Success breeds success. When Wattpad agreed to Feature ALL IS SILENCE it quickly became established as a ‘good/successful’ book. Because it was featured the statistics rose incredibly. [If you don’t wish to read the statistics skip ahead two paragraphs.] It hit to high-points of 12000+ reads one day, 633 votes on a different day.
Hitting 100,000 reads had been cool, but then reads really started racking up. While on vacation this summer I hit a 1,000,000 reads near the end of June and 50,000 votes not long after, then 4000 comments. ALL IS SILENCE passed Scott Westerfield on the Completed Science Fiction chart! 132,000 people have started it, 5145 have finished it. It spent 57 [non-consecutive] days at #1 on the HOT Science Fiction chart.
Now it has an average of 175 reads a day, votes meander from a literal handful  to a few hundred, though hundreds is now less than half. It’s slowed down. I can now answer all the comments on all three of my uploads: ALL IS SILENCE [complete], TOILS AND SNARES [Excerpt. 6 of 15 chapters uploaded] and STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS [Excerpt. 12 of 35 chapters uploaded]. They’re all three in the SF Hot 300, though T&S doesn’t stay there. [More about that in the advice below.]
Is there still a benefit? Yes. Now, I have a small army of 3500 followers/fans. True, they are an army of cats so getting them organized and going in the same direction is practically impossible, but also unimportant. If I post a request for Beta Readers, I get a bunch of people who already like my stuff. If I offer a free download on another story, there is a bump. I was hoping for a significant bump for STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS that I can attribute to WATTPAD, but I haven’t figured out how to measure that yet. I know that putting out a request for reviews on ALL IS SILENCE has worked. I would credit my Wattpad followers with about half of the last 30 reviews. That alone may be worth it.
But the real question is this… If I give away a book for free on Wattpad will the benefits out-way the costs? Many authors are concerned that they’ll lose money. Probably not. Most wattpadders are not part of the work-force and not likely to buy an ebook from Amazon. Yes, ALL IS SILENCE is available for sale on Amazon, too. It’s still doing fine there.
The primary benefit of Wattpad is building a fan-base. To do that you have to post regularly and interact with your fans, but it is very successful in this regard. The feedback from readers is nearly universally positive. I have only had about 3 interactions that I would consider negative and one of those was due to giving another author unwanted advice on how to request that an author read their book. I suggested that just sending the link was crass. [Still is. This might segue into the advice section. Yup.] I told him he should send a short 30 word blurb along with polite salutations and then the person he wants to read his book can take it or leave it.
ADVICE SECTION: First three came directly from my editor, Amanda June Hagarty. Glad she convinced me to give Wattpad a try.
- Upload smaller pieces two or three pages [I aim for about 1000-1200 words] at a time.
- Upload two or three times a week. Make the times consistent, put it in your calendar and then don’t miss it. If you’re writing as your posting this gives you a motivating deadline.
- Communicate with your fans. You don’t have to respond to every post/comment, but try to get a comment to each of the people who are sending you a comment stream. Those comments boost your story’s ranking.
- If a comment offends you, you can report it. I called out jerkish behavior on my books, but Wattpad will do it for you.
- Track your data. I used GoogleDocs. It can give you insight into changes you make and how they effect the outcome.
- Upload longer works. If you have a first book in a series, I heartily recommend uploading it in its entirety to Wattpad.
- As new chapters are uploaded the author should dedicate each section as they are uploaded. Dedicate it to another Wattpadder who has commented a lot recently. If you try to go back and do it later, like some authors have, it is an overwhelming job, but if you do it as part of the set-up when you’re adding the live link to your website, it is a very small amount of work.
- The sweet-spot for me, when I was uploading three times a week seemed to be about 9 pm P.S.T. I think it’s because the Wattpad counts may reset at midnight E.S.T., but I’m not certain. This was one of the last hunches I had and don’t have hard evidence.
- Once your story is complete, you can still get some boost, by editing your description and chapters. It will pop back into the system as ‘newer’ if not ‘new.
- Don’t send too many “To all my followers” posts. I try to send one every 2-3 weeks now, and try, try, try to not send more than a couple a week! People will get sick of you and start ignoring you. When you do send these posts, try to make them fun and offer the readers something like: “Sign up for my newsletter this week and read my new story for #FREE!”
- Have fun. Write on.
Did I miss anything? Is any of my advice skewed or no longer valid? I’ve been treading water for the most part, though this last two weeks I’ve been trying to get Straight Into Darkness up the SF charts. Highest ranking so far is #9! Let me know. ~ Rob