Initial Thoughts on Wattpad

Wattpad 101

 


In  terms of learning the novel form, world-building, finding your genre,  fleshing out your characters, I think this is where  Wattpad could  really be excellent.  You can post short stories, or very  short novels  (none of the "books" I read on Wattpad were anywhere near  70K words,  not even close to 50K, especially not the tween idol ones).  Many  Wattpad books get millions of reads. So it can be a perfect tool for my  stage of the game.  Refining my genre, deciding which readers I want and  how I will hook them, is really the biggest point of clarity that I  need right now, and this is a very low-risk way to go about it.



You  can put something small on Wattpad to play with it and see what kind of  feedback you get, how to promise exactly what you deliver so you draw  the readers you prefer.  You will have to put in a little work to get  seen.  But all of that is marketing 101 practice IMO, finding your  readership.  I'm  thinking about ways to begin releasing my overarching  series one tiny  droplet at a time, which is perfect for this venue.   You can find your sea  legs as an author, so to speak, with really very  little risk.


There   are a few risks to Wattpad, though.  It's actually owned by a Big Five   publishing company, sorry I forget which one.  In my experience any  literary agent who can get you anywhere near the Big Five won't even  look at your manuscript until you have a sizable marketing platform.  By  the time you have enough of a platform to market your own book, like  you're an established author, they will maybe consider you.  I've  come to understand that The Big Five publishers are venture capitalists  of  intellectual property, basically. Their love is money.  They're not  invested in literature  any more than anything else, no matter what  they say.   Literary agents may read a lot of books.  But they love  money much more, no matter what they say.  Actions speak louder than  words, always.



In  a best-case scenario they give you $1/2 million to pursue the enormous  marketing platform you have already established.  You know, because  that's what writers are all about while they live and die hunched over that keyboard pounding out the amazing  literature, fucking marketing.  LOL  In other words by the time they will  even look at you, you don't need them.  



If they do sign your book, it  may never see the light of day, worse than if you had simply pursued your own up-and-running marketing thing that you ponied up to get into this conversation.  Or some A-list douchebag may write a  foreward, and it gets republished intact as his book with your name in tiny  print in the back.  Cha-ching! Smile bitches!  Realistically your book is one of ten that they've  optioned.  But they only need one of them to hit, and they don't care which one.  The rest will be written off and forgotten -- along  with their authors.  Bwahahaha this is who the Big Five are in real  life, confirmed sightings. If you're an established writer, why talk to  them?   Traditional publishing's long game is not sustainable.  They made  that bed, they can all lie in it as far as I'm concerned.  They should enjoy their lifestyles and steer clear of the paramedics' table when they arrive in hell.



Anyway  whoever owns Wattpad will  sometimes pick up a book and choose to  publish it traditionally, if it  gets enough headwind.  That's a  double-edged sword.  I believe they get first option on the publishing  rights to anything on their site, fairly sure of it.  I'm not publishing  my series on their site, because I think it's quite marketable and very  expandable, and I don't want their grubby mitts anywhere near it.  But I  may do a few short-story spin-offs to drum up interest on Wattpad.  Basically they've forced me to the ultimate grass roots as a writer, where I have to be my own marketer and publisher, so I'm going to keep it organic, like no corporate GMO fertilizer.  So I can keep my feminism dialed up to 100.

Wattpad's  evolving business model is actually a much-needed self-preservation   thing on their part, giving authors another way to move forward without   the hideously unfair and soul-crushing literary agent process.   They're looking at new ways to monetize authors with ad revenue and with  paid content similar to Kindle Unlimited.  (A lot of their readers balk  at that, discussed below.)  I'm open to pursuing this monetization via Wattpad, granted that I'm keeping all of this very simple and divorced from my ultimate project goal.



Anyway Wattpad shows that one of the Five has seen the writing  on the wall and broken the back door open while the gatekeeping system  still exists at the front door.    With Wattpad the snake munches its own tail.   You can go straight from nobody to the publishing house editors now.   I'd love to live long enough to see literary agents/middle men suddenly need to  decide who they are in real life and put their money where their mouths are.  Would they choose to read all day for free or at the library like so many writers do?  Or go get corporate attorney jobs?  Wheeeeeeeeeee



So   forewarned is forearmed:  think of whatever you put on Wattpad as   practice or throwaway.  At least that's how I'm looking at it.  The deal   is Wattpad has millions of readers and thousands of writers.  Very   shitty books can get hundreds of thousands, or millions of reads,   because their demographic is the most voracious readership of all.  That   said, it's a lot of people who feel deeply entitled to read all day,   every day for free.    It's a lot of girls who wish Justin Bieber would  punch their father out and kidnap them.


My  strategy is to practice writing different  styles, find my genre niche,  and master the short story and novel form on Wattpad, and hopefully   develop a following.  Then when I put stuff out on Amazon it will be   affordable, but they will have to pay something for it.   I think it's  possible to curate your demographic, like not only them finding you but  you finding them, if that makes sense.  I'm torn between tween writing  and old lady writing.  If you read Wattpad you will see the absolute  dearth of moral or ethical leadership the Big Five have wrought.  There  is no moral compass anywhere in sight.  As a feminist, when I see what  young women are devouring with their minds, it makes me absolutely  sick.  There's no reason to have all conversations framed by people  whose baseline goal is never humanity.  These are the fruits of  intellectual venture capitalism, ruined young women.  Really many of the  One Direction stories are absolutely heartbreaking in their  malfunction, a scathing critique of our modern world.


So  for me, I feel like my target demo really should be tweens.  I have  given up getting the 20-or-30-something feminists to notice I'm alive.   They've got this, and I'm emotionally okay with it.  So I can either  write for ladies my age, as I do now, like adult women who think about  real things.  Such ladies are less likely to pitch a fit when their  short story writer from Wattpad comes up with a series that you have to  pay a few bucks for each one.  Or join Kindle Unlimited and literally  read your face off like Wattpad but better.  I don't need the moochers.   Tween girls are the #1 buyers of downloads on iTunes.  There is a  desperate need for entertainment within the moral compass IMHO.



But  I feel like I can have an amazingly fun time with Bieber-related  content.  I'd like to introduce the idea of well-adapted boys, clear  sexual boundaries, appropriate social support, adults who take  responsibility for the childrens' lives, not normalizing things like 31  y/o Harry Styles on a dream date with a high-school girl.  I was  thinking of having the boys of One Direction have to save a group of  girls who get thrown overboard in a storm.  The boys drag them to the  island, then it turns out not a storm but a sea monster.  The thing  about writing for tweens is they're still actually children, and you can  be goofy as hell while still aware of the emotional junk food,  providing some soul nutrition and maybe flossing their teeth a little  while they're not paying attention.  Feminist emotional hygiene is in an  actual state of emergency on Wattpad, not gonna lie.



That's  my thought process for now.  I'm going to look at the short stories and  start there, maybe some horror stories from my paramedic days, gruesome  and heartbreaking all at the same time with very little context, just  the way paramedics live it.  That should hopefully whet people's  appetites for the series, too.

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