Marketing for Authors

Marketing for Authors

Marketing for Authors is here!

Thanks to members of the Indie Author Life Facebook group (which you can join at any time! Just be sure to answer the questions. I don’t approve if there are no answers 🙂 Carissa Magras and I are bringing you the goods on being and author and learning to market. 

Last month, I gathered questions on marketing from Carissa and we recorded a video to answer all of them for you. My conspiring toddler graciously gifted me his illness in the meantime, so please forgive a few nose sniffles. There’s been lots of sore throats, long nights, and vomit. Vomit everywhere. (Not my baby, luckily, but my poor nephew had it bad. Nothing like a houseful of sick kiddos!)

I digress . . . 

Carissa didn’t get to all the questions posted in the group directly, but I think she probably answered them all as she and I dove deeper into discussion on marketing, where to start, what to do, and how to structure yourself. She took me by surprise (and swept me away in the meantime with her awesome content) so I think she’ll maybe do the same for you. 

What she’s bringing to the table here isn’t your run-of-the-mill advice that you’re going to find on Buzzfeed. You probably won’t like it because she’s calling for us to make a mindset shift—but that’s what I know it’s good. 

Watch it. You’ll be so glad you did.

 

As always, leave any questions in the comments.

Win a Kindle Fire 7

Win a Kindle Fire 7

No strings attached. Literally.

Sign up to this special email list just for this giveaway—but then you can unsubsribe in the welcome email and still be entered to win.

Because no one wants to get emails they don’t want. And I defintely don’t want to send you emails that you don’t want. If you don’t unsubscribe, I’ll add you to my fantasy list and give you the second book in my series for free.

Let’s get this Kindle Fire 7 off my shelf, and give you a free book in the meantime!

Just click here.

Marketing to Your Target Audience

Marketing to Your Target Audience

Finding the right people to buy your book can be really tricky. But it’s even harder marketing to those people. So let’s review some standing wisdom, as well as some not-so-conventional ideas for the following genres: Young Adult (YA), Middle Grade (MG), Romance, and Fantasy.

Of course, I put this out there with a caveat: all of this hinges on the fact that you have an active social media presence, you have an email list that you communicate with regularly, and you have at least one book to sell.

Note: I haven’t published in all of these genres (although I have written through freelancing and ghost writing in most of them), so these ideas come from people and clients I’ve worked with who have. 

Marketing to Your Target Audience

Marketing to Middle Grade

Middle grade can be tricky because your audience isn’t in charge of the credit card. So you’re writing to children but selling to parents. 

  1. I cannot stress this enough: SCHOOLS. Schools, schools, schools. Listen to this podcast where Maria Dismondy, a childrens book writer, dives into how she goes to schools (and is paid) all over the place. Whether you want to be paid or not, the exposure happens here.
  2. Check out your options at local libraries. Can you offer a children’s book hour? Can you offer a class teaching kids how to write? Reading your book? Talking to parents? Attending a school book fair? Brainstorm about how you can get to the parents and the kids at the same time.
  3. Chat with local, independent kids stores to see if they’ll stock your book and split the royalties. (Double win: depending on your state, they’ll pay sales tax on it so you won’t have to get a Sales Tax and Use License. Always check with a professional before moving forward, of course.) This can be clothing stores, used book stores (I’ve definitely done this in the past), kids gyms, etc.
  4. Here’s an article from a guy that wrote into Hugh Howey and writes Middle Grade/Childrens.
  5. Use parents as your influencers. Give your book to parents with kids the target age for your book, then ask them to give you feedback on it. What did they like? Why did they feel it was a good book for their children? Ask them to share it on whatever social media presence they hang out in, especially if they have Mommy groups or other places.
  6. This is an AWESOME post on ideas for Middle Grade/Childrens. I loved her idea of getting on school reading lists. That’s brilliant.
  7. Check out what events your community has for educators. Doing whatever you can to get your books in the hands of teachers can help you find connections with parents and kids. If the book does well, the teacher will talk.
  8. Cecily Paterson is an author that I’ve followed for a long time. She writes MG/YA and I love her newsletter. I feel like she does a really good job writing the newsletter for her audience and their parents. Follow her to get a feel for how she approaches it. Her first book, Invisiblehas hit massive success, and rightly so. I read all her books. You’ll also notice she has a school bookings tab.

