Tips For Making Your Wattpad Story Wattys Worthy

Watty’s season is here again!

For anyone who isn’t super familiar, The Wattys are like the Oscars of Wattpad. Every summer hundreds of thousands of books are entered for consideration, with only a small group ultimately winning the coveted title in a handful of categories.

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 12.10.50 PMLast year I was extraordinarily lucky enough to be one of those winners. The Wattpad edition of my first novel, The Star and the Ocean, was named one of 50 winners in 2017’s Watty Awards. It’s an accomplishment I still haven’t gotten over, and it’s exciting to know that a new round of authors will soon get to experience that special thrill for themselves!

But if you’ve been following me for a while, you know I actually submitted TSATO for The Wattys in 2016 as well (it was only because I didn’t finish the book until February of 2017 that it was eligible to be re-submitted last year as well).

Needless to say, I didn’t win the first time around.

While I didn’t say anything publicly, I was SUPER heartbroken over it. I, like so many other entrants, truly thought my book had what it took to win. But because I knew I’d have a second shot I excused myself from my pity party and took some steps to make sure the book was as good as it could be when the contest opened back up again in 2017.

Whether you missed the mark last year or are planning on giving it a shot this year for the first time, here are some of the things I did to get my book ready for the Wattys!

Look for feedback and actually do something with it

Even the most constructive criticism can be hard to take, but if you want to improve your work you’re going to have to suck it up. Ask your readers for feedback and pay close attention to what they have to say. A lot of it might end up just being matters of preference but if you see legitimate issues cropping up, make the effort to address them.

I completely restructured the beginning of The Star and the Ocean, as well as the length of my chapters, in September of 2016 because of reader feedback. It was a massive undertaking (not to mention a frustrating pain in the ass) but in the end, it did make the story stronger and more attractive to readers.

Finish your story (or at least be as close as you can)

Technically your story doesn’t have to be finished to be eligible for The Wattys (in the past you’ve been required to have a minimum of five parts up) but I truly think it helps. The first time I submitted TSATO it wasn’t quite halfway finished, whereas last year it was complete. I’m sure the judges do their absolute best to keep an open mind when going into unfinished stories, but you’ve got to admit that it’s easier to appreciate and understand a full and complete work over a handful of chapters. Think of it this way: would you ever pick a favourite movie based solely on the teaser alone?

Get those reads

This piece of advice is completely based on speculation and observation. The number of reads your story has don’t technically factor into the judging criteria, and there are definitely winners each year with only a few thousand reads. But the majority of winning stories tend to have read counts on the higher side. Does it matter? Probably not. Does it hurt to try? Nope.

If you’re stumped over how to drum up reads, begin by understanding that no one breaks the 100k read mark overnight. When I submitted TSATO in the Wattys the first time I had around 3k reads by the time the contest closed. In 2017 I had over 100k when the contest opened. It’s a long game and you have to be committed to playing it.

Admittedly, a lot of my reads came from features; first by making the Wattpad Featured Fantasy list and again by their official LGBT account. While Wattpad has since changed how its Featured List works, there are still plenty of other Book of the Month lists you can apply – or have someone nominate you – for. I also recommend entering book clubs. They’re a bit time consuming but you’re guaranteed reads PLUS most book clubs require participants to leave feedback, which we already know can also be helpful.

Be kind to yourself

Would it be amazing to win? Damn right! Are you a shitty writer if you don’t? Of course not. Not everyone can win and there are SO MANY great books out there that will never win anything. No contest defines your worth as a writer, so don’t let this one stop you from doing what you love!

Best of luck to everyone who throws their hat into the ring this year – I’ll be rooting for you!


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Introducing The WIP Podcast!

Yesterday I spent hours talking to my friends and fellow writers Athena Wright, Brianna Kienitz, and Rey Noble, which is a pretty excellent way to spend a Sunday.

But we weren’t just talking for the sake of catching up: we were recording the first couple episodes of our new writing podcast!

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The Work in Progress Podcast is a conversation between four creative friends talking about creative things. It’s mostly going to be writing, but not always! We’ll each take turns hosting and will cover a wide range of topics, including those submitted by the audience.

We know there a tons of writing podcasts out there, so what makes ours different?

So glad you asked 😉

What’s interesting about the four of us, aside from the fact that we’re all at vastly different places in our writing careers, is the different ways we’ve chosen to get our work out there. Our group includes an indie trad author, a hybrid self-pubbed author, a web-based author, and an aspiring author, all of whom have experienced different degrees of success, which means we have a wide breadth of experience (not to mention, opinions!) to share.

We’re also a lot of fun to listen to, if I do say so myself.

The podcast is only hosted on Anchor but you can subscribe to it via major broadcast platforms too (like iTunes!) You can find the episodes via our website now!

Have questions or potential topics for us? Want to follow along and engage? You can tweet us @TheWIPpod or send us an e-mail.

We can’t wait to hear what you think!


