Wattpad Update

It’s been a while since I posted about my Wattpad experience. In part, that’s because it’s taken a while to decide whether posting on Wattpad was a positive experience and partly because I’ve been deep into the writing process for my next book, Rook. A couple excerpts are up on Wattpad if you’d like to take a look.

The novel I’m posting on Wattpad keeps plugging away gaining new readers every week, but not with the intensity that it saw at the beginning. Wattpad made some changes and now readers have to stay on the page longer before the system registers their view as a read. A couple of the installments of my book are so short that when I first read them, my read didn’t get counted. Now I’m making sure that each installment is a little longer to avoid that problem.

Overall, my impressions of Wattpad are mixed. Wattpad is an excellent reading platform for discovering new works and authors. Readers can easily switch between viewing a story on their computers and smartphones. It has a search engine that can find whatever type of read you enjoy and there is plenty of material to choose from, all free and much of it very well written. Wattpad has an exciting mix of developing and professional authors, fresh voices and some very cool stories.

The social part of Wattpad is home to wonderfully supportive community of readers and authors. Book clubs and boards provide plenty of opportunity to connect with other authors and the people I’ve met have all been positive, helpful and kind in their reviews and comments. I’d give the community an A+.

On the downside, from an author’s perspective, I have found it frustrating to deal with the inconsistencies and the problems with the interface. Many of those issues have been touched on in previous posts so I’ll not go into them here. It seems that the company is trying to make things better–kudos for that.

 

My original intent was to see if writing and publishing serially improved my writing. For the genre I write, a fantasy-thriller-romance mashup, the serial nature of Wattpad makes a lot of sense. I caught myself tweaking the endings of each scene I posted to make the hook as strong as possible going into the next installment. The beginnings also sometimes needed a minor change to bring the reader back into the story, keeping in mind that the installments are each posted several days apart (although some readers read straight through the existing posted content). These considerations probably contributed to a stronger story overall. And it’s been a blast to read the reader reactions to each scene, which again points to the wonderful community on Wattpad. For that reason more than any other, I’d recommend it for authors who don’t mind posting some of their work for free.

As for the following on Wattpad translating to sales on other platforms, my experience is that the crossover is minimal. The plus side to that is I’m not losing sales from paid platforms because a version of the story is free on Wattpad. And who knows, maybe some of the readers on Wattpad will enjoy Rosamond Eternal enough to purchase Rook.

I will continue to post installments to the Wattpad version of The Jaguar Key, Rosamond Eternal with occasional updates here. If you haven’t been on Wattpad yet, it only takes a couple seconds to make an account and access a world of free and interesting stories. Thanks for reading!

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Rook on Wattpad

Rook Cover eBookDespite the Wattpad issues with the tags falling off my stories, I’m giving Wattpad another shot. This time with a sample of my new novel, Rook. I added the first scene as a Friday evening. If you would like to check it out Click on This Link. Together, we will see how this book does compared to the other.

In other news, the last two installments of Rosamond Eternal saw a sharp decline in the number of reads. I think this is because the tags on the story keep disappearing at seemingly random times. Wattpad says this is a known issue and they are working on it. While I wait for that fix, I am checking the story each day to make sure it still has tags. Without the tags, the story won’t come up in many searches so readers will have a harder time finding it.

After the tags came off a couple times, the story fell off the top 1000. A few days later it regained its lost position and moved back up to #747.

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Wattpad Frustration

Wattpad seems to be experiencing issues.

I’d like to be able to report that all is well with Wattpad, and a couple days ago I would have said just that. The number of reads for each new posting were higher than the previous posting. That seemed counterintuitive to me, but somehow people were finding more story. No complaints.

All that ended on Thursday. The story I posted on Thursday received 20 something reads compared to 140 for the previous installment, and that despite more retweets of the Twitter announcement than any other installment so far.

I let it sit for a couple days, feeling that Wattpad would eventually sort itself out.