Marketing to YA

YA has a funny habit of pulling in people of all ages. (I just had a 70 year old man email me and tell me my first book, Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, was one of his favorites and he’s stoked to get into all of them immediately. My book is about a sixteen-year-old girl. #justsayin) But the meat of my paid ads marketing sinks into the age range of 15-30 something and it’s worked well for me so far.

  1. Find five teenagers and five early twentysomethings. Yes, you can do this. Just go on Facebook or Twitter of G+ and ask. If you can’t find any, come to me. I have people.
  2. Give your book to them to read for free, then ask them what they loved about it. Use those factors in your marketing schemes (FB ads, for example.) If they say, I loved that Sarah and Jason didn’t kiss until the very end then you say in your ad: The slow burn romance in this fast-paced YA thriller will keep you on the edge of your toes.
  3. Follow those people on social media and on their favorite platforms. I haven’t ventured into Snapchat yet, but every single teenager that I’ve talked to is on there. Most teens I talk to don’t care about Facebook. Instagram is the next winner.
  4. Go where they are. Libraries? Probably not. Stores? Probably closer. See if you can get book signings at a Starbucks close to a high school (I’ve done that so many times) before class gets out. Then talk to them. See what books they like and why.
  5. Find the right hashtags on Instagram. (Like right here) and try to post in a way that you can incorporate them naturally.
  6. Facebook ads go to Instagram. (FB owns IG, by the way.) Get your ads on both. Don’t know how to do Facebook ads? No worry. Mark Dawson has your back for free.
  7. Call a high school and offer to chat with them and their students for free. Then, while you’re there, get email addresses. Find the teenagers there that are actually interested (some will probably act bored, that’s fine) and get them on your email list, or follow them on social media. I’ve done this. They LOVE it.
  8. Put excerpts where they’ll access—and parents can too. Many teenagers email me saying that their parents won’t let them buy ebooks or have the credit card. But if the parents can read a snippet of the book before they buy, that can go a long way. Wattpad has been helpful for me for this. Amazon allows it too, usually.

Marketing to Fantasy

The beautiful thing about fantasy is that it’s so incredibly broad. The horrible thing about fantasy is that it’s so incredibly broad. Fantasy lovers are hard core, typically. They’ll invest in a good story. It also means that a lot of fantasy lovers are simply where the books—and the magic—are. I’ve also noticed that a lot of avid fantasy readers are aspiring writers of some sort. There’s something alluring about making magic, so keep that in mind.

  1. Here is a really great list on Promoting Your SciFi/Fantasy Book that includes Pinterest boards, Twitter hashtags, and Facebook groups to join that can be helpful.
  2. Pay an artist to create fantasy art for your book if you can afford it. There’s nothing more exciting than a new, really awesome picture of a dragon. Granted, this can get expensive. If you have any talent for art yourself, make your own fantasy art!
  3. Fantasy lovers are book lovers. Here’s a great article with hashtags for book lovers on twitter or IG. I load the first comment of my IG posts with hashtags (up to 40 if I really want it to make a splash), which makes this an easy way to find the people that are talking about the stuff you want to hear. Following and supporting these people can be a great way to help them become influencers for you later.
  4. In order to be one of the people, you have to be one of the people. Interact with other fantasy lovers on the social media outlet of your choice. Facebook groups are a great place to start. Pinterest has tons of fantasy boards as well. Being able to talk to the talk (especially about cornerstone Fantasy books—Hello LOTR!) has helped alot.
  5. Book signings in book stores. I always ran into more fantasy lovers than any other genre, and they were, for me, the ones most excited about exploring a new fantasy series. They were the ones that stopped and chatted. From what I’ve noticed, they can be almost as voracious as romance readers.
  6. This doesn’t always happen (and can be tricky to make it organic) but if you have a blog, try to create fantasy oriented posts. A lot of authors create author blogs and then write to authors: not their audience. Focus your posts on fantasy-related topics. Dragons. Wizards. Magic and all the dimensions of it. Favorite fantasy authors. Fantasy book reviews (if you can make them interesting). Maps. How to make fantasy maps.
  7. Follow all your favorite fantasy authors. How do they present information in a way that’s appealing to you? What do their websites look like, for good or ill? Take notes. Then take action.
  8. Start a discussion on your favorite social media platform about a hot topic in fantasy. On this facebook post, I asked people for their favorite dragon book to help me with inspiration. Then on this post, I asked them why they liked dragons. Originally it was market research for my next book, The Dragonmasters, to see what genre conventions I needed to stick with, but it fast became a marketing tactic. All those people that responded? Obvious fantasy lovers. Those are people I can message 1:1 and ask for help in exchange for a free book, for example. Also, it gets them involved in the process, and people know my next book is about dragons without me saying HEY OVER HERE THIS IS ABOUT DRAGONS BUY IT NOW THANKS BYE.
  9. Teach a class on writing fantasy or creating magic systems at your library.
  10. Teach a class on writing fantasy or creating magic systems at a local high school.
  11. Start Pinterest boards geared toward fantasy stuff. I have Pinterest boards for potions, hairstyles, clothing, and more.

