Paid Stories Authors, a question about developing as a writer...

Actually, anyone can answer, but it was inspired by a comment @nick made in his AMA about professionalism in writing. He gave some great suggestions about how to act as a professional as a person and how to present professional stories, but I’m wondering what, if anything, paid stories authors did to reach that level of professional quality. Was there ever a moment where you were like “I want to be paid for my art and this is how I’m going to achieve that”?

Personally, I know I’m not at a professional level, but I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to go as a writer over the next 2-3 years, and have realized I want to be working towards professional quality. I’m the type of person who needs a plan, and while I’ve come up with personal goals to work towards, I hope this isn’t a weird or intrusive question to ask, but I’d love to hear about any of your personal experiences.

That’s awesome! I feel like I’m in the same boat. I’ve been setting small goals and then bigger and longer-term goals since I first started posting on Wattpad, and I think that’s allowed me to feel a sense of momentum in my own progress, and stay motivated.

For me, it was when I started posting the sequel to The Sword Unbroken. I had a ton of readers who waited over a year for me to start posting that sequel, and they showed up in a way that amazed me. At first, I sat there like,“Wow, I’m so lucky to have these people validating my work!” but then I started to really think about it differently. Some of it was luck, but that’s only one factor, and a huge part of my experience wasn’t luck at all. I was able to keep those readers coming back and binge reading because I put a ton of work into learning about writing, finding and accepting feedback, and improving my craft. I still have a lot to learn and improve, but I find that imperfection exhilarating rather than intimidating, because I believe if I’m open to feedback I can hit new levels.

Personally, one of the biggest things I think made a difference for me is that I started doing research beyond Wattpad. Don’t get me wrong, I love the community here, but I realized that there is A LOT to learn about the industry I want to succeed in. There are professional norms about genre and writing tools, as well as frames for thinking about every aspect of a story, that just don’t show up much in the way people often talk about writing on this site.

I also sought out people who seemed to both really understand and love my story AND still see the ways in which it could be improved. I have the best beta readers on the planet, and I’ve seen my writing skill increase exponentially by incorporating their feedback.

Something Nick said in his AMA thread really, really resonated with me. He mentioned something about not assuming that your story is perfect or that if something isn’t landing the way you wanted it to, it must be the reader’s fault (Or Wattpad’s. Ngl, the amount of whining about the site bugs me sometimes). I feel like when I was able to let go of my “It’s my story, I know best” attitude, I was ready to actually start learning and improving. And that’s when I started to see the quality of my writing and storytelling attract really loyal readers.

@AWFrasier I feel like you would be an awesome addition to this convo… :blush:

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Thank you for this. It’s a really good point, and something I will definitely have to do. I’ve been saying that I’m a “hobby writer” for a long time, and I’m excited to try move past that, but significant research will definitely have to happen. (and keep happening.)

YES! This resonated with me too, and really got me thinking.

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Just because I remember you saying that you wrote a teen fic first, did you feel like a lot changed from that book and The Sword Unbroken in terms of your process or how you approached writing?

My writing did a huge improvement over the last 4 month I spent on Wattpad writing my own stories.
The most difficult thing for me was to actually get into the English writing, find fitting words and write them right as well as the grammar.

I, for myself, want to grow as a writer as much as I can, but I’m sure that I won’t reach any of the high skilled level any time soon. The reason behind that may be that I’m not originally English and have sometimes great difficulty with the language.

If you compare the first story I wrote in English and a newer one from me, I did improve in almost every possible way. My grammar and spelling are one of the things that still need a huge improvement and probably take a lot of time but that’s okay for me.

If I would Imagine myself in the next years and my writing goal, I would say that I’m at the same level as I am now. Just with a whole lot of improvement in the way I write. From there on I can think about going into professional skilled level.

One of the best experiences I ever made while writing, either in German or English, is that reading a book similar to the once you want to write ( genre does count too ) helps a lot. It gives you ways to reach out, helps you to find words you needed and maybe even gives you points to improve.

The best advice I ever got was actually from my teacher. She used to always tell us that following our goals and never stop just because the way to our goal season to be hard and bumpy isn’t a excuse to stop. It did work. Even when I thought that no one likes my work, that no one likes to read what I write because I’m simply not good enough, I wrote chapter after chapter.

Your own writing will improve over the time from itself ( reading books still does a lot of impact ). The worst thing you can do as a writer is to stop writing.

And that’s what motivates me all the time, it shouldn’t matter if you get 100k reads or just 2. It should matter if you get a million followers or just 30. All that matters is that you write for yourself, not the others.
You may not see when you improve yourself, but over the time everyone improves, just like I did.

It was out of fun when I gave my friends a story I wrote a year ago in school and a story I wrote now. I still can Imagine the expression she made when she saw the difference of my work. She wasn’t only amazed, she was inspired and truthfully that is all I needed to hear. She got inspired by my writing even if it wasn’t good, it was horrible. She got inspired to write her own story.

Sure, I still need a lot of improvement in any possible way, but by looking at my work and truthfully and hardly thinking about it, I think I did a lot of improvement already.

But only improvement isn’t what I aim for, not now and hopefully not in the future. It may seam strange to you all, it does sometimes seams strange to me too. But I hope to make myself happy with my stories. Why? A good question actually.

