Wattpad was absolutely essential to the success of SLAVEDAYS, because without it, the book would quite simply never have been written at all!
I used Wattpad as motivator and, soon after, a support group, while I wrote SLAVEDAYS and live-posted it weekly to the site in spring/summer 2014. Holding down a full-time job while writing, I decided I need to be accountable to - and encouraged by - a readership to keep me producing 3,500 words a week,and on Wattpad I found it.
That was a first draft, and I then spent a further 8 months editing and revising SLAVEDAYS before querying in May 2015. I queried five agents, and all except one requested a full. I met my top-choice agent in June, he sent my manuscript out in July, and we signed our first deal with a fabulous team at a London-based publisher a couple of weeks later, in August.Throughout that query and sales process it was fascinating to see the varied responses of agents and editors to my book's Wattpad origins.
Agents all saw it as a useful thing -evidence of engagement and visibility. Editors were more divided. For some, it was a barrier that would make the book hard to sell.Conversely, others had potentially unrealistic expectations about the extent to which Wattpad exposure translates into sales - after all,the Wattpad readership is used to getting content for free! I knew that when I chose my publisher, I'd need to know that they would work with me to sell my book, rather than relying on Wattpad to drive sales - fortunately, I have an amazing team who are passionate about getting the book into as many hands as possible!
In terms of giving my book lift-off, I see Wattpad as a valuable fuel cylinder - but it's not the rocket booster! The three key ways in which Wattpad has benefited me as a writer seeking representation and traditional publication are:
i. Motivation, in the form of reader and peer-writer feedback and friendships, to keep me writing despite the demands of a hectic working life
ii. The endorsement of winning a WATTY award in January 2015 - SLAVEDAYS won a Talk of the Town award for 'most talked about' Fantasy, seen by the industry as demonstrating potential for strong word-of-mouth
iii. The quality of reader engagement: several comments from Wattpad readers were included in the pitch package sent with the manuscript to editors, to show the depth and emotional engagement of readers with the story
My Wattpad journey is far from over!I will be running the Wattpad LonCon again in London this December, and I look forward to taking my Wattpad friends and followers with me on the publishing journey of the SLAVEDAYS trilogy through 2016 and 2017. Why not follow me on Twitter and join them, or ask me any questions you have? @drvictoriajames
Vic James is a British TV director who can be found on Twitter as @drvictoriajames and on Wattpad as @JayVictor. She is represented by United Agents, and her contemporary fantasy trilogy has just been signed with a 6-figure deal for publication beginning in 2016. The first draft of that book was originally written on Wattpad.
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