9 | five wattpad tips
Updated: Mar 1, 2020
I think this always surprises people, but I'm actually fairly new to Wattpad.
While my account is over two years old, I have only been active on the site for seventeen months. In those months, I have (much to my own shock and surprise) managed to build a small readership. This is something that continually blows my mind, especially since I didn't do any of the typical "get reads on Wattpad" things.
I never followed for a follow or swapped reads. I didn't put my novels in the Watty's. I didn't message or comment asking people to read my books. And while there is nothing wrong with doing those things (and maybe they do help, I have no idea), I just never did them.
While I didn't do those common Wattpad tips and tricks, there are a few things that I believed helped my novels to stand out on the crowded and colorful Wattpad bookshelves. Again, I'm not pro. But I think I learned a few things and I want to share some of my personal tips with you in hopes that these things might help you as your start or continue your own Wattpad journey. Of course, I can only give you my very unprofessional opinion and nothing about these tips are set in stone facts. This is only my experience.
1. HAVE A STRONG COVER.
Okay, so we aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover but, admit it, we all do. Don't lie. I know you do it. If we didn't, Barnes and Noble wouldn't turn some of the books so that the covers are showing. We are visual creatures. We like a cool cover. Nothing to be ashamed of.
As readers, we go to the bookstore and stare at the rows and rows of books. It can be a little overwhelming. So, what do you do first? Do you read the titles? What about the description on the back? Nope.
I can't really speak for you, but I definitely don't.
My first interaction with a book typically has nothing to do with words at all. Instead, I look at the cover. I think the same goes for Wattpad. If you're going to get a picture from Pinterest or Google and add words to it, at least choose a picture that is (a) clear and (b) looks like a book cover. If the picture you've chosen doesn't look like it would fit on the shelves of a bookstore, look for an alternative.
Now, this doesn't mean that you have to be a professional graphic designer, because you don't. You just need to have an understanding of what is popular in book cover design. This can be accomplished by going into a bookstore or even just browsing Goodreads or Amazon. Look at the book covers you like the most. What about those covers made you first reach for that book. Was it the pretty dress on the cover or the dark aesthetic? What made you think "I have to know what that book is about?"
When choosing the cover photo, keep in mind the content of your story. If your story is about a girl choosing between four guys, maybe only showcase one of the guys or just the girl. One thing many Wattpad writers tend to do is over-complicate or crowd their covers. You don't often see collage-style covers in bookstores--this is probably because (in my humble opinion) collage covers stimulate the brain a little too much. There isn't one main thing being represented and it can be a turn off to readers.
I want to be able to look at your cover and get a sense of what the story is about. If your cover is too busy or is dishonest, then readers may not stick with your book.
With my covers, I usually decide on the vibe first. What do I want readers to feel when they look at the cover? I tend to like creepy or strange covers. I gravitate towards similar covers in bookstores (Six of Crows, anyone? Now, that's a beautiful cover!). I want my readers to get a dark, mysterious vibe when they see my books.
When I decide what I want the cover to feel like, I then search for pictures that can convey that emotion. Sometimes, I take a normal picture, one that is not necessarily creepy, and I make it fit my vibe with a photo editing software. The sculpture for The Culled Crown cover is actually white and it doesn't have a crown on it. I added the coloring and created the crown. I then faded everything. If the sculpture was still white and had no crown, it wouldn't give off the same effect that the cover I edited does.
Once you have a cover photo chosen, work on the font. I usually steer clear of typesets that are either hard to read or very common. While the title of your book will be shown next to your cover, you still want the words on the picture to be legible. You want the words to blend and accentuate the cover you've chosen. Also, don't forget your name. Having an author's name on the cover (or username!) helps to associate your name with your novel and with your cover.
A good way to tell if your cover is clear, crisp and legible, it to drag and drop the image file onto your desktop or into a folder so it appears as a small icon. Can you still see what the image is? Can you still read it? Of course, on Wattpad, the cover will be a little bigger than that---but making the cover small and deciding if it is still attractive and easy to read, helps you to know if the overall mesh of pictures, colors, and fonts are working together.
2. USE A CREATIVE TITLE.
The second thing we aren't supposed to do, but we all do, is judging a novel by what it is called. I mean, if we called The Vampire Diaries -- "The Girl Who Meets Vampires and Makes Questionable Life Choices" it would be hard to remember and it would completely change the whole perception of the novel.
