Huge congrats to new indie author Trish McCallan. Her debut book, FORGED IN FIRE, has been barely out for a month and, as I type this, it’s 3,099 on the paid Kindle bestseller list. She credits part of her success to Wattpad. Having a great cover, book and blurb is always a given. But why not use all the avenues available? I know I’m going to give it a shot. Here’s Trish to tell you about it.
Back when I started kicking around the idea of self-publishing Forged in Fire, Jolyn Palliata, a good friend of mine, mentioned using Wattpad as a means of introducing the book to new readers and gaining exposure.
Jolyn had been using Wattpad for a couple of years, had built up a fan base of 1500 people and said her fans were constantly asking whether her work was for sale. She thought Wattpad had tremendous marketing potential, and planned to use the site in the marketing of her own books once she reached the point of putting them up for sale. She sent me the url to her profile on Wattpad, and told me to check the place out.
Which I did, and it didn’t take long to realize that there was tremendous marketing potential over there. Wattpad has a million registered users. Basically, people are posting serial stories on site and other people are reading the stories scene by scene as they are posted. Readers leave comments on the stories they like and vote for their favorites. The stories that get the most votes and most comments are picked up by Wattpad and promoted on their main pages, which leads to hundreds of thousands of additional readers. While Jolyn’s stories had thousands of reads, some of the stories featured on the main pages had hundreds of thousands, even millions of reads. If you could get a book on Wattpad’s main pages, the exposure would be extraordinary.
But during my surfing through the website, I didn’t see anyone using Wattpad to market their books. A lot of Wattpad’s users are young and most of the books being promoted on the site are very poorly written, full of plot holes, unfleshed characters and editing errors—which means the well written, well plotted books with three dimensional characters stand out.
After some deliberation, I decided to “test” Wattpad’s potential as a marketing avenue by publishing the book through the site one scene at a time. These users were not my target audience anyway, so if they opted to wait and read the book as it got posted, I wouldn’t be out any sales. However, I would announce that the book was for sale and where they could buy it in an author’s note before my opening scene. My hope, of course, was that I could hook them with the first few scenes and they would buy the book rather than wait for the next posting.
This tactic worked too. I’ve actually lost track of how many books I’ve sold through Wattpad. But quite a few of my first sales, and reviews came from Wattpad users.
I was actually at a disadvantage too, when it came to using Wattpad as a marketing tool. Because so many of the users are young, and my book has some very violent things in it, I decided to rate it “R”. Which means it doesn’t get promoted through the Wattpad site no matter how many votes or comments it picks up. It’s also unfindable through the search functions. Basically, my readers have to find the story through word of mouth, and direct transfer of the book’s url. Still, I’ve been slowly collecting fans, and people have been adding it their library. (which means they are reading it!) And people have been buying it. So even billing it as “R” has been well worth the time and effort. [Edie butting in to give you Trish’s Forged in Fire Wattpad link.]
However, if you have a book that can be rated PG-13 (lots of books rated PG-13 have pretty hot and heavy love scenes on the site, so don’t let that stop you from rating it PG-13) then the exposure could be limitless. And every reader you connect with is a potential customer, and another mouth to spread the news about your book.
A couple of things I have discovered about Wattpad while using it.
You can post any amount of material you want. Some people just post excerpts, rather than posting the entire book. But you gain fans, and readers with every posting. So if you only post the excerpt, you won’t collect as many readers, which means you won’t acquire as much exposure. I know several people now who have posted excerpts in the hope the scene will hook the reader, but I’m not aware of anyone actually selling a book from doing this.
Updating regularly is the surest way to acquire readers and hopefully sales. I try to post a new scene three times a week. After every upload I usually gain one to two new fans. I’m not sure how many Wattpad readers are buying the book now, the only way I know I’ve made a sale is if the readers tell me through email, or through the comments section that they’ve bought it.
I think the biggest thing to remember about Wattpad, is that not every book is going to be a hit. Some books get discovered, gets tons of comments and tons of votes- while others sit there with only one or two reads on them. This is true within publishing in general, though. In some ways Watt pad is a micro-pool of the larger publishing pool in general.
But it’s free, it’s exposure, and it’s full of readers you probably wouldn’t have reached otherwise. So it’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.
Jolyn btw, has just published her first novella through Amazon. The book is called CONNECTED, and was originally written on the Wattpad site.
Jolyn is a perfect example of using Wattpad to promote yourself and your work. She has a platform and a fan base I’m totally jealous of. LoL
Please join me in wishing Jolyn many sales and a long publishing career as she takes this first step into Indie publishing.