Tag Archives: Wattpad

#amwriting: Wattpad, serializing your novel, and Shaun Allan

Dark Places Front Large (1)One area of writing that I have lately discovered is the serialized novel.

In the 19th century, many of the most popular novels ever written began their lives as serials in magazines or newspapers. Such diverse authors as  Charles DickensGeorge Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Anthony Trollope, and William Makepeace Thackeray all published novels in serial form.

At times, these intrepid writers missed deadlines, and I can see why: life intrudes, and writing halts, for whatever reason. It’s been said that Thackeray was highly critical of authors who didn’t have the endings worked out before the opening chapters were published–which just about covered all of his contemporaries.

Today we’re talking with my good friend and fellow co-founder of Myrddin Publishing Group, UK author, Shaun Allan. He is the author of several award-winning children’s stories, copious amounts of poetry, and the adult horror novel, Sin, which has garnered a great deal of critical acclaim and is one of the most popular books on Wattpad.

According to Wikipedia, as of April 2014:

  • 85% of Wattpad’s traffic and usage comes from mobile devices,
  • the site has 35 million unique visitors per month,
  • there are over 100,000 story uploads per day,
  • there have been over two million writers.

Along with writing novels and poetry, Shaun was approached by the people at Wattpad, asking if he would be willing to write an original story based on the premise of the movie The Purge. Of course, he was, and out of that came the five-part serial, Mr. Composure.

Mr. Composure was wildly successful, and since then, Shaun has had great success with his most recent serial, And the Meek Shall Walk, a thirty-three-part story which he also published on Wattpad as he wrote it.  Already it has garnered close to 10,000 reads.

On Sunday, Shaun and I were able to chat a bit about the experience of serializing your work as you are writing it.

CJJ: From my perspective, serializing a novel has many pros and cons—in some ways it’s a double-edged blade. For me, I have to have an outline and a story arc to write to, so that I don’t get sidetracked. How do you approach this?

Suffer the childrenSA: Sometimes I wish I could, or think I should, create an outline.  I’m not sure if it’s because of my time issue.  I have so little, I want to get into the story and, if I’m outlining, I’m not writing.  On the other hand, I quite enjoy finding out the story as I go.  I like to be surprised when I meet new characters and wonder how I (or my characters) might get out of sticky situations.

As such, I’ve almost always written off the cuff.  I’ve followed the story where it would take me, following its meandering course to what is, hopefully, a brilliant ending.

With the writing I’ve done for Wattpad and their partners, such as Universal, that’s changed somewhat.  For Suffer the Little Children, written for the movie Sinister 2, I was asked to write an overview first to present to them.  Luckily I’d seen, and enjoyed, the first film, but I had to, in the space of a weekend, produce the path the story was going to take.  That wasn’t an easy task for someone unused to doing so.  I found, when I’d started, the idea came quite easily.

With the serialization of And the Meek Shall Walk, it was a little easier.  Knowing both the Disney version and the classic Hans Christian Anderson original meant the story arc, or the basis of one, was already written.  I felt I was writing just the current chapter rather than the story in its entirety.  I only needed to work on the existing part.  I did get to the point, however, where I thought it best to put down my own version of events.  I was about two-thirds of the way through the book at this point.  I knew, more or less, what was going to happen (teasing parts from both previous versions), but I was giving the story my own twist. The overview I wrote was very brief, but it gave me some focus.

CJJ: You have to be able to write quickly and concisely, and edit your work well, because what goes out will be an immediate reflection of your entire body of work. I always worry that if it’s crap, I will have turned off all my potential readers! Has that idea affected how you work in any way?

sin - Shaun AllanSA: Not at all.  Well, not really!  I write, essentially, for me.  My dream was to become a writer.  The fact people really seem to be enjoying what I produce is both wonderful and humbling.  I write to the best of my ability and feel I can do little more than that.  If I like my work, I’m happy with that.  If others do too, I’m ecstatic.  I usually find, too, if I reread my stories, I generally don’t change things.  That’s not to say I shouldn’t, but I try not to second guess myself.  The frame of mind and ‘alternative world’ I’m in when I write isn’t the one I’m in when editing so changes don’t… taste right.  Another pair of eyes could find things which should be changed, and I’m fine with that.  Maybe I’m blind to my errors lol!

