In this post, you will learn about an online storytelling community called Wattpad and the reasons why I’ve recently started publishing my work there. This is one of those rare posts that may be of interest to you whether you are primarily a reader or writer.
For the benefit of any who may not be familiar with it, Wattpad is an online storytelling community, social networking site for writers of all levels, and a reading app, all rolled into one.
At Wattpad users post written works like short stories, fanfiction, poems, and even full-length books. As mentioned, writers of all levels are welcome to open a free account and post their work. The site gives all writers an equal chance to get their work in front of potential readers and to hopefully build a following of people who like their work.
If you’re a writer who is primarily interested in earning royalties from selling your stories, poems, or books, then Wattpad isn’t going to benefit you in that way. It’s a free site, both for those who post content and for those who read content. No royalties are paid.
It might be easy to imagine why a novice author who hasn’t yet published anything might post free content at Wattpad. After all, the best way to learn the writing craft is to write and Wattpad provides a great place to do that. Another useful feature for new writers is that Wattpad readers can leave comments after reading a post. Readers might, as one example, choose to post a comment saying they enjoyed reading a piece of content, be it a short story, poem, or chapter from a book.
Readers might also suggest how a piece of writing could in their opinion be improved by changing it in some way. The point is, Wattpad is a great place for a new writer to get some valuable feedback from readers. I’ve found Wattpad to be a very supportive community in my short experience with the platform.
If you’ve followed this blog, then you know I’m not a novice writer. I’ve been writing for a good many years now. I have several self-published books. Since I do make a modest income from royalties from book sales, it might seem a bit strange that I’m willing to basically give my work away by posting it on Wattpad. In a way, that is true. I am giving away something that I might be able to sell. But authors giving away their work free isn’t unusual in the crowded and competitive publishing business of today.
All you need to do is visit Amazon, and you will find a treasure trove of free eBooks, especially since the advent of KDP Select, an Amazon program where authors give Amazon exclusive digital rights to their book for 90-periods of time.
In return, Amazon gives a few benefits to those authors that aren’t available to authors who don’t sign up for KDP Select. One of those benefits is the opportunity to give away free eBooks for up to five days during each 90-day enrollment period.
Giving away free books isn’t just limited to KDP Select enrollees. Giving away free books is believed to be a good way to build a readership, and most book marketing gurus advise authors, especially novice authors without a following, to use book giveaways as a means of getting their book in front of more potential readers.
While many experts agree that giving away free books doesn’t work nearly as well as it once did, it still works to some degree and so is still a recommended practice. I enrolled Come What May in KDP Select for the first 90-days it was in publication and did offer the book free for three days. The book while free had nearly 1,500 downloads, which I was pleased about.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see any benefit from giving away all those free eBooks. I’m certain that I didn’t receive a single book review from anyone who downloaded the book for free. The thing that bothers me most about that is it really makes me wonder whether many of those people even read the book after downloading it.
I’m not one who is all about what I can earn from my writing. But if I’m going to spend a great many hours writing a book, spend the resources to have it edited, and to have a cover created for it, and then give it away free, I expect to get some other benefit from doing so. Getting reviews on Amazon is the best example of what I mean here.
Getting book reviews is extremely critical for authors, especially Indie authors. No book is ever going to sell successfully on Amazon without a great many reviews.
Common wisdom says a book needs a minimum of 10 reviews to succeed at all. The more reviews a book gets, the more success because, after certain numbers of reviews, Amazon actively starts supporting a book by making it more visible on the site.
Less than 10 reviews and a book goes into Amazon purgatory. It becomes less and less visible to the point where it will only be purchased by someone going to Amazon looking specifically for that book. No other Amazon customers will ever see it or even know it exists.
No money and no reviews mean that giving away nearly 1,500 eBooks returned me no benefit at all. Perhaps a few people downloaded the free book, read it, and may consider in the future buying one of the other novels in the Malone series, but that’s an unknown.
I won’t say that I’ll never give away free books again. I very likely will. But I won’t ever again give away hundreds or thousands of copies at a time through a program like KDP Select.
I have given away copies of my books through review sites where readers received a free copy in return for an honest review, and I’ve benefitted from that. I’ve also given away some copies through Goodreads, and again that benefitted me.
I don’t deny that giving books away in large numbers hasn’t benefitted some authors. It probably has, but I suspect that was years ago when the tactic really worked well.
The fact is, the eBook retailer sites, Amazon especially, is awash in free books, a vast number of them perma-free, so books don’t stand out anymore just because they are offered free. The bottom line, for me no more mass book giveaways.
Still, I wanted a means of putting my books in front of large numbers of potential readers without them having to pay anything to read them.
People generally loathe taking a chance by paying for a book from an author they don’t know, even when the book is in a genre they love reading. Many readers just won’t do it. Some won’t even risk paying 99 cents for a book by an author they never heard of.
Realistically, to build a readership, authors sometimes must prime the pump by giving away their work for free. That’s where Wattpad comes in for me.
Going forward, Wattpad will be the primary place where my work can be read for free. As a caveat, I will never be posting a full-length novel there in its entirety. But I will be posting a much more generous sample than can be found on a site like Amazon.
Instead of the 3 to 4 chapter eBook samples you get from Amazon, I’ll post the first 10-12 chapters on Wattpad. In some cases, maybe even more. Then with the last post for the book, I’ll provide a link to where the complete eBook can be purchased by anyone interested in reading the rest of it and learning how the story comes out.
I think a dozen or more chapters is more than enough for the most discriminating reader to decide whether he or she wants to finish reading a book.
After investing the amount of time it takes to read that far into a book, if a reader isn’t motivated to spend a few bucks to buy a copy, they most likely would never have been interested in buying the book in the first place.
Personally, I think Wattpad is great and not just from the viewpoint of a writer. I’ve actually found and enjoyed reading some very good writing there. So if you’ve never checked out Wattpad, I encourage to do.
For those interested in the Ben Malone series, currently, I am posting one new chapter of Come What May and Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair, the second book in the series, every Friday. If you would like to read free a generous sample of either or both of the first two books in the series, you can find them on Wattpad at the following links.
Read Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair: https://www.wattpad.com/389814052-fair-is-foul-and-foul-is-fair-the-malone-mystery
If you aren’t already signed up at Wattpad, you will need to establish an account before being able to read there, but signup is not only free, it’s quick and easy.