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Cold Querying Success for Wattpad Fantasy Novel


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#1 whikerms

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 11:23 AM

Here's the query that got me 4 full requests from agents, one of which I signed with two weeks ago!

 

----

 

When a slingshot-wielding teenager sneaks into his professor’s cellar, he finds the Maker—a mythical item capable of duplicating worlds—and accidentally activates it. Using the Maker gives Whik dark visions of what might be the future: the girl he loves, Sonora, lying dead in a forest.

 

After Whik comes clean with his professor about what he’s done, they hide the Maker and explore the connection between their world and its duplicate. Whik learns that chance encounters have changed the path of his alternate self. In one world, a scuffle with a bully from childhood ends in murder. In the other, the bully walks away unscathed. Whik’s copy tells him that if too many worlds are created, they’ll all crumble.

 

Meanwhile, an assassin from Whik’s homeland suspects Whik knows where the Maker resides. Malachi has been searching for it ever since an experiment gone wrong sucked his daughter into her own duplicate world. Now, Malachi wants to use the Maker to find a world where his daughter exists.

 

Whik’s visions become reality when Malachi takes Sonora captive. If Whik doesn’t bring him the Maker, Malachi will kill her. If Whik surrenders and new worlds are created, all of them may crumble.

 

BEFORE THE SKY FELL is a dark fantasy and is complete at 97,000 words. This YA crossover novel has won the Wattpad Prize and garnered over 660,000 reads on that site (50,000 over the past month). I currently have 6,300 followers on Wattpad.com who are engaged with my work.

 

Thank you for your consideration.



#2 sharpegirl

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 11:44 AM

Congratulations, Whikerms! And good luck on sub :) 



#3 Kristyn

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 11:45 AM

I read part of this on Wattpad a while ago and really enjoyed it! Congrats! :D



#4 AQCrew

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 12:49 PM

Hey there,  congats on this and thanks for sharing.

 

Would you mind elaborating on your experience with Wattpad?  Why you chose to post it there, and how it took off?

 

If so, could you also elaborate on how your agent felt about the fact that you had it on Wattpad prior to querying it?  We assume your staggering success was considered a positive thing by your agent.

 

Whether or not you can/should querying agents after putting your work online or self-publishing it (even if you later remove it) has been a hot topic of discussion here -- and in other writers' circles. 

 

We have reached out to a number of agents for clarification, but we are receiving a mixed bag of responses (some agents care if it's been online, other agents don't care -- but don't want to do on record saying this, some don't feel comfortable even answering the question)



#5 whikerms

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 02:30 PM

Hey there,  congats on this and thanks for sharing.

 

Would you mind elaborating on your experience with Wattpad?  Why you chose to post it there, and how it took off?

 

If so, could you also elaborate on how your agent felt about the fact that you had it on Wattpad prior to querying it?  We assume your staggering success was considered a positive thing by your agent.

 

Whether or not you can/should querying agents after putting your work online or self-publishing it (even if you later remove it) has been a hot topic of discussion here -- and in other writers' circles. 

 

We have reached out to a number of agents for clarification, but we are receiving a mixed bag of responses (some agents care if it's been online, other agents don't care -- but don't want to do on record saying this, some don't feel comfortable even answering the question)

 

Sure. This may be a long-winded response, but those are great questions since Wattpad success as a bridge to sales is unknown at this point (which is why agents are not sure what to think of it).

 

I chose to post my book on Wattpad when I was about halfway finished writing it. I was looking for feedback on my writing and trying to grow an audience. Wattpad helped me do that. My readers begged me for next chapters, I wrote short stories in little competitions, and the reads on my book steadily went up. Once I finished the novel, I applied to be one of Wattpad's "Featured Stories." That means, if approved, they advertise your story on the site as a featured story and you get more traffic to it. That pushed my book into the 300,000 reads range. Then I submitted it into the first-ever Wattpad Prize, which was a fun competition where the winners get advertising and a hard copy "prize" edition of their book. That happened a few months ago. I was at around 600,000 reads by then. In the grand scheme of successful Wattpad books, 600,000 isn't incredible. There are some books with millions of views. But the reads plus award gave me a fresh angle for those agents who wouldn't automatically reject me because of Wattpad.

 

Which brings me to your second question. I knew I wanted to include the Wattpad stats in my query letter, but I also knew that could turn off some of the agents. Regardless, they would find out sooner or later that my book had been online if they were interested. At that point I felt like I had made a mistake. Now I had pseudo-self-published my book on Wattpad and didn't even know if it would be worth it in the end.

 

I sent my query and first chapter to a bunch of agencies, one of which I went with. When I sent my query to the agency I signed with, the agent's assistant said she loved it, but it was essentially a rejection. She replied to me with a very personal message, and told me that if I had any questions I could surely ask her, so I did. I asked her if Wattpad had any weight in their decision not to take me on. She said it didn't. Then I drowned my sorrows over the weekend. On Monday, she told me to forget everything she said. She had thought about my book all weekend and when she mentioned Wattpad to her boss, her boss (an agent) told her to request my full MS immediately.

