Have you heard the buzz about Wattpad? I saw an article on IndieReader a few months ago by Brittany Geragotelis on her experience publishing her writing on Wattpad and eventually signing for a three book deal with Simon & Schuster. It was a great article, especially for those who have hopes for eventually going the traditional route. Welcome to Finding Bliss, Brittany!
When I first discovered Wattpad, I was entering a new phase in my writing life. For about seven years I’d tried my hardest to get my books published, to no avail. I’d been through the querying process and had even been lucky enough to land an agent who seemed excited about my writing. But then, after publishers rejected a few of my books, he eventually dropped me as a client. It was then, that I decided to give up on writing books. For a time, I would come home after my day job and do other things like watch TV, read, relax. It was sort of nice to be able to just be lazy at the end of the day and not have to hold myself accountable to writing a few pages before I crawled into bed around midnight.
But then, I started to get the itch.
Ideas for cool storylines began to swirl around in my head and I felt compelled to get out my computer and start another writing project. That’s when I realized that writing wasn’t just something I liked to do, it was something I had to do. My soul wasn’t the same without it.
It dawned on me then that I needed to change the way I’d been looking at this whole writing thing. Before, I’d always written with the intention of it being published one day. And my ideas about how that was going to happen were pretty black and white: I’d get an agent. The agent would pitch me to publishers. A major publisher would take it on and pay me an advance and then we’d publish the book and I’d be a success. Any deviation from that and I wouldn’t be able to call myself an author.
And then I was introduced to Wattpad.
Wattpad, I learned, is a website/phone app that is like a sort of YouTube for writers. You create a profile (free) and can do one of two things: Either post original work that you’ve written (this can be full-length novels, short stories, poetry, screenplays…anything really) or you can peruse the millions of stories that are on there. When I was first told about Wattpad, I felt conflicted about posting my writing on there. Mostly because I’d been told by traditionally published authors, whom I admired, that you should never give away your content for free. And that’s what this site is all about: free content.
But it was time for me to be honest with myself about my writing career. I had written six books by this point and instead of having them out there for people to read and (hopefully) enjoy, they were all sitting on my desktop collecting e-dust. Why had I done all that hard work for no one to read my stuff? So, I decided to give Wattpad a try.
It was the smartest decision I ever made.
Wattpad has about 10 million monthly visitors and there are currently six million uploaded stories on the site. They are the world's largest community of readers and writers, and work with both traditionally published authors and self-published authors. So, in terms of choosing Wattpad as my first foray into posting my books online, I decided I was in the right place.
January 1, 2011, I posted the first chapter of an original book I’d chosen to write exclusively for Wattpad. It was called, Life’s a Witch, and was a reimagining of the Salem Witch Trials set in modern-day. I started to write and post the book at the same time, publishing one chapter every Saturday for my fans to read. The response was slow at first, but when I reached my first thousand reads of the book, I nearly fell over in shock. It was such a change from the constant rejection I’d been getting from the traditional publishing industry.
A few months and several chapters later, my numbers had gotten huge and the comments from my burgeoning fanbase began to grow as well. I heard from readers who called themselves “twitches” after a term I used in the book for “teen witches,” and there were even a few who’d started acting out scenes from the novel in public. When I finished posting the entire book, roughly six months after starting to write it, I had about six million reads of it. And after a year, it had garnered a staggering 18 million reads.
It was around this time when my fans on Wattpad began to ask me where they could buy the book. This was surprising to me, since they could get the story on the site/app for free. But, I figured that if there was a demand for it, there was no reason why I shouldn’t make it available to them. That’s when I decided to self-publish my first novel.
Just a little before a year of having the book up on Wattpad, I used CreateSpace to make it available to the public. I’d invited the media to my book launch party (yes, I threw myself a party…why should traditionally-published authors have all the fun?), and I was lucky enough to have some of them attend. One of those guests was a wonderful journalist, named Calvin, who was impressed with my story and was kind enough to write an article about me for Publisher’s Weekly. When word got out about my success online, I started to get calls about the book. About three weeks after the book became available for sale, I ended up in an auction with four publishing houses over the rights to the Life’s a Witch series. I went with Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and to make a long story short, the first book in the series, called What the Spell? will be published January 29, 2013!
But I haven’t forgotten where I got my start…after all, joining Wattpad changed my life. It kick-started my career and has allowed me to meet some really talented, amazing people. It’s afforded me a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. And it’s just an awesome community. There’s no bullying on there; everyone just genuinely loves books. I’m still on Wattpad today and since publishing LAW, I’ve posted two of my other novels. I even wrote a supplement to What the Spell? exclusively for Wattpad, called The Abby Diaries, which everyone can read for free now.
And I’m not their only success story. Another Wattpad author (only 18-years-old!) was just picked up by Random House UK and there are many other traditionally-published authors and poets on there, too. So, if you’re looking for a place to build an audience, get some feedback on your work-in-progress or simply read some awesome free content, definitely check out Wattpad. I’m sure glad I did.
Tell me your thoughts on putting your work up on Wattpad as a way of growing your reader-base! Are you doing it now? Will you?