The Power of Wattpad: Jaw Dropping Info & Crash Course

Wattpad is a game changer for authors, espeically YA authors if used right. It has 35 million active users, most of which are young adults. Non-YA authors can benefit a great deal, too, there are millions of speculative fiction readers on Wattpad.

Here is one success case featured in The Guardian article: “Brittany “The Book Slayer” Geragotelis is a Wattpad superstar. Her first serial on the platform, Life’s A Witch, gained more than 19m reads and lead to a six-figure, three-book deal with Simon & Schuster.”

Excerpt from the author’s bio:
“After 10 years of rejection from the publishing industry, she began to post her original novel, Life’s a Witch, on the online writing site, Wattpad, hoping that others would enjoy reading her book. A year after the first upload, the book had received 19 million reads, which caught the attention of Publisher’s Weekly, The Huffington Post and The Wall Street Journal.”

Not kidding you. There are a few other cases mentioned in the article.

Well, how does it work?

I am no expert by any means but I am aiming to establish my presence on Wattpad, therefore I’ve spent some time analyzing how things work there. First of all, you don’t want to post long pieces. Wattpad users love serials and they get a buzz alert on their phones when an author they are following uploads a new piece. Majority of them read on their phones, so keeping it short keeps the audience engaged. I have deconstructed the pattern from the most followed and read authors on Wattpad and here is what they do:

* They upload a few pages at a time, usually once or twice a week as a running serial.
* They don’t upload whole chapters.
* They cut the text at an exciting scene, making the readers ache for the next update.
* They don’t upload new parts daily, but more like twice a week.
* At the end of each part, they remind the reader to vote and comment in bold letters. Adding the little reminder at the end of each new part makes a huge difference. I forgot in the beginning but I noticed how other popular authors were doing it so after I started adding the reminders, I started getting more votes and comments, which has resulted in more new readers.

If the story is compelling to the Wattpad crowd, they vote and then recommend it to their friends using the social media sharing widget. As I mentioned, most users read the stories on their mobile phones with the Wattpad app (yours truly included.)

If the story receives a lot of votes and comments, it climbs up on Wattpad top charts and more people see and add it. This is how I discovered a few great stories, by checking Wattpad’s top charts and daily recommendations. Social media sharing widget makes it very easy for people to spread the stories they like. Wattpad’s share button automatically tags them with #wattpad hashtag so the other Wattpad lovers see it on Twitter too, not just your readers’ Twitter followers.

When people add a story to their reading list, vote on it, comment on it, follow someone, it all shows up in their friends’ Wattpad feed much like the Facebook updates. So if someone adds your story and their friends happen to see, they might add it too or ask their friend if it’s good. This is how those authors got so many readers. Wattpad’s interface allows the stories to go viral, both by word of mouth between friends and the social media sharing tool.

To build up your initial audience, here are the steps to follow:

* First of all, link your blog, web site, social media profiles and Amazon page/book links on your Wattpad profile. Then add your Wattpad profile link to your blog, web site, social media profiles and announce it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and what have you. Let your friends and family know about it.

* Pick the most popular stories from Wattpad’s top charts that are in your genre and add them to your reading list. “Discover -> What’s hot” shows you the popular stuff. There are also genre links in the Discover menu which show you the most popupar stories in your selected genre.

* If you add a story to your public reading list, your Wattpad friends/followers will see it in the update feed.

* Click on the authors’ profiles and follow their followers. This is much faster to do on your phone/tablet than the computer. Trust me on this one!

* Follow Wattpad’s own tips about following and engaging the people:

* If you have a lot of Twitter followers, I recommend manually tweeting your story with a compelling text and tagging it with #wattpad and #wattpadlife hashtags. These hashtags have a lot of followers and if you choose an interesting tagline, it will get retweeted and reach even more readers.

* If you have a blog or web site, make sure to add the Wattpad widget to it. Wattpad help section has instructions on how to do that:

*Wattpad has a cap for maximum 1,000 users you can follow. If you reach this limit, unfollow some people to add more. From my experience, approximately 40% of the users follow back. But then again I have not been adding much content, I only uploaded a very short prologue piece, perhaps I would have gotten more followers if I ran a serial.

