How to use Wattpad
Whether you’re a newbie writer or a seasoned author, you’ve probably heard the importance of a platform in the publishing world. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to self-publish or traditionally publish. You’ll need some sort of starting ground for getting your works noticed, and most importantly, read. For me, and maybe for you, that’s where Wattpad comes in.
With over 60,000,000 users and still growing, Wattpad is a launching ground for writers. It’s a company that rewards its top authors with exclusive perks and yes…money! I’ve been on Wattpad for about five years, and I already have over one hundred thousand followers. Maybe one hundred thousand followers doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s one hundred thousand fans to potentially buy my next book.
But wait, Anne…I’m not even on Wattpad, let alone one of its top writers. How do I get started? And more importantly, how do I get to a place where I’m earning money?
My answer? Baby steps. This doesn’t happen overnight — there’s no easy route. If you are looking for an easy route, Wattpad isn’t your best choice. Then again, I can’t think of any easy route within the writing and publishing world.
For now, let’s focus on hard work and determination.
Who Should Use Wattpad?
While Wattpad is welcoming to all writers, the greatest amount of reader-support is for YA writers, whether that be horror, romance, or fanfiction. The teens and tweens definitely rule on Wattpad!
I have seen a couple successful MG novels on Wattpad, but I’ve yet to see a chapter book or picture book. That doesn’t mean you can’t be the first!
How Does Wattpad Work?
Using Wattpad is rather simple. You create an account, personalize your profile, and post one section of your novel/short story/poetry at a time.
Creating an account takes less than five minutes, and getting a feel for the site takes no more than ten. There are a lot of buttons, but don’t feel intimidated. You’ll quickly get a feel of which pages you’ll use, and which you won’t. For newcomers, I always recommend making use of the contests tab, but not necessarily the clubs. Over time, you’ll decide what works best for you.
Personalizing your profile is not only a way to make the space your own, but it also gives your potential followers a feel of who you are, as a person. So create an intriguing about section, add some URL links to your other social media, use high-quality images for your profile picture and cover photo. And, if you can, create a few reading lists. Followers LOVE finding quality reading lists.
As for posting your own work, Wattpad is different from the usual publishing methods, as you don’t upload the entire book at once. Most post on a chapter-by-chapter basis, and many post the book as they write it, rather than when they have a finished product on their computer. This means you can showcase your talents and build a following long before you’re ready to traditionally or self-publish.
How to Post Your First Chapter
So, you’re ready to post your first chapter. Awesome! This is an exciting, history-in-the-making moment. But wait! There are a couple of things you should do before you push that publish button. Things like: write a compelling book description, create a fantastic and intriguing book cover, and add some helpful tags to get your book discovered.
Writing a book description can feel like a terrifying beast, especially before you’ve written the whole book. Say you’ve only written the first chapter…how the heck are you supposed to know the best way to describe the book as a whole?
One trick I suggest is to focus on the most compelling aspects. What drew you into writing the book? You don’t need to be crazy specific in the description, but you do need to encourage the reader to, well, keep reading. Easier said than done. Another trick is to create an outline, no matter how loose, just to give you an idea of what your story is about. It’s a little easier to write a blurb when you know where your book is going!
If you get halfway through your Wattpad chapters and realize the description is WAY off, don’t fear. You can always tweak or completely re-write your description later. Just remember that this blurb is what stands between your book and new readers.
Everyone knows not to judge a book by its cover…but everyone does anyway. So you’d best make a great cover for your book. I recommend a site like Unsplash.com for getting high-quality, absolutely free images. Nowadays, they even have a search bar and albums to browse to find that perfect cover photo.
Once you have the picture of your dreams picked out, head over to Canva. They’re my favorite site for creating Wattpad covers, especially because one of their templates is the exact dimensions of a Wattpad cover (it’s literally called Wattpad Book Cover).
On Canva, you can add pretty fonts, various filters, and even add shapes, free images, and borders. There are a lot of possibilities here, so be sure to take your time. Don’t chase away a potential reader with a sloppy cover.
If you need inspiration, head over to the top books on Wattpad. You’ll quickly see the type of covers that garner attention. Sure, some books will have millions of reads, even with a terrible cover. Let’s play it safe and assume you’ll be the rule, not the exception.
How to Get Followers
Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. You’ve done everything right, from a compelling, well-written story to a beautiful description and cover. You’re ready for the followers to pour in…only they aren’t. What are you doing wrong?
Unfortunately, there’s no “right” way to gain followers on Wattpad. Many of us “top writers” found success in different ways. Some did hundreds of “read-for-reads”*, some relied heavily on their other social media followings, and some just wrote really great stories that happened to get noticed by Wattpad staff or a top influencer.
* A read-for-read means that two writers read each other’s works. This can mean they simply read, or it can mean they also leave constructive comments or do follow-for-follow.
Finish a Book
My success really started taking off once I had a completed book, posted in-full on Wattpad. By completed, I don’t mean shiny and edited—I just mean a rough draft. But the story was complete, and my followers could enjoy reading to the end. By simply adding “complete” to my book’s tag, I watched my reads jump from the 100s to the 1000s.
But my main success came through being “featured.” This meant I wrote a book, applied to have it added to Wattpad’s “featured” list, and watched the readers roll in. Although my success still took time, it happened much more quickly thanks to this. In a couple of weeks, my book, Sink or Swim, hit one million reads, where it had only had one hundred thousand reads before being featured.
In today’s Wattpad, getting featured is more prestigious and difficult than ever. But if you get chosen and if you have a solid story, you have a good chance of getting a bunch of new reads and followers. It’s always worth the simple application.
Take a Leap
While the above two tasks helped my personal work “take off,” they’re by no means an exclusive list. I did a lot of work to get noticed. I did read-for-reads and outright asked other Wattpaders (through PM, NOT on their profile wall) if they’d be interested in reading my work.
My best advice is to take the leap, even with crazy ideas that will probably never work. I’ve entered more contests than I can count. You won’t always win, but every contest will introduce you to new people, new opportunities, new ideas. It doesn’t hurt to try.
Another leap: Start a club account. This will get you all sorts of contacts, and it’s fun. I started four accounts for various clubs. Two took off, and while I eventually “adopted out” one of them, I still take care of @youngadultreads, which has over 85,000 followers.
Another leap: Once you’ve started gaining a following, apply to be a Wattpad Star. If you get rejected, continue growing your following, and then apply again. Apply until they accept you as one of their top writers. You’ll get accepted one day.
And In Closing…
If you’re on the fence about Wattpad, simply take the leap. You can always deactivate your account. My guess is you won’t want to. If you’re writing for teens, Wattpad is more than a great platform-builder. It’s a place to connect with your readers, find what they’re interested in, and what type of stories they’re reading.