apps, Publishing, writing

Should Indie Authors Bother With Chat Fiction?

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Image via Pixabay

Last year, I came upon a newish trend in fiction and that was chat fiction.  For those of you who aren’t hip to what teens are up to, chat fiction is basically storytelling presented as chat messages.  Chat fiction has caught the attention of Wattpad, as well Amazon, who have invested in this new form of storytelling.  In fact, some of these companies are actively looking to commission work in order to help populate their catalogs.  I’ll get to that later, but first, let me answer the question why?

Why Are Teens Reading Books On Their Phones?

To understand this trend or evolution in storytelling, you have to understand why teens are reading these stories on their phones and not on a laptop, or an ereader like a Kindle.  According to a 2013, Pew Research Center report 74% of teens aged 12 to 17, accessed the internet on phones and tablets.  Many also reported that they often share a computer with a family member like a parent or sibling.  This means that their phones are a personal item they own and don’t have to share.  Also, most phones can access the home wi-fi network, so bills won’t be too high.

Whose Idea Was This Anyway?

Chat fiction is a spin-off of cellphone fiction that became popular in Japan during the early 2000’s.  Called keitai shousetsu, meaning cellphone novel, this form of storytelling became a phenomenon among middle grade teens and commuters in Japan.  Several Japanese authors became very popular by writing poetry, as well as short, serialized stories that people, mainly teens, read on their phones.  The most popular cellphone stories were picked up by traditional publishers in Japan, or made into movies, and even anime.

Fast forward to 2012, a tech entrepreneur is on a sabbatical after selling her company, and as you can imagine, she’s writing a book.  While writing her YA novel, she has serious doubts as to whether it would resonate with teens and questioned whether kids even read books anymore.  So she and her husband did several experiments and learned that teens would read books but only if they were short and intense.  We’re talking just a few minutes or less than 1,000 words.  So this author had an idea to create stories that kids could read on their cellphones however, unlike keitai shousetsu, these stories would take the form of chat messages.  The app she created was called, Hooked and became popular in both the iTunes and Google Play stores.  This caught the attention of big companies like Wattpad, who created their own chat fiction app called, Tap and Amazon, not wanting to be left out of the party, created Amazon Rapids.

The most popular chat fiction apps include:

Good News: Hooked Will Actually Pay Authors

Hooked is currently looking for authors who can deliver an interactive experience for their readers.  That means choose your own adventure type stories as well short, fast paced stories.  However, this must all be written in a chat like format, so this will be a challenge for any author.  But if you’re up to it, here are some tips when submitting:

  • Must be familiar with smart phones particularly, chat features
  • You need to be able to write short fiction, as in three minutes short or under 1,000 words.
  • Though places like Hooked, accept multiple genres like sci-fi, they say horror and thrillers do best on their site.
  • The compensation isn’t a change your life type of pay but better than the nothing that the rest of the other apps seem to offer.

Stats About Hooked’s Users

  • 69% of users are between the ages of 18-24.
  • More than half of their users are female.
  • The majority of stories on Hooked are user generated but the most popular ones are from commissioned works.

 

Hooked Story 1
Sound of the Century from Hooked (Click on the pic to see the rest on Instagram)

 

Yarn is also considering paying writers somewhere down the road but as of this posting has yet to launch that project.

In Conclusion…

Is chat fiction a fad?  Who knows, many people thought online fan fiction was a fad but that’s still going strong since 1998.  Only time will tell if young people will continue reading on their phones.  Although I doubt it, like with most technology, phones will continue to evolve and if you know anything about young people, you know things that are cool now, quickly become obscure.  In the mean time, if you’re targeting middle graders or teens and aren’t having a lot of success reaching them, this might be a potential tool for you.

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Book Promotion, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Publishing, Social Media, writing

How to Get Featured on Wattpad

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Wattpad is the most popular story sharing platform on the web today with over 25 million registered users.   Though predominately frequented by teens and tweens, they have recently been expanding into the adult genres of romance, thrillers and spirituality.  Now before I proceed, I must warn you that there are over 40 million stories posted on Wattpad as of this date.  So it is getting more and more difficult to get noticed these days and this year it’s gotten worse since they started featuring bestselling authors from major publishing companies.  In other words, Wattpad isn’t a site for amateurs anymore.

