Updated: Sep 26
Update as of 2020: While my writing is no longer on Wattpad, I still stand by this post--Wattpad really did make me a better writer, and I would still recommend it (or something like it) for anyone looking to grow in the same areas I was. And it was also where I met MJ, who is now my co-author and one of my dearest friends.
Happy Monday, everyone!
Today I want to take just a few minutes to discuss something near and dear to my heart these days: Wattpad.
If you haven’t heard of Wattpad, don’t worry — neither had I, until a little over a year ago. I don’t really know why I hadn’t — apparently it is the #1 E-book/reading site. It has been around since 2006, and growing every year… it has received millions of dollars in funding for global expansion in recent years, and has millions of users. It had over 75 million site visits just in June 2017 alone!
For some reason, though, my first awareness of Wattpad didn’t come until the summer of 2016, when I stumbled across an article about how TNT was using Wattpad stories to develop a new Tales from the Crypt series. What originally caught my attention about the article was the name M. Night Shyamalan (who doesn’t love his movies). But when I read how they were finding their episode ideas, I was fascinated. Was there really an app that could help my writing could be discovered by TV networks? It turns out, YES, there was. There is. Wattpad partners with publishers, TV networks, and more to offer contests and opportunities to its writers on a regular basis. They even have a beta program where some of their top writers are paid for reader views via ad placements. (I’m still anxiously awaiting the roll-out of this program to more writers!)
For readers, Wattpad is a place full of free e-books, some really good and some…. well, works-in-progress. Anyone can write and post on Wattpad, so the content is what you would expect: mixed. BUT, for writers, Wattpad is a veritable goldmine of possibility, and here’s why: READERS.
Sure, you could be discovered by a publisher. Sure, you could make money off of ads and bring in income from your writing (Wattpad, please expand this program to more writers!). Sure, you could win a contest and have your story developed into a TV show. But all of these begin with your story being read first. Some of those readers might be big-hitters — like TNT representatives seeking stories for a TV series. But even outside of that, Wattpad gives you access to millions of readers. People who come to Wattpad specifically because they want to read, people who will search specific genres and hashtags to find their next favorite book online, people who — if you have talent and work hard and have a little bit of luck — can catapult your story into the top rankings and get it huge amounts of visibility.
Yes, Wattpad is free. That means visibility on Wattpad doesn’t equate to income, exactly. But it’s exposure. It’s readership. And it can have HUGE benefits to you as a writer and possibly to your overall writing career.
Wattpad has made a big difference for me as a writer, so to wrap up today, I just want to share my
TOP 5 REASONS WATTPAD CAN MAKE YOU A BETTER WRITER.
Wattpad is a fun platform, and the potential for readership and discoverability makes it a highly-motivating place for writers to hone their craft. When you write on Wattpad, you are required not only to produce a story or some kind of content, but also to create a title and cover for each story you post. You must set your story’s genre, and are encouraged to further categorize it with hashtags for searchability and write a story description that will capture readers’ attention. All of these things are important skills for a writer to practice — not only producing a story, but understanding it well enough to be able to categorize it and craft a description that will make it appeal to your primary target audience.
Once you begin writing on Wattpad, it can become really quite motivating. I have produced more new content in the last year — since starting Wattpad — than I had in a very, very long time. Why? Because I keep finding new reasons to write more. There are contests, ranking systems, interest groups, events — even an annual award selection. All of these can provide an extra push to keep you writing and producing new stories. And once you begin to gain a readership, you will also have readers commenting and messaging and asking for the next chapter. There’s nothing quite as motivating as that.
There is some debate about this, because some writers don’t consider Wattpad a very esteemed source of credit for a writer, because it is a free platform. In a way, Wattpad is like a writing YouTube — anyone can post. But in my mind, that doesn’t belittle its impact in the least. Imagine if you were attempting to start a music or acting career. Would it help if you had millions of followers and people subscribing to your YouTube channel? Do you think that might help push you to the top of the pile for producers looking for the next big thing? Of course. It’s happened over and over again with musicians discovered on YouTube. Wattpad is that for writing. Yes, it’s a free platform. But it’s exposure. And if you can build a loyal following, it will only help your writing career.