Marketing to Romance

Romance readers are voracious, so speed and dependability are key with publishing and marketing to romance. The other wonderful thing: if you’re a romance reader, you know exactly what to write. Romance is very formulaic (some will argue this, but it’s true. There’s just variation on the theme. This is true of all publishing.) Romance readers, on average, read a book a day. 

  1. Cover is key to romance readers. There’s a few very specific things that draw their eye, and it doesn’t have to be an uber-lusty, half naked man and woman on the cover. Marketing your book with a romance-geared cover will be SO much easier if it’s spot on.
  2. Target your Facebook ads to audiences that show interest in other big name romance authors. (This is true of any genre, really.)
  3. In romance, NICHE DOWN. Regency. Scottish Highlands. Historical. Contemporary. Then you can get into a vein and readers will come. Romance readers will share if they trust you, and they’ll buy the whole series. If you can hook them on the first book, they’ll go to the others.
  4. Bank on the fact that romance readers are voracious—but loyal. If you have a series, offer the first book free. Bring them into the series so they’ll buy the rest and get them on that email list.
  5. Romance authors are also notoriously helpful and kind. Reach out to them, get some pointers. NETWORK. It’s amazing how far a kind email about their books and an invitation to be writing buddies can go.
  6. Create a romance box set. Remember, romance readers want more? Get other romance authors to offer a free book and create a box set. At the end of your story, have your other romance books linked. If the reader likes your book, they’ll be motivated to buy more. Remember how much romance readers read? They’re always looking for new books and authors.
  7. Create a Facebook group for your romance fans, and promote it at the end of your book with a link so they can click right to it. Then put really relevant content in that group (not just your own—remember, you’re all romance readers, so stock that group full of other romance authors. Like the friends you networked with, remember?!)
  8. Create a romance list on Goodreads Listopia and put your books (as well as other authors) on the list. Promote that in your group and to your social media following.
  9. Create a Pinterest board geared toward all your favorite romance books (absolutely put yours in as well) and invite other romance authors onto it. Invite your readers into the board through your email list. Getting them interactive helps with brand recognition.
  10. Offer to do Skype video calls for book clubs.
  11. Follow the SPA Girls Podcast, support them, give them social media love, and if applicable, pitch to get on their show about your books. (Their podcast is about self publishing but is geared specifically to romance authors.)

Let’s Wrap This Up

There are endless combinations of genres that we could talk about here, and gear feedback toward them specifically, but the truth is that most of these apply to every genre. Pick a few things out of these lists, apply it to your books, and try it out.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantees in marketing. But at least, in trying, you know what does or doesn’t work for you. Every attempt will hone you a little bit further. Three years down the road? You’ll be so glad you tried what you tried. I promise.

If you have any genres you want me to address specifically, just put it in the comments and I’ll add to the post!

 

Kobo Plus: What It Means

Kobo Plus: What It Means

In February, Kobo released their latest idea, Kobo Plus—which is currently beta testing only in the Netherlands and Belgium. When I found out, I was cautiously optimistic. Now that a few weeks have passed, I’m pretty curious.

Welcome Kobo Plus to the publishing stage!

Kobo’s working in conjuction with Bol (the largest website in NL and BE of all-you-can-read kind of fiction) to roll this out.

So what? I can hear you saying.

Well, let’s talk about that.

Let’s Talk Kobo

Many of you know about my love for Kobo Writing Life because of my post “How Kobo Has Increased My Sales Off KDP Select” and the podcast interview I did with Mark titled From Full Time Author to Full Time Mom.