Favoritism

If you haven’t, go to their features page, you’ll notice that there are stories that get placed in prime spots so readers can see them. Those featured authors generally get lots of views and it’s rather easy to get featured believe it or not.

Forget What You’ve Heard

Yes, the people at Wattpad say that you need to comment on other stories and post videos to get the ball rolling but that’s not the way to score views. From what I’ve observed, the key to big views are features. If you can get your story featured, then there’s a good chance you’ll get popular, very quickly. So how do we do that? I asked the community manager Gavin Wilson at Wattpad and I was told that:

  • You must commit your story to Wattpad for 6 months.
  • Your story needs a good cover between (256 x 400) pixels
  • The story should be over 30 pages although, they do consider shorter work occasionally.
  • Also you’ll need a good blurb

Now if you think you got what it takes then contact them at: writers@wattpad.com and give them time to get back to you.  It took two and half weeks to get a response to my questions but then again, this was during the holiday season.

wattpad_logo-svg

 

What Exactly Should You Be Sharing?

I think Wattpad is a great place to share a short prequel to a published book. This way you’re not sacrificing too much if it doesn’t work out. Keep it short, sweet and exciting because remember, this is a younger crowd.

Another tip: You should mention any other published books and where they’re available at the end of the story.

There is small number of authors who have struck publishing deals by dominating Wattpad. Though I don’t hear those stories often, it’s no secret that agents and editors love authors who already have a built-in fan base. So Wattpad could be the place to cut your teeth if you’re an author looking to get a publishing contract or if you simply want to build up your email list.

Now back to you, have you had any success with Wattpad? If so, tell us about it and share your hacks.

Marketing, Networking, Social Media

My Review Of Wattpad

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Image via Wikimedia Commons

*Check out the update to this post here and here because things have changed*

For those of you who don’t know what Wattpad is, it’s a story sharing site and most recently, a crowdfunding site.  Unlike FanFiction.net, Wattpad, is much easier to navigate and more visually appealing.  Since joining, I’ve shared several stories from YA fiction, a crime story and even a vampire novel (which I have taken down).

Wattpad has become so hot that publishing companies such as Book Country (Penguin/Random), and Swoon Reads (Macmillian) have copied its business model.  Allowing authors to post their manuscripts and letting their “community” to vote it up or down.  Those that become popular, are picked up by the publishing company after all the hard work has been done.

My Pseudo Analysis

I signed up for Wattpad little over a year ago, and learned that most of their readers are bored, young people looking for a freebie.  And despite what you may have read in the various online publications, there aren’t many agents, or editors looking for talent on Wattpad.  Like KDP, there are only a handful of authors who can actually credit their success to the site.

But back to the matter at hand, I shared the first three chapters of my YA novel “Hag” and got no increase in sales and a mere 54 views.  My vampire novel did the best with 253 views and three votes.  My crime novel, “Fedelta” has 64 views and 3 votes.  By the way, “Fedelta” is a free serial story that I’ve been sharing online at the Cereal Authors Blog.  Sadly, there have been more views on the CA blog than on Wattpad, and that’s saying a lot since WP boasts of a monthly readership of 10 million people.

The Crappy Part About Wattpad

Wattpad is considered a social media site for readers so, this is a good place to find those who will take a chance on a new author.  Like Amazon, there are awards and even features on the home page which Wattpad only gives to those with lots of views and votes.  So in essence, it’s a popularity contest which is okay with me, but I’ve noticed they are rolling out the red carpet for authors like Margaret Atwood because of their already solid fan base.  For example, when Wattpad rolled out their own crowdfunding  venture several months ago, only certain authors with a large number of followers were allowed to participate.  I’m guessing it’s because they wanted their program to start off successfully.  That way they can pretend their site is better at raising funds than Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

I see this site becoming increasingly newbie unfriendly.

