Top Ten Tips to Starting Out on Wattpad

Wattpad is a writer/reader platform, like a YouTube for stories. There are around 45 million users, so if you are a writer, looking for a home for your work – it could be right up your street.

I joined Wattpad in 2011 and since then I’ve posted 3 short stories, 2 novels and a collection of essays, and had over 2.4 million reads of my work. These are my top ten tips to starting out.

  1. Have a read

The first thing I would recommend is something all writers are good at – grab a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy a good read. There’s all sorts of stuff on there. The majority of the users are female teens, so there’s plenty YA. The Romance and Fantasy genres are strong but there’s also loads of other stuff such as Sci-Fi, Historical and Poetry. Hopefully there’ll be something that will float your boat. There’s an app if you like reading on your phone.

  1. Have a wee think about it

I would definitely recommend, once you’ve had a look, having a wee think about whether this is the right move for you, for this stage in your career. Remember, you aren’t getting paid for the work you post so if you feel you are at a stage where your work ought to be selling, another route may be preferable such as self-publishing on Amazon or any of the other self-publishing platforms there are out there. However, if you are starting out, and you want to practice writing, and put a bit of pressure on yourself by knowing your work will be out there and being read, then Wattpad is a good option.

  1. Post your work – eek

This bit can be scary. You’re putting your heart on the line, you’re revealing your work to the world. To do this, mechanically speaking it is easy enough – you sign up for the website then go to where it says ‘Works’ then ‘New Story’ and away you go. However it may not be so easy on an emotional level. I know, I’ve been there. I remember the battle that raged in my mind between ‘do it!’ and ‘don’t do it!’ If ‘do it!’ wins, and you go ahead and post, you will officially be out there and your work will be available for the entire planet to read.

  1. Persist

One thing I will say is this. Thousands of hits on your story will probably not flood in from the first moment you post. No one may read it, apart from yourself and your boyfriend. Your boyfriend may not even read it. I was able to count the number of followers I had on one hand for the entire first year I was on Wattpad, and that included my own mother and my auntie. That state of affairs continued for what seemed like ages, where my read numbers were very low and my followers close to zero. However, I did keep going and now there are thousands of followers, the reads of my work just keep going up and I barely have time to answer all the comments and messages I receive every day.

  1. Interact

It is a good idea to interact with the other people who are on Wattpad and not take a ‘too cool for school’ attitude. People are there for the community as well as the stories. So it helps if you reach out to others, read their work, genuinely comment and get involved. However, there’s no need to spend so much time doing this you don’t actually write anything.

  1. You could get Featured

At some point whilst I was posting my first novel, the Wattpad staff contacted me and asked me if it could become one of their Featured works. This was a great opportunity because it meant that once the book was finished it was entered onto a page which is home to some of the best works on the website. This gave a good boost to my exposure. I’d say the reason I got this is because I was writing the best work I could at that time and I was writing regularly.

  1. Craftwork

Writing is very much a craft and it takes hours and hours and hours (and hours!) to become a master of it. Wattpad is a good place to do this – it provides an interesting framework for you to work in whilst you dedicatedly hammer your craft. The more you write, the more you improve and if you publically announce you will be posting a chapter a week it keeps you accountable to an audience, no matter how small, and forces you to write, even on those days when hiding under a duvet is a much preferable option.

  1. Know you readers

Steven Spielberg says that in his early days as a director his audience were everything to him, and he constantly strove to know them and to thrill and excite them. Wattpad allows you to know what parts of your work are hitting home, what parts of your work are resonating with your audience. You can also learn to take criticism, and how to take praise too.

  1. Become a Star

Those writers who do gain a lot of traction may be invited to become ‘Wattpad Stars’. These guys are the ones with the most followers and reads, and they can be invited to take part in paid projects with major TV networks and film studios. I was commissioned to write a short story for USA Network to promote the launch of a new TV show. Things are constantly changing on Wattpad and there are new opportunities to be had. You may also receive a free t-shirt like I did. Who doesn’t like free t-shirts?

  1. Find your team

Most writers write alone. But they don’t reach success alone. They do that with help – whether that’s from friends, family, agents, publishers, whoever. There’s some kind of a team alongside every great writer, even if it’s just a long-suffering husband, wife or pet dog. Posting stories on Wattpad can be a great way of finding your gang. When you post, you can promote your work on your Facebook page, or your twitter or wherever. Certain people you already know will take an interest, they will read your work and they will support you. Not everyone. In fact people you thought would support you, may ignore your efforts entirely, but no matter, because the handful that rise up to support you – those are the gems, those are the people you can have with you, all the way to the top.

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When you feel like it’s not enough

I had this doubt in my mind for many years that being a writer and creating entertaining fiction works was not enough. That it wasn’t serious enough, helpful enough, that it would never change a world desperately in need of positive change. I’ve been surrounded for large portions of my life by people who are incredibly helpful, who do things that make a direct difference to people’s lives. And I’ve long thought that I ought to be doing the same. Doing something worthy and uplifting and beneficial.

