Author Spotlight with Sarah Benson

Start from the beginning

I had been working on BORN OF SHADOW, an adventure story set in Egypt about a girl that steals a jar from an archaeological site and unleashes an evil force, and another girl who is destined by her bloodline to fight it. I posted a couple of chapters and waited for the readers to pour in.

Only they didn't.

Seriously guys, the silence was deafening. But I could tell by my stats I had a few reads, and hallelujah, I finally got a couple of comments. I'm still grateful to @BeautifulGoddes (Nephilim, Nimoh and the Sky Pirates) for the first comment on BORN OF SHADOW.

 I'm still grateful to @BeautifulGoddes (Nephilim, Nimoh and the Sky Pirates) for the first comment on BORN OF SHADOW

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I realized it was going to take a lot more than just posting the story to be widely read. I turned to those who had been successful on Wattpad for ideas. Some of the guides I read include: @MichaelLimjoco's Cracking the Wattpad Code, @KatherineArlene's How to Get Reads, Votes, Comments, and @TaranMatharu's From Wattpad to Published Author - My Journey. If you are the casual writer who occasionally throws up a chapter and doesn't really care about rankings or steady feedback, then you probably don't need to worry about it. But if you are serious about getting your story discovered, it really pays to read up on how successful Wattpadders have done it and come up with your own plan.

I began posting BORN OF SHADOW on Wattpad in the summer of 2014 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The story was already written, so all I had to do was post chapters. Then, between each post, I took the time to read other stories on the website, leaving comments and chatting with other Wattpadders. Leaving comments is important because if you seem like an interesting person, others might follow or read your stories as a result. I also posted a message on Facebook inviting my friends and family to check it out (it was terrifying to push that send button, but I'm glad I found the courage to do it).

One of the best things I did was engage in the Wattpad community. I'm not sure if this works anymore, but I shared my story in the club thread. I don't imagine I got a huge amount of readers through that, but I did have some influential and talented writers find me that way. We read each other's stories and supported each other. I met other authors through them as well, and we would chat on each other's stories and message boards and eventually became friends. We called ourselves the Wattpad Class of 2014.

When four of us were being featured around the same time, I threw a party. You can see it on my profile as Meet the Wattpad Class of 2014. Part of that group later became the Wattpadres, a group that runs weekly Twitter chats and a profile makeover contest.

Being a part of a close-knit writing group had long been a dream of mine, and it had now become a reality. At one point, @JayVictor called us a surprisingly professional cuddle-puddle, and I've always thought that fit us well. We provide a support group for each other, bounce stories ideas off each other, get cover opinions, share marketing ideas, get opinions on queries, do cross promotions, judge each other's contests and more. I will be forever grateful to @JessicaBFry, @Linna1029, @JayVictor, @JoshTownley, @_Ahna_, @FarahOomerbhoy, @Monrosey, @MelanieAbed, @TEJJohnson, @amberkbryant, and @BrittanieCharmintine for their sheer awesomeness.

Another rewarding experience was to be a part of @TheCornerBooth, a weekly YouTube channel geared toward Wattpadders. We are not currently recording, but we did complete two seasons that are available on YouTube. I highly recommend you check them out.

My other goal, as you'll recall, was getting my story discovered on Wattpad. Fairly quickly, BORN OF SHADOW shot up in the ranks and held position in the 20-30s most weeks. I was contacted by Wattpad with an offer to feature the story (which means your book appears on a "featured" page and is advertised by the site). You can also request to have a story featured. My feature began in August, which took the story up to #4 on the Fantasy hotlist and #2 on Adventure category overnight! At one point, I had over 100,000 reads in ten days!

Part of the success of BORN OF SHADOW is it fits the demographics on Wattpad well. It is a YA fantasy novel set in Egypt and appeals to a multicultural audience (it's read in over 150 countries). It is primarily an adventure story, so it's chock full of cliffhangers that keep readers coming back and begging for more. I also included several chapters, giving the readers more opportunity to read, vote and comment. I was honored when it was chosen by Wattpad and ABC's hit TV show Once Upon a Time for Best Heroes and Villains.

I indie published BORN OF SHADOW and have received some cool opportunities, including speaking to a large group of teenage girls at the "Anything You Wanna Be" Encounter and the LDS Storymakers Conference (on how to build a platform with Wattpad) with international bestselling authors like Brandon Sanderson and James Dashner.

I indie published BORN OF SHADOW and have received some cool opportunities, including speaking to a large group of teenage girls at the "Anything You Wanna Be" Encounter and the LDS Storymakers Conference (on how to build a platform with Wattpad) ...

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I've gone on to post the sequel, THE BLOODSTONE PROPHECY, which has hit #1 in Adventure multiple times. Combined, I have over 1 million reads on my stories and over 10,000 followers.

Since then, I have posted my first romance/chicklit RESTLESS HOPE. I launched it as part of @KellyAnneBlount's Block Party in February, and since then it's done well, hitting as high as #7 on the Chicklit hotlist and over 110K reads. Even more important, I've made some very close friendships with my readers that I cherish.

So if you haven't posted a story, be brave and go for it! We all know how it feels

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So if you haven't posted a story, be brave and go for it! We all know how it feels. If you have posted your story and it hasn't received the attention you feel it deserves, take time to connect to the community and make friends there.

Sign up for a Nanowrimo group (the Wattchicks and Wattstud group was fabulous). Participate in @KellyAnneBlount's Block Parties, then sign up to be a part of it. If anyone asks you to participate in an author feature (such as the lovely folks at @The_Write_Place), jump on it. Form a writing group with your friends. Find a way to leave your mark on the community in a positive way, and the little efforts made over time will come back to reward you later. If you would like more in-depth details on how to get your story discovered on Wattpad, go to my profile or http://SarahBensonBooks.com and sign up for my newsletter and I will send you a 27-page report including several case studies of successful Wattpadders. Best of luck on your writing endeavors!

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