Writer’s Guilt: Shaking it off and Getting Back on Track

Nothing about this month worked out the way I wanted it to.

Remember when I said I was taking August off from all my other projects to get The Witch’s Patron ready to publish?

LOL.

I started out strong; I combed through my beta feedback, made notes throughout my manuscript, identified places that need work, and outlined a bunch of sections I need to add. I was feeling so good about my progress and direction!

But when the time came to do the writing I just… stalled.

After those first couple weeks I just couldn’t find the motivation to write or revise. First there was the fact that I had something going on virtually every weekend of the month, then I wound up spending two weeks in pain from a floor hockey tournament gone wrong, fighting off an infection, and grappling with a flare up in my depression. Still, when I did have time and desire to write, it was never for The Witch’s Patron. I started to feel guilty because I had set aside the time to work on this one project; I wasn’t supposed to be working on anything else! So instead of writing what I was inspired to write I just… didn’t write at all.

I wound up doing a lot of “productive procrastination”, working on art and opening my commissions instead of writing. If felt good to be doing something, but as August drew to an end I started to feel like the entire month had been a waste of time.

So, what did I learn from this failed experiment?

Putting strict parameters on my creativity does not work for me.

I would have been better off if I had just let myself work on whatever I was most inspired by in the moment than forcing myself into a box.

Which is why, moving forward, I’m going to do exactly that.

Yes, I’d still like to have The Witch’s Patron polished by the time I go to the Surrey International Writer’s Conference at the end of October, but not at the detriment of my other projects or my own happiness. I want to enjoy the ride again and not feel guilty about what I am or a not doing.

So, there you have it, folks – I’m back to my regularly scheduled programming. Here’s hoping loosening the reigns will help me get back on track!


May - Ko-Fi

31 Days to Query-Ready: How I’ll be Spending the Month of August

Hello, August. I’ve been waiting for you.

If you’re someone who’s come here looking for the regular Wednesday update of The Wind and the Horizon, I’ve got both good and bad news for you.

The bad news is that there won’t be a new chapter today. In fact, there won’t be any new Wednesday chapters for the rest of the month.

But don’t worry! The good news is this isn’t a hiatus; I’ll still be posting new chapters on Fridays.

I know it’s not necessarily ideal, but I swear I have a good reason for slowing things down a bit.

I’ve decided to spend this entire month focusing on getting my 2016 NaNoWriMo manuscript ready to query. Aside from blog posts and my newsletter, I’ll be dropping all of my other projects until September to focus on rewrites and edits on my novel, The Witch’s Patron.

For those keeping score at home, I know I’ve said I’ve been leaning more towards self publish. But this October I’ll be heading to the Surrey International Writer’s Conference (more on that in another blog post) and, along with getting to attend three days of really cool and informative sessions, I’ll also have the chance to network with people in various roles throughout the publishing industry. The more I thought about this opportunity the more I realized it would be a waste to attend without having a polished manuscript in my back pocket ready to go.

Y’know, just in case.

Plus I think it would be a good experience to try querying at least once.

I see you wondering about The Star and the Ocean, but that – and the entire Starborn Series – is a different beast altogether. I have plans for that story that don’t include having it shined up and ready to flaunt in a few months time.

And with that I embark on a month-long writing adventure that will no doubt involve a great deal of caffeine, long nights, and temper tantrums, but will hopefully end up being a good, character building experience by the time it’s all over. I’ve already started sifting through beta notes, mentally preparing myself to rework the story into the best version of itself it can be (or, at least the best version I can make it). I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

In the mean time, please excuse the decrease in TWATH updates. The options were to either maintain the current schedule, which would have meant blowing through the remainder of my buffer and an eventual hiatus come September, or drop down to once a week now and avoid the need for a hiatus later.

Hopefully you feel I made the right choice!

Thanks for understanding – I appreciate your patience. If you have any tips or advice for me with regards to my project with The Witch’s Patron please let me know in the comments!

How Embracing My Sexuality Helped Me Get My Creative Groove Back || by Maggie Derrick — BiblioSapphic

I was lucky enough to contribute a guest post on BiblioSapphic about how coming out as bisexual helped me reconnect with my creative side. Enjoy! ❤

From the time I was a child until I went off to university, I knew exactly who I was: an artist. Art was my everything; other interests came and went but drawing and painting were always there. Having a creative outlet helped me get through my parents’ divorce and, later, my tumultuous teen years. In […]

via How Embracing My Sexuality Helped Me Get My Creative Groove Back || by Maggie Derrick — BiblioSapphic

Reblog: “What are the odds of getting published?” by Milly Schmidt

How many times have you plugged the question: ‘What are the odds of getting published?’ into google? Me – an innumerable amount. There is nothing more mesmeric than seeing that ‘magic’ number of new authors who manage to score a publishing deal or literary agent in any given year. And nothing gives more of a thrill of […]

via What are the odds of getting published? — Milly Schmidt

Even though I’m still pretty sure I’m going to end up going the self-pub route, the idea of giving the querying process a shot is kind of growing on me (if only just for the experience).

