My Wattpad Story
Welcome to my tiny corner of the Internet! I'm so pleased you are here!
In my blog posts, I am hoping to answer questions that people ask me all the time, talk about my writing world, and even lay out some of my methods. Every writer's journey is unique, and I want to share mine!
I thought I would share how I got started on Wattpad, and where I am today.
I think I have to go back to 2015, to when I was writing just for me. It was an escape, something I had done for years and years before then. I didn't share it much. I wasn't ready. Some King Arthur fanfiction is likely floating out there somewhere. I wrote most of that in the middle to late 2000's, I believe.
When I attended a meeting for a talk by a friend Tammy Plunkett,for the local chapter of the Romance Writers of America, I was introduced to this crazy world of self-publishing. I had fantasized about publishing my writing someday, and doing it myself? The enthusiasm of the writers I had lunch with was infectious!
One writer showed me Wattpad. She was sharing her books on what she described as a "social media book platform". I assumed it would be similar to livejournal, or fanfiction.net, so I took a quick peek. I was curious because there were all kinds of fiction genres to read, not just terrible fanfiction, or erotica. I posted a couple of microstories I had written, and then forgot about it when life got busy.
In early 2017, I finished writing a book. I was proud of it, but the idea of querying, or publishing it with all the work involved to promote myself was overwhelming, and quite frankly, too much with a day job, two kids and a home to keep. My husband said "Why not put it on that lightbulb site and see if people like it?" - cue me waffling for days, biting my nails to the nub, and then, after a glass (or two) of wine, I did. I posted it. My first completed romance novel was out in the world for all to see! That book was For Alice, with Love.
In late 2017, I had finished writing another romance novel, this one a bit steamier and sexier. I hadn't figured out how to promote my books yet, nor was I using the site to my advantage, but given no one was reading my first book, the scary-factor of putting another book up was less than before. So I did it. That book was Protecting Jess.
My writing floodgates had opened, and I was writing more consistently. There is something about completing a book, even just a first draft, that gives a writer permission to keep writing. It is a checkpoint, so to speak. Writing gets easier when you know you can finish a thing.
So I kept writing.
I had started a story called Two Cream, No Sugar in 2018. It was spawned from the off-hand thought of what it would be like meeting my favourite baseball player in an airport. I wrote the meet-cute first chapter, and put it into my ideas folder. But it spoke to me five years (or more) later, and I began writing it. Pair baseball with wine, and a one-night stand in Vegas, and you have a literal blueprint to one of my fantasies.
I decided, once I was halfway through writing it, that I would post this one as I was writing it, as I had seen other Wattpad writers doing. So in early 2019, I made the plunge and started posting. It was performing about as well as the others, which meant barely any reads, a few votes or comments. So my update schedule was sporadic, as I did not have a consistent writing schedule. Read: when I could write, I did!
In July of last year, I suddenly had a flood of notifications into my email. Hundreds. I immediately popped into Wattpad to find out if there was some sort of weird bug that had glitched the site. Honestly, that was what I thought! But nope, I had thousands of new reads on Two Cream, No Sugar. I disconnected my email notifications, and then watched as my Wattpad notifications inbox filled. A very kind reader messaged me, congratulating me on my book being featured on the Editor's Pick List.
So over I went, and to my complete and utter surprise, there it was, my book, featured! First, I was overjoyed because wow how cool was that? Then, I panicked, because I wasn't done posting it, and was currently rewriting the third act. So I blitz wrote over a weekend, got the rest of the chapters up, and was buried by the absolute deluge of comments, votes, and reads that followed. All this while I was prepping for a month long trip to Newfoundland. Cue the crazy! Cue the excitement! Cue the "Oh my God, people are reading my book! YAY!" and then "Oh my God, people are reading MY BOOK... AHHHH!" - like Rapunzel in the forest, from the movie Tangled.
Two Cream, No Sugar stayed on the Pick List until September, I think. A long time. I went from just a few thousand reads to well over Three. Hundred. Thousand. - an incredible jump. I tried, while in Newfoundland, to keep up with comments, thanking folks, responding to everyone who told me they loved the book. I had to stand right beside the Internet booster at the cabin with my phone raised up in my hands, but I managed to do it!
McDonald's WIFI was my new best friend when we went to town.
Stars and Contests
I entered the book in the Watty's on the off chance it might do well. I had no expectations, given that the quality of books on Wattpad has consistently gone up in the years I had perused and read, and I knew my book was a long way from perfect. I had come so far from being so scared to post my first book! Even if this was a blip, and I went back to anonymous writer, I had gained so much confidence in my writing, and that was a win in itself, Watty or no.