I see KWL Director Mark LeFebvre every year when I attend the Superstars Writing Seminar in Colorado Springs, and I genuinely love the Kobo Writing Life Podcast because it’s indie-geared with tons of great information. (Especially for success on Kobo.) He and I messaged back and forth a little before I wrote this, and I can tell he’s super excited to try out Kobo Plus.

If you don’t upload direct to Kobo through Kobo Writing Life, why not? They’re the fastest to upload your ebooks with (including meta-data input), they have a worldwide map of your sales, and their promotions tab—a built in advertising spectrum (which is in beta) is reason enough.

*climbs off soapbox*

What Does This Mean for Indies?

In my humble opinion, a few things.

  1. One more option for income. Kobo has purposefully built the model so that they (and the authors) will make revenue off every read. Period. This can mean that lots of reads lead to more diluted royalties per book, but it’s still royalties we probably wouldn’t have had. This is NOT LIKE KDP. There’s no exclusivity contract.

#smartbusiness

  • Competition. Healthy markets thrive with competition, right? (FWIW, there have been plenty of forerunner ebook subscription services that have failed, like Oyster and Entitle. And Scribd is a subscription model still alive that features ebooks and audiobooks.) But I feel Kobo is approaching this a bit differently. For one, they don’t exist solely on income from their subscription market. And two? They’re only opening this to markets with a different type of reader. IE—not the a la carte readers that I feel the US reflects. The only markets this option will exist is in markets that will support it.
  • Greater Readership Outside the US. If Kobo dominates my sales in anything, it’s Canada, Australia, and random countries like Lithuania. My sales in the US through Kobo aren’t impressive, but internationally they’re much stronger. Being part of the subscription service is one more narrowed avenue of international exposure.
  • Refinement. With trial and error comes more knowledge. Perhaps with continued testing and experimentation, the publishing industry will continue to grow and involve niche subscription services that work well. As indies, I feel we need to keep up. We cannot afford to be left behind.
  • Greater Market for Translated Books. Although it may be years before this could really be tested, if Kobo Plus can thrive in the right economies and prove they’re there to stay, that means an increased likelihood for indies to see success with their translated works. (A post for an upcoming date!)

A Few More Facts

  1. 40,000 titles are being added to Kobo Plus (any member of KWL can opt in at any time.) 16,000 are in Dutch.
  2. Payouts are funded by subscription revenue. IE—self-sustainment is the goal for this type of model.
  3. See the full Kobo News Room article here.
  4. Subscription cost is 10 Euros a month (roughly $10.68 USD). They do offer a free 30 day trial.
  5. 1 in 7 books sold in the Netherlands is digital.
  6. The books are not available to access if the subscription is no longer paid for.
  7. KU is NOT currently available in the Netherlands or Belgium.

In Conclusion

Kobo has repeatedly proven to me that they’re in it to win it. Which means they’re more likely to actually sell my books. More importantly, however, is that they’re the most indie geared retailer that I’ve worked with personally. They’re up-to-date, listen to their authors, and constantly grow.

My hope for Kobo is that Kobo Plus works, they can expand into greater markets, and Indies are able to reap the benefits from greater exposure.

Leave your thoughts in the comments. Are you going to opt in to Kobo Plus?

8 Tips to Navigate Wattpad Like a Boss

8 Tips to Navigate Wattpad Like a Boss

In February of 2015, (after meeting the illustrious Ashleigh Gardner, Head of Publishing at Wattpad) I posted a story titled Bon Bons to Yoga Pants as an experiment on Wattpad. 1.4 millions reads and countless sponsorships later, I wanna chat about this social media platform.

8 Tips To Navigate Wattpad

 

1. Wattpad is Not a Critique Session.

Don’t point out errors in the comments or get analytical. They’re loving and supportive—haters don’t hate. If you don’t like the story, don’t read it. Serious fans re-read stories like cray-zay. Several of mine have read BBTYP at least ten times. They watch the comments.

They will attack haters.

