Event Review by Stephanie Hernandez
Indie author Dianne Greenlay “draws on her own success story” with the free online site and app called Wattpad in honor of her self-published novel Quintspinner- A Pirate’s Quest. After reaching above half a million “reads” on Wattpad for this first novel, Greenlay considers Wattpad “a marketing opportunity that indie authors should at least consider.” But why, and what exactly is Wattpad?
A medium that connects unpublished writers with a platform to grow a fan-base of readers, Wattpad provides eager bookworms the ability to discover new stories of all genres for free. This international social network gives everyone “permission to be creative” setting the way for “new ways of telling stories” and being entertained, describes publishing consultant Charles Melcher. With more than 2 million writers producing material for 20 million readers, Wattpad “is writing reimagined for a mobile world, where attention is fragmentary.” Wattpad’s chief executive Allen Lau talks about how “two thousand words is roughly 10 minutes of reading. That makes the story more digestible, something you can do when standing in line.”
In charge of these “words” are the writers. In control of their own profile and work –while not being paid- have all the freedom they could possibly want to “put up stories, recast them, abandon them and delete them on whims,” writes David Streitfeld in a New York Times article. Writers are able to move at their own pace, perhaps only conforming to the enthusiastic demands of their readers for faster updates or possible sequels. This control contains the ability for self-designed novel covers, provide self-written synopsis, and an innovative inclusion of media within uploaded chapters.
Not forgetting the importance of the reader, Wattpad has eliminated distance between author and reader, constructing something between a friendship and devoted groupie relationship. “I couldn’t put it down till I was finished,” exclaimed one of Greenlay’s Quintspinner readers, “you have my support” another one cries. Such support is exactly what Wattpad writers are looking for. Gaining fans comes first, second, is keeping them happy and diligently responding to their comments and concerns.
Fans comments sometimes have the ability to directly interact with the progression of the story by shouting-out suggestions or responding to writer’s-block help messages from the novels writer. This interaction contradicts the publishing industries lack of “fan love,” instead letting its readers “add to the story and give them so many more access points.” Furthering this interaction, Wattpad also offers fans the ability to vote for chapters, send private messages to the author, and post public comments. In turn, Fans can than dedicate chapters of their own novels to other writers that perhaps inspired them, design suggested book covers, and create media based tributes such as youtube videos.
Votes by fans are important because they can contribute to securing a spot in the “Popular,” “What’s Hot,” and “Wattpad Award” section. This then generates more readers as the novel pops up at the top of search pages or under more categories on the site. Writers want this because in the publishing world today, it is often better to have developed a large fan base than to provide a perfect manuscript with no fan support.
For Greenlay, Wattpad provided her with extra opportunities, long-term benefit, and increased discoverability of her sequel. For her specifically, Wattpad gave her the option of branded placement on all mobile Wattpad apps, a podcast interview, and marketing advice. Her long-term benefits surround the visibility of her work, watching as the number of “reads” increased daily while receiving comments from readers and being discovered by two agents asking to read the completed story. “With over 8 million unique monthly visitors and usage doubling every 6 months” Greenlay had no problems with finding readers to discover her sequel Deadly Misfortune. By establishing a “reader” fan base, Greenlay was confident in the steady number of sales that Wattpad alone marketed for her and uploaded only a portion of her book with a clickable link to its Amazon Buy page.
Wattpad asks you only to be the reader, be the author, or be both and become a part of its story sharing.