I first met Darrell at this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival. It was that awkward moment when I’m standing close enough to him and his editor to hear their conversation but not enough to be part of it.
You know, when you have that half smile while trying to decide whether to move closer to be part of their talk or move slowly away from them?
Lucky for me they were nice enough to include me in their conversation (not sure what it was about now).
But I digress.
During his panel, Darrell spoke about his experience with Wattpad. For those not in the know, Wattpad is this new platform where readers go for free books by new and old authors (mostly free anyway). In the Philippines, they’re doing movies from Wattpad stories now so it’s quite popular.
Darrell just landed an eight-book deal with Text Publishing. He’s a prolific writer of YA novels — with titles like the Diary of a Teenage Superhero and The Jack Mason Adventures. Here he talks about his own experience with Wattpad.
Why did you decide to publish original work on Wattpad? How many books did you publish?
You need to find ways to get yourself out there in front of the people who are interested in reading your work. This is where I found Wattpad to be helpful. The main readership of the site was YA, which was exactly what I was writing.
A lot of people promote themselves on Facebook and Twitter, which is fine, but there are lots of people doing exactly the same. And mostly all they’re doing is advertising themselves. I think you’re better off giving people a free sample in the hope they’ll purchase next time.
I put three books on there in total.
What kind of feedback did you get from those?
Interestingly, the feedback was mostly, ‘I love your story’ and ‘I want more’. Wattpad isn’t a critiquing site. It’s a venue where readers go.
Did anything good come out of that experience? What were they?
The most positive experience was that after putting Book One of Teen Superheroes on the site, it led many readers going to Amazon to purchase books two and three.
I also had two enquiries regarding the film rights. Very exciting!
What would your advice be to those who want to do the same thing?
I always say to people that having one book published is the most difficult place to be. It’s difficult to publicise one book — and when you do, you don’t have anything else to sell!
Putting the first book in a series on Wattpad worked for me. After that, it becomes a numbers game. A certain percentage of people who read the book will go ahead and buy the others in the series.
But I would probably recommend writing at least the first and second books before putting book one out there for free. Otherwise, the readers will read the first book and not have anything else to go onto.
Any strict ‘don’ts’ when publishing on Wattpad?
What a great question! Yes, make certain you let people know what they’re letting themselves into. I put the first five chapters of Teen Superheroes Book Two on Wattpad and then left a message at the end letting them know they could find the rest of the book on Amazon.
Bad idea on my part! More than one person (quite rightly) pointed out that I’d done the wrong thing. It meant people were reading these five chapters, getting invested in the story and then finding they had to spend money to continue. I changed this so a note appeared at the very start on Wattpad, telling them that only the first few chapters were available to read for free.
And one general piece of advice relating to anything Internet related. Don’t get into arguments with people. Some people just want to pick fights with you. Don’t engage them. It’s a waste of your time. You’re a writer, so your job is to do exactly that — write.
Kristyn M. Levis has been working as a journalist both internationally and locally for over 13 years. Her work has been published in various publications, including The New York Times and Al Jazeera. She’s also an award winning photographer and an avid mummy blogger. Kristyn self-published two children’s picture books in the last three years and is currently working on two Young Adult trilogies. You can see more of her writing and blogging here.