 

Long story short (ha), they loved it. As soon as I got an offer from them, I emailed everyone I had previously queried that wasn't a rejection. I knew I would regret it if I didn't weigh all my options, even though I knew this particular agent was extremely passionate about my book and I would probably go with them. In the end, I did.

 

To get to the heart of whether or not Wattpad helped me, I think it most definitely did. Maybe I could have finished the book without readers begging me for another chapter. Maybe I could have submitted a cold query and gotten a full request. I'm not sure. Regardless, given the route I took, Wattpad was definitely a factor in getting me an agent, and I suspect it will be a factor in (hopefully) getting me published.

 

Wattpad just released a new beta analytics capability where an author can see the demographics of who's reading their story. It turns out that 25% of my readers are reading from the Philippines. 35% from the US. 11% from Australia. These are statistics that a publisher would LOVE to have. 62% of my readers are female, but the majority of Wattpad users are female. That surprised me, since my fantasy novel is quite violent and has a male protagonist. The point is, now Wattpad has given me the tools I need to show a publisher the current market who's reading my book on Wattpad. That may or may not line up with the target audience. If it doesn't line up, that could even be a good thing. There may be an untapped market out there waiting for a book like mine.

 

I'm not sure if any of these answer the question of whether or not you should put your work on Wattpad. In my case, it worked out. If an author is considering putting work on Wattpad as a tool to establish a reader base, I'd advise them to go with something like short stories, not their prized jewel. Betting that your book will rise out of a TON of books and generate enough reads to get an agent's interest is risky. I got lucky. By putting up short stories, you can say, "While this particular novel has not been published online, I've posted a collection of short stories on Wattpad.com. I have x number of fans following my work and my work has been read by y number of people." I've heard that agents are very interested in the number of fans you have (especially if it's over 10,000). I think I'm at around 6,000 fans. That could be the deciding factor in a query they may otherwise reject. It could be deal-maker or breaker, so I'm just as lost as the rest of the writing community about what Wattpad means to agents. Luckily for me, the agent I went liked it :)

 

Hope some of this made sense.



#6 Mallory

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 02:54 PM

Woot! Congrats! :-D


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#7 LucidDreamer

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 03:09 PM

Congratulations!



#8 AQCrew

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 03:33 PM

 

I chose to post my book on Wattpad when I was about halfway finished writing it. I was looking for feedback on my writing and trying to grow an audience. Wattpad helped me do that. My readers begged me for next chapters, I wrote short stories in little competitions, and the reads on my book steadily went up. Once I finished the novel, I applied to be one of Wattpad's "Featured Stories." That means, if approved, they advertise your story on the site as a featured story and you get more traffic to it. That pushed my book into the 300,000 reads range. Then I submitted it into the first-ever Wattpad Prize, which was a fun competition where the winners get advertising and a hard copy "prize" edition of their book. That happened a few months ago. I was at around 600,000 reads by then. In the grand scheme of successful Wattpad books, 600,000 isn't incredible. There are some books with millions of views. But the reads plus award gave me a fresh angle for those agents who wouldn't automatically reject me because of Wattpad.

 

 

that's a great play-by-play and really illustrates the fact that sometimes you getting in first on something -- in your case, the first-ever Wattpad prize -- is really an essential part of breaking out from the pack.

 

 

Which brings me to your second question. I knew I wanted to include the Wattpad stats in my query letter, but I also knew that could turn off some of the agents. Regardless, they would find out sooner or later that my book had been online if they were interested. At that point I felt like I had made a mistake. Now I had pseudo-self-published my book on Wattpad and didn't even know if it would be worth it in the end.

 

I sent my query and first chapter to a bunch of agencies, one of which I went with. When I sent my query to the agency I signed with, the agent's assistant said she loved it, but it was essentially a rejection. She replied to me with a very personal message, and told me that if I had any questions I could surely ask her, so I did. I asked her if Wattpad had any weight in their decision not to take me on. She said it didn't. Then I drowned my sorrows over the weekend. On Monday, she told me to forget everything she said. She had thought about my book all weekend and when she mentioned Wattpad to her boss, her boss (an agent) told her to request my full MS immediately.

 

Long story short (ha), they loved it. As soon as I got an offer from them, I emailed everyone I had previously queried that wasn't a rejection. I knew I would regret it if I didn't weigh all my options, even though I knew this particular agent was extremely passionate about my book and I would probably go with them. In the end, I did.

 

 

Wow, just wow.  Yes, this series of events does illustrate that you were a bit lucky, but also it illustrates that if you have a project that really captures the gatekeepers' interest, there are ways to push through their doors.

 

It also illustrates an increasingly complex dilemma for aspiring writers nowadays -- it's growing difficult to know what path to pursue because invariably once you go down one road, some doors shut while other ones open.  And honestly, it's really impossible this day and age to judge which doors will shut and which windows will open along the way.  Sometimes, you just gotta go for it and other times you do have to be more strategic.

