Sunday 17 April 2016

Writing: Getting to Grips with Wattpad

 What is Wattpad?

Wattpad is a free social media app for writers and readers. Writers of all abilities, from newbies to professional authors, can post stories one chapter at a time. Founded in 2006, Wattpad has more than 40 million users worldwide - and the majority are readers.

Most stories are read on a mobile phone; 50% of stories are written on a mobile phone. The most popular genres are YA, New Adult, sci-fi and romance. Wattpad is popular with teenagers, but 35% of users are aged between 18 and 30. Most users live in the USA, Canada and the UK, and it's the number one app in the Philippines.

It's not just for fan fiction either. Many established authors use Wattpad, including Margaret Atwood, Colleen Hoover and Meg Cabot.

But Is Wattpad For You?

If you are new to writing, I would suggest joining with a couple of friends. Wattpad is a great way to share and comment on each other's stories. You can add photos, videos and create a cast list of actors who you would love to play the part of your characters. My seventeen-year-old self would have loved Wattpad!

If you are a published author it can be an excellent way to connect with new readers - but it won't necessarily lead to book sales. As Wattpad is free to use, you are effectively giving away your work for free too. Consider posting the first book in a series, or a novella, or short samples of novels - the first two or three chapters. Check this is OK with your publisher first though. If you are with KDP Select, for example, you are limited to not publishing more than 10% of your book on any other website, including your own.

When I first joined Wattpad, I posted two 10,000 word short stories, originally published in an anthology, to which I still owned the rights. One of these was chosen by Wattpad to be one of their Featured Reads. You don't have to wait for your story to be chosen for this promotion, you can apply here. The only rule is that you have to agree for that story to stay on Wattpad for 6 months. The advantage of having your story featured is that you'll gain more readers and followers. 

If you are unpublished and serious about your writing, do be careful exactly what you post. Some competitions and publishers have a rule that they won't accept a story if it has already been published elsewhere - and that will include Wattpad. 


As with any social media account, put a bit of effort into setting up your profile. Use a unique picture for your avatar, either a photo of yourself or a picture that in some way represents you. And don't forget the banner (background strip at the top of the profile). Most users have a pen name but if you are already published, or have other social media accounts, or a blog/website, it makes sense to use the same name so you can be easily found by your readers. You can add links to these accounts from your Wattpad profile, and when you post a story you can also add a link to a retailer such as Amazon or Kobo. 

Make it clear if your story is only an extract. You don't want readers waiting for the end of a story which will never come.

Each chapter of a story counts as a separate read/vote, so it makes sense to post each chapter as a separate instalment. For example, Why Do Fools Fall in Love* has fifty-two chapters, so one person reading the whole story would be the equivalent to fifty-two reads.

It is up to you how long your chapters are. I try to aim for at least 1,000 words per instalment, preferably 1,500 words. It certainly makes you think about where to put your cliff-hangers!

Votes are worth more than reads, so gently encourage readers to vote for your story if they have enjoyed it. At the end of each of my chapters I have a 'call to action': 

Thank you for reading my story! 
If you have enjoyed it, please help others find it by voting!

I also add the date the next chapter will be posted.

If you are serialising a novel, try to post a new instalment once a week. If you want your story to rise up through the charts, you will need to post at least twice a week. 

Wattpad readers are non-critical when it comes to spelling mistakes and typos - to them, the characters and the story are more important - but don't use this as an excuse not to post your very best work! If you are posting a work-in-progress, you can go back and edit it at any time.

After you've published a new chapter, double-check for errors. I copy and paste my chapters, which look absolutely fine until I hit 'publish' - and then everything  mysteriously shifts to the left. Occasionally words merge and weird symbols appear. So I always make sure I check through what I've posted after publishing as well as before.

Remember to share your stories to your other social media accounts. Widgets are available to add to websites and blogs. You can also create quote art - a line or two from your story set against a pretty background.

Like Facebook and Twitter, you can post a message to your followers via the Conversations tab. Readers can write on your 'wall' and you can send direct messages to individual users. And every time you update a story, your followers will receive a notification.

Why I love Wattpad

One thing I found extremely disconcerting at first, was the way a reader can comment at any point during the text! But once I got over myself, I realised what a great idea it was. The comments are almost always positive and as a writer it is lovely to see how readers are engaging with your story and characters.

As stories are told in instalments, forcing readers to wait for the next part, it really made me think about where the best place was to end the chapter - and how much of a page-turner that chapter really was. It also made me think about the reader and what their reaction was likely to be to an upcoming scene.


If you are a published author, with little or no free time, looking for a social media site to do the whole 'buy my book' thing, Wattpad probably isn't for you.

If you are a published author wanting to expand on your readership, and you're happy to chat to fans about your characters and plot twists, you could post up a novella or the first book in a series. 

