How a Writing Website Changed My Life and Could Change Yours Too
By Jordan Lynde
If you told me I’d be writing for an audience of four hundred thousand one day, I’d say you were lying. If you told me I’d be earning money by writing even though I have no books published, I’d also say you were full of it. If you told me I’d have dozens of online friends who I’ve never met in person, but feel closer to than most of my IRL friends, well… honestly, I’d probably walk away at that point.
But what if I told you that all of that came true? My whole life changed after I started publishing on Wattpad.
What is Wattpad? Wattpad is a social story telling platform that hosts over 400 million story uploads and over 65 million readers. It’s basically the Youtube of writing. There’s every kind of genre available for reading or for categorizing your own writing into, should you wish to share your own work on the site. Stories on Wattpad are published serially— which means you post chapter by chapter. This way the massive sea of readers can interact with your book as you write it, providing support and motivation for you, and something to look forward to for them.
I started writing on Wattpad in back in 2010 under the pseudonym XxSkater2Girl16xX (which I eventually changed to my real name). Even before that, back when I was in sixth grade, I was writing on a website called Quizilla. It was another place where you could share your stories online, but it had a horde of problems, and I ultimately left it. A fan had suggested Wattpad and I’d decided to check it out. What really drew me in was the community and the design of the website. Readers could leave comments, stories could be tagged into genres and organized and notifications were sent out every time you updated. I couldn’t resist. I joined.
My success on the website came almost immediately, but I really think it was due to the fact that I had a following from Quizilla that followed me over. The stories I posted rose to the top of all the lists and garnered hundreds and hundreds of chapters with each upload. Within my first year I had thousands of followers and millions of reads on my books. Wattpad hosted an annual contest called The Watty Awards and I won Most Popular Story on the entire website and a thousand bucks. My fan base sky rocketed. And it still does to this day.
At some point during my first few years Wattpad contacted me, asking if I’d like to do commission work. I was shook. I was going to write something for a company and get paid for it? I still remember the first brand opportunity I received. It was promoting the Goosebumps’ movie. All I had to do was advertise a banner on my profile and interact with the Goosebumps’ profile on Wattpad. It was awesome. And soon after, another commission came. This time from AT&T, asking me to write a short story and offering me an amount of money I never thought I could ever earn from my writing.
Eventually, Wattpad offered me a partnership with them. At the time, it didn’t have a name, but now it does. It’s called the Wattpad Stars program. Essentially, Wattpad will help the authors in the program with various things for their career. Examples are providing authors with commission work (AKA brand campaigns), helping them find traditional publishers or perhaps even film and TV adaptions, monthly newsletters keeping them in the know of what’s happening in the publishing world, a calendar of industry events like conventions, and even just a place for authors to chat with other authors as they explore these things.
And in addition to that, there’s a program called Wattpad Futures that I’m enrolled in, which lets me make money off my stories by implementing ads in them. As readers read through my work ads will pop up and for each one watched I earn some dough. Again, Youtube for writers.
For writers outside the partnership program, Wattpad still has opportunities in the form of writing contests. There’s usually always some kind of writing contest happening on Wattpad. And the more you write, the more of a chance you have of becoming a partner with them.
Still, I think the most beneficial thing about Wattpad is the readers. They help mold your manuscript. They help you grow as a writer. They offer feedback and insights that you wouldn’t get by just submitting to an editor or agent. It’s tens, hundreds, thousands of voices giving you comments and reviews, letting you know what’s good about your book, letting you know what’s bad. For free. Readers really do help you become the best writer you can be.
Okay, was that a lot to take in? Are you interested? Are you ready to write on Wattpad?
But how? You ask. Well, I can give you a few tips and tricks I’ve learned throughout the years.
Just. Start. Writing. A book won’t write itself. Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t hem and haw. Get out your laptop or a piece of pen and paper and start writing. It helps to stick to a schedule, especially if you go to school or work full time like most authors. The first draft will never be perfect. If you think your first draft is perfect, re-read it.
End every chapter with a cliff hanger. You’re serializing your work. You need to keep the reader coming back. Make sure you end on a note where they freak out and comment a thousand times about how they need to know what happens next. And trust me, throwing them a wild plot twist earns hilarious results.
I want to get popular, fast!
I hate to say it, but that’s not actually how it happens. My popularity boomed because of a readership I had before. In reality, it’s very hard. It takes a long time. There are a few outliers, sure, but if you ask any of the Wattpad authors with large followings, they’ll tell you they’ve been writing for years. I’ve been on the site eight years and I just recently hit four hundred thousand followers. Just keep working at it and don’t be discouraged by a lack of response or following. Books with millions of reads are just as good as books with ten. Readers will find you, I promise. If you love what you write others are bound to as well.
A trick I’ve picked up when I sense a lull in readership is writing something that’s in demand to get some attention back. There are trends that are popular and you’ll want to follow them to gain readers. What I typically do is write an “in” book at the same time I’m writing a book that might not be trending so much. This way new readers will come from reading the “in” book and trickle into reading my other works that aren’t so popular. Right now I’ve noticed the trend on Wattpad is pretty much anything to do with bad boys or BTS fanfiction. So if you’re into that, that would be a good starting point.
Now the ultimate tip is to find your niche. Connect with authors who share the same passion as you. Support each other, build each other up, rely on each other. At first it might seem hard. It took me years to make friends on Wattpad because I felt too shy to interact with other authors. In fact, I was deemed the ice queen by some of my now best friends. Once I broke out of my shell, I found an amazing community, and some of the best friends I’ll ever have in my life. I’ve done things I never thought I’d ever do in my life— like traveling outside the country for a writing event. Or spending weekends at writing retreats all over the country and enjoying time with like-minded people joking around while bouncing ideas off each other and maybe even getting a little writing done. I found my niche.
I also want to add that through Wattpad I’ve also found opportunities outside of it. My favorite one being the fact that I get to write for an interactive story telling app called Chapters. It provides a new way to share my stories in a fresh format. I’ve always been a fan of RPGs and working with a choose-your-own-story type app is almost the same thing. I’m enjoying it immensely.
So if you’re an author sitting in the what now? moment of your life, I highly suggest you check out Wattpad. Get inspired, show your work, create great things. It just might change your life.
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About the Author
Jordan Lynde is a YA/NA author from Western Massachusetts. She started writing at the age of ten and has now amassed over 400,000 followers on Wattpad and over 130 million reads. When she’s not writing, you can find her eating at new places, interacting with her readers on social media, or watching kdramas with her cats.
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