While attending the Superstars Writing Conference in February, I ran into Ashleigh Gardner, the Head of Content and Publishing at Wattpad.
Okay, okay. I didn’t just “run into her.” I cornered her. For 45 minutes.
She’d just been telling us about all the awesomeness of Wattpad, but all I really heard was this is just one more time suck to take me away from writing my fantasy series.
After I cornered her—effectively preventing her escape—she graciously talked to me, answering all the questions. Like: “What can Wattpad do for me?” and “How can I be successful?”
Her answers? It can extend your brand as an author and write, network, and write some more.
Okay, so I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, and I signed up.
If I run my business by any philosophy, it’s try everything.
How I Started.
I started writing my first Wattpad story Bon Bons to Yoga Pants during my downtime at the writers conference, and uploaded the first chapter on Valentines Day.
Here’s the blurb. Feel free to skim.
Lexie Greene has always had such a pretty face.
Unfortunately, that’s where it seemed to stop. She’s grown up hearing her Mother’s voice constantly remind her that “beautiful girls aren’t overweight.” And Lexie is indeed overweight.
With her younger sister’s wedding on the horizon, a crush to stalk on Facebook every minute she’s not dreaming about chocolate, and working hard to win a competitive internship, Lexie’s had enough. She joins a dieting group and a gym, but as the pounds melt away, finds that life on the other side of the scale isn’t what she thought.
Lexie has to figure out the lines between healthy and skinny, all while navigating a brand new world she wasn’t quite ready for. This story is packed with laughter, tears, and a whole lot of drooling over really amazing food.
At first I was just learning the Wattpad ropes and figuring out the culture, so I started following other stories and threw up an easy cover for my own that I made on Canva.
Yes, the hot pink has a purpose.
Finding readers started out slow enough, but the more I read and commented on other people, the more response I had on mine, so I kept going. That whole networking thing, you know.
At this point, I was getting about 20-30 reads per day. And I was satisfied with that. But not for long.
I soon realized the importance of cover art on Wattpad, so this cover came next. Not all that different, but not so ugly either. (I also changed the title a bit).
Things started to pick up just a bit. I was heading toward 1,000 reads overall and getting a few regulars. At that point I was posting about 2-3 times per week. I realized that I needed to up the heat because the story had a lot of potential.
So I finally got back on canva, and for $1, made this baby.
While still not perfect, it’s far and away better than the others.
I also talked with author Leona Henry, who had more experience on Wattpad than me, and learned a crap ton about success on Wattpad by reading her blog post on how to succeed on Wattpad. She went through and figured out a few tweaks that the most successful authors employed and put all the secrets in one article.
Which is great! Because then I didn’t have to
This was the turning point.
The Results/My Current Stats.
I can’t find the stats farther than 1 month back so I’m just going to give you screenshots of my current Wattpad statistics for Bon Bons to Yoga Pants.
Notice the gradual upward trend of unique readers? Before April, the numbers were even lower with a less obvious upward trend. My highest number of unique visitors in one day has been 105.
The gradual increase in readers is partially thanks to BBtYP being featured on the “What’s Hot in Chick Lit” list for at least two weeks, possibly more. The spike around May 14th can be attributed to my book tour where I advertised my Wattpad story a lot with the teens.
I mostly show this graph to give a better idea of increased engagement over time. The spike in unique followers naturally led to more comments. Somedays I didn’t get any comments, but now I always get at least 10-20.
Ranking: I haven’t seen it drop below #18 in at least three weeks. On the weekend it hovers around #11-14. The best I’ve seen it was #6.
Posting frequency: I switched to a posting schedule made of steel: Every Monday and Thursdays.
I did this because I had a lot of people asking when to expect more, and now the regulars know to look forward to it. Some have sent me messages on FB in a panic because I may not post until the evening.
Average time spent on Wattpad: At least an hour a day responding to PM’s and comments (I respond to all of them, or at least try to. Sometimes I can’t keep up.) I still read and comment on other stories as well at least once a week.
A Few Things I’ve Observed.
1. Like all things in indie publishing, it’s taken time and consistent work to build this momentum. About 3 months, to be exact.
2. Comments/reader engagement increased exponentially when I started asking questions at the end of the chapter.
3. A lot of new readers thank me for responding to their comments. It also forms fun little friendships.
4. Traffic from my contemporary chick lit BBtYP doesn’t really leak over to my free YA fantasy novella The Isadora Interviews. (Which has only 236 reads). I have had people message me and ask about what else I’ve written and then I can ferry them to my fantasy series.
5. I started a Bon Bons to Yoga Pants Pinterest Board and put the link at the end of one of the chapters. I get about 1-2 new pinterest followers daily. Around half follow all my boards, the rest just follow BBtYP. Over time this is really adding up.
6. Chapters of about 1500 words seem to hit the sweet spot.
7. Chapters with a picture uploaded to it (I always do funny food/exercise memes) are always more fun to read.
8. Sharing my posts on FB, Pinterest, and Twitter was responsible at first for getting me an audience. Now a lot of those people are solid regulars who love the story so much they stare it on FB with their friends. Having it on my blog and a few other places has also exponentially increased my following/chances of getting seen.
9. Regular updates (at least once a week) are always very appreciated by people. A lot of Wattpad stories are abandoned or forgotten for long periods of time, so consistency pays off huge dividends.
A Few Story Recommendations
Finding good, well written stories on Wattpad can be difficult because there’s a lot of sludge and crap to wade through. Even the stories with over a million reads can be horrid.
Here are a few that I’ve found and still follow: Just click on the photo.
My Future Plans with Wattpad
Things have gone so well with BBtYP that once it’s finished, I’m going to have it copyedited and published as a paperback and ebook. (Several fans have requested it and I had tentatively planned it if all went well.) It will still be available on Wattpad to read for free.
Because BBtYP has such a dedicated fan base and is getting so much attention, and I’ve come to love my characters so much, that I’m planning a whole series (The Health and Happiness Society Series) that will all originate from Wattpad.
Have any questions/comments/ideas? Drop them in the comments and let me know what you think!