CJJ: You have a high-profile job in the corporate world, and you are also the owner of a barber salon. On top of that, you are a dedicated, hands-on father of two daughters. Yet you turn out new installments on time, and also find the inspiration and time to write new, separate literary work. How do you make the time to be as prolific as you are? Do you have that Harry Potter Time Turner thingy?

SA: I wish I did have the Harry Potter Time Turner doodad.  I don’t.  I have a half hour lunch break.  I have an understanding wife.  And I have a burning need where ideas bug the hell out of me until I get them down.  I wake up thinking of what’s going to happen next.  I even deliberately think of the story arc at night.  It relaxes me, and I drift off to sleep.  I’ve yet to dream it through, though.  Smartphones help – I can scribble sentences or paragraphs down and save it to the Cloud ready for joining it up with the main story when I can.

Oh, the Tardis parked out back comes in useful now and again.

CJJ: Let’s talk about And the Meek Shall Walk. It is dark, as all your mainstream fiction is, definitely fantasy with a horror twist. I found it really scary.  Yet it was your daughter who gave you the idea?

SA: It certainly was!  I’m so proud!  I’d just finished Suffer the Little Children whilst on holiday in the Lake District.  Wattpad does a regular #JustWriteIt promotion inviting you to write 10,000 words in a month.  I fancied having a go (I sometimes have a break between stories but was buzzing in this case) but, after having just written about pagan deities and child possession, my mind was a little fried.  My daughter (12) threw the idea in the air:  The Little Mermaid where, instead of magically being given legs, she cuts her own tail off and sews a pair of human legs in their place.  That was the start.  How could I resist?

She’s also got me working on the Rapunzel story too, but I won’t give away what she came up with.  I’m currently, now that And the Meek Shall Walk is done, writing a new take on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.  This is a story close to my heart.  I dressed as the Mad Hatter for a themed birthday party for my daughters, and also have the Cheshire Cat tattooed on my shoulder!

As for the darkness, you can’t have the darkness without the light.

CJJ: Kurt Vonnegut famously said (and I find it true) that every character should want something. Who is your main character and what does she want? And who is the villain, and what do they want?

SA: My main character is Aren.  She is a mermaid and a princess.  Her father believes her to be meek, but she regularly flouts the rules governing their lives beneath the sea.  She has a secret cave where human body parts float, tied to vines.  The parts are from the people she has killed.

Aren believes humans were responsible for her mother’s death.  As such, she seeks revenge on those responsible and goes to excessive lengths to carry this out – including, as I have said, cutting off her own tail and having her forked tongue sealed together, rendering her mute.

I’d rather not say who the villain is as you don’t know immediately, and I don’t want to give it away.  You might, indeed, say it’s Aren herself!

CJJ: What setbacks have you overcome in this endeavor with Wattpad and what advice would you give authors new to publishing their work on Wattpad?

SA: Apart from my time limitations, I’ve generally found Wattpad to be an amazing experience.  I’m one of the Wattpad Stars, a program of their most popular writers.  This has led to exposure and opportunities I would otherwise, potentially, never have been offered.  One of the things I love about the site is it’s a real community.  I have had some of the most amazing comments you could imagine.  Mr. Composure was called the ‘best story ever’ and And the Meek Shall Walk has already been described as ‘one of the best stories on Wattpad.’

Sin was my first serialized novel on the site.  I’d originally posted the Prologue, and they asked if I’d be willing to put the whole story up.  I agreed, and it’s now had almost 765,000 reads!

On Wattpad, you can connect with so many other writers and readers.  Those readers can connect with you, vote and leave comments.  It’s wonderful.

