Wednesday is for Writers: Nicole Collet finds her readership

I would like to share my journey as a first-time fiction writer and how I found my readership. Perhaps that will inspire and enlighten whoever reads this.

It all started 3 years ago when I read a news article about a fellow Brazilian writer who had posted a young-adult novel in English on Wattpad, the largest online reading community in the world. Her story became very popular, with over a million reads (each chapter read equals one read on Wattpad), and got picked up by Random House by a stroke of luck.

https://soopllc.com/blog/book-ideas/red-nicole-collet/#.VOunAHzF-6M

“RED” by Nicole Collet

I decided to follow that route. When I finished writing my romance novel “RED“, I translated it into English and posted it on Wattpad. This was 2 years ago. Wattpad became an amazing lab, and I owe to it what my book has become today. I’ve got direct feedback from readers: positive feedback gave me confidence to keep going; critiques and negative feedback helped me improve my book.

It took me 6 months to write it and 18 months to edit it and polish it. It doubled in size. And in the meantime, I read good literature to inspire me, best-seller romance to instill me with the genre’s conventions, and a ton of storytelling and writing techniques.

It got to the point now that I only receive praise. The rare criticism I receive is that it’s “too intellectual”. That’s how my book is and I’m not changing it. I want to raise the bar, not lower it — romance stories are already quite mindless in general and I don’t intend to add one more to the lot. I’d like readers to have a good time with a fun, emotional story, but also learn something new with it: philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, poetry and so on.

RED became increasingly popular and also spread through word of mouth. It’s been in the Hot list of the site steadily for 2 years now. I have 1.5 million reads and 1,900 followers.

As for vote scouting, I select followers and private message them. I found that sending a collective message doesn’t work. That’s neuroscience: people respond when they’re personally addressed. The percentage of engagement ranged from 33% to 40% approximately. The few collective messages I’d sent previously didn’t trigger even 1% response, I think. I have a request for votes on my Profile, and in the beginning and the end of my book, which also brings me a few votes.

Sending private messages is also a great way of connecting with readers and having a one-on-one with them. It’s really cool. Besides that, I reply to every comment by readers and make a point of thanking each reader when they follow me. And later, when I ask for their vote and they do vote for my book, I thank them individually too. At one point all of that may be no longer scalable, but for now I try to keep a personal approach.

At the end of the day, I think what counted in my case was the quality of my book and the fact that romance is a popular genre. RED hooked readers, it was different and polished to death.

I would have more followers, votes and comments if I had posted it regularly in weekly installments or if I had other stories: 1) installments hook readers and trigger interaction; 2) having other stories increases your chances of one wattpader reading your other works, and the word of mouth, excitement to follow you etc. increases.

It also took me 6 months to figure out what was wrong with the end of the first chapter and fix it so readers would be drawn to keep reading. I lost many readers in the first chapter during that initial period.

When I first posted RED, I had read a silly piece of advice that wattpaders preferred completed stories. Today, I believe posting 1-2 chapters a week is better (and updates need to be consistent, not once in a blue moon). That’s how I plan to post the sequel to my book.

Since I have only one novel posted, and it’s already complete, I included in the end of RED, from time to time, some enticing sneak peeks of the sequel to hook readers. That also helped me get followers, as readers are now curious to learn what happens next and follow me to keep updated.

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Nicole Collet is Brazilian, with a BA in journalism and a MA in cultural management. She has published a non-fiction book and short stories in Portuguese. Having lived for ten years in the U.S., her main interests are human behavior and relationships, literature and arts, feminism and philosophy.

Her profile and works posted on Wattpad can be found at http://www.wattpad.com/user/RedSins

Comments

  1. Rohini Singh says:

    Very impressive blog, Nicole. I wish you all the best and I am looking forward to see your book published.

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