How to Get Comments & Votes

If you want to have a go at it, Wattpad has several pieces of advice for authors and here are the top 7:

  1. Make sure your profile has a picture of you, the real you.
  2. Upload often and consistently.
  3. Read and comment on other stories.
  4. Share via social media; Facebook, Twitter etc.
  5. Upload video and audio files to your work.
  6. Be sure that your book has a cover picture.
  7. If your book is available on Amazon or B&N you can add an external link to it.

Notice the tips above are very similar to those given to bloggers, so why not just create a blog and promote that?  There have been several authors who have had success blogging and even tweeting their books.  You don’t need a middle man.  But I digress…

The Conclusion

I believe if you put a lot of work into building your audience on sites like Wattpad, Goodreads, or even Scribd, it will work.  Unfortunately, this will be an audience of freebie seekers and not fans of your work.  Fans buy books, not followers.

Since I’ve published my first book in 2012, I’ve noticed that getting visibility for my book isn’t hard at all.  It’s getting people to PAY for my book that’s the most difficult part of self-publishing.  As of today, I haven’t met any indie authors who have seen an increase in sales due to their platform on Wattpad.  The common sentiment in the indie community is that it’s a complete waste of time, like Goodreads.

So what are your thoughts?  Have you used Wattpad and if so, what were the results?

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Marketing, Networking

Sharing Book Excerpts Online for Maximum Exposure.

After my KDP experiment, I was free to not only sell my book anywhere I wanted, but I could now share excerpts from my book.  The only question was where?  There are so many story sites but which ones were worth the investment?  I only have so much time as an author to devote to figuring out apps and uploading files.  So I sifted through the trash to give you the lowdown on the best places to share your excerpts.

Goodreads

Goodreads has a thriving community of 12 million reads which is great for exposure.  First it’s important to have an author account.  It’s also vital you claim your book under that account.  Goodreads only allows those with an author’s account to upload chapters from their books in an .epub or .pdf file on their site.

Go to your author dashboard and scroll down to the “My Books” section and click edit.

Goodreads
Click image to magnify.

Immediately you’ll be taken to the edit page where you can change the details about your book and even upload files like excerpts or even the entire book.

Book Excerpts

 

Within a day or so you will be sent an email asking you to go over the work and approve it, then voila, your excerpts are available on Goodreads.

Wattpad

Wattpad boasts of a reader base of 10 million, which isn’t bad.  Though it’s known as a teen site, you have to be over the age of 13 to join.  Also you can rate your work PG-13, or Restricted.  Nonetheless there are rules as to what you can upload.  According to their Content Guidelines  you can not: “ Submit any material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, libelous, threatening, pornographic, harassing, hateful, racially offensive, or is otherwise inappropriate.”

It’s easy to share there as well, just create an account and go to the top of the page where you see your profile pic and hover your cursor over it.  Now go to “My Works” and near the corner where it says “New Story” click on and now copy and paste your story.

Wattpad

Uploading your excerpts to Wattpad

Like all story sharing sites, you need to gather followers like social media, or blogging.  You have to promote your own work, and make your rounds by commenting on other stories.

Your Blog or Website

Believe it or not, I almost forgot this one!  Your website needs to be your hub in case places like Goodreads, Facebook or Wattpad become obsolete or unfriendly to your work.

Scribd

Scribd is mainly a nonfiction site but I found several books being shared in various genres like; Chick-Lit, YA, and Thrillers here.  They also have a Facebook app if you want to skip using the primitive, Facebook notes feature.

Social Media

Just about every author who has a Facebook, Google+ or MySpace page shares their work.  James Patterson and Sidney Sheldon are just a few authors who use social media in this way.  It wouldn’t hurt if you gave it a try.  I did this using the Facebook notes feature but saw that the professionals are using apps like Scribd and Heyo.  There is definitely an upgrade in my fanpage’s future!

*Tip* Make sure at the end of your excerpt, you share a link to Amazon or wherever you’re selling your book, so fans can know exactly where they can buy it.

Booksie

Booksie is a sight where not only can you publish excerpts but also mp3 audio versions of your book.  Not a bad idea for those of us looking to branch out into the audio world.

Well I just about covered it, if you know of anymore free sites that allow authors to share excerpts or complete books (for free) let us know in the comments section.