Other anomalies have occurred while I’ve been Wattpad. For instance, about a week ago, all the most popular books dropped off the Fantasy genre hot list for several hours to be replaced by books with much less popularity. The same happened for some other genres. At that time, my book moved into the 300s in the rankings. Once things were restored to order, my book landed back at #807 where it had been before and where it remains.

Today there still hadn’t been much of an improvement in the number of reads. It made no sense that the story just stopped garnering reads.

Then I noticed that all the tags had been removed from my story. While that may not seem like a significant problem, many of the search functions in Wattpad rely on tags. Without them, there was little chance that the story would be seen by anyone other my followers. The silver lining in all this is that I now understand a little better how readers find my story on Wattpad.

The user interface on Wattpad also received a reworking in the past few days. Maybe that has something to do with all the flukiness I’ve seen recently. I can’t imagine how that could cause the missing tags. However, if you are an author on Wattpad, you should check to make sure your story still has any tags you set up.

The biggest frustration has been finding announcements from Wattpad of any problems on the site. I’ve checked the clubs, the help pages on the website, the blog, the Wattpad Twitter feed, and Facebook. It seems that Wattpad very rarely communicates with its users about problems. A notice saying that they are resolving issues would have gone a long way to allay my concerns. Absent that, a forum where interface and server issues are discussed could help. If you know of such a place that I overlooked, please let me know in the comments.

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How to Get your Book Noticed on Wattpad, and How Not To

Today’s post is taken mainly from a conversation I had with a writer/friend I met on Wattpad. He wanted to know how my book was doing so well, so quickly.

First, it was news to me that my book was doing well in comparison to another author’s book, one which I am truly enjoying reading and consider to be well written and entertaining.

How is it that a story with such strong hooks, interesting characters, compelling ideas, and plenty of action could languish unnoticed on Wattpad for the better part of a year?

This made me think a little more deeply on the matter. I wish I knew the answer to his question, which at it’s root was “what I had done differently?” As I’ve said here before, I announce each update on Twitter and sometimes on Facebook, but I don’t get many people clicking through from there (if any).

At first I thought linking to the story from this website, FB, and Twitter might have contributed to the read count. Then, the one time I had the most reads, I forgot to tweet about the update for several hours and still had a jump in reads. Another time, I tweeted and had almost no reads.

The very first part of my story published received over a hundred reads within the first few hours. I don’t know why. I’ve seen stories that have been on much longer with fewer than 50 reads.

My best guess is most reads come from inside Wattpad. I’ve been exploring the site and commenting in the forums. I followed a few people other writers whose books interested me. I read the first chapters and commented and voted if I enjoyed the reading. That’s about it.

The biggest contribution to the number of reads probably came from posting the story/cover on the Fantasy forum’s self-promotion board, followed closely by just being helpful when people ask questions I can answer.

In the process, I’ve also caught a glimpse of the dark underbelly of Wattpad: someone asked me to do a vote for a vote program. The requester called it her “help a wattpadian campaign.” In essence, I should vote for her story installments and she would vote for mine. Gaming the system like that is wrong and I’m pretty sure it’s against the terms of service. I personally wouldn’t vote for or comment on works that I don’t like anyway; votes and comments are personal endorsements. I didn’t respond to the request.

If personal integrity isn’t enough to keep authors honest on Wattpad, here’s another thought:

By not gaming the system, when our stories get reads and votes, we know it’s because they appealed to a reader, not because someone wanted something from us.

To me, that is very important. Wattpad is a personal challenge: “How can I write that will engage readers?”

I want to be able to see how readers respond to each installment that I post. The bottom line questions are, “was the last installment compelling enough for readers to come back?” and, “was the current installment engaging enough to garner a few comments and votes?” Vote trading would undermine the utility of Wattpad in answering those questions and devalue the amazing metrics Wattpad provides.

