About six weeks ago, I decided to begin serializing a book I had written on Wattpad. For those of you who don’t yet know about Wattpad, it’s basically a social networking site for readers and writers–that’s it. I had heard about Wattpad last year and joined (like other social networking places, it’s free) and began reading other writers’ work while mulling over the idea of putting up something of my own.
Fast forward to fall 2013. I had finished the first draft of THE EXQUISITE AND IMMACULATE GRACE OF CARMEN ESPINOZA and had sent it off to my wonderful agent–she wasn’t super crazy about it. Despite that, she was still totally willing to work on it with me and send it out to prospective editors. Maybe I shouldn’t share that, but it’s true. (side note: just because you find an agent who loves your writing, it doesn’t mean they automatically love every incarnation of your writing.)
I thought about her offer for several days but ultimately decided not to.
Well, for one, I have long been thinking about the publishing ground shifting beneath our very feet. Since I’ve been working at the Nelson Literary Agency, I’ve been thinking about it even more and from a somewhat different, certainly more “business” perspective.
So I have my thoughts about all of this, but one idea that has popped up again and again is that maybe I would like to pursue a “hybrid” way of writerly life.
This idea that maybe some of the things I write could find a home in traditional publishing (eventually, please, still hoping), while some of my writing I will publish myself and that each decision should be made on an case by case basis. Between knowing the type of story EXQUISITE IMMACULATE was (Teen-Fantasy), hearing the feedback from my agent (who I very much trust), and just seeing every day at my job what editors seem to be looking for and acquiring, I felt that this story might best be served by publishing it myself. Basically, I felt there was an audience for this book–however that audience may not be big enough to entice traditional publishing to sit up and take notice of a not already established writer.
Okay, so this (I’m not going to lie, somewhat painful) decision has been made. I am not going out on submission with this project–now what.
Self-publishing is another post (now this is a lie–it’s many, many posts) all in itself, but this one is about “Why Wattpad?”
Here’s the answer: I hoped to be able to gain some exposure for the work before it went on sale.
There is quite a bit of compelling evidence out there to support giving some of your writing away for free (again, another post) and Wattpad seemed like a great vehicle for me to do just that. The more I learned about their platform, it’s reader reach, and who already was using it, the more excited I got about getting my own work up there.
So, I jumped in.
I began posting a chapter a week, on Fridays, and started to see my “reads” number climb–very, very slowly. But I was not worried, I believed that the more content I posted, and the longer I posted it, the more those numbers would climb–and they did.
And then one day, about three weeks after I had begun my Wattpad project, my story received an unexpected boost.
One of the content managers at Wattpad contacted me and asked if I would be interested in having my story on their “Featured” list.
So last week on February 12th 2014, my “reads” number looked like this:
At that time, I had six chapters posted and about 1200 people had read it.
This morning, after one week of being on the Wattpad Featured list, my “reads” number looks like this:
Over 23000! In 1 week!
And from what I can tell, it seems to grow by about 3000 a day. That’s three times the number of total views I had before being featured. Per day.
So what do I think about giving my book away for free on Wattpad?
For this writer, who has yet to break into one of the larger traditional publishing houses, I LOVE IT. Wattpad has given me this amazing opportunity to share my writing with readers. Lots and lots of readers.
And what writer doesn’t want that?
When I started posting chapters of THE EXQUISITE AND IMMACULATE GRACE OF CARMEN ESPINOZA on Wattpad, my whole hope was to gain a little exposure.
So thank you Wattpad for doing just that.