(In case you missed them, check the previous episodes here and here)
Breaking news! Your book has just shown up on Jessica’s screen (why Jessica? I don’t know *shrugs*). The moment you’ve been waiting for has come at last.
But Jessica continues browsing her home page.
Yes, a spot in the ‘hot zone’ could be the final destination of your story.
To understand why Jessica decided to skip your book, tell me which story you are more likely to click, provided that they have the same title and blurb.
Did I rest my case?
However, let me clarify this: a kickass cover creates a good impression about your book quality, but it’s not a must. A ‘normal’ cover will do as well.
Can you guess how I ‘designed’ Bermuda cover? An image from Google Images. Paint. Cooltext.com.
But imagine this cover without a title. Probably, you’ll skip it. Like Jessica.
For those who don’t know, you can request a cover for your book from Julie’s (aka @jewel1307) pinned thread in Multimedia Designs club.
First things first
Writing a 100,000-word novel is exhausting. Writing a few hundred-word blurb is a real headache. But this could be where your reader decides to tab ‘read’, or browse the rest of recommended stories by the system.
PLEASE. Don’t leave blank space where you’re supposed to write your blurb. Start with a short one, like a movie description on IMDB. Expand it. Check books on Goodreads to get a sense of how a blurb looks like.
Maybe I’m not among the majority, but I don’t rely much on blurbs—as a reader—to judge a book. Usually, I decide after reading the first chapter, or before I even finish it. Sometimes the first few paragraphs are enough for me to look for another book to read.
You should understand that readers are less patient with digital free books than with paperbacks. They would give a book they’ve paid for a decent chance before they decide to stop reading it. But on a free platform like Wattpad, nothing is easier for a reader than finding a new story to read. You don’t believe me? Check the analytics of your works (click on ‘Create’ via your web browser, then check ‘Stats’). From the ‘Engagement’ tab, you may find that less than 50% of your readers complete your first chapter.
Give your first chapter your greatest attention. Don’t put Jessica off with your typos and grammar mistakes. Trust me; while she’s still at your first few chapters, switching to another book is an easy call for her.
However, a ‘clean’ first chapter is not enough on its own to ensure that Jessica will read chapter 2. She won’t do that unless you give her a reason: an interesting MC she wants to know more about; an intriguing plot that makes her curious about what happens next. Don’t start your story with another alarm clock waking your MC up. Unless he realizes that this is not his room, and he has no idea how he got there. And who’s that girl sleeping beside him?
For more insights from a pro, check @Ctyolene‘s Bad Ways to Start a Novel.
Reading Requests & Self-advertising
Waiting is hard, I know. I was impatient when I first signed up. The notion of becoming another drop in the ocean bugged me like hell.
But trust me; these actions won’t take you anywhere:
– Sending a reading request to other writers: they will simply ignore you, send a polite apology they don’t have time, or tell you to have a look at their profile where they clearly state: WE DON’T ACCEPT READING REQUESTS.
Some writers will request a read in return. This way could only be useful in getting feedback; I review your book, you review mine. But it won’t build a ‘real’ readership for your work.
– Advertising on someone’s profile: irritating.
– Advertising in the comments of someone’s story: too irritating.
– Advertising in club threads except in the “Share a Story” thread: it will be deleted.
– Do it again: you will be warned, and maybe banned.
– Sending a link via PM without even saying hi: consider it deleted.
My advice: if you are to send a reading request to someone, make sure she’s NOT an author. Check her library to see whether she’s into the genre of your story or not. And be nice when you ask.
If you want more insights on that topic, check my interview with Michael in his guide Cracking the Wattpad Code.
And last but not least, THE CORE
Simply: a compelling story.
Remember what I said earlier about knocking all doors to get attention for my story? That was what I did for The Warrior’s Path in my first weeks on Wattpad. I approached too MANY potential readers, ‘inviting’ each one of them with a personalized message. I knew that “Hey, check my story” would sound robotic and would never work.
But I did nothing for Bermuda.
Although I was still new, and Bermuda was my introduction to the Sci-Fi community on Wattpad, all I did was sticking to the basics: regular updates, a normal cover with a clear title, and right tags.
What was the result? A start slower than that of TWP, but later on, the turtle became a rabbit.
(I guess some of you might be wondering: ‘why on earth does he keep records of his books stats?’ Well, it’s in my blood. I didn’t tell you that brand management was my profession, did I?)
At its prime, Bermuda was garnering over 20K reads per week, sitting on top of both Sci-Fi and Action Hotlists. (At that time, you were allowed to allocated your story to two genres)
Bottom line: It’s all about the story you craft. If it appeals to the Watt-munity, it will boom and nothing will stop it. But don’t forget the basics you should stick to.
What I strongly recommend is to make the most of the available resources on Wattpad. In addition to the countless guides about improving your writing (my favorite is Yuffie’s Writing How-To’s by @YuffieProductions), there are also the talented Wattpad authors, whose works are at your disposal FOR FREE. Read their works and definitely, you’ll learn from their different writing styles.
If you’re seeking inspiration, you will find compelling voices in every genre. My personal recommendations:
Fantasy: @JessicaBFry @rmcneary
Science Fiction: @Bella_Higgin and @GregCarrico
Historical Fiction: @KatherineArlene and @RobThier
Vampires: @Bella_Higgin (again)
Romance: @gabycabezut and @Monrosey
Horror: @EliseNoble @SheHopes
Mystery/Thriller: @Monrosey (again)
Anything about pirates: @rskovach
Anything about mermaids: @BrittanieCharmintine
And if you’re looking for a psychopathic MC: surely, it’s Sin by @ShaunAllan
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