Tips for Growing a Wattpad Audience
Amazon has long expressed an interest in buying the story-sharing platform Wattpad. At least, that’s what several media articles have claimed since the Chinese tech giant Tencentinvested $51 million into it in 2018. Yet despite the hype,it was announced on May 11th 2021 that South Korea’s internet conglomerate Naver has actually acquired it in a transaction valued at over $600 million.
“Why pay so much money for a site that’s ignored by many successful indie authors?” you might ask. Well, Wattpad has impressive stats. For a start, it’s arguably the world’s biggest social media site for authors and readers. As of early 2021, Mark Williams at The New Publishing Standard reports that Wattpadnow has 90 million monthly users, more than 5 million of which have uploaded written work. 90% of them are Gen Z or millennial (aged 14 – 40) which indicates that itresonates with younger readers and will continue to thrive in this growing online space.
How it works is simple; writers on the site get to upload stories in a frictionless manner, without being asked for tax details, and readers get to read for free. Admittedly, most Wattpadauthors don’t get paid because of this model, but blowing up there does come with perks. Wattpad’s close links to major publishers and movie studios, for instance, enable them to pick promising writers from their platform and explode their careers. Besides, according to MarketScreener, Naver may soon fix the payment issue that deters authors, too. It claims they will “help Wattpad authors build an international audience and make money.” And if that happens, Wattpadcould rival the likes of Amazonand Apple.
Given all the facts, you might be interested in Wattpad but be daunted by the prospect of having to build an audience from scratch – but don’t fret. Today’s blog post will explore a few basic tips you can use to stand out from day one and fast-track your presence on this exciting platform for authors and readers.
Publishing stories on any major retailer usually means jumping through a series of hoops: imputing bank details; completing tax forms; passing epub quality checks. This can be a pain for experienced authors, never mind those who don’t have all the right information to hand and just publish for a hobby. Wattpad, however, has none of these obstacles. Any user can paste a chapter from a Word document or type it directly onto Wattpad using any computer, phone or tablet device. While that’s great, it does mean that Wattpad is swamped with content, which makes getting discovered a challenge.
Fortunately, this ease of access means that many of the stories on the site are amateur, so investing in an editor and proofreader goes a long way. Optimising your profile by filling in the bio field, adding images, giving your books professional covers and adding tags to your stories to improve their discoverability also help considerably, because so many users don’t take the time to do any of this. These tips might sound basic if you’re accustomed to competing in the super-professional Amazon arena, but a large portion of Wattpad authors don’t fine-tune their content as much as KDP authors. Therefore, doing everything right on the site gives you an even bigger advantage than it does on the major ebook retailers.
Write in a Popular Genre
It’s no secret that a huge portion of paid ebook sales go to romance and thriller authors. Those genres are competitive, but cracking them can give you a far larger audience on Amazon and other ebook sellers. But do these trends play out on Wattpad? Yes, but not completely. Romance writers also hold the crown on Wattpad, according to blog posts written by its employees, but the paranormal romance (PNR) subgenre takes a massive share of the readers. Due to the young user demographics, though, there is also a large appetite for young adult (YA) books. Fantasy also does well. Sci-fi, horror, comedy and, surprisingly, thrillers can work but are generally less popular. Hence, if you want to play Wattpad on easy mode, PNR and YA are the ways to do it.
If you’re familiar with the site then you’ll know it’s impossible to discuss genre without mentioning fan fiction. It’s huge on the site. Users love to read stories about pop stars and “ship” their favourite superheroes (imagine them being in a relationship), but trying this yourself isn’t advisable if you want a traditional writing career. Penning compromising tales about K-pop stars or crossover adventure starring the cast of Star Wars and Avatar might make you a Wattpadstar, but none of that work can be monetised because you own none of the intellectual property rights. As a result, it’s wise to pick a popular genre that makes it easy to find an audience but that you can actually convert into an income stream over the long term.
Write Good Copy
In marketing, the text attached to an advert is called sales copy. Getting good at writing sales copy is important because, while your story shouldn’t read like a pitch, including effective copy tactics can help it succeed on Wattpad. For example, on the site one of the biggest measures of success is chapter reads, which work much like YouTube video views. These chapter reads appear next to each book’s cover and act as social proof for readers while also driving the site’s recommendation engine. The more the better. As a result, if you want to get recommended, you need to get early reads, and using copywriter tactics can make that happen.
There are a few sales copy tactics you can use to maximise your chances. The first is to finish each chapter with a cliffhanger. In doing so, you entice readers to keep reading and rack up more reads for your book. Add a call-to-action to each chapter ending, asking readers to behave in a desired way, and you can drive even more algorithm love. Many readers will comply to support creators whose work they enjoy. A short line asking for a chapter vote and a comment will do. Users already know that this helps but, when engrossed in a story, many forget, so a prompt can push them to take action.
Show Community Spirit
Comments might read like retailer reviews, but they don’t work like them at all. Remember, Wattpad is a social media platform and its most avid users prides themselves on their community spirit. Therefore, if you want to be successful on there, you need to spend time in that community, and engaging with comments is a great way to do it. Writers who drive massive engagement often reply to every comment and post writing updates, as well as commenting on work written by other creators. This behaviour might sound like unnecessary work, but it cements your Wattpad presence and helps you to network with othercreators.
If the idea of maintaining another social media profile fills you with dread, though, you don’t need to be extremely proactive to thrive. Responding to comments on your stories without doing the other stuff takes minimal effort but it still makes a huge difference. Many readers just want to know that their favourite authors read their comments. To compress your workload, you can direct avid readers to your favourite social media channels for fan service and use those channels to funnel fresh traffic the other way. Using hashtags like #wattpad and #wattpadlife on Twitter and Instagram is a good way to attract more Wattpadreaders and contribute community spirit without spending too much time on Wattpad itself.
Complete Your Stories
Many readers on Amazon refuse to start an incomplete book series by an unknown author because they can’t guarantee that they will ever see the final instalment. Having been burned in the past, they stick to complete series by authors with a proven track record. This is understandable, and the situation is the same on Wattpad, only the sentiment is amplified because writers there often release books on the platform in weekly chapter updates. As so many of the books there are written by hobbyists in their free time, a lot never reach completion. Thus, the only way to attract a large portion of the reading userbase is to finish your story.
This must be done in two stages to get the full benefit. Firstly, you must finish your book by reaching the final chapter, even if you do upload it in weekly instalments. Then you need to mark the book as complete to give it a “Complete” tag. This is a physical process. Once that tag appears, more readers will give it a try. What’s more, the action opens you up to receiving feature opportunities from the WattpadContent Team, who run genre-based promotions that reach thousands of readers. All of this magic only happens when you mark your book as complete.
Without an immediate financial payoff, Wattpad might seem like an unpromising prospect on the surface, but it’s actually a great place that offers a new way to stand out as a professional author. You aren’t guaranteed to turn the platform into a lucrative income stream anytime soon, but you can use it to build brand awareness among a young, difficult-to-reach subset of readers and use it as a gateway to exciting opportunities that seldom appear anywhere else. That is what makes it one of the internet’s most exciting e-reading platforms.
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