Shining a Light on Wattpad!

Part 2 of my interview with Sally Slater, author YA fantasy novel Paladin. Here we discuss her writing journey using Wattpad and get her tips on using Wattpad effectively.

How did you discover Wattpad?
Wattpad actually discovered me. When I first attempted writing fiction, I began posting a story to a website called One Page Per Day. A reader on the site read my work and suggested I share my writing on Wattpad, where I could get a lot more feedback. I took a quick peek at Wattpad, followed the reader who reached out to me on One Page Per Day, who also had a Wattpad profile, and transferred my writing over. Once I started interacting with the Wattpad community, I was hooked.

How helpful has Wattpad been on your writing journey?
Honestly, Paladin wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Wattpad. Prior to joining Wattpad, I didn’t have a lot of faith in my writing, and I never thought I’d be capable of writing a full novel. The Wattpad community really pushed me to stick to a regular writing schedule and when I finally finished the first draft, supported my dream of publishing. There were definitely times that I thought about giving up on Paladin and questioned whether it was a story worth sharing, but Wattpad helped me navigate those periods of self-doubt and get back on track.
It’s probably also worth noting that I found both a literary agent and my eventual publisher through Wattpad. So in that sense, Wattpad played a major role in my journey from amateur writer to published author.

Congratulations on being included in the Wattpad Stars program.  What opportunities has this afforded you?
The Wattpad Star program has been tremendously helpful in furthering my writing career. The folks at Wattpad HQ connect me with amazing professional opportunities that I wouldn’t have access to on my own. Since joining the program, I’ve spoken on multiple panels (one at Penguin Random House’s NYC headquarters) and been commissioned to write for Wattpad’s corporate sponsors. I also got to participate in Hachette’s #WhereIWrite Periscope campaign. Next up, I’m slated to speak on a panel about new forms of publishing at Book Riot Live in November. Margaret Atwood (an active Wattpad participant) and many of my favourite authors will be there. I am going to be a total fangirl.

What advice would you give authors who are considering using Wattpad to garner a fanbase?
One question that often comes up about Wattpad is whether posting a novel online ruins your chances of securing a publishing deal or selling your work. I participated in a panel a little while back with a number of industry insiders, including a well-known literary agent and the Editor-in-Chief at Simon & Schuster. They noted that traditional publishers are actively mining platforms like Wattpad for good stories with sizeable fan bases because it suggests that the book will sell. And based on my own experience, having a free version of my novel (in first draft form) on Wattpad hasn’t negatively impacted sales. To the contrary, my Wattpad fan base has been tremendously supportive and helped push Paladin to a #1 Amazon bestseller in its first month.

All that said, growing a fan base on Wattpad takes a lot of work. To make the most out of Wattpad, authors need to commit to spending time on the website/app daily and interact frequently with their readers and other writers on the site. No matter how brilliant your story, if you don’t engage with the community and promote your work, you won’t find the readers you’re looking for.