While the length of the title may not matter in the real publishing world, it matters on Wattpad because only so much will fit onto the small line of text you're given. A title can change things. So, make sure your chosen title relates to your book.
Sometimes titles don't fit well. That doesn't mean they don't sound cool, they just may not be the right fit for this particular project. Just like with the cover, make sure you are thinking about the theme and tone of your book. If it is a romance, show that. If it is a comedy, show that too. These words are the first that your reader will notice----make sure they are clear and easy to understand.
If one of the words in your title is made up terminology or is not typically used in conversation (like the term "culled"), I would suggest pairing your unknown word with a word that is known and easily understood. Ask friends what they think of the title. What comes to mind when they hear it? If the answers fit your story, then you're on the right track.
I personally really like short, snappy titles. In fact, almost every novel I've ever written has had a one-word title. That is, until Monroe's story. When it came time to decide what to call The Culled Crown, I actually really struggled. I wanted something short and sort of memorable, I also knew that my story was about the Culling and that I wanted that term in the title somewhere. I knew, from Googling (always a good idea!), that The Culled was already the title of a video game. So I couldn't use that.
Back to the drawing board. I then thought about what the book was about. At its core, the story is about a girl trying to win a competition. If she wins, she gets to live and be queen. I made a list of "royal" sounding words and my mind landed on the word "crown."
Deciding on a title can be really stressful. You've worked really hard to create a story and now you have to publicly declare it as ______________. It can feel like naming a child.
I would also suggest typing your desired title into Wattpad so you can see what comes up. If your book is the only book with that title, that might good. If it the only title in your genre with that title, that might also be good. BUT if you look up your title and there are 50+ other novels with that exact same genre and title, then maybe you should choose something else. You don't want your novel to get lost in the sea of other things. You also don't want people who are searching for your novel specifically to get distracted by other novels titled similarly.
They could decide to read those books instead.
3. WRITE A KILLER DESCRIPTION.
Okay, well, it doesn't have to be actually killer--you know what I mean.
I have an entire post coming out later that is dedicated to this topic, but I'll try to summarize it just a little here.
In my last semester of college, I took a novel-writing class. At this point in my writing career, I had already written nearly nine novels and I had a pretty good idea of how to do that. What I didn't know, and what I hoped the class would teach me, was how to present a novel after it's already been written.
For that class, I had to give an elevator pitch for the book I was writing--Senseless.
Think about a literal elevator. How long does it usually take to get from one floor to the next? Not long, right? Well, the point of the elevator pitch was to teach us to promote our novels quickly and concisely, using only the time between when someone gets on the elevator and when they get off. You don't know what floor they're going to or when they'll choose to leave. You have seconds, maybe a minute.
Wattpad can feel a lot like an elevator pitch. You have very little time to catch a reader's attention. There are so many books on the website and so many other things that a reader could be consuming. They are getting off the elevator and onto a new floor at any second. Why your novel? What's going to get them to stay for a while?
Your description should be your elevator pitch. What you put there, right underneath your title, should be able to stand by itself. If that is all a reader sees of your book, you want them to remember it. The concept of your novel should be outlined, just briefly, in the description. So, for my college elevator pitch, I was working on my novel, Senseless. I wasn't actually very far into writing the book when I had to pitch it to the class, so I more or less pitched an idea. The description you see with Senseless on Wattpad is exactly the pitch I gave in that class.
It is word for word what I said.
The description you include is very important. Don't post a book without a description. I get read requests all the time and (although I don't take them) I do usually glance at the novels sent to me. Most of these novels are fresh on the site and either have no description, or the description tells me nothing about the story. Adding a description is a small change that could be very impactful for your read count.
I will never read a book that doesn't have a description--I think most readers feel the same.
While including dialogue or a scene in your pitch is good (I added a scene to end of The Culled Crown description) it doesn't always work as a stand-alone advertisement for your novel. Use your description to tell your readers about the book. Think of it as your book's commercial.
Just like with the cover, look at professionally published works. Those books have descriptions, see what they have mentioned and try to write something similar for your book. Like I mentioned above, I have a more detailed "how-to" chapter coming later. Check back soon for more information.
4. WRITE AHEAD & POST OFTEN.
You're getting two tips for the price of one here. Fancy.
