Wattpad for Writers

wattpad logoWattpad has about 20 million monthly users, both amateur and professional (including Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale who joined about a year and a half ago). Writers retain all rights, and upload anything from short stories to full e-books. A story is uploaded every second, with users from 200 countries posting in 30 languages.

Anyone can access Wattpad via a phone, tablet or computer and it is used by all sorts of people. Relativity Media used Wattpad to promote the release of the film Romeo & Juliet, serializing script excerpts online. Publisher Harlequin used Wattpad to host a new adult genre writing contest. Boy band Emblem3 has even used the platform to connect with fans through stories about teenage issues.

I first decided to try out this site after watching a news item about Lily Carmine who began sharing her novel, The Lost Boys, on Wattpad in February 2010. It clocked up over 33 million reads and became the platform’s most read book. Her publishing deal with Random House UK came from an editor who’d read her work on Wattpad. As a result, Lily secured a deal to publish three books in The Lost Boys series.

I wondered what Wattpad could offer me. Fellow writers waxed lyrical about the site and use it to showcase their writing or for presenting their works in progress, chapter by chapter. They claimed Wattpad had encouraged readership and on the back of it, they had sold more books.

So, how easy is Wattpad for authors to use? First off, Wattpad make it as simple as possible by offering a free Wattpad for Dummies guide. This walks you through how to use the platform, starting with the basics of setting up an account and creating a profile page, then onto the meatier stuff of how to upload a story, a cover and so on. I’ll admit, like Chris James, I had trouble resizing my photo to fit the profile page and almost gave up at that point.

However, the site isn’t difficult to master. Let’s face it, if I can grasp it easily, then so can you. Just read the guide first. Once you have read it, prepare your profile and upload a story.

Wattpad seems to be designed for writers who are posting their work chapter by chapter, or who are posting short stories, rather than complete novels, so the main editing interface is very basic. You copy and paste your work into a text box, and have only bold and italic options for styling. You cannot upload .doc or .docx documents. There is no preview option only ‘Save’ and ‘Save & Publish’, and the platform doesn’t allow you to do anything complicated which is a blessing for people like me.

When you are feeling confident, there are advanced options including the chance to pick a licence for your work. You can also add in one link to more information about the work, a YouTube link and a photo link.

Once you’ve saved your draft or published your book/story, you can add a cover. The easiest way to do that is to visit your list of stories and ‘edit’ under the cover image on the left. In order to edit your title, add a description or add extra parts to the story, you need to click ‘manage’ on that ‘My Works’ page.

The number of reads your work gets is displayed next to the story and on your profile. Readers can also vote (basic thumbs-up style voting) and leave comments on both your stories and your profile. As with other similar sites, the more reads and votes your story gets, the more visible you’ll be to readers. I posted one short story and within two days had positive feedback for it and a request to join a short story website where my stories would be showcased. My story didn’t get a million reads, in fact, it got only one hundred and thirty-five reads but that is an additional one hundred and thirty-five people who have now read my work. I’m sure if I worked harder at the site and made more effort to fan people or write more regularly, that number would gradually increase.

“Fanning” means that you subscribe to another user’s updates and messages. So, if I add a new chapter to the story I’m working on, an email notification will be automatically sent to my fans to let them know. This is an effective way to communicate. It allows not just socializing, but also mass messaging and keeps fans updated. You can also use it to ask fans questions or just to say hello.

What then in brief, are the pros and cons of Wattpad?

Pros:

  • Friendly community.
  • iPhone app. The site has an app, so you can read wherever or whenever you fancy it.
  • You can get advice and help on your book from fans.
  • You may become known and could eventually get your work published.
  • Lots of good stuff to read.

Cons:

  • Time consuming.
  • Critiques. Or lack of critiques, more appropriately. Finding thorough, in-depth critiques is hard on Wattpad. There’s a 2,000 character limit for comments so for the most part, one-liners are the popular story comments.
  • People could copy, paste and steal your story. I didn’t think it was possible until another user told me how to do it.
  • Wattpad seems to be a popularity contest so you need to write about the things people like these days if you want to be noticed. If you write about werewolves or vampires, this is for you.

My initial feeling about Wattpad is that if you are the sort of person who likes to post your works in progress a bit at a time, then it could help build a readership. It’s a potentially powerful way to connect with readers if you have the time to devote to it, but it needs commitment, and the community there might not be right for every author.

Author: Carol Wyer

Carol E Wyer is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and an award-winning and best-selling author of humorous novels including MINI SKIRTS AND LAUGHTER LINES, SURFING IN STILETTOS, and HOW NOT TO MURDER YOUR GRUMPY. Carol has been featured on NBC News, BBC Radio, and in The Huffington Post. For more about Carol, go to her website or her Amazon author page.