As though writing literature isn’t any of those things. Don’t ask me why I adopted this attitude, I can’t even be sure myself, I think it is a complex combination of factors. But the key component for me is that I allowed myself to think like that. To think that being an artist, purely being an artist, was somehow less, somehow frivolous.

And many might say that it is. That I ought to use my education and talents to make a different kind of difference. But it wasn’t until recently, when I re-examined myself, again, and looked at what it is that I am truly here to do, what I am truly passionate about, what I am best at – that I knew that writing is exactly the right thing for me and that there couldn’t be any better way for me to contribute.

I write for pleasure, yes. I’d do it even if I didn’t want a career out of it. I’ve always done it. But I also write for deeper reasons, reasons that I’m not even sure of. It’s the one thing that I’m still compelled do after 36 years on this Earth, and having tried lots of other different things in my life.

Thinking the way I was thinking, that subtle but definite sense of inferiority, I believe held me back in my work. It meant I was too often looking for a ‘message’ or an educational slant to what I was doing. However, in the last draft of my novel I completely let go of all that. I let go of all those other intentions and I decided to write the thing that told the best story, the thing that entertained and thrilled me the most. And honestly, when I did that, the best work I’ve ever done finally came out.

 

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Top 5 Nasty Ladies

Everyone loves an evil female character, right? I do! Whether it’s uber glam wrong-doing or just plain old nasty stuff… I’m loving it. Along with my fellow awesome writer E.Latimer, we both decided to compile our top 5 female villains list. Here is mine. To see Erin’s please go here.

1. Cersei Lannister, Song of Ice and Fire Series

She is one of the best female dirty-doers I’ve read in years! She’s immoral and bad on so many levels… She sleeps with her brother and her cousin, she’s ordered the murders of thousands, she’s cold-blooded, icky and power mad. But then, on the other hand she’s also creepily relatable – she’s very much a woman in a man’s world and why should her brothers get all the power whilst she gets married off to an overweight boar-hunter? And she loves nothing more than her ‘sweet’ children… Who would begrudge her that? Cersei is world class female villainy at its best.

look at that pout!
look at that pout!

2. Annie Wilkes, Misery

This bad girl has none of the glamour of Cersei, but all of the devilishness, and more. She is a full on creep fest of a character. The one person you do not want to meet if you’ve had an accident and there is no one else around to take care of you. The scene where she clubs her captive, Paul Sheldon’s feet still haunts me to this day. A terrible and brilliant example of a ‘fangirl’ gone horrendously wrong.

I dread to to think what she is about to do with that thing in her hand.
I dread to to think what she is about to do with that thing in her hand

3. Amy Dunne, Gone Girl

This girl is nuts. Utterly nuts. She starts off perfectly acceptable. Your average over-educated middle-class gal married to a ok kind of a guy. But then things start to get weird. Then more weird. Until we find ourselves in a gloopy, sickening soup of insanity. Her husband is something of a useless dufass. But does he deserve the ‘Amy Dunne’ treatment? No living soul deserves that, surely? This character is unapologetically calculated and a shuddering example of female aggression gone haywire.

clearly plotting something dreadful
clearly plotting something dreadful

4. Harley Quinn, Suicide Squad

One of my favourite comic book characters, and the best thing in Suicide Squad, I believe. She is also unhinged to a worry degree, following her ‘transformation’ from uber-brainy psychiatrist to nutbags superhero after she falls in love with the Joker and begins the most dysfunctional relationship imaginable. Harley Quinn may have the coolest look and be cute as a button but she is notably, the wildest, craziest and most violent of the whole gang.

 

evil but cool.
making evil look good

5. Alex Forrest, Fatal Attraction

This is some serious 1980s crazy lady stuff. Played by Glen Close at her best, Alex Forrest has a brief fling with a married man and then, as he backs away she is having none of it. She will not, not, not leave it alone… Until she has grown into a nightmarish jilted woman who has wreaked havoc and done some extremely wrong things by the end of the film (this is where the phrase ‘bunny-boiler’ comes from. Eek).

 

listening, waiting for evil opportunities
Not a good lady to have outside your bedroom door.

To me, all this begs the question: are these characters just exaggerated, larger than life people that belong only in fiction? Not the sort we would ever actually meet in life?

It might seem that way, but the fascinating thing is that all of these characters are so brilliant, I think, because they are examples of truths that have been compounded and distilled into creative works.

Cersie Lannister is a protective mother and a disregarded daughter… Annie Wilkes is a fangirl who really, really loves her favourite writer… Amy Dunne is a disgruntled wife, sick of being ignored and cheated on by her negligent husband… Harley Quinn is a woman in love, obsessive love… And Alex Forrest is an ex-lover, resentful and vengeful towards the guy who dumped her…

It all sounds a bit too familiar, right?

Be sure to check out E.Latimer’s list here!

 

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