I am trying a new experiment for The Bloodsuckers: Wattpad. But here’s the flashback to how I got to this point, what Wattpad is, and why I’m using it.
The Smashwords Dilemma
When I published the third volume of The Bloodsuckers, I went ahead and updated the previous two to contain an advertisement for Acceptance. When I republished them, plus the third, though, Smashwords refused to give all of them premium distribution (the first two had originally had it), because they’re installment stories, not complete works. (That’s always been their policy, but I was hoping to fly under that radar since the volumes aren’t one story at a time, but a collection.)
All three volumes can still be downloaded directly from Smashwords, which is, admittedly, where the bulk of my downloads come from. But I was still getting a fair amount of downloads from Smashword retailers, such as Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and the Apple iStore. Now those retailers will not be offered a copy to distribute.
I’ve been trying to figure out what to do to remedy the situation. Part of the point of writing the series is to generate interest in the other things I write. It’s a lot of work to write a story for free–it takes away time from my projects which I hope will pay. The point of its existence is as a marketing tool. But now part of my audience–part of my ability to reach new people–has been taken away.
One option I have considered is giving a name to each volume, like the title of a book. The first one might be “The Bloodsuckers: Vampire Lawyers of Middle Tennessee,” but the next one might be “Past and Present: A Bloodsuckers Novella” and so forth. Naming them something else isn’t hard, but redoing the cover every time is. The covers can be similar, but need to look different enough that they’ll look like separate works. And there’s still the possibility that Smashwords will not approve; after all, it’s not like any of this actually involves changing the content or the format.
But then I heard about Wattpad. Fifty Shades of Gray started life off either Wattpad or something like it. Teen Abigail Gibbs began a serialized novel on either Wattpad or something like it, and she ended up with a huge book deal.
In short, Wattpad can be a way to get discovered. Of course, that’s like winning the lottery, but, hey, you can’t win if you don’t play.
What is Wattpad? you ask. It’s a social media site for writers and readers. It works almost exactly like a blog, only you post nothing but stories (or non-fiction articles). People can then easily search categories or tags to find stories they like. They can read them via a moble app or on the web. (I’ve looked, but it doesn’t look like you can download to an e-reader, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t a feature that gets added.) They can make comments on each story, vote for it, share it easily via other forms of social media, etc. There are forums where readers can talk about what they like and interact with authors.
One of the problems with writing a blog about writing is that your readers tend to be other writers. Of course, I don’t limit my posts to only writing and publishing, but I must admit that’s the bulk of what I talk about. But people who like to read vampire fiction aren’t necessarily into writing, grammar lessons, publishing info, etc., which means The Bloodsuckers can be hard for them to find on the vast seas of the internet, because it’s not really where they would look for it.
In short, The Bloodsuckers and my blog have two different purposes and two different audiences which only partially overlap.
This is not a new concept; self-publishing gurus have been saying for ages that you need to identify your audience and write for them. It’s okay if you want to be a writer writing for other writers (Catherine Ryan Howard seems to do an even business between her travel memoirs and her how-to-self-publish work), but most writers are writing for an audience of fiction readers. And they can be kind of hard to find and even harder to get them onto your blog.
Wattpad fixes that problem, because all you are doing is writing, and you are writing just for people who want to read.
So where does The Bloodsuckers enter into all of this? Well, if you haven’t guessed already, I’m going to try to move all of it over to Wattpad. (Here’s the start of it.) This actually fulfills one of my preferred marketing tactics, which is to cross-reference. One of the reasons why I wanted to get all of my static book information off my blog (the main reason, though, was it was too hard to organize) and onto a website was so that I had one more point of contact with my potential audience–one more way of being found on the internet.
Wattpad is just another way of being found–hopefully by people who like reading my stuff, and hopefully by people who will be convinced to pay money for some of my stuff.
At present, I plan on releasing new Bloodsucker episodes both on my blog and on Wattpad (and yes, I have a new one to release!), but I’m going to monitor my page views on the blog versus the ones I get on Wattpad, to see if it’s worth the effort of posting in both places every single time. When the vast majority of my audience is on Wattpad (as I expect it one day to be), I’ll probably stop posting them here (although I’ll notice people when a new episode is available on Wattpad).
So, if you haven’t already been to Wattpad, give it a look. For those of you who self-publish, you might want to consider making a few of the chapters of your book(s) available on Wattpad as a way to find and entice new readers. (I already make half of Acceptance free to download from Smashwords. I figure if you can read half of it and not want to know how it ends, it’s either not your kind of book or I’m not a good writer.)