If you post a story on Wattpad, my best recommendation is to become active in the Wattpad community. Read other works and vote and comment if you like something. Take part in the clubs. Not only will readers be more likely to notice your work but you may become friends with other Wattpad authors and readers, people who will enrich your experience and your life.

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A Surprisingly Useful Feature of Wattpad

I just discovered something about Wattpad and was so excited that I couldn’t wait until Monday to tell you about it. My story finally has enough readers on Wattpad that the metrics have kicked in. And, Wow! Presenting the demographics of readers is something Wattpad is doing very well. The new beta version of their analytics shows who is reading the story broken down by age and gender. Plus a cool color-coded map of the world shows what regions a story’s readers hail from. Hovering over each region shows the percent of readers from that location. Another screen tracks engagement for each posted part of the story, showing comments, unique readers and such. A third tab tracks readers by date. I don’t know where else I could find such detailed information about my story’s readers.

One metric really surprised me. Approximately 63% of my readers are female. Since I posted the story in the Fantasy genre, I expected the gender ratio to be closer to 50:50. That’s interesting enough that it may affect who I picture as my ideal reader as I write the sequels. Good stuff. Thank you, Wattpad!

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Encouragement

Rolling Along

I’m feeling a lot more positive about Wattpad today. My number of reads went up to 999 last night and haven’t budged since. The lack of movement isn’t bothering me. I am finally starting to get a feel for Wattpad. Instead of a steady progression, it seems that things sometimes come to a screeching halt like a freight train rolling into a station. In a few hours or after the next post, the reads and comments start rolling again. And Thursdays are generally unpredictable.

The same with falling off the ranking list. The story has been off and on and off. If things continue as they have been, The Jaguar Key will be back on the rankings on Monday or Tuesday. I don’t know what the ranking does for the story, but it’s a nice little bit of bling on the story page. “Number 810 in Fantasy.” Sounds good.
Screenshot 2015-03-05 11.24.02

Another reason I’m feel better about Wattpad is that I’m getting more engagement with the story. New people follow me every day and a few comment on the story. The comments are not critiques in general. They are more of the nature of, “Oh, I loved it when so and so did such and such,” or “the tension is killing me.” Those kinds of comments are good feedback–it’s helpful to know what works.

Hooks and Endings

Something else that’s working is that with each posting, I’m checking that the scene ends with a hook. So far, so good. Right before I sent the book to the proofreader, I checked each scene for a hook to lead into the next scene. I wasn’t thinking of something strong enough to entice a reader to pick up the story days later, but so far that hasn’t been an issue. Not a single scene has needed revision to add or strengthen its ending. As the story progresses, I’m sure there will be a few revisions, but for now, the Wattpad version is almost identical to the published version.

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Mystified

Today when I posted another installment of The Jaguar Key on Wattpad, I followed the same procedure as the last post with very different results.

The procedure:

  • post the installment on Wattpad
  • shorten the URL using goo.gl
  • announce the post on Twitter using the shortened URL

This time there was absolutely no movement in the number of reads. It stayed at a solid 547. Perhaps that’s because on Wattpad a large number of new stories are posted on Thursdays and Fridays. It will be interesting to see whether a pattern develops. If anyone can explain the difference, I’d like to hear from you.

Between Monday and today (Thursday) the book has fallen off the top 1000 list in Fantasy. Last week, I first noticed the book hit the rankings in the mid 800’s. By Monday it had dropped to 927. The following day, it managed to climb 10 points to 917. When I looked again today, it had fallen off the ranking list. I’m not sure how the metrics work. I can only assume that even though my book’s numbers have gone up significantly since last Monday, other books have outperformed it, pushing it down in the rankings.

I want to share with you one the most impressive things I’ve learned about Wattpad: The Community Tab.
This tab provides access to Clubs, Awards, and a Blog among other goodies. I’m amazed at how much information and entertainment is available in the Clubs. There are people on there giving lessons on creating HTML threads and providing creative writing classes. There are also games. For instance, there is thread where readers guess the storyline from the title and another thread where you describe you work in one word. There are links to cover designers and other creatives. In short, if you are a writer with a question, there is probably someone on Wattpad who can help.