This is a quick but interesting read about the odds of getting published and the most important factor we should be considering when we throw ourselves to the mercy of the traditional publishing machine.

Just Right: How Long Should a Novel Be?

How long should a novel be?

Like, in your opinion, what would be the word count of a not-too-short-but-not-too-long novel be? The Goldilocks length, if you will.

I ask because I’m working on The Wind and the Horizon right now and, when I was trying to figure out where in my outline to end book two, I realized I didn’t actually know the final word count of The Star and the Ocean. I had also noticed a few users on Wattpad steamrolling through the story in a single sitting, which on one hand was cool but on the other raised questions about its length. So, I looked into it, and…

It was only 67k.

Now, according to the folks at NaNoWriMo, 50k is considered to be a respectable length for a short novel.

But think about this for a moment: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is nearly 77k and it’s the shortest of the series (not that I’m trying to write my own Goblet of Fire-length epic or anything).

I supposed to a certain point it’s all subjective: one person might think HP1 is a fairly brief read while another could consider it an ideal length. The same could then be said for a novel of 67k words.

Personally, I expected TSATO to be longer. I’d like for it to be at least as long as HP1, which means I’ll have some serious beefing up to do when I get around to revising the next draft. I left a lot of ideas out when I was writing with my Wattpad audience in mind (by in large they don’t really have the patience for backstory and exposition) and now I have regrets.

This is probably a good time to mention, if you’ve read The Star and the Ocean already I would love to know if there are any sections or plot points you think should be expanded. Thanks to the people who saw me whining about this on Twitter earlier this week and have already passed on some solid suggestions!

Whether you’ve read TSATO or not, I’d still like to know what you think the ideal length of a novel should be!

Experimenting With In-World One-Shots

I’ve mentioned a couple times now that I’ve been writing short one-shot stories as exclusive freebies for my mailing list subscribers. This exercise has turned out to have an unintended yet awesome benefit that I thought I would share for my fellow writers to consider.

Aside from being a fun way to say thanks to the people who have chosen to invest their time (and occasionally their dollars) in my work, writing these stories has been the perfect way for me to take a break from my larger WIP without losing my writing momentum.

The stories I’ve been writing take place in the Starborn universe (so far just focusing on May and Em but I’ve got plans for other characters too). Writing them gives me the chance to be self-indulgent (*cough*Good Morning*cough cough*) without worrying about impacting the overall plot of the story, while simultaneously exploring the characters and their world. It’s turned out to be a writing exercise that keeps me working and inspired; I’ve already managed to iron out a couple of tricky issues that were slowing me down with book 2 just by giving my mind a bit more room to play.

Everyone has different ways of dealing with hang-ups when working on a writing project: walk away for a while, re-work the scene, write out of order, etc. But I’ve always struggled with most of these options. Not writing, especially when it means temporarily excusing myself from the story I’ve been so engrossed in, makes me feel unproductive (plus I miss my characters!) and writing out of order never really works for me. In-world one-shots let me stay with my characters without having to commit to anything more than a thousand-ish words.

The next time you find yourself struggling with your WIP (or even just needing a change of pace for a little bit) give an in-world one-shot a try! I’d love to hear how it works for you!

P.S. Are you interested in reading my next EmMay one-shot, Can’t Stop the Waves? Sign up for my mailing list before May 15th 2017 for access!


Ko-Fi May

Just Another Camp NaNoWriMo Runaway

It’s May: the month of my birth AND a the month I spend jumping every time someone says the date because I think they’re talking about my May. The fact that it’s May also means that April – and subsequently, Camp NaNoWriMo – is over.

So, how did I do?

Let’s put in this way: LOL.

I didn’t even come close to hitting my 30k word goal.

That said, I did write. A lot, in fact.

For starters, I made a solid start on The Wind and the Horizon, the sequel to The Star and the Ocean. In the first half of the month I was able to get the prologue and first nine chapters drafted, which is pretty respectable in my opinion. I also managed to write two one-shot short stories that I’m making exclusively accessible for my mailing list subscribers (speaking of which, have you subscribed yet?)

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with my progress.

How about you? If you participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, how did you finish? If you didn’t go to camp, tell me about what you’re working on right now!


Ko-Fi May

Traditional Publishing: How It Works and Why it Matters

Yesterday I mentioned that I’ve been reconsidering whether or not traditional publishing is an avenue I’d like to pursue. This post by Kristen Lamb was one of the most eye-opening things I’ve read about the industry. Hopefully you’ll all find it as interesting as I did!

Have thoughts on the subject? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Today, dear newbies. I am going to take you on a tour behind the curtain. Also for those who are NOT newbies, feel free to pass this to family in a “Take Your Clueless Friends Who Think You Will Make a Million Dollars as Soon as You Publish To WORK Day.”

via The Hard Truth About Publishing—What Writers & Readers NEED to Know — Kristen Lamb’s Blog