 

There has never been one way to get an agent or to get a traditional publishing contract, but there is no question that things nowadays are over-complicated by the fact that there are now SO many different ways towards many of the same goals.



#9 AQCrew

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 03:37 PM

I've heard that agents are very interested in the number of fans you have (especially if it's over 10,000). I think I'm at around 6,000 fans. That could be the deciding factor in a query they may otherwise reject. It could be deal-maker or breaker, so I'm just as lost as the rest of the writing community about what Wattpad means to agents. Luckily for me, the agent I went liked it :)

 

 

Yeah, it's really quite a complicated issue -- and the greater point here is that there is no single one "tow-the-line" view that all agents share on it (and definitely not one that all agents feel comfortable publicly sharing) because at the end of the day, it all comes down to what an individual agent thinks they can sell. 

 

Anyway, fascinating stuff and congrats again.  Keep us posted.  We'll all be interested to hear about your success.



#10 JacobH44

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 03:46 PM

Congrats!


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#11 Guest_AWExley_*

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 04:16 PM

that's a great play-by-play and really illustrates the fact that sometimes you getting in first on something -- in your case, the first-ever Wattpad prize -- is really an essential part of breaking out from the pack.

 

 

I don't want to hijack - but Amazon has started a similar project called WriteOn. It's in Beta mode at the moment and is invite only. I managed to infiltrate their ranks and I'm having a nose around. The demographic seems more NA/Adult than Wattpad and there isn't the same overwhelming glut of 1D fanfic. More interesting it seems to have an editor from 47North as a moderator. It's going to be interesting to see where Amazon goes with it.



#12 whikerms

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 06:06 PM

I heard about that! Haha no worries on hijacking. I like the discussion.

 

A little bird told me WriteOn was more NA sex than anything, but that could be speculation. It will be very interesting to see how that impacts Wattpad. They certainly have the money and power to push out any capability like that effectively. Wattpad uses Margaret Attwood as their celebrity face. I wonder who Amazon will choose, if anyone. I guess beta is too early for that kind of stuff. But I would love to check it out.

 

Who do I compliment around here to get a beta invite?



#13 Guest_AWExley_*

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 07:25 PM

 

Who do I compliment around here to get a beta invite?

 

Unfortunately I can't, I haven't been a member long enough to have any invite codes to give out. There was a discussion about it on Wattpad and I secured an invite from a fellow Wattpader ;)



#14 whikerms

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 09:26 PM

Nice! It could take off. I wonder if WriteOn will be monetized in some way (since Amazon is its creator). Targeting a more mature audience than Wattpad's 13 y/o - 18 y/o is a good idea for serious authors.



#15 Ann Robertson

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Posted 22 December 2014 - 07:25 PM

Congrats!!


Luck is where Preparation meets Opportunity. :biggrin:


#16 kimerickson

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 09:00 AM

I NEED to read this. Need. Just sayin'



#17 Aightball

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 09:54 AM

Congrats!!!


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#18 CFrances

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 01:37 PM

that's a great play-by-play and really illustrates the fact that sometimes you getting in first on something -- in your case, the first-ever Wattpad prize -- is really an essential part of breaking out from the pack.

 

 

Wow, just wow.  Yes, this series of events does illustrate that you were a bit lucky, but also it illustrates that if you have a project that really captures the gatekeepers' interest, there are ways to push through their doors.

 

It also illustrates an increasingly complex dilemma for aspiring writers nowadays -- it's growing difficult to know what path to pursue because invariably once you go down one road, some doors shut while other ones open.  And honestly, it's really impossible this day and age to judge which doors will shut and which windows will open along the way.  Sometimes, you just gotta go for it and other times you do have to be more strategic.

 

There has never been one way to get an agent or to get a traditional publishing contract, but there is no question that things nowadays are over-complicated by the fact that there are now SO many different ways towards many of the same goals.

Congratulations! How does one apply to be a Featured Story? I just posted my book, My Dog Jeeves on Wattpad after learning about it from you!



#19 trickster71

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Posted 24 January 2015 - 04:30 AM

Congratulation! That is awesome!

Want a more in-depth critique/edit of your query, synopsis, or MS?

Contact me at:  refugeforwriters.com

 


#20 whikerms

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Posted 27 February 2015 - 02:04 PM

Congratulation! That is awesome!

 

Thanks Trickster. If I remember correctly, you were a huge help in giving me tips on my early query!

 

 

Congratulations! How does one apply to be a Featured Story? I just posted my book, My Dog Jeeves on Wattpad after learning about it from you!

 

CFrances, welcome to Wattpad! I love your cover for Winterfire. I've added it to my library. I'll try to dive in soon. If you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to ask.

 

 

I NEED to read this. Need. Just sayin'

 

Here's the link if you're still interested in checking it out! http://www.wattpad.c...e-the-sky-fell 






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