog: The Great Wattpad Marketing Experiment, Update on the Great Wattpad Experiment, Show me the Numbers, and Updated Numbers (be sure to subscribe to the blog while you’re there so you receive future updates as well). You might also be interested in the other articles about social media marketing for authors that are on the site.
Linda Poitevin is the author of dark urban fantasy and contemporary romance She lives near Ottawa, Canada’s capital, and in her other life is wife, mother, friend, gardener, coffee snob, and television addict. When she isn’t writing, Linda can usually be found in her garden or walking her very large dog along the river or through the woods. Check out Linda’s books at Kobo! And check out her books on Wattpad!