I think we were driving through Cape Breton on our way home from Newfoundland in late August when I checked my email at a roadside stop. This was when Wattpad asked me to be a Star. I'm not sure I stopped randomly squeeing until we hit the New Brunswick border. Of course I said yes, and was introduced to a tribe of writers I am humbled to be part of. All over the world, all different ages and persuasions. I was overjoyed to have both a community to draw from, and a place to give to.
So fast forward to September and... I won a Romance Watty for Two Cream, No Sugar!
I just stared at the notification for a moment before announcing to my entire office "I WON!" - I was at work, at my day job. I'm not sure it sunk in right away, but by that evening, when I was updating my social media and attaching the cover to the story with the Watty Winner badge, I sat back and the happy tears were flowing.
My writing was good enough.
It is incredible to feel that. When your work, whatever it is, is lauded, and you are told it is good. When all the hard work you have put in pays off. Years and years of writing, frustration when words wouldn't flow, doubt and self-criticism... It all felt 100% worth it in that moment. There is no clear trajectory, it is a journey of ups and downs, and I was certainly on an up!
By late Fall, the book was up over 400,000 reads, and there was no sign it was slowing down.
Realizing a Dream
In late Fall, Wattpad contacted me again. This time, it was a query as to whether I would like to put Two Cream, No Sugar into the Paid Stories program.
I had to think on it a few days. Of course, I was overjoyed they wanted the book, but I was also wrestling with all the readers who had sent comments that they loved the book, that they read it over and over. If I put it behind a paywall, would my reads slow down? Would fans be upset?
After looking at the books already in the Paid Stories lineup, and chatting with a few of the Paid Writers in the Stars forums, I decided to do it. I signed the contract (with my heart hammering in my chest!) and then we got to work. I readjusted the chapters to be a little more even with word counts, and my Paid rep Emma did a copy edit.
the biggest change was the title of the book. I love my original title, it felt unique, and tied back to the story premise very well. However, to market the book, we needed something a little catchier, something that would speak to the baseball theme. We changed the cover too, and sexy Josh now graced the front, his abs on full display, his white pants brilliantly clean.
So Two Cream, No Sugar became Out of His League. Not a unique title, by far (there are a lot of books with that name) but it fit, and was the best choice. I won't lie, I was sad to change the name, but I listened to the folks at Wattpad. They know their audience, they know their business. If I wanted this book to be a success, and build on the idea that I could actually be a published author, I needed to be open to changes and ideas to make it the best it could be.
In December, the book went live on the Paid Stories "hero" spot, and the paywalls went up. That weekend I could barely keep up to the notifications and comments! It was just like when it was first put onto the Editor's Pick List. Thousands of reads later, I was astonished! I was also informed that it had broken records on coin redemption (at the time, I am sure that has been surpassed by now).
It hit home that I was now - officially - a published author. Sure, not in a traditional sense, I did not have a physical copy of a book in my hands, but people were buying my book! I was both overjoyed, and humbled.
Since December, Out of His League has hit over 1,000,000 reads. Considering last July it was less than 50,000 reads, this is a HUGE accomplishment. It has slowed down now, since the book is no longer in the top ribbon of books you see on the Home page, making way for other incredibly good books in the program.
I realized a dream in 2019, which was publishing a book. When I talk to people now and they ask me what I do, I tell them I am a writer. It feels good every time I say it.
I look forward now with a few mixed-in emotions. I'm so very excited for the next adventure, and with a bit of anxiety because now I have to replicate the success of Out of His League! Can I do it again?
I'm enjoying being part of the Paid Program immensely, and recently was a panelist on a Stars Education panel about Romance writing with another author that I admire. When I was asked (and said YES! enthusiastically) I had a moment where I said to my husband "They think I'm good enough to do a panel with TAMARA LUSH!" - I still sometimes feel like I am just beginning to see my voice as a writer, and hone my craft to a level that is readable. Maybe I will always feel that way!
Nevertheless, I hope to do more of those kinds of talks, sharing concepts, ideas and methods with other writers. It was so much fun. Hence why I am starting this blog.
Wattpad has given me a platform to write for, and gave me the opportunity to take that writing to a new level. I don't know if I can ever properly put to words what it meant for me to see my book up on the home page of a website that gets 80 million viewers a month. What it has meant to be part of a website like Wattpad, seeing the ways they are changing the publishing world.
I'll answer the question of why I am sticking with Wattpad in another post, or this post will get far too long.
As for right now? I'm deep into new projects, including a country romance series set on a ranch in Alberta. How to Properly Cook Beef is the first in the West Brothers Series, with How to Mend Fences book two, which I have just started posting.
And... There are many more opportunities to come. I'm excited for all of them, and opening my heart and mind to the possibilities!
Joyful reading and writing, everyone, and see you again soon! ♥