I’ve already established I suck at marketing. To that end, every so often I go searching for new ways to not suck at marketing, or ways to make it easier on someone who has always despised pushy salespeople (if you’re wondering, I kinda sucked at retail sales, too, because my instinct is always to refuse whenever a sales person says, hey, if you do this, you get this, so I had a difficult time pushing whatever the product of the day/week/month was.) For all their complaining about how Big 5 is clueless about marketing, a lot of authors seem to be stuck on trying the same things, over and over again, and a fair number of those tricks focus on building upon an already decent sized readership.
I first heard about Wattpad from a friend a few years ago, when she pointed out a story written by a teenager had landed said teenager a major publishing deal. At the time, I wanted to pout and throw a tantrum. I still sort of want to pout and throw a tantrum, but I’m an adult, and tantrum-throwing does not make for good adulting.
But as I started working through the marketing packet for Fracture, I circled back around to Wattpad. I knew a couple of authors had posted the first chapter or two of an upcoming release on Wattpad as a way to entice readers into buying the full book. So I posted chapter one for people to read. I can’t say it’s garnered me any sales – in fact, it likely hasn’t – but then I found something else.
I was poking around on author Christina Lauren’s site, looking for a Will/Hannah snippet they’d posted (can we please have more Player Will? Pretty please?), and discovered they’d written a story exclusively for Wattpad. Now, Lauren’s already an established author, and likely wrote the story just because. But maybe…
What would happen if I posted a story of my own to Wattpad? Would my readership increase?
You might be wondering why I’d do something like that after another reader stole one of my stories and tried to sell it. There’s a couple reasons. First, Wattpad has disabled the text highlight feature for their pages. That’s right, you can’t highlight text and copy and paste it. If you were very determined, you could screenshot it and run it through a program, or transcribe it word for word, but essentially, they’ve made copying several steps more difficult.
Second, I actually miss writing for Lit. If you’re looking for instant gratification, sites like Lit are the place to go. You write a story, slap it up, typos and all, and people find it and comment. When it comes to selling my stories, I’d never post anything for sale that hasn’t gone through an editing process, whereas my Lit stories, I never bothered to edit them. And readers didn’t care about the typos or the occasional randomness that would invade my stories. They enjoyed them. They eagerly awaited the next installment of Impulse Control or What Came Next (at least until I pissed them off with the ending, but that’s another story). Those comments meant a lot to me, especially on days when I’d gotten yet another rejection, or my current WIP wasn’t going well.
And Lit gave me a place to try out things that I wasn’t sure would work. I wasn’t sure I could write an entire story based off a single encounter spurred on by Massive Attack’s “Angel”, but twelve chapters later, I had Impulse Control. After reading Cara McKenna’s Hard Time, I wanted to write about a convict, but I needed it to be different from hers. I ended up with a woman fulfilling her promise of one sinful, dirty night with a recently released convict (Ten Years). Inspired (strangely) by both R. Kelly’s Trapped in a Closet and the movie Before Sunrise, I wrote a short novella about a young woman struggling to recover her confidence after being dumped by her fiance (The Perfect Man). Some were stories I just needed to figure out if I could write; others I wasn’t sure were “commercial” enough for a publisher to take a chance on.
Finally, I figured I wouldn’t have anything to lose by posting a story to Wattpad. A full story, not just an opening chapter. I could always take it down at a later date. Author Ksenia Anske blogged about her experience with Wattpad, and it’s worth a read. It also makes me think I’m on the right track.
That’s all a very long lead-up to my next release. On New Year’s Eve, 2014, I finished a short novel I’d started almost a year before, about a high school teacher running from a tragedy. When drinking herself drunk, sleeping pills, and pot don’t alleviate her guilt, she turns to sex – and finds that it has an unintended effect: it gives her the space to deal with her feelings.
I’m really excited for everyone to read McKenna and Trevor’s story in Run. Starting tomorrow, with a new chapter posted each Tuesday throughout the summer, you can follow McKenna’s journey as she comes to terms with what happened and learns she’s still deserving of love. I’ll have the cover, official blurb, and link posted tomorrow, but prompts for additional chapters will only be posted on my Facebook page or on Twitter.
I don’t know if it’ll lead to sales – there’s no real way to run analytics on something like that – but hey, at least I’ll have fun trying.