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What Wattpad

I’m still on the fence regarding the DIY approach to Indie publishing. But I’m more on the indie side than traditional, so that is something. Found this nugget in my inbox this morning about the self publishing route: “After” was picked up by Paramount, and as is the case a publisher latched on. Right now it’s free to read on Wattpad (link). The down and dirty is that I have not read it, and probably won’t. It’s a romance novel, which was written in serial fashion by Anna Todd.

No review for it from me, but I do have this. I mentioned Wattpad before, and my son put me on it (Damn Truckers). I will probably let him put some more up, because Wattpad is useful for that sort of thing. I could go into the “We need to get noticed, so let’s take advantage of everything” sermon, but Wattpad is different.

Here is why it works for some things, and probably won’t for others. If you are writing a work that is a short story Wattpad is good. If you are writing a heavily connected genre novel, it might. If you are writing literary fiction (Let the Great World Spin) it probably won’t.

For literary fiction the reader tends to require the work as a whole available to them. Don’t ask me why, I haven’t figured it out. The people that read literary fiction try to do the ebook thing, but they fall back to paper. It may be a demographic thing (older people read it, or grad students). Can it be done? I’m sure it can, but the thing about Wattpad is how it is serial friendly.

Sci-Fi, romance, westerns, horror. They all lend themselves to serial publication. A chapter here, a chapter there. That’s how they did it in the good ol’ days, with Conan Doyle, The Count of Monte Cristo, Charles Dickens, and a host of others contributing. Dumas’ work was published in eighteen installments in a French magazine/newspaper, while Dickens had most of his major novels published as such. What you might notice about Dumas and Dickens is that their novels have “cliffhangers” throughout. This is where the installments would end, and the following month readers picked up the story from there. If you were a new subscriber, or you missed an issue, you were screwed. Wattpad fixes that problem. The former chapters are there and available for free. That’s right. FREE. Wattpad only has free stuff. Only. Free. No charge. Writers are not paid, and there are no fees for an account.

Is this good or bad? Well, in the case of Anna Todd, it’s good. She garnered a following, and posted chapters religiously. My guess is a writer could churn out very good genre fiction using Wattpad.

Up front, after you come up with an idea, or plot, you throw the first chapter up. It took you a week to write and edit, you have a plot map that looks reasonable, and you even have another five chapters sitting in a documents folder. Each week you edit and write, write and edit. Put up a chapter each week (you are five ahead anyway). People are directed to your work and comment on it. In the end you have a completed work. But then what? Hopefully the writer publicized some, and using the feedback they edited the work in its entirety. Have enough readers? Shop the manuscript, or you could wait to see if they come to you.

If you are at the starting point of Generation X (like me) you might find this useless, but I’ve spoken with those young hoodlums, and they are using Wattpad. Why? Here are some reasons I was given:

It’s free

I can read on my phone/tablet

It’s free

I can find the genre I like using the search feature

The rating system makes it easy to weed out the garbage

It’s free

It seems ease of access and no cost are the deciding factors. The current price of a NYT Bestseller on Amazon runs between 11 and 15 dollars. That’s for an ebook! The difference in cost for an ebook and a paper book, the same book mind you, is only a few cents. The reader also needs to have a device compatible with Kindle/Amazon. Not so with Wattpad. It’s just there, on the screen.

Now, to come up with a good story… I’m thinking westerns. Nobody writes those anymore. And why don’t they make radio plays anymore? Thank God for XM Radio.




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