There’s nothing quite as motivating as having genuine excitement built around your stories, and Wattpad can do that. It won’t happen overnight — it takes work and effort and consistency in posting — but when you have that story that goes viral, it is magical. All the reader comments, the support, the community that will rise up around you of readers who truly connect with your story (and with you) — it’s amazing. And Wattpad really does a great job of trying to help undiscovered writers reach this point. When I first began writing on Wattpad, I had very few readers. My stories sat there, dusty, with the sound of crickets where my readers’ excited squeals should have been. But then I started entering my stories in some of Wattpad’s contests, which got them some visibility. I submitted my stories to Wattpad’s “Featured” program — and one of them got selected. The Wattpad staffer who informed me that my story had been chosen to be Featured said that I should expect a boost in reads, and she was right. My nonfiction story jumped from a handful of reads to thousands in a matter of weeks. Then I entered that same story in the annual Wattys awards (Wattpad’s version of the Emmys), and I won in one of the categories! Suddenly I was on the radar of all the Wattpad users checking out that year’s winners — more visibility, more followers, more reads. When my first story’s time on the Featured list expired, I submitted another to be Featured, and again, it was chosen. Only this time, it was my Teen Fiction story. And when that boost in reads happened, it happened big time. That story went from a few thousand reads to over a million in the last four months, and gained me over a thousand new followers. I now get hundreds (yes, hundreds) of comments on my story a day, and I have readers who communicate with me and encourage me and anxiously await new posts in that story series. It is fantastic… and incredibly motivating.
This is perhaps the most beneficial factor for any writer who posts on Wattpad: the potential for honest, accurate feedback. Wattpad’s readers are not shy about commenting exactly what they think and feel. If that seems scary — well, sometimes it is. Sometimes you will get feedback that you aren’t exactly thrilled with. But here’s the thing: it’s feedback. And if you’ve categorized your story correctly, it’s feedback from your target audience. If you are ever planning to develop that story into something further, you need that feedback. The good, the bad, all of it. What’s really amazing about Wattpad is that it allows readers to comment line-by-line. They can actually leave their in-the-moment reactions to a specific line of dialogue, a phrase they liked (or didn’t like), or a character’s particular action. This is such an incredible, pinpoint-accurate detection of how your readers are responding to your writing. My favorite part is that most of these comments are not academic critiques of your craft — they are pure, unfiltered reactions. You will get the wows, the squeals, the surges of anger at your character’s ridiculous behavior, the boos and cheers and the anxiety as your story’s tension builds. I love, love, LOVE this. It is like I’ve been given access to sit inside readers’ minds as they experience my story. Do you realize the power of that? It’s incredible! I have learned more about what worked and didn’t work in my story from these readers comments than I ever learned from a workshop group, because these readers do not hold back. (Not that you shouldn’t use workshop groups; you should! They can provide incredible feedback. But they are a different sort of feedback.) The pure, unfiltered reactions of your readers is like feedback gold.
For me, Wattpad has been — and still is — an incredible experience as a writer, but it is not my endgame. Wattpad is a huge part of what I’m doing as a writer, but of course I don’t intend for all of my writing to be put up for free forever. I want to have a writing career, as in — one that makes money. But does this mean Wattpad is a waste of time? Absolutely not.
Wattpad provides me with a continual flow of beta-readers for my stories, exposure, motivation, and statistics on how my stories perform with readers. This is all immensely helpful.
But best of all, Wattpad has provided me with a community. I love interacting with my readers, chatting with fellow writers, and having people who support my writing and get excited whenever I write something new. That alone is worth it. My Wattpad readers and followers are amazing.
Will I one day get discovered by a publisher or TV network on Wattpad? Maybe. But even if I don’t, Wattpad has been more than worth the time I’ve invested in it. The stories I’ve posted now have loads of feedback, which I’m using to revise and polish and develop an even better version of the series. I plan on self-publishing some of them, and producing new content, and continuing to use Wattpad for feedback and connection with readers.
I don’t know why it took me so long to find out about Wattpad, but I am so, so glad I finally did.