Posting complete, finished books on Wattpad AND self-publishing those same books for sale elsewhere. Interesting idea or total madness?

Before I get into this, just so no-one spends ages typing out a big detailed answer about something just to the side of the question, I’m only talking about a really specific scenario here. I’m not looking for general information or suggestions about writing, publishing, different self-publishing platforms and their requirements, or Wattpad. I’m aware that Paid Stories exist and I’m not talking about those either. It’s just this one very specific scenario. Right, onwards! :blush:

So. Unless something dramatically changes, I’m not interested in pursuing traditional publishing and am pretty much set on self-publishing the trilogy I’m currently working on, and hopefully other books after. This has been my plan for quite a while, since I decided to Do The Writing Thing for real instead of just talking about it for another couple of decades.

Then I met Wattpad. And I’m falling in love. I had a passing thought about how awesome it would be to self-publish these books (as in, for sale) through other platforms and also put them on Wattpad in their entirety. It seemed crazy and pointless. Kind of. And I almost dismissed it. But.

Wattpad is sort of a…closed environment? I don’t know how to describe it properly, but people on Wattpad read things on Wattpad. They’re on Wattpad first, then they look for things to read. I could be totally wrong about this, but I assume lots of people don’t sign up to Wattpad specifically because there’s this one book they want to read on here and they don’t want to pay a few ££ for it on Amazon or wherever. I know there are probably people who will always take the free option no matter what, whether it’s because they can’t afford to pay for things or simply because a free option exists, but I’m curious.

How much would having the books in their entirety on Wattpad actually affect sales on other platforms? Are they generally completely different markets? Would the people who might read my books for free on Wattpad even buy them from Amazon (or Google Play, or wherever else) anyway? Would I be losing potential paying customers (not ideal) or would I simply be embracing the opportunity to share those stories with more people who wouldn’t have been paying customers to begin with (awesome!)?

I adore the idea of having a free option for people who need it, because I’ve been those people. I would dearly love to be able to just give everything away for free and have the option for people to pay if they want to, although it’s probably not exactly the world’s greatest business plan and I would very much like for writing to pay at least some of the bills at some point. But I can’t get this idea out of my head about putting the books on Wattpad as well as self-publishing them for sale elsewhere.

Have any of you done that? Do you know anyone who has? How did it go? Is it something you would consider doing? Why or why not? Is it a refreshingly experimental approach or is it just complete raving insanity (or both)?

Your thoughts?

I’m actually very interested to hear what people think.

At this point, about all I can offer is this: I have 4 books on Smashwords. Sales aren’t great, but then, self-promo has been problematic. They’re all on “reader sets price” because I’m far too familiar with being broke. Most take the chance to “buy” them for free, but I have had some voluntarily choose to pay something, and one who dropped a bit in the Paypal tip jar on my website after reading at least one. So I think not everyone takes the free option even when it’s there?

I’m too new around here to have much data on Wattpad as a closed environment, but what I’ve seen so far supports that. I doubt most people who find a book for sale elsewhere will look all that far to see if they might be able to find it here instead. But that’s a personal impression.

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I think it depends on the audience you build. On Wattpad people tend to be here and may not have the extra spending cash to buy books, too young, don’t have a job, etc. I’m going to make a logical guess that those with a larger audience will have greater success in getting copies of their stories sold simply because there are probably more readers who have the funds.

Another option is leaving the rough draft of the story on WP and offering a more polished, editing, revised, and added to version (in the chapters or many bonus content to buy). You could also, if you have a series, post the first book for free and then have the next books to be paid for.

But a lot of this, at the moment, is probably on your audience.

There are a few Wattpad stories I’ve bought to support the author and because I enjoy the story. But Ive also seen–I think it was like one–author post their first story on WP and listed on the kindle for free and the next books in the series cost money.

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Having an unfinished draft anywhere online is my worst nightmare :joy:

Thank you for the suggestions about ways books in a series could work across platforms! I’m still really new to Wattpad so insights like that are great.

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‘reader sets price’ is such a gorgeous idea! I really want to believe this can work because it’s beautiful.

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It works quite well with some industries. Some musicians have done it, and for gaming, look at Humble Bundle. There is, in fact, a site called StoryBundle that runs more or less the same way.

I have no evidence how well the approach works for individual indie authors. Personally, my idealism dies hard, but my personal circumstances rather skew my priorities. (I’m on a government disability pension, and while having some extra income would be so very wonderful, I can at least pay for rent and groceries and kitty-noms without it.)

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Just my 2 cents, I’ve read the free version on Wattpad and loved it more than enough to buy the exact same book on Amazon (and I left a review!) :wink:

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This brings me so much joy. Seriously. This is exactly the kind of high quality occurrence that I want more of in the world and a system that I aim to contribute to.

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I’ve gone the route you’re suggesting and these are my takeaways:

The first book I selfpublished had gained WP “fame”. It had been ranking steadily in the top 5 of the mystery/thriller hot list (during a time when we only had a few dozen categories) with average unique reader numbers of around 1.2K a day. It was scraping the 3M read mark.

