Helloooo, readers! I have been absolutely remiss in keeping you guys updated. I don't really have an excuse, other than 1) I'm recovering from a horrible cold and 2) ironically (after my last post on the blog), I am now dating someone who is not Braeden or Tristan. I find him distracting.
Let's get the super quick writing updates out of the way. I'm hopped up on cold medicine, so I find it incredibly amusing to give you an update in the form of a sports scoreboard.
Agents Pitched: 4
Requests for more: 1
So the good news is that one of the four agents I pitched expressed interest in reviewing a partial manuscript. The bad news is, I'm now back in waiting mode. According to the experts at Wattpad (and by experts I mean the professional writers community), it could take anywhere from 1 - 3 months before I hear back from the agent with my partial. Time to pitch some more agents, methinks.
On to bigger and better (well, more interesting, at least) things...As a lot of you know, yesterday I was a speaker at the Digital Hollywood Content Summit here in New York City. Below is the (unflattering) photographic evidence:
...Longest panel name ever. A point the moderator (the fabulous Laurie Viera Rigler, author of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, unfortunately not in this photo) brought up as well. Directly to my left is author Brittany Geragotelis, who you might be familiar with from Wattpad. Her story is pretty amazing -- after 9 years of rejections from traditional publishers and literary agents, Britt decided to publish her story, Life's a Witch (which I'm reading on my Kindle now), to Wattpad. Within a year of publishing, she had 18 million reads. That's crazy! I'm excited to be nearing 2 million with Paladin. Anyway, long story short, many of her fans started asking her where they could buy her book...and of course she had no answer, since Wattpad is free. She self-published, actually, before landing a book deal with Simon & Schuster, a Big Six publisher. Not just any book deal, mind you -- a three-book deal for six figures. That's a lot of money, people, even if you live in overpriced NYC!
On the opposite side of the table from me is Jacob Lewis, the CEO and founder of Figment.com, a site that is somewhat similar in nature to Wattpad. Like Wattpad, writers can publish their work to Figment and still retain ownership of their work. Figment describes itself as "a community where you can share your writing, connect with other people who love to read, and discover new stories and authors." Interestingly, during the panel discussion, Jacob said Figment has more content than it does readers. Figment seems to have a lot of strong relationships with big name publishers and authors, and they often have "Spotlight Books" that are new releases from these folks. Jacob is the former managing editor of The New Yorker and an editor for Conde Nast portfolios before starting up Figment. He also mentioned that he self-published a book, which he described as a "fucking nightmare"<--that's a direct quote, and a particularly interesting insight for me, as I'm considering going this route with Paladin.
The panel ended up focusing primarily on how to use nontraditional platforms like Wattpad and Figment as a marketing platform. According to both Britt and Jacob, publishers are paying a lot more attention to websites like Wattpad and Figment these days, and consider them a viable tool for reaching an audience and building a fan base. Publishers see a lot of value in having a large and vocal Wattpad fan base.
Britt said her publisher, Simon & Schuster, has a good relationship with the folks at Wattpad (by "folks" I mean the Eva Lau's and Maria Cootauco's of the site) and they encourage her to regularly engage with her Wattpad fans. She wrote a 90-page supplement exclusively for Wattpad (and free, obviously) after her book had been traditionally published -- and her publisher loved that she did this, and better yet, that they didn't have to pay her for it!
But how do you convert your Wattpad fan base -- who is accustomed to reading for free -- into a paying readership? That challenge is something else we discussed, and I mentioned a few anecdotal examples of authors I've seen struggle to translate their success into $$$. Britt said that she and her publisher are fully aware that it's unlikely that all 18 million of her readers will go out and pick up her book. Part of that is because many Wattpadders are young and don't have access to a credit card, so their parents serve as a barrier to making the purchase. The other battle to wage -- and perhaps an easier battle to win -- is that of readers who've already read your book for free. Why should they now pay for a copy?
What Britt does is try to appeal to them as a writer. Wattpadders understand how much effort goes into writing a book...months and months if not years of work. Don't you deserve to be rewarded (financially) for your work?
On that note, one of the audience members, a film producer, asked Britt and me if we'd ever considered going the kickstarter route -- in other words, raising funds through crowdsourcing to support our writing. Both Britt and I responded in the negative -- Britt because self-publishing via CreateSpace is free, so really there is no need for outside funding, and me because I'm clinging on desperately to the hope of traditional publishing.
The film producer then made this point: publishing a book might be free, but you don't get any money for writing it...at least not until after it's published. In that regard, it's absolutely impossible to make a living as a full-time writer unless you've got a few published books behind you.
The truth is, for the time being, I don't want to be a full time writer -- but that's a whole post in and of itself. Britt does...well, is, a full time writer, but has the benefit of that six figure book deal to support her. Definitely food for thought though, for those of you who are interested in pursuing writing as a full time career.
The panel was 45 minutes in length, so I could go on forever about the various insights discussed, but in an effort to avoid boring you to death and to minimize my ramblings while on cold medication, I'll just recap a few quick additional points of discussion:
- Both Britt and I think responding to comments and messages -- every message you receive -- is the best way to build a fan base on Wattpad.
- Britt is all in favor of multichannel marketing -- she drives her readership to her various social platforms, like her website, Wattpad, Twitter, and even YouTube (her fiance is a social media guru so together they've made some cool makeover-focused videos that tie into her book)
- Jacob says the Big Six publishers will soon become the Big Three. We already saw Random House and Penguin merge; expect HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster to merge in the next year or so.
- We discussed paying attention to publishing trends -- for instance, paranormal romance is very in right now. Personally, I think it's important to not get too caught up in trends, because they can be fleeting. I figure it takes one to two years to write a book...do you think if you start writing a Hunger Games-esque dystopian today it will still be cool in 2015? I don't know.