* Add new parts twice a week. Don’t make them too long and end the part at an intriguing or cliffhanger kind of scene. Just like the old school magazine serials.

* Remember, as long as you are engaged with your readers, answering comments, thanking them for following and voting, also reading and voting on other people’s stories, you will get more followers every day. Besides, you will get to read some great stories form very talented folks.

Once you follow these basic steps and get a few hundred followers, then start running your serial. One thing I really need to mention here: Covers are important. Make sure to make an eye-catching cover. There are some amazing folks in the Wattpad community who make covers for free. You can message the writers who have great covers and ask them who made it. Wattpad people help each other out, friends promote each other’s stories. It’s an amazing community and you can benefit a great deal by being a contributing member.

Now, some of the people with stories read by tens of thousands of people do not have a huge number of followers. I am guessing the stories go viral and reach a huge audience over time. I have no idea how long it took to get the number of reads for each one. The follower building strategy I wrote above should give you a good head start nevertheless and make things quicker. Remember, you don’t get a huge number of reads overnight, it takes time as the word spreads. The important thing is to run it as a serial and supply it in small pieces.

If you are trying to promote a published book, then I recommend uploading 2-3 chapters as serials in a few weeks’ time and directing the readers to buy it on Amazon with a note in the end of it, such as: “If you want to read the rest, my book is available on Amazon/Nook/Kobo and here is the link”

Some authors presell books before release by uploading teaser chapters, using Wattpad as a launchpad. Some authors build an audience by posting standalone short stories featuring the characters of their novels. There are many different strategies you can try.

Here is The Guardian article about Wattpad for additional details:

My own Wattpad profile has 382 followers to date and I haven’t invested much time on it. But I have friends there with whom I talk via Wattpad private messaging facility, I read/vote on their stories if I can find some spare time. Between the full time job, reading books to blog about, my own writing and chronic illness flaring up at the most unexpected times, I haven’t been too active on Wattpad myself, but once I finish my novel I am planning to invest more time and upload some short stories and sample chapters before my book launch. My Wattpad profile is here: You can add me and read my stories there.

If you know any other tactics and strategies for success on Wattpad, please feel free to share in the comments section so everyone can benefit. I hope this article has been useful.

Conclusions from Author Earnings, January 2015

Rather interesting numbers, thanks to Nicholas for sharing!

* 33% of all paid ebook unit sales on are indie self-published ebooks.

* 20% of all consumer dollars spent on ebooks on are being spent on indie self-published ebooks.

* 40% of all dollars earned by authors from ebooks on are earned by indie self-published ebooks.

Nicholas C. Rossis

You may remember that I study Hugh Howey’s and Data Guy’s quarterly Author Earning Reports religiously, so that I can offer you the highlights. The Passive Guy alerted me to the January 2015 report (if you don’t already subscribe to his free newsletter, The Passive Voice, I urge you to do so – he’s one of the greatest resources for publishing-related information I have found so far).

Now that everyone’s been properly credited for their hard work, what nice things can we gleam from the latest report?

Gimme the Highlights

  • AuthorEarnings reports analyze detailed title-level data on 33% of all daily ebook sales in the U.S.
  • 30% of the ebooks being purchased in the U.S. do not use ISBN numbers and are invisible to the industry’s official market surveys and reports; all the ISBN-based estimates of market share reported by Bowker, AAP, BISG, and Nielsen are wildly wrong.
  • 33%

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The Ugly Truth About Book Sales

Today I am going to share some eye-opening truths, which might shatter the illusions regarding the book publishing business and crush the dreams of some folk out there. I have recently come across a rather interesting blog post link in the comments section under a post at Suffolk Scribblings blog.

It was a rather grim post by author Kameron Hurley. For those who are not familiar with her, she is an established author who has been a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Locus Award and the BSFA Award for Best Novel. Her short fiction has appeared in prestigious SFF magazines such as Lightspeed, EscapePod, and Strange Horizons. Her fiction has been translated into Romanian, Swedish, Spanish, and Russian. She is also a graduate of Clarion West. Impressive credentials many of us dream about accomplishing some day, if ever.