44 thoughts on “Wattpad for Writers”

  1. I was asked if I’d let them have Sin as a featured book. Since then it’s had over 525,000 reads with some absolutely amazing comments.

    Sin was one of the top 0.01% of mystery/thrillers in 2013 with great feedback. It’s a good feeling. Not much reflection on sales though.
    http://wattpad.com/ShaunAllan

    1. That is outstanding! You’ve done incredibly well there, I’m surprised it hasn’t reflected in sales though. I’d like to think that those people would buy your books. Still, all those readers, that is something to boast about. Congratulations. I shall now have to go and read Sin, of course!

  2. Thank you, Carol! I’m just dipping a toe in the water over there. I thought it might be an interesting place to float short fiction. Wished I liked writing about werewolves and vampires. 😉

    1. It’s a great place for short fiction. I only dipped my toe in the water too but was impressed with the results. Give it a go. Yes, I too wish I could write a yarn about werewolves and vampires but alas!

    1. Hi Kathy.
      Time is always a problem, isn’t it? I’d certainly have a shot at it with a couple of stories and then see what comes of it, then if it isn’t to your liking you can leave it alone. Good luck.

    1. Considering the amount of work you have, Daphne, I’d probably leave it for the moment. You have more important things to concentrate on at this time! However, it could be a good platform for you to introduce your character to new readers.

  3. Timely post Carol, I was wondering about Wattpad recently. I’ve read good things about it. I, like Melinda, wondered about submitting already published works.

    Would it make sense to post chapter by chapter in serial format an already published book. It seems to me that Wattpad offers an entirely different audience (except for all of us IU’ers flocking over there right now) that you can expose your writing to?

    1. Hi Jim,
      I know other writers who publish their work chapter by chapter and are extremely pleased with the response so, why not try it out? I’d love to hear how you get on.

  4. Interesting post, Carol. I joined Wattpad and posted some chapters of my books as well as a short story. I haven’t found it particularly helpful as a set it and forget it kind of thing.

    I think you have to really participate in the site to get reads and followers that can get you more notice.

    The one thing I will note for authors, is that too many updates may turn people off. I was following a writer, and she updated her page every day, sometimes multiple times a day, so I was getting at least an email each day, sometimes three or four emails in one day, about her new content, and it was quite annoying. So, I unfollowed her.

    1. Thank you very much, RJ. That’s most interesting to know and helpful to those who read this post.
      I haven’t had sufficient involvement to discover that sort of thing yet.
      You’re right about the participation. It’s a type of social networking site about writing. To get the most out of it, I believe you need to spend time there.

  5. Thanks for doing this research for us, Carol. I think I’m most unsettled by Shaun Allan’s comment about – half a million reads by not much impact on sales. Maybe Wattpad is another kind of Kindle, where people only go for free stuff?

    1. I found Shaun’s comment an eye-opener, yet other authors I spoke too were adamant that Wattpad definitely got them new readers and book sales. I’ll have to investigate further, Watson!

  6. Thanks for a great post, Carol. I’ve had Wattpad on my to-do list for some time now, but haven’t managed to check it out. Given the time factor I’ll probably give it a miss…unless I write something about zombies. 😉

  7. I’d been thinking about serialising the first book of a trilogy for ages. Joined sometime ago but only just uploaded the first ch this morning. After looking around for what else I could do, I went back and had over 30 views. I don’t know if any read it though, but lots of readers there to hopefully connect with.

    I’d love to see a tutorial on what can be done there like how to find the advanced options.

    1. Rubs hands in glee … a tutorial! Now that’ll give me something to do to keep me out of the way of housework.
      Glad you got those views,Dale.I hope something further comes out of it and let me know if it does.

  8. Excellent post, Carol. I started with Wattpad some time ago and always meant to do more with it than I have but prioritising kept me from any kind of time consuming commitment.

    Jim’s idea about serialisation sounds interesting, that maybe a goer! However, I think that most sites like Wattpad are typically frequented by authors; not that writers aren’t readers, just that writers probably have less time for reading than perhaps your avid reader does.

    1. Thanks,TD. I think you’re spot on with your observation. I’ve been checking the site since I wrote this tutorial and I’ve found lots of authors on it. I’ve been hearing good things about it though, so I’m going to give it a proper go (when I get time) and see if I can make it work for me. I’ll keep you informed.