Update:

Later that afternoon, the number of reads began to move up. By Friday evening, The Jaguar Key reached 800 reads and was ranked 923 in Fantasy.

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Surprise Reads

I’d really like to know what constitutes a read on Wattpad. Today’s stats before I posted the next installment were 384 reads, 20 votes, 24 comments. The Jaguar Key was #927 in fiction, down slightly from yesterday when it was in the 800s. (Boy, was I excited about that!)

After posting and Tweeting about the post, I saw an almost immediate jump to 420 reads. With over 40 million users, I suppose it’s possible that 36 of them peeked at my book in the few minutes after a new part was posted. Now I’m crossing my fingers hoping a few of them will stick around to read and comment on the new chapter.

Another development–a Wattpad reader whose book I am reading and enjoying very much was reading mine as well. I think that was the result of mutual follows but I don’t remember who found who first. Anyway, this reader sent me a message saying he may buy the book–he can’t stand the suspense waiting for the next installment. I have to say I’m thrilled that I was able to create that kind of interest in a reader, especially one as sophisticated as another fantasy author. Creating that pleasurable level of tension is my goal as a writer of something easily classified as a Fantasy Thriller. On the other hand, I’m really disappointed to see him go. I’ve enjoyed the conversation as he’s commented on each chapter. I will continue to read and comment on his story. (Easter egg for those interested: with a little sleuth work on my Wattpad site, you can find his story and see the conversations.)

Happy Reading!  –Kate

P.S. The same evening, Wattpad reads for The Jaguar Key broke 500. And I found this nifty widget that shows the current status:

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Wattpad Engagement

Even without being listed on the “What’s New” Wattpad feed, The Jaguar Key continues to get more reads. What’s even better is the positive comments that are beginning to trickle in. The best comment I received was from another Wattpad author who said it was “well-written and full of life” and promised to be back to read more.

I added a new installment this morning, #5, Bolivia, 1809. When I did, the story had 305 reads, 10 stars, and 6 comments. To help it along, I posted an announcement on Twitter that has been retweeted several times. So far the link is showing 5 clicks (in the first hour). Than’s probably all it will get. Since Twitter engagement runs pretty low, I’m happy with that.

I also spent a few minutes looking at the featured fantasy stories. It looks like they need about twenty stars before they get noticed. The Jaguar Key is half-way there!

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The Answer

The mystery I’ve been dealing with for the past week regards Wattpad’s “What’s New” feed. In this grand experiment to see if Wattpad’s style of publishing serial installments will help me make each chapter more engaging, a key component is reader engagement. On the Wattpad platform, I’m engaging with readers: commenting on other author’s stories and being active in the “Clubs” among other things. A major stumbling block to this effort is that my submissions are not appearing on the “What’s New” feed where readers go the find new authors.

When I first contacted Wattpad about the issue, they replied the following day saying that new stories and new sections of existing stories only show up under “What’s New.” Huh? I guess I wasn’t clear about my issue. The tech added that they’d manually reindexed, “which might help push it onto the new list.”

I submitted a couple more installments of The Jaguar Key and carefully tracked the feed to make sure that I wasn’t overlooking anything. A lot of stories are posted each day. It is possible that I overlooked mine as I scrolled through the lists. But even with careful tracking, the new chapters didn’t appear on the feed.

I contacted Wattpad again. This is the answer I received (two days later and signed by the same tech):

The Wattpad Team (Wattpad Help)

Feb 18, 10:17

My apologies, but due to the high volume of stories being uploaded not all stories may be displayed on our lists.

Best,

– Laith K

The Wattpad Team

Your Wattpad Support Team

 

Sounds like a brush off, doesn’t it? So far I’m underwhelmed with the Wattpad experience. I’m not giving up yet–I’ll post the next installment on Thursday. Thanks for reading!

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