Resources and tips for the self-published author.

What is Wattpad? And how can it help me as a self-published author?

by Robert Tanner •  February 27, 2013  •   Follow

Published in Publishing Tips  •  15 comments

You’ve heard the buzz about Wattpad and are probably wondering what it is exactly?

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Once I finished writing my book and sent it off to an editor, I began to ratchet up my marketing efforts a bit more. I posted more often on my book FB page. I got more active on my Twitter account. I started to blog a bit more often. But I was looking for more than just that. I really wanted feedback in regards to what I wrote. I wanted to get actual readers to take a look at my book and tell me if it was even worth publishing. Would I even have a fan base for what I wrote or was I just wasting time and money? These thoughts kept creeping up on me as I wrote the book and as I got closer to paying an editor, these thoughts consumed me. I didn’t want to waste all this money for nothing. I could just do the editing myself and distribute the book to my friends and family and be done with it.

When I first started writing and these worrisome thoughts first started emerging, I thought that my best approach would be to use my Tumblr blog as a reader’s platform. Every time I finished writing a chapter, I would post it on my Tumblr blog and hope for some feedback. I did this for every chapter of my book, forty-three in all. Each time I posted, I would hover over my blog for hours at a time hoping for a response. Nothing ever came of it though. Sure, I had a few followers and friends that read them but the input was minimal. The majority of input came from friends I served with that helped clarify certain events that I wrote about. However, nothing was really said about storyline, structure, grammar, etc. It frustrated me to no end.

Once I came close to completing my book, I finally had enough with my Tumblr blog and began the search for something better. Tumblr is a fine blogging platform but as a writer discovery platform, it’s garbage. That’s when I stumbled on Wattpad.

When I first clicked on the link in my google search and began browsing the site, it was like a beam of light engulfed me and heavenly angels began to sing. I wish I had heard about Wattpad years ago. It wasn’t the massive amount of users and user feedback on stories that excited me, it was the great UI and UX Wattpad had created for authors. As a big fan of good UI and UX design, I stood in amazement at what was laid out before my eyes. So, let me start my overall, honest assessment of Wattpad there.

Wattpad was made, in my opinion, with authors in mind.  Sure, readers are a big part of it to but if the author can’t deliver his/her content perfectly, the readers will look elsewhere.  And, to sum it up, that’s what Wattpad is.  A perfectly crafted content creation and delivery platform for authors to create content and display it to their users to consume in an effective way.   But how is Wattpad different from a blog you may ask?  There’s a world of difference.  A blog is meant to display information in a very linear fashion with content flowing top to bottom.  If it’s a lot of information, you scroll all the way down until you reach the end or click next.  It in no way resembles how we read something like a book.  A blog is perfect for random posts and consuming news articles but for something like a book which can be hundreds of pages of information, a blog or a series of blog posts is not going to cut it.  Navigating a blog that contained 43 chapters along with other random posts would be a nightmare.

Enter Wattpad.  The creators of Wattpad made a fantastic site that is geared towards displaying an authors’ work in a way that resembles how a reader would consume an actual physical book.  There’s the actual book cover that is displayed to the users while they are searching for books and is always visible as they read the book.  Just that aspect alone gives it more of a real feel to it, like you’re actually holding it in your hands.  From there, the layout of the book is similar to what you may find in an eBook.  The Table of Contents selection bar is always visible so the reader can easily skip around the book without scrolling infinitely.  Each chapter has pages like a book.  Sure, you scroll a bit but after a few paragraphs, it pushes the contents on to the next page.  The reader then has to click to move on to the next page. Unlike blogs that typically have their content go on for endless scrolls.  The first page of each book is similar to the back cover text of a book.  The author can give the reader a brief summary of what the book is all about and then the reader can decide if they want to move forward with reading.  Readers can also add the books to their libraries or reading list so they can come back to them at a later date.  And this is just the layout for the web.  They have a mobile version of the site which resembles actual eReaders where you flip pages and all that good stuff.

Moving on from layout, I’d like to talk about reader feedback and content discovery.  When a reader begins reading a book, they can provide the author with feedback.  This can be as simple as voting for the chapter that they are reading or can go as far as commenting on the chapter to provide feedback or a critique.  Authors can also respond to their fans so it’s a great way to engage the audience.  So, in essence, not only is Wattpad a content consumption and delivery platform where authors deliver and have readers consume their books, but it is also a content feedback platform.  Authors, both self-published and traditional, can use Wattpad in the early stages to gauge whether their work garners enough attention from the marketplace.  They can then use this data to provide feedback to potential publishers to prove whether there is a large enough audience for it.  It can also be helpful for aspiring authors since some of the feedback can help refine their manuscripts, potentially making them more presentable to an agent or publisher.

I mentioned voting briefly so let me discuss this a bit more in depth.  Each chapter gives a reader the ability to leave a comment or vote.  Voting is comparable to a Facebook “Like”.  If a reader enjoys a chapter, they can “Vote” for the chapter.  Now, this is where math gets involved and things get a bit hairy.  One of the various ways of readers discovering your work is based on your books ranking.  The ranking for your work is based on several factors, most notably the number of reads, number of votes, and number of comments.  I’m not 100% sure how much weight is given to each factor but from what the Wattpad team has said in the past, a “Vote” is given the most weight in regards to the book’s rank.  From there, a comment is given second priority.  And finally, a “Read” – when someone clicks on a chapter and views the chapter pages – is the least important.  So, Vote > Comment > Read.  All these factors play into the rank of your book.  The higher the rank of the book, the easier it is for a reader to find your work.

Now, there are plenty of other ways for readers to discover your work.  This is just one facet.  And, getting these votes, reads and comments involves a lot of effort.  This is just giving you an idea of book rank and discovery.  I’ll talk more about marketing your material and building your fan base in another post.

So, if you’ve gotten tired of reading this whole post and decided to just skip to the end, I’ll summarize everything I just said in one quick comparison.  Wattpad is like a mashup of Goodreads and a blog, packaging the best of both worlds into a fantastically designed website, giving an author a platform to display their work and build a fan base, and giving readers a plethora of material to consume at no cost.

Read the rest of my posts on Wattpad.

Disclaimer: I am in no way paid or employed by Wattpad.  I find it to be a very well designed and run website.  It has its flaws which I’ll discuss in future posts but, for the most part, it is the best platform out there.

If you’re interested in reading my book on Wattpad, check it out here!

About Robert Tanner

Marine Corps Vet, Computer Geek, Proud Father and Husband, Part-time writer, Author of Memoirs of an Outlaw. Craft Beer Enthusiast. memoirsofanoutlaw.com