Jeff Seymour - Author of Fantasy, Literary Fiction, & c.: The Grand Experiment: Posting Soulwoven Ch. 1 on Wattpad

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Grand Experiment: Posting Soulwoven Ch. 1 on Wattpad

Ladies and gentlemen, we are go for the launch of Soulwoven on Wattpad. After two weeks of needling and noodling and stressing out over the first chapter, I've whipped it into what I think is decent shape, and it's time for it to go out into the world. (If you're just looking for a link to the book, it's here.)

So here's what it's like to post a chapter on Wattpad:

You can start either by clicking the big "Create" button at the top of the main page or selecting "Add a Work" from the "My Works" tab of your account. Either option takes you to a clean, simple writing interface that has a small text box for a title and a big text box for the main body. It also has a text box for inputting tags and gives you drop-down menus for sorting your story into Wattpad's categories, choosing an appropriate age level for your story, and selecting a copyright license and distribution options. Under an "Advanced" tab, you can also include links to YouTube, photos, external links, and toggle the story's visibility between public (readable to anyone) and private (only readable by your Wattpad fans and yourself).

It's a very cool suite of options overall, but the titling confused me straight off the bat. I was uncertain whether I was setting a title for the book or for the specific chapter that I was uploading. It turns out that you're initially doing both. You have to go back and edit some things from the "My Works" tab in order to have separate story and chapter titles.

I started out by copying the text of Soulwoven's first chapter from Microsoft Word and pasting it into the main text box. It worked pretty well, though the formatting got a little garbled. Wattpad doesn't seem to like indents or tabs. It also changes the font into something I don't like very much (I think it's Arial or Calibri. It probably looks good on mobile devices, but not so much on my laptop screen).

After getting the text of the chapter in place, I turned to the "Categories" drop-down menu. It sits next to a link to the site's category descriptions, though the link isn't automatically set to open in a new tab and could cause you to lose a draft when clicking it if you aren't careful (hint hint Wattpad!). After a quick perusal of the options, I chose Fantasy ("Stories in this category are usually inspired by mythology and magic") and Adventure ("Adventure novels involve an exciting and often risky task that the main character must successfully complete") to describe Soulwoven.

When setting tags, you just have to freehand. There's no tag cloud or other way to know what tags are popular on the site. Using my evil day-job powers as an SEO wizard, I tried to think of search terms my ideal reader might pop into a Wattpad or Google search box. I eventually settled on "teens, magic, high fantasy, sword and sorcery, lots of characters, epic fantasy." Wattpad adjusts these to its own format as well, but you can change them later, and I probably will.

After "Tags" comes "Copyright." Your choices are "Not Specified" (the default, which I hope means you are de facto reserving your rights), "All Rights Reserved," "Public Domain," and a wide variety of Creative Commons licenses (which allow others to use or reproduce your work under certain conditions). Wattpad has a not-very-helpful link nearby to explain the options. The page they send you to only describes the Creative Commons licenses, and the nomenclature that Wattpad uses for those licenses doesn't match up with what's on the explanation page. It's therefore difficult to tell which Wattpad options grant which Creative Commons licenses. I chose "All Rights Reserved" anyway, because I do still want to sell this thing someday.

Next comes "Rating." You can choose G, PG, PG-13, or R, and Wattpad provides specific guidelines for each. The last box, "Distribution," offers you a choice between "Keep my story on Wattpad only" and "Help me promote my story on other sites." No helpful link this time, just a tooltip that mentions the possibility of your story being available through Wattpad's "online partners such as Sony eBooks, Google Bookstore, and Scribd." I left it on "Keep my story on Wattpad only," because the thought of my book in an online bookstore without me getting paid is not one I like.

Finally, you need to check an "I have read the terms and conditions" toggle and either "Save" or "Save & Publish." I chose "Save," so that I could make sure my chapter looked reasonable before anyone else saw it.

I'm glad I did, because the formatting got quite garbled when I saved. Wattpad has a button called "Remove spaces" that resolved the problem, but it also got rid of much of my formatting. What I was left with is all left-justified, with no indents. The spaceless draft survived the saving process much better than the original did, however, so that's what I'm going to stick with for now. Once you save as a draft (or publish), you can edit your chapter any time under the "My Works" tab of your account. You can also upload a cover image, name your book, add another chapter, and write a description of your story.

So that's it! On the whole, I give the Wattpad interface a resounding B+. It's good, and its weirder wrinkles can be worked around, but it did leave me scratching my head a few times.

More importantly, the first chapter of Soulwoven is up on Wattpad! This means that those of you who have been clamoring to read it for ages can. It's viewable here, you don't need an account to access it, and I hope that you like it. I'd love to hear your thoughts, whether on Wattpad, here, on Facebook, on Twitter...wherever suits you.

Incidentally, I noticed yesterday that Wattpad went down for most of the day, and its community was distraught. Lots of people, mostly teenagers, posted upset messages on Twitter and Facebook. This place has a real following full of readers who care very deeply about it, and who have chosen to spend their free time there instead of watching movies or playing games or even reading books that have been professionally published.

I think that's very, very cool. If I had spent my teen years doing that instead of sinking hours upon hours into hack and slash video games, I would be a better writer today.

So hats off to them, and hats off to Wattpad, and let's see how this experiment goes! :-)

3 comments:

  1. I don't want to make a wattpad account, so I can't comment there, but I love what you've done with the first chapter! I can't wait to read more of the current version of Soulwoven...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Putting it up has been a rewarding process so far. :-)

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  2. That was awesome, Jeff! I'm excited to read more as you post it! So far it is definitely the kind of thing that I would read even if the author weren't my brother :-)

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