I noticed something in the way I write, every time when I’m happy about my writing, I did improve. If I didn’t improve, I wouldn’t be happy about the chapter I wrote.

I may only write on Wattpad for what seams to be a very short time in comparison to other who are there since I don’t know when.
But the things Wattpad writers and readers thought me, are the best personal experience I ever got so far.

( sorry for the long answer, couldn’t stop once I began )

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Thanks amazing! Good for you.

It’s good advice.

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For me it seams strange now that I’m the beginning I never paid attention to that advice and didn’t like it at all. I was a 10 years old girl when I was told that.

No I can’t imagine a life without that piece of advice from her. It keeps me going even when I think that it brings me to nowhere, in the end it always paid of so far.

Without this advice I wouldn’t be on Wattpad after all.

YES. SO MUCH. I wrote a teen fic called Beginnings. In terms of process, I wrote it on the fly, started it with only the barest pretense of a plot, and often took months off between posting chapters because I was so stuck. But I kept trucking, mostly because people in this community encouraged me, and I was thrilled to finish it. And then, as it grew in popularity, I started to get feedback I didn’t want about the ways in which I had allowed tropes to become cliches. I distinctly remember being very hurt by feedback that my MC was underdeveloped and typical of Teen Fic, because he was a white, blonde, blue-eyed American quarterback. And I went on this rant about how the reader had CLEARLY missed the depth of the story because that characterization was intentional, because that American-as-apple-pie archetype is supposed to be straight, and I thought I was being clever and subversive by making him gay. Looking back, I feel like an idiot for the way I handled that situation. The good news is that the same reader was willing to give The Sword Unbroken/Bonds Undone a try, and they loved it. If I hadn’t received that push about character development, I might not have spent so much time learning about that particular aspect of storytelling. It completely changed my mindset about feedback. I don’t agree with all the feedback I’m given (and I’m a strong believer that when it comes to beta readers, not all are equal), but in most of it there’s something valuable I can take away.

In terms of writing process, it pushed me into outlining. I’m a die-hard planner now. I also won’t post anything without having a full first draft written. That way I’m already in a revision place when people start reading and commenting. For me personally, I don’t do well getting feedback when I’m still in early drafts of a story.

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For me that moment happened when Nick invited me to the programme :joy:

I’m that kind of writer who just started writing because I had too many stories to tell and no one would like to hear them. So I wrote them down in notebooks and later on my Windows 95 inherited computer. (It was massive and slow hahaha)

So I didn’t show them to anyone for years. It wasn’t until 2017 I actually showed my stories to the world. And because of the kindness of my critique partners, I started rapidly growing as a storyteller and a writer.

And when the Next Beta Programme rolled out in 2018 I was thinking this was super cool for the writers, and I knew a lot of authors would benefit from a monetary programme. Never in a hot minute did I think I’d be part of it. Then Nick reached out, told me he wanted the whole Feral Series and it wasn’t until then I realised how badly I actually wanted it. How much I wanted to work with Wattpad on a higher level.

So I kind of did things backwards. I didn’t know I wanted something before I had it. But I always strived to deliver a good product. I’ve edited my stories at least once before I upload them. And I continue to edit and reevaluate my stories. Even the ones which have been here for years. I continue to grow and I want my stories to reflect that, so when people complain about having to pay for my one series, I can direct them to my other stuff and it has the same level of quality.

I also encourage literally everyone to critique me. I don’t care if it’s “Your story is fooking shite, mate!” or “The dialogue is not strong, here’s what you can do to improve it.” Just jumping right into critiques like that has helped me tremendously - even the “it’s shite” ones. Because I’ve asked them to explain why they think it is shite, and sometimes they actually do.

Anyways, get critiques. Never stop editing. If you get turned down, work harder. Write new stories. Never stop growing.

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LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK.

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It’s always good to read the advice other people give you. Some of it may not help but there’s always a piece you learn, no one has ever learned out in there life and I personally think to one will ever archive that.

I did so much improvement only from comment of other authors, even if it was just a small grammar or spelling mistake.

I actually never thought about having a bear reader but I think it does help after all. Maybe I should try that too :thinking:
I’m happy for you that you found a good beta reader who helped you improve.

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I totally agree with this! Looking back now, I’m so happy with how much I’ve grown as a writer over the years. :smiley: before, I was very self-conscious about my writing because of how badly the grammar and everything was. It took a while to get into critique threads, but I finally did and you know what? I’m happy I did! they’ve helped me improve so much as a writer over the years. :smiley:

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SPITE THE PEOPLE WHO TELL YOU, YOU CAN’T DO IT. SHOW THEM YOU CAN’T AND WON’T STOP.

IF YOU GET TURNED DOWN, SHOW THEM YOU’RE BETTER THAN THAT.

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Thanks so much for this answer. It’s super interesting, and as someone closer to the beginning of this process, definitely makes me view the value of getting feedback in a much stronger light.

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I firmly believe Wattpad is one of the best possible places to start out. The majority are so supportive.

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I love this philosophy.

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So true!

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Also love this. It’s a journey, right?

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Yay! I think it’s important to look for people who will encourage you and believe in you, but aren’t just going to validate everything you say/think automatically.

Are you writing Fantasy? If so, I have a resource for you…

I am. I would love to hear about this resource!