 

via GIPHY 

2. Statistics Counts

  • Shorter is better. The sweet spot hits around 1500 words.
  • Don’t post a novel all at once. Space it out over months. Start with a 3 x a week, build some attention, then go daily at the end.
  • Ask a compelling, pertinent question at the end of the chapter. Separating it in bold really helps. Answer the reader comments. If the fans take the time to read and comment, I take the time to answer. (Until I can’t. More on that later.)
  • Consistent posting. More is better. I hit the highest ranks (#1 in Chick Lit) and made it to the trending lists by posting every MWF as promised. When I posted daily, my numbers soared into the 1000’s.
  • Start with a strategy. Let the readers know that strategy. IE—I’m going to post every Monday. I’m going to post MWF. I’m going to post every day . . . etc.
  • Use GIF’s, movies, and photos wisely.
  • Wattpad HQ is genuinely interested in helping their authors succeed. If you play nice, work hard, interact, and keep going, they will notice.
  • The One Direction fan fiction story After by Anna Todd has 412 million reads, a six figure book deal, and movie rights optioned to Paramount. She basically wrote the whole thing on her phone. (Every. Day.). Just so you know what Wattpad is capable of.

3. Want followers? Do the ollowing:

  • Be a follower. Follow back. (Until you can’t. More on that later.)
  • Share your favorite one-liners or Wattpad love on twitter like this, this, and this.
  • Create a Wattpad Pinterest board.
  • Follow Wattpad authors on their Facebook pages.
  • Create Wattpad reading lists and share them.
  • Comment on the chapters you read.
  • See those video ads? Watch them. Wattpad authors make over half the revenue that comes from them as a way to compensate all their hard work. Let the authors know you did it in a comment. They’ll love you forever.
  • Talk with your readers on their profiles.
  • Buy their books! And then post a review.

4. Link Love

Wattpad prevents readers from being able to copy/paste. (They like to fight plagiarism around there. #likeaboss) So if you post a link, make it short. Bit.ly links tend to have the most success in my experience. The readers will have to type those links in manually, so inserting some crazy Amazon link won’t help your sales.

5.Readers-to-Sales Conversion isn’t Great.

Bon Bons to Yoga Pants had zero sales on release day.

ZERO.

Wattpadians don’t want to pay for their stories. They don’t. Just don’t expect conversion miracles. Keep on keepin’ on. Publish that baby and get back to work.

Caveat: Some of the readers will buy! Several fans came back after I posted all of Miss Mabel’s School for Girls on Wattpad to say they bought the series. Advertising with Bookbub and posting a chapter on MMSFG to notify my Wattpadians of the sale helped. 😉

Always set your expectations on your Wattpad story at the beginning. Then follow them.Click To Tweet

6. Be Honest.

If you’re only going to put part of your book on Wattpad, let the reader know. Short, sweet Author’s Notes are good. Nothing that will make a Wattpadian hate you more than getting them into a book and then dropping them like a hot potato and saying, Buy the rest of my book here!

You’ll lose readers if you’re just going to tease.

7. Authors Need Love

Message your favorite author and give them some love. No one has to post on Wattpad. They’re giving you free stories. Don’t get all uppity and entitled and think they owe it to you. #nospecialsnowflakeshere

Be cool. Sincere, honest messages are my favorite. I always respond. (Although it takes time!)

If you want to be a successful on Wattpad, you have to cultivate relationships. Not high reads.Click To Tweet

8. Success Takes Time

Success on Wattpad takes time and patience and dedication. Have fun. Read lots. Comment. Be friendly. Post often. Get into the culture. Learn your craft.

Note: I adore my followers. Srsly. Unfortunately, the number of followers and comments I receive on my stories are too much for me to respond individually. Literally hundreds to thousands a day sometimes. I visit my stories frequently, I skim almost all the comments via my email notifications, and I respond as able. About once a month, I set aside an hour and go through the stories to catch up on comments here and there. Nothing is more important in my business than my fans.

Want more information? Here are some great links.

Find me on Wattpad here:

Bon Bons to Yoga Pants

I Am Girl Power

You’ll Never Know

Finding Anna

Miss Mabel’s School for Girls

Have you posted a story on Wattpad? Do you love it? Let me know!

Put your username in the comments and I’ll be sure to follow you! <3

The Pros and Cons of Wattpad

The Pros and Cons of Wattpad

While attending the Superstars Writing Conference in February of 2015, 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 I was skeptical.

She graciously talked to me, answering #allthequestions. Like: “What can Wattpad do for me?” and “How can I be successful?” and “How can I make money on Wattpad?”