I figured if just one percent of my readers would go an buy the book, it could recapture my cost of editing, proofreading and cover design which ran around $3k dollars when I clicked on the Publish Now button on my KPD profile. At that time, I offered the book wide, meaning it was available on most internet retailer platforms.

I made about fifteen sales on the first day from WP friends. After that, nada.

Overall, WP followers don’t amount to sale. I think about 0.03% of them ended up buying the book. I did get a good number of ARC reviews (that was before Amazon had the $50 dollar threshold for leaving reviews) which helped with some sales from ads later on.

The book has been unpublished twice from WP to be enrolled in KU, an Amazon program that requires exclusivity. The fully edited and polished version has also been rebulished once before and I’m currently reposting the chapters again after removing the book from KU last month. I mean, why not? For me, the markets are completely different, and I did have an increase in sales when I republished the book the first time around. With the changes now in the ranking sytem, I’m not holding my breath since it’s simply very difficult to be discovered these days.

I have now seven books self-published. Some of those are also available for free on WP. I think I will make available most of them to new readers from time to time for a limited period, but of course that strategy could change down the line.

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Thank you for sharing your experience in so much detail! I wasn’t sure I’d be lucky enough for someone to see this post who had actually done the thing and would be willing to talk about how it went for them, so I really appreciate you taking the time to do that :slight_smile:

I have self-published books that I also have on Wattpad that are fully complete, however, my Wattpad versions are not professionally edited and may have some missing chapters/details that would be in the finished (edited) product that I’ve self-pubbed.

And I have done quite well.

I think the biggest takeaway is that most Wattpad readers don’t buy books (as SallyMason1 pointed out). I read somewhere that less than a quarter of one percent of your followers will buy your book. That means there is a whole wide world out there that will. While I love WP, it’s not even on the radar when it comes to book sales.

So will it matter that your books are still on WP? Nope and nope.

I also suggest you don’t put your clean, fully edited draft on WP. Save that for people who buy your book.

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Thanks for taking the time to respond :slight_smile: That’s really helpful info and great food for thought. I’m happily surprised by the replies here!

Me too! If you love it enough you want a hard copy for your library :hugs:

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I publish on Wattpad and elsewhere. Some of my books are Paid, some are exclusive to Radish, and I’ve had some Amazon-exclusive. I can answer any questions you’d like!

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Thank you :slight_smile: Do you have any stories published in full on multiple platforms? I’d love to hear about more experiences of having the same book on Wattpad and for sale elsewhere.

I do! Currently I have a full free book on all platforms, including Wattpad. I also have a free book on Wattpad but it is for sale elsewhere. Previously, I’d posted an abridged, less sexy version of a book on Wattpad and sold the full, sexy version on all e-book platforms.

The way I feel, the ebook readers are paying for the privilege of keeping my book in their libraries. Wattpad readers are getting the book for free, but it’s not necessarily a permanent thing.

I feel like the readers on Wattpad are generally much different than ebook readers in my genre (contemporary romance).

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I really like that perspective! Do you think having the book for free on Wattpad impacts your sales on other platforms or does it not make a difference?

I don’t think it’s made much of a difference. Especially considering I was advertising on Facebook and could target older readers that probably don’t use Wattpad.

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Following this thread because I am considering doing the same thing.

Even though the audiences of Wattpad and Amazon don’t really overlap, I have a few thoughts on why it might be a good idea to appeal to both audiences simultaneously.

I suspect online serialization is a growing format. Much like audiobooks, it has not reached peak audience yet. Ebooks, on the other hand, seem very saturated. I want my series to have a presence in formats and places that are experiencing substantial audience growth, or that have growth potential.

Some of this has to do with what sort of author you want to be, in terms of interfacing with an audience. Like you, I would rather have my work available to everyone than stick it behind a paywall.

Sure, I want to earn a full-time living as an indie author, but I believe there are several approaches towards that goal. One way is to “pump,” or produce as much as possible as quickly as possible. Another approach is to grow a more loyal niche following. I have seen this work for other indie authors, although those few tend to stay quiet about it. :slight_smile:

I write big fat epic series. I read them a lot, too, and anyone who has fallen in love with an epic understands that–when they’re good–they’re really memorable, and they can inspire hardcore fandoms. They have staying power with audiences that stand-alone novels and episodic fiction doesn’t have.

I’m reaching for the stars. It sounds like you are, too, and I love that!

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One more thing, about keeping the Wattpad version different from the official ebook version:

Since the serialized version is not packaged in a .epub or .mobi format with a copyright notice, I am taking some basic precautions with my completed books on Wattpad. I insert some “anti-theft” text at random places. It’s not foolproof, but it should help.

The text makes it clear that this is the free online serialized version of the book. If a reader finds this in an ebook version, it is a fake or plagiarized copy, and they should contact me (the author).

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