Drawing on her own success story, indie author Dianne Greenlay explains why she thinks all self-published writers should try using Wattpad to increase the discoverability of their books.
I first heard about Wattpad on David Gaughran’s blog in January 2012. At that time I was struggling to define my novel's readership. My protagonist was sixteen years old and therefore the novel should have been classified as YA (Young Adult), but most of my readers at that point were adults. I was looking for a way to introduce the story to the YA crowd, and much to my excitement, Wattpad’s membership seemed to fit my needs.
At the end of April, 2012, I set up a free account with Wattpad and tentatively began to upload my novel, chapter by chapter. You may upload as much or as little as you like, as well as an author bio, picture, and “wallpaper”, for which I chose my book’s cover. Much like Amazon, you may also select genres and tags for your story.
Almost immediately, I began to get messages from YA readers begging for more chapters. A few weeks later I was contacted by a Wattpad administrator, who offered me the chance to become one of Wattpad’s featured authors through the Wattpad Writer Partner Program - “an exclusive marketing opportunity for professional writers who want to create an active fan base of readers with free marketing help from Wattpad”.
Extra Opportunities for Wattpad Writer Partners
Every month, Wattpad selects a handful of writers to promote. To become a featured author, I had to write a 1,000 word post on a topic or angle that that pertained to my writing or to my book and to upload the entire novel by the promo date, leaving it on Wattpad for at least 6 months. In exchange, they would publish my post on the featured blog and promote my novel in the “Recommended Story” area on their home page.
I also had the option of a branded placement on all mobile Wattpad apps, co-hosted contests and giveaways, a podcast interview and marketing advice. Since I had tried Amazon’s Select program a couple of times, offering my novel for free did not bother me, and it seemed a good way to get my novel in front of YA readers without the need for Amazon’s exclusivity. I agreed to their terms.
I had no qualms that my pirate novel would be pirated (no pun intended!) As a debut author, my far greater concern was having my book fall into oblivion. And my desired audience of YA readers loved Wattpad because the reading material was free to them.
Long-Term Benefits of Wattpad Visibility
I still watch in amazement as the number of “reads” continues to climb, and every day I receive comments from readers about how much they are enjoying the story. When I am having a “down” day with my writing, I read the comment list and am immediately buoyed up. On a more practical level, by quoting some of these comments in my submissions, I have been accepted for BookBub promotions as well as by a few other sites having rather “high acceptance” levels. Also two agents have asked to read the complete story.
Sequel Gains Increased Discoverability
I also had a further free marketing opportunity with Wattpad for Deadly Misfortune, the second book in my series. I uploaded several chapters, but not the entire novel, and ended the last upload with a clickable link to its Amazon Buy page. I have had a steady number of sales of this second book without any other marketing, and therefore I think that getting Quintspinner in front of so many readers made them so keen to read the rest of the story that they were happy to buy the whole novel.
Although Wattpad has a high proportion of YA users, it includes readers and writers of every age and genre, including the much-acclaimed Margaret Atwood. Several writers on Wattpad have caught the eye of literary agents and received offers based on the number of “reads” that their writing has accumulated.
With over 8 million unique monthly visitors and usage doubling every 6 months, Wattpad is a marketing opportunity that indie authors should at least consider. I’m glad that I did.