According to her blog post, her novel titled God’s War sold only 300 copies in seven months in the UK and another book of hers, titled Rapture, sold only 2000 copies. As a result of the poor sales, every single major publishing house had passed on her latest novel titled the Mirror Empire. She was considering to give up and shelve it.

When her publisher decided to release a mass market paperback version of her novel titled God’s War, she decided to market it with a blog tour and worked her ass off. It was quite brutal for her.

I emailed every writer and reviewer I knew with a UK reach. Called in every favor. I begged for blog post space. I scheduled a massive three week guest blog tour. I wrote a tie-in novelette for Del Rey UK to publish exclusively on their blog during the release.

The blog tour kicked off in early January of this year, and continued to the end of the month. It was brutal, for me – up to two posts a day for three weeks – but I wasn’t doing anything else; MIRROR EMPIRE was still on the market, so my next project, whatever it would be, was up in the air. I poured everything into the blog posts. For three weeks, a lot of people in the online genre world couldn’t go anywhere without reading a post from me, without being reminded I was alive, I wrote books, I had shit to say.

I got really fucking tired of talking about myself.

Now, I come across authors who complain about marketing and how it’s so difficult. Well, that’s the harsh reality of it. If a Hugo nominated, award winning, traditionally published author is having that much trouble selling and has to beg the bloggers and work around the clock for weeks to do blog tours and guest posts, a no-name self published author has to do more than double that. The competition is tough out there. R.A. Salvatore, who is a NY Times best selling international celebrity author, whose books sold millions of copies and translated to every foreign language you can name, works his ass off marketing his new books.

Dear author friend, if you are not willing to get your hands dirty and work your ass off to market your books, no one is going to do it for you. Even if you get traditionally published, the publisher is not going to market your books for you, as seen in the above example.

The Hugo nominated author, who graduated from the extremely prestigious Clarion West workshop, who published her short fiction in the most renowned genre magazines and published a number of books from actual publishing houses, sold only 300 copies of her latest book and failed to get her latest manuscript published, until she worked a brutal schedule and spent countless hours with blog tours and guest posts. Only after all this rough work was she able to get the word out and get her latest manuscript published. You can read the whole story here.

So, if your dream is to get traditionally published, take it into account that it’s not going to be like the fairy godmother’s magic wand. You will still have to work like no tomorrow to market it in the end. And this is not a new thing, either. Here is a news story about a letter Tolkien wrote to his editor complaining about the poor sales of The Hobbit:

Another example: The murder mystery book J.K. Rowling wrote under a pen name sold only 400-odd copies after its launch, despite the huge marketing campaigns of the publisher. They only sold serious numbers after they revealed the author was J.K. Rowling. Even after that, the book pretty much tanked and was quickly forgotten, for it was no Harry Potter.

Yet another example, from Wikipedia page of A Song of Ice and Fire:

Martin’s publishers initially expected A Game of Thrones to be a best-seller,but the first installment did not even reach any lower positions in bestseller list. This left Martin unsurprised, as it is “a fool’s game to think anything is going to be successful or to count on it”. However, the book slowly won the passionate advocacy of independent booksellers and the book’s popularity grew by word of mouth. The series’ popularity skyrocketed in subsequent volumes, with the second and third volume making the The New York Times Best Seller lists in 1999 and 2000, respectively.

It took 8 years after its initial publication for ASOIAF to make it into the NYT best seller list. Martin was no newbie either, he had been a well established author for solid two decades, and a Hollywood screenwriter to boot, when the first book of the series was published in 1991.

Long story short: You need to establish an audience, i.e. your reader base, way before you release the book. You need to establish your marketing network well ahead of time. Even then, if the audience and the reviewers don’t like it, it won’t sell. Even if it’s a splendid piece of work, unless you do rigorous marketing, it may take years before the word gets out and you start to see good sales numbers.

I hope this post serves as a wake up call to the new and aspiring authors out there.