CJJ: And finally, do you have any writing-craft advice for authors who want to serialize their work?

SA: Trust in yourself.  Trust in your story.  Whether you create overviews or write as you go, it’s your story.  As you post each chapter, engage with your readers.  Let them know you appreciate their feedback.  As much as you enjoy their contact with you, they enjoy yours with them.

Writing should be about enjoyment, after all.

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To Read: And the Meek Shall Walk on Wattpad click HERE

And the Meek Shall Walk coverPrincess Aren is determined to make the human who killed her mother and exiled her people to the bottom of the ocean pay. To do so, she must go to extremes of pain and heartache in her search for justice. Aren, however, is no sweet, happy mermaid. To kill is to ignite a fire of passion in her heart which only the savage letting of blood can satiate. She will go to any lengths to find the man responsible, including cutting off her own tail and sewing, in its place, a pair of human legs – legs she tore from one of the many humans she had murdered. With the unwilling help of the sea witch, Princess Aren must go ashore and hunt for her mother’s killer. But, in doing so, the worlds above and below the ocean will clash in ways neither thought possible!


Profile

A creator of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into the point of view and sense of humour of Sin, the main character in his best-selling novel of the same name, although he can’t, at this point, teleport.

A writer of multiple genres, including horror, humour and children’s fiction, Shaun goes where the Muse takes him – even if that is kicking and screaming. He has written for Universal, DC Vertigo Comics and Goosebumps and regularly holds writing workshops at local schools.

Shaun lives with his wife, two daughters and two cats. Oh and a manic dog. Though his life might, at times, seem crazy, he is not.

Honest.

Links:

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Filed under Fantasy, Literature, Self Publishing, writer, writing

Branding Yourself day 4 – Pinterest, Wattpad, YouTube, Oh, My!

my pinterest board 3-20-2013This is where things get a bit sticky. Pinterest. Wattpad. YouTube. Oh, My!

What the heck? By now you’re feeling like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

Well, today we are going to talk about ways to get the work you have sitting on your desk OUT and into the hands of prospective readers.  One of the most surprising and random of these venues is Pinterest! And yet, it has been incredibly useful in attracting readers to this blog.  And, lets be real, NOTHING is easier than setting up a Pinterest account and getting started there.

What is this Pinterest thing I keep talking about? It’s like a scrap-booking site for things you find on the web.  You ‘PIN’ things you come across on the web and then your followers can repin them if they are as pleased with it as you are.

According to Wikipedia, the Fount of All Knowledge: Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies, and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own pinboards, or ‘like’ photos. The site was founded by Ben Silbermann (of West Des Moines, Iowa), Paul Sciarra, and Evan Sharp, the site is managed by Cold Brew Labs and funded by a small group of entrepreneurs and inventors. 

my pinterest page 3-20-2013SO what does this have to do with your career as an author? I don’t know, exactly.  But it works! I think the value is in the connections you make through pinning an re-pinning things that interest you. These things represent your interests, i.e. motorcycles, collecting silver tea-strainers, BOOKS, anything!

I have two boards: Writers’ Paradise and Vegan and Loving It (Mostly). AT the top of the page, you will see my bio, and the link to one of my books. I need to change that so that the link comes back to this blog. You only get 160 characters to write your bio with, so use them wisely.

Quote from Pinterest’s help page: A pin starts with an image or video you add to Pinterest. You can add a pin from a website using the Pin It bookmarklet or upload an image right from your computer. Any pin on Pinterest can be repinned, and all pins link back to their source.

