Chapter 1 - Reads or Readers?

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I'm always struck by the number of people who ask me how to get more reads compared to those who ask me how to get more readers, as if they aren't the same thing. Or those who ask me how I got such high numbers on my stories, as if the numbers in themselves are the most important thing rather than the readers who read, voted, and commented on them.  It's easy to get caught up in the numbers and have that be your sole focus, but it can blind you to what your true focus should be.

In my mind, the most important part about writing isn't the 'numbers', it's the reader.  A reader is someone who has chosen to read your story because it looks interesting.  A reader is someone who will anxiously await your latest chapter.  A reader is someone who cares enough about your characters to get mad at them, or fall in love with them.  Simply put, they're looking for way to escape their lives for a little while.

When I was new to Wattpad, I tried the Share Your Story club which was a giant read-for-read swapping club that no longer exists

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When I was new to Wattpad, I tried the Share Your Story club which was a giant read-for-read swapping club that no longer exists.  I still have those comments buried at the bottom of the first few chapters of Stolen Hearts.  'Loved it!'  'Great!'  I was naive enough to think they really read and enjoyed my writing.  That is, until actual readers began finding my story. 

The heartfelt comments I got from readers about how excited they were they'd found it, about how they couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next, about how much they loved my characters let me know what I was missing.  From then on, I avoided swapping mindless reads like the plague. 

Even though my numbers grew much more slowly, I didn't care.  I wasn't looking for reads, I was looking for readers. 

So how do you find more readers?  My first piece of advice is to WRITE. 

Write a story you feel passionate about.  Write characters you love and who are as real to you as the people in your family.  Write dialogue that sounds like the way people around you talk.  Write exactly the kind of story you like to read.  And then write some more.   Never stop writing.  Because the more you write, the more you'll grow as a writer, the better your stories will be, and the more people will want to read your stories.  It's a win/win.

I've often had people say to me, 'I write and post my chapters, but no one is reading so I feel like it's not any good and I should quit.'  <-- That is a big mistake! 

Don't ever allow yourself to get so discouraged that you quit writing!  Maybe the story you're currently working on isn't very good, or something that doesn't appeal to many people, but are you enjoying creating it?  Is it fun to write?  If it is, keep going!  You know why?  Because the process of writing is making you a better writer, and that means your next story will be even better!  Maybe that will be the one people really love.  If you quit because your numbers are low, then you'll never get to that point.

Another mistake I frequently see is people post a chapter, or just a few and then wait for the readers to roll in.  They're shocked when their numbers don't grow and they don't gain readers.  But if you think about it from a reader's perspective, it makes sense.  Would you check out an unfinished story with just a few chapters from a library?  Of course not!  You want a story that's completed so you know how it ends.  An incomplete story that hasn't been updated for months is almost certain to turn a reader away.  Remember, a reader is looking for a story to read, and the best way to attract them is to give them that story.

Make sure each chapter is written and edited to the best of your ability.  If someone does stumble upon your book and start reading, you want them to keep reading.  Some mistakes are unavoidable, even I make them in just about every chapter I publish.  But if you upload a sloppy chapter on purpose, you're letting your readers know you don't care about your writing, and I guarantee they won't care about your writing either. 

I'm a much better writer now than I was when I started, but that's because I've written nearly every day for the last several years.  And if I wasn't writing, I was thinking about my stories.   I love them and my characters so much, I have to force myself to stop reading my own writing so I can read other things. 

If you write something you love, someone else is bound to love it too.  And if only a few people love it, or nobody at all, nothing can take away the enjoyment you got from writing it.

That was my attitude when I joined Wattpad, and that's my attitude today.

That was my attitude when I joined Wattpad, and that's my attitude today

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