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Monday, July 6, 2015

Publishing Question: Should I Use Wattpad?

"Hello Rebecca,

Thanks for your offer to help me out with Wattpad! My first novel, xxxxxxxxxxxx is in it's (hopefully) final stages of drafting/editing/ and polishing and I was wondering if posting a chapter or two on Wattpad would be helpful.

I'm honestly not sure what kind of publishing route I'm hoping to take with this book, but I know a lot of agents and small publishing houses won't take submissions that are published elsewhere.

Any advice or suggestions would be helpful. I'm really new to all of this and there is so much conflicting information out there on the subject.
"

Hi xxxxxx!
So great to hear from you. So, if you think you will want to approach traditional publishing, I would NOT put your work up on Wattpad first. While I realize that there are the “Wattpad Winners” out there that have landed a pub contract after gaining millions of reads, this is FAR from the norm and highly unlikely. I would query agents first and exhaust that route (assuming you want trad pub); then small press (if that would also suffice); and THEN consider Wattpad if you think you would like to self publish.

The problem is that many agents won’t even look at something that has been “already published” on Wattpad. Not all, for sure, but you’re going to limit your potential agent pool and also never really be sure exactly which ones do and don’t frown on this sort of thing. It should be said that of course some [agents] troll Wattpad for material, but really, not many.

If you have exhausted yourself on the traditional road and/or decide to self publish anyway, Wattpad can be a useful tool for building a reading audience (all the while realizing that these readers do not necessarily translate into “sales” but some of them can if you release your book in a serial way (i.e., one chapter per week with links to buy options for those that don’t want to wait for the updates) and engage with readers in the comments (something I’m trying to get better at :-)

Furthermore, I’m not really sure how much the “sample chapter” approach works for a one off title with no pre-existing audience. I know some of the larger publishers have tried it with some of their writers, but these writers have an existing fan base. You have to consider that the Wattpad audience are readers looking for free books, not necessarily free chapters of books they will have to buy to finish. Unless they already love your published work, you’re not likely to build up much of a following with only a couple chapters.

So in your specific case, I would not put a book up on Wattpad that you are hoping to find an agent/traditional publisher for. However, if you have anything else, maybe some shorter works that you won’t ever try to traditionally publish, those could help you build an audience without jeopardizing your chances with the big boys for your completed book.

Long winded enough? :-)

Great to hear from you!

Best,

Rebecca

(Do you have a writing, reading, or publishing question you'd like me to answer? If so, email me at rebecca (at) rrtaylor (dot) com. I'll only post it here, anonymously, with your permission.)

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