If you are new to writing and want to connect with fellow authors, and you have a thick enough skin to cope with readers putting comments all over your work, then why not give Wattpad a try? You could set up a profile and read other people's stories to get a feel for the site first, until you feel brave enough to dive in and post one of your own.

Like all social media, you'll get the most out of Wattpad the more you use it, and by being friendly, genuine and social. You need to take the time to do it properly - set up a profile, post stories or extracts, and interact with readers and other writers. Read, comment and vote for other people's stories; become involved.

And above all, don't forget to have fun!

*This story is no longer available to view on Wattpad

This post was previously published on Novelistas Ink

Monday 11 April 2016

A Walk on the Wild* Side & The Lonely Knight

In which I actually leave the house ...

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to stop working weekends and explore the surrounding countryside instead. I live in North Wales; it's one of the most beautiful places in the world; do I even need an excuse?

* This is as wild as I like to get ...
One of my favourite walks is along the River Llugwy in Betws-y-Coed. It's not too strenuous and there are plenty of coffee shops in the village. Betws-y-Coed Community Council have built a wooden walkway between the trees, suitable for wheelchairs and prams, as well as for when the route becomes too muddy underfoot. (You can tell I'm a townie). It's a very short walk (yup, townie), lasting about half an hour, but the scenery is beautiful. It is also possible to carry on walking alongside the river to the Miners' Bridge.

Here's a photo of the River Llugwy, taken from the walkway. I'm fascinated by the effect of light on water, and I'm always trying to photograph it - not terribly successfully.

Once you've walked past the walkway, some of the path is made up with these slabs of stone:

I loved these moss-covered boulders and had several tries at photographing them:

The River Llugwy, taken from the Miners' Bridge: 

As the name suggests, the bridge was used by the miners on their way to work in the Gwydyr Forest. It is unusual in that it is built at a steep incline.

The Miners' Bridge
I think my favourite bridge is the Sappers' Bridge, on the other side of the village. It's a suspension footbridge and was built by the Royal Engineers in 1930 to replace an earlier bridge which had been swept away. It crosses the River Conwy beside St Michael's Old Church - and is disconcertingly bouncy to walk on.
The Sappers' Bridge
looking towards St Michael's Church

The Sappers' Bridge
looking towards the A470
The River Conwy
taken from the Sappers' Bridge
The name Betws-y-Coed means 'prayer house in the woods' and is thought to refer to St Michael's Old Church, which was built in the 14th century and is the oldest building in the village.

St Michael's Old Church
taken from the Sappers' Bridge
St Michael's Old Church
(The yew trees are well over 500 years old)
Although the church was made redundant in 1873, with the building of St Mary's Church on the main road, it is still consecrated and holds a service on St Michael's Day (29th September) and a candlelit service at Christmas.

Interior of St Michael's Old Church
The church has been beautifully restored and is definitely worth a visit. The font dates from the 13th century (older than the church), and the Tudor linen fold panelling of the oak pulpit is believed to have come from Gwydir Castle at Llanrwst. But what caught my attention was the stone effigy of a knight - the kind more usually seen on top of a chest tomb. The Latin inscription says: 'Here lies Gruffydd son of Dafydd the Red: Lamb of God have mercy upon me'. So who was Gruffydd, and why is he lying here all on his own?

The effigy of
Gruffydd ap Dafydd Goch
Helpfully, there's a poster on the wall above him explaining his story. It says that he lived locally at Fedw Deg, that he fought under the Black Prince (son of Edward III) at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 and that he died sometime around 1370-80.

Because he's all on his own, I had imagined him to be a single man but apparently he was married to a lady named Margaret. His effigy shows him wearing the armour of a knight and he is armed with a sword and dagger. His feet rest on a lion, meaning he died in battle, and his coat of arms was a chevron with two oak leaves - the design is shown both on his belt buckle and his tunic. His head rests on a helmet topped with a bird holding an oak leaf in its beak. Unfortunately at some time in the past Gruffydd's helmet has been trimmed to fit the niche where it now rests.

There is a theory that he was descended from the princes of Gwynedd. His father was thought to be the illegitimate son of Dafydd, Lord of Denbigh, who was the brother of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (Llywelyn the Last), but no one can be sure.

How did his effigy end up in this tiny church? Well, the clue is in the date of his death. Given how important he was locally, and that the church was rebuilt at the same time, it is not unreasonable to conclude he was the original patron.

So, not such a lonely knight after all.

Recommended Coffee Shop:

The Alpine Coffee Shop and Gallery

Sources and Links:

The St Michael's Old Church guidebook, written by Lorna Scharer
St Michael's Old Church
Photos: Mine!

Related posts:

Castles, Ghosts...and Knights in Murky Armour
Castles and Cream Teas
Beyond the Bridge
More Ramblings About Tombs

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