The important thing here is the part about ALL pins linking back to their source. My Pinterest boards are located at:  http://pinterest.com/cjjasp/

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Now we are going out to something called Wattpad:  FROM WIKIPEDIA: 

Wattpad describes itself as “the best place to discover and share stories.” It’s a YouTube for electronic text stories. The content includes work by undiscovered and published writers. Delivery emphasizes the mobile phone platform, using the free Freda ebook reader.[1] According to Wattpad founder and CEO Ivan Yuen, “marketers can currently upload material for reading by mobile users at no charge”.[2]

About nine in 10 users are readers rather than writers. Around four in ten users are U.S. based; traffic also comes from the U.K., Canada, the Philippines, Australia, and more. Approximately 75 percent of users access the site through their mobile device. [1]

The most popular genres on Wattpad.com and the Wattpad mobile app include Romance, Paranormal, and Fan Fiction. The site is also home to Poetry, Humor, Science Fiction, Thriller, and others.

Get a Wattpad account and start posting short stories and poems that reflect your best work. I now have three short stories out there, and plan to post one a month for this next year.  I have a bunch hanging around that just need a bit of polishing. I may serialize a novel there.

The first thing to know is that your User Name should be your Author Name with no spaces, as ALL your work is published on Wattpad under that name. Mine is ConnieJJasperson.  This is a GREAT venue to develop a fan base. Indie Author Shaun Allan published his book, Sin, one chapter at a time on Wattpad and in the space of one month he had over  289,000 reads!

Sin

Sin

Thriller #9 / Paranormal #22

24 parts / 127 pages, updated Feb 15, 2013PG-13VideoCompleted

Dead, dead, dead. Say it enough times and it becomes just another word. What would you do? Could you kill a killer? Does the death of one appease the deaths of a hundred? What about that hundred against a thousand? What if you had no choice? M… read more

289,069 reads votes 647 comments 99


Do I have to say any more? I didn’t think so.

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Meg Clear © 2013

Meg Clear © 2013

You Tube – why would I even mention this?  Well, you may not have noticed this, but I have several ‘book trailers’ in the sidebar of my blog.  These are short, 60 second or so, commercials for my books; teasers. if you will.  The purpose is to give prospective readers an idea of what to expect if they buy one of my books. The links to them go in your sidebar on you blog, on your Goodreads Profile, and your Amazon Author Page. I have no data available to say if they work or not as far as generating sales go, but they may. A person who is interested enough to click on this link is wondering about your book and if you have that one little foot in the door, why not take advantage of it?

Book Trailers aren’t a requirement, but they are fun to make, and they cost me nothing. I get the music for free from my daughter, Meg Clear who is a fabulous musician, or from Free Music For Videos which I make a voluntary donation to for the use of their music. Donations are not required, but I like to support the artists. (See their link in my side-bar to make your own donation.)

Many people say trailers do no good, but when fans of Meg Clear Google her, what comes up as the  number one listing on page one of her Google profile?  The very first trailer for The Last Good Knight that I made when I was with my former publisher. That version of the book is unavailable now, because it has been completely re edited and redone under Myrddin Publishing Group. But the title of MY book and MY author name are out there under HER page, and we BOTH benefit from this. As someone once said, all publicity is good publicity, and while I don’t believe that to be true in all cases, I will take the advertisement and be grateful.

I make my trailers using Windows Live Movie Maker, and using  Free Public Domain images, and Royalty Free Music and Free and Royalty Free Images from Dreamstime.com. Dreamstime is inexpensive, which is the keyword for me, and you have a great record of the legal work for your own files.

It does take some time and research to locate images and music that 1. reflect what you want to say about your book and 2. Are LEGALLY available for your use (and I suggest you keep a file for each trailer with both digital and hard copies all the legal use provisions for each image and song used).

Make a short script using the blurb from the back of your book, keep it down to 30 or 60 seconds and voila! You’re a producer!

If you don’t want to deal with Windows Live Movie Maker (which is a hinky program at best,) a GREAT site for doing thisfor free or very cheaply is called ANIMOTO.  Many authors go to this site for affordable trailers for their websites.

So–that’s it for today. Tomorrow we will take on GOODREADS.  Your Goodreads profile is the cornerstone of your brand and, outside of blogging regularly, building that profile is the single most important thing the indie author can do for themselves.

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, writer, writing