    1. I’m not sure if you can do that, Kathy. (Forgive my ignorance.) You can certainly put your author URL in your About Me section along with your social media links.

  9. I just spent an evening checking out Wattpad as a possibility – but I found the extremely limited formatting options offputting for a novel which has epigraphs, text insertions (such as scenes from a movie, or emails), and a prologue purporting to be a New Yorker article.

    This may have to do with most things on Wattpad being designed to be read on a mobile (small screen). I’ll have to think about how to use it.

    Also, all my italics disappeared when I pasted text into their editor box. Do you know if italics are retained when uploading? They’re an integral part of my formatting, used in a specific and distinctive way, and something I want to render accurately.

    Do you have any experience with uploading files?

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Alicia. I’m aware that the formatting is jolly limited on Wattpad and usually only recommend it to people for short stories or for putting up a few chapters of their work.
      I have not uploaded italics, only simple text.
      I’ll now go and find out some of the answers for you and see if I can come up with more useful advice for you.

          1. Here we go, Alicia and Kathy. I hope this helps you.
            I’ve been checking with my fellow authors who are more proficient on Wattpad than me. They say sometimes when you upload your story or work from Word you can lose the italics, bold and underlined words so they recommend you do the following:
            For italics: word or paragraph you have in italics
            For bold letters: word or paragraph you have in bold
            For underlining: word or paragraph you have in bold
            Given the complex structure of your book this is going to be frightfully time-consuming and Wattpad is probably not the best platform for you. It can only format simple stuff.
            I recommend reading Wattpad for Dummies. It’s free and has a lot of useful information in it that might help with your decision to stick with it. Here’s the link for you: http://www.wattpad.com/823154-wattpad-for-dummies-1-uploading-a-general

            I hope this helps a little. I’ve found I am now too busy to give the platform the necessary time. It’s like any social website, the more you interact and work at it, the more you’ll get out of it.
            Good luck with it.

          2. Thanks, Carol – and for taking the time to answer.

            Wattpad is simple – that is probably part of its charm. Most of its readers use their phones or tablets to read, from what I gather.

            As any writer, I am attracted by the potential for those millions of reads they list.

            There is an 18-30 demographic of readers; I wouldn’t have thought they would be interested in my kind of mainstream story, but I have been blown away by my amazing beta reader – she is 20, and gets everything I throw at her. So I’ve decided not to ignore potential readers who are in her age group.

            Whether readers like her are on Wattpad is another question. I’ll ask her what she thinks of it, use that to weigh against the formatting effort it would require (which my crazy brain is already trying to work around). After all, ebooks ARE simpler than printed books in formatting – or can be – and I’ve had Jaye Manus format the first three chapters for Kindle with no trouble.

            I use Scrivener. Formatting to replace actual italics with , etc., can be done with a few global commands – and is something I’m going to have to do anyway when preparing for publication, print and ebook. It didn’t occur to me (brain fog) that I can prepare my file, preview it on my own, and then upload it – and the formatting will put bold and italics where they belong. This I probably can do.

            The text inserts – I may set them off with some centered asterisks. Ditto the epigraphs.

            I don’t know whether I will make the effort – the readers there may or may not translate to buyers, now or in the future. But I’m in the enviable position of being able to suit myself (plus, because of illness, I’m glacially slow). So I’m already odd. I did read the For Dummies – thanks for the link.

            Not this week, probably (a crisis just hit), but it’s going to sit there, niggling at me, until I decide one way or the other – and the readers there don’t see the other places I’m serializing the same story (first in trilogy).

            I already spent yesterday making a much better cover just because of the possibility (and used it to update the other places I’m serializing).

            This DIY – and people like you who take the time to write instructions for others – is amazing.

            You have already been more than helpful!

            Thanks so much.

            Alicia

  10. I looked over the site and yes it’s mostly vampires and werewolves.

    I mostly write with more “mature” themes. I doubt I’d get many reads for that on Wattpad, but your experiences above suggest otherwise.

    If a story is copyrighted and free, then there’s no real worries about it being copied, is there?

    1. Hi Andy,
      I always think it’s worth ‘having a go’. I’ve spoken to writers who adore Wattpad and others who can’t get on with it but it’s very much a case of trying it out and see if it works for you.
      I am pretty sure that if your story is copyrighted and free you should have no worries about it being copied. In this technological age of ours, there is always a chance stories could be copied, so if you don’t feel comfortable about it, leave it alone. I only put up one story. I’m not too worried if it gets copied. I’m not sure I’d want to put up anything that hadn’t been published and copyrighted first.
      Good luck. Hope you get a whole new audience for your work.

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