Wattpad has actually changed quite a bit since I was featured in September of 2018. In the seventeen months that I've been an active member of the site, they have revamped how featuring works. From what I understand, featuring use to be something you could apply for. When I was featured, I didn't know that. I didn't do anything to intentionally attract Wattpad's attention. I'm not sure how they were finding books to feature, but they somehow came across mine.
In the time since I was on the featured list, they have brought the application for featuring back and have even changed how the list looks and functions. I say all of that to say this: things have changed so this may not be accurate anymore. Still, I thought I should mention my own personal belief as to how I ended up on the featured list.
When I first started posting on Wattpad, I had a full book already completed. I wasn't writing as I went, the book was done and only needed to be formatted and posted in chapters. So I could easily add a few chapters a day. That was what I was doing when I first started uploading Senseless.
I would upload anywhere between one and five chapters each day. I think this not only increased my initial read count (you get at least one automatic read every time you post a new chapter), but it may have shown the people working at HQ that I was very active. I mean, I did this for a week or two. Posting every single day, multiple times a day. I didn't know how Wattpad worked and wasn't really trying to get a ton of readers or serialize my work, I just wanted to get my book out there.
Within four days of the book being marked complete, I was featured.
Now, I can't definitively say why that was--but I have a hunch.
I think writing ahead and keeping your account active is important. Wattpad definitely recognizes when writers are on the site and are doing things. While I can't credit this as my reasoning for being featured so quickly, I do believe that it played a small part in catching the eye of a Wattpad employee or "bot."
I would also say that writing ahead of your Wattpad account and not directly posting, gives you as the writer the chance to make changes and make sure your story is ready to be seen by the world. Being patient is difficult, I know. I get it. Trust me, I have very little self-control when it comes to posting on Wattpad. I really enjoying writing and interacting with readers. I think Wattpad gives writers a connection with readers they might otherwise never experience.
But, I can't always be updating. Sometimes I need to write and wait before I post. Writing ahead if yourself not only lets the story (and you) breathe a little, it also sets you up to be able to schedule chapter updates, which leads me to my final tip...
5. FOLLOW A SCHEDULE.
Please, please, please--if you completely ignore the rest of this chapter, so be it. But, please, listen to this one thing. An upload schedule is key. There are tons of readers on Wattpad who don't read works that are not marked as "complete."
I think this happens for many reasons, but the main reason is probably that people on Wattpad start writing books and then don't finish them. Or, what has got to be worse, they deleted them entirely. Readers hate that. It's like getting your favorite TV show canceled without any warning. Don't do that to readers. Don't be that writer.
You're better than that -- she says, as she puts The Culled Crown series on hiatus and makes her readers wait an indefinite amount of time for the final book.
You, my brave writer friend, can post a full story. I believe in your abilities.
Let me tell you how to get readers, you listening to me? Okay. Keep an upload schedule. This means, not posting the first chapter until you have already written at least ten chapters more than that. When you post that first chapter, you need to already have a cushion of chapters waiting in your drafts. This keeps you from running out of things to post.
If you post as you write, rather than write ahead, you may not be able to post as often or as regularly as you need to. If you already have an arsenal of drafts, you don't have to stress about not having a chapter ready to post on your scheduled upload day. Readers, especially the ones that read as you post, want a consistent upload schedule. They want to know that you are as dedicated to writing/posting the book as they are reading to it. They don't want to be left hanging.
Show them you're serious. Be a professional.
I posted chapters of The Culled Crown every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I was very vocal about my upload schedule. It was in my bio, it was posted at the end of most chapters and I announced it every time I posted a new section of the novel. The readers who were keeping up with the story while it was still being posted, knew to look for the chapters on those days. Sometimes I posted early, but I never missed an upload day.
To some extent, this builds credibility between you and your readers. They want to trust that you aren't going to ghost them. It also encourages people to follow you, that way if the schedule changes or something else is going on, they can see that.
At the end of the day, Wattpad is essentially a form of social media. You need to be active and posting and interacting with other people. All the time. Not just when you want to. They want to know you and know your characters through you. If you want loyal and constant readers, you have to communicate consistently with them.
Okay, so those are my five Wattpad tips. As I said before, I can only speak from my own experiences and my own opinions. Writing and the craft of writing is very subjective.
The main thing about creating on Wattpad is that you should never give up on yourself or on a project. If it means something to you, write it. You never know, you could be currently writing something that will one day be someone else's favorite book.
🌻 This blog post was rewritten for upload on Wattpad. March 1, 2020.