Her answers? It can extend your brand as an author and write, network, and write some more and we’re working on it. (More on that later).

I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and signed up. Two years and two months later, here I am.

Note: Please keep in mind this is MY experience and not comprehensive.

My First Wattpad Experience

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.

At first I was just learning the 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. Finding readers started out slow enough. Maybe 2-3 per day. 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.

After awhile, I was getting about 20-30 reads per day. And I was satisfied with that.

I soon realized the importance of cover art on Wattpad, so I changed it up. 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 tweaked the cover again, then spoke with author Leona Henry, who had more experience on Wattpad than me. I learned a lot about success on Wattpad by reading this blog post. She figured out a few tweaks that the most successful authors employed and put all the secrets in one article.

Over time (and with a great story, lots of engagement, and consistent posting) BBTYP gained a lot of traction. Wattpad HQ emailed me about promotional opportunities, like being on a reading list sponsored by Athenos Greek Yogurt and a special sticker on my book.

I freaked out. How exciting! Then lots more came. The increased reads weren’t drastic, but steady. They went from 1,000 to 10,000 to 100,000 and I’m currently sitting (2 years later) at 1.5 million reads and over 41,000 followers. As of April 2017, I have 8 published stories, well over 2 million collective reads, and post every day, Monday-Friday.

The Pros

The first thing I think of when I think of Wattpad is that this company works hard for readers and authors. There’s no doubt about that. They’ve introduced numerous programs, including Wattpad Stars, Wattpad Futures, and Wattpad Studios. I’m always seeing new headlines. They partner with huge brands to bring new stuff. I like a company that is responsive and moves fast, at Wattpad has proven to be adaptable in a free-content market.

Here are a few things I really enjoy about Wattpad.

Wattpad Stars

I received an email from HQ asking me to Skype with Aron Levitz, and he and I chatted about a few things with one of my stories on Wattpad, and then he invited me into the Wattpad Stars program. It’s an invite-only group that consists of a really broad, diverse group of authors that have shown talent and promise. (Seriously: there’s a little of everything represented. For a reading list of authors in the Wattpad Stars group, click here.)

For anyone wondering what it’s like in the Wattpad Stars program: it’s great! I love being part of it. They provide further opportunities to work with brands that partner with them. (I’ve contributed to a few possibilities but have never been chosen. Some of them I just never heard anything again so the brand may have dropped it.) There are some more VIP options that I’ve seen cycle through but haven’t been a part of.

In truth, Wattpad has a lot going on. I know they used Wattpad Stars to help drive their new venture Tap, but I hadn’t heard anything about it before the release just because I was a Wattpad Star.

But in another truth . . . not much changed. (Caveat: I’m not super active in discussions, but do participate when I can.) While I’m honored to be part of such a great group of people, it didn’t really change what I did on Wattpad or how I did it. Success on Wattpad still depends on consistent posting, reader interaction, great stories, and a little luck.

Here’s a helpful link: How to Become a Wattpad Star.

New Ad Options

In April of 2016, Wattpad announced an exciting new program: in-story ads. This was a monetization strategy that would give them a way to pay the authors. For every ad watched (or played—they have games sometimes!) the author gets part of the payment.

Luckily, I was chosen as one of these authors! I was super excited. After almost two years of putting up free content on Wattpad, finally a way to monetize! Their tests came back very exciting, with some authors making up to $1,000 per month on these ads.

Not quite my (or the average) experience from what I’ve gleaned. (More on that later).

A few helpful links:

FAQs regarding ads.

Article on the Announcement

Business on Wattpad

Market Exposure for My Audience

There’s no denying that Wattpad has Millenials (and others) attention. On my story BBTYP, over 64% of my readership is 13-24, and 25% of all my readers have a private age setting. Since I write in Chick Lit and YA Fantasy, this is a great way to get in front of these people.

Whether that translates to sales is another matter.

Feedback

Seeing my story unfold for my readers through their comments is so motivating. Plus, it’s like instant beta reads. I know what people find sketchy, what they love, and what they really desire more of. It’s also a study into the audience that helps me serve them better.

Cons:

Wattpad is a wonderful place or I wouldn’t stay there. But like everything, there are downsides. Most of them revolve around factors outside Wattpads (as a company) control, but factor into the overall experience.

