Last summer I embarked on a little experiment and began to upload chapters of a couple of old manuscripts on Wattpad. I did it to make sure that when the time comes, I'll actually follow through with my publishing adventure. I don't like the spotlight, and I suspect many (introverted) writers don't, either. But what the heck, I don't want to write a diary, I want to write books! Books=readers, just as communication=two-way conversations.
I realized that I needed to “practice” the skill of letting people read my work.
It's easy to procrastinate on something like this, because writers often feel their work isn't “finished.” But actually, these old manuscripts were finished. I sent them out to a bunch of editors years ago and got back nothing but rejections. Some of the rejections were encouraging, like the one that asked for “anything” I was working on besides that one! (Actually, you can interpret that as encouraging OR discouraging!) But I got bored with the rejection game and moved on to other things.
Still, I can't deny that at one time I really thought those books were done. So I don't actually have an excuse not to put them out into the world. After all, I was willing to let editors read them, and I was willing to see them in stores. Right?
I couldn't argue with that unless I wanted to be a really big liar. Lying sucks, especially when it prevents you from producing work.
So up on Wattpad they went. And for awhile, no one noticed.
But then HOLY SMOKES. People noticed. I don't know why, I don't know how. And while I'm not anywhere in the territory of the really popular Wattpad writers, I do have a steady, loyal following of readers. And what's incredible is the pressure that you feel (good pressure!) to keep posting when people keep coming back for more.
It is the weirdest thing to see notifications on my phone all day long, realizing that people are actually binge-reading my novels.
Look, they aren't perfect. In fact, now that I'm an editor, I can see a lot of issues in those manuscripts. And I've jumped in to rewrite the parts that are slow, wordy, or missing.
But wow! I've now got a busy schedule of uploading two substantial chapters a week, of two different books. One is a historical romance, one is a contemporary romance. And guess what! I don't write romances anymore! How's that for ironic?
Because of this, I've got what I think is a healthy distance from the material. It needs improving, but some of it is really decent. It's definitely worth putting out there. And what I've learned is that having a readership is so much fun! Thanks, everyone! I'm going to keep plugging away.