Time:

Like any other indie/indie parent, time is a precious commodity. Posting to Wattpad is something that requires time away from other projects. I spend probably an hour a day generating new content and responding to comments. The good news? I don’t have to post. But I love my following, so I do.

Monetization:

I’m stoked to be part of the program with in-story ads, but realized I set my expectations way too high at the beginning. They’re still working out how this system works, which is fine. And it’s consumer run, really, so my revenue is at the mercy of those few people who actually pay attention to ads.

I’m not even one of those people!

While I commend Wattpad for working out a monetization strategy, for me the results have been underwhelming. The average ad is based off of 30 minutes reading (which is the average amount of time a reader spends on Wattpad). That means the reader can just skip the ad by closing the app, or won’t even hit the timeframe. So my strategy to post every day in order to draw more traction, more eyes, and hopefully more money is a little bit moot. The reader can read my chapter in twenty minutes and never see an ad. As of April (and after 7 months), I have yet to make enough to receive a payment. (Although I will note that the end of the first quarter is upon us and I haven’t received word of what my combine sales from Q4 in 2016 and Q1 in 2017 will be.)

Caveat: this is not the case for every author from what I hear, although I haven’t found actual statistics released of average income.

Expectation of Free Content

This is probably my biggest struggle with the platform. While I love Wattpad and the friendly culture, there’s an expectation of free content that—obviously—comes with the territory. Isn’t that why authors are on there? And readers as well? This means, however, that anything outside of giving them free stories is very difficult to swing.

The current media world revolves around free content. (Like the free content you’re getting right now!) But it’s fair to say that sales conversion from my website is *likely* much higher than Wattpad. Trying to gain sales from readers on Wattpad just doesn’t happen. It’s not the right market.

It’s not all vicious. A lot of my readers are 12-18 and just aren’t allowed to buy ebooks, don’t have the money, or aren’t allowed. I get it. Why buy when you can just click on a different story in Wattpad and read something else free? Of course, I have had some sales conversion, but very little when compared to time investment.

Dedicating that much time every day and not seeing a return adds up to a frustrating arithmetic. It also means that when I have to cut back on work, Wattpad is the first to go because I see so little return on investment.

Releasing a Book Originating from Wattpad is . . . Tricky

I’ve also learned that for my stories, leaving what’s on Wattpad on Wattpad is best, and then not introducing changes. Let me explain.

I work my first drafts for my Chick Lit novels on Wattpad because it’s really fun! I love it. But then I leave it there. As I develop the story and rewrite and edit for publication with later drafts, it’s best to just not even introduce the changed story back into that world or, in some regards, not even let the readers know it’s available in a changed form.

My rule: Leave the published work for the published sphere, and Wattpad work on Wattpad.

I extensively rewrote a book that started on Wattpad and received harsh feedback on the final published edition because my audience loved the Wattpad version best. (Even though it was undefined and needed a lot of work.) I’ve since realized that my audience doesn’t wants change, so as a strategy I do not plan to announce book releases anymore on Wattpad.

I’ll just leave the final books for other audiences.

Note: I have had some super star fans that always help me out, and have purchased my books, so I don’t want to put the impression out there that it never happens. In the big picture, however, I feel this strategy is best for my specific books with my followers. 

Feedback

This is definitely a double-edged sword.

Fan interaction is my absolute favorite thing about Wattpad. Learning what people think, becoming friends, messaging with them everyday: I love it. The fans are amazing. They really are. I love it enough to invest almost 7 hours a week into this platform and I have an almost two year old sucking up my time.

Just like book reviews, however, you can get some seriously ridiculous, nitpicky, or just plain mean comments and they often just keep coming. For me, it’s most difficult to accept through Wattpad because all of that content is freely given. They didn’t pay for any of it! This is more about me than anyhting else—I get that and I deal with it as it comes—but it’s a facet that I’ve had to face.

In Conclusion

Ashleigh Gardner was right on when we spoke at Superstars. Wattpad has extended my brand. It does work hard for me. And they’ve provided a monetization option. Just because it doesn’t work at the speed I’d like it to doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. For now, Wattpad and I are still besties.

But we’re figuring out ways to move into a more intense relationship. 😉

Let me know your thoughts. Are you on Wattpad? Do you love it?