Wattpad is often described as the YouTube for books. Readers can go and read any of the books on there for free at any time. Anyone can write on Wattpad and anyone can read for free. It’s a place for writers to improve, readers to explore new authors, and it is a good place to make a connection with fans of your work and to expose it to the masses.
Some of the statistics for readership on Wattpad are astounding with over eight million monthly visitors to the website and books receiving as many as ten million reads and ten thousand comments. So when I was asked to co-author a book on Wattpad, it was quite a heady experience. Not only because it was going on Wattpad, but also because it was my first collaboration and it was going to be with one of the top-ranking Wattpad authors—Kevin Weinberg.
Writing can be a very insular vocation. It’s rarely a shared or group experience. Most of the time the author will be the sole creator of their work and only their knowledge, experience and imagination will go into that work. So as a fiction author, my first steps into writing a novel in collaboration with another author was a daunting experience, but also one that I was looking forward to in many ways. On one hand I was looking forward to the opportunity of sharing the adventure with someone else. On the other hand I was concerned about it how difficult it may be. But just add to the pressure, our first two chapters were going to go live on Wattpad the next day!
One of the biggest things I’ve found that makes a collaboration work is trust. You have to trust the author you are working with. On many levels you are relying on each other to complete the novel and without trust in each other, it just doesn’t work. Almost like a friendship or a relationship you need to have similar tastes and similar styles of writing. I believe one of the most important factors is that you need to respect each other, and each other’s work.
I write young adult fiction, satire and fantasy romance and I met a wonderful author called Kevin Weinberg through a friend, who said ‘You two are exactly the same’. And they were right. Kevin and I do both have very similar tastes and writing styles. I love his work, so when Kevin asked me to co-author a satirical, superhero-romance with him, I jumped at the chance.
The first chapters were a new experience, as even though we may have similar tastes and styles, we still had to find a way to work together so that our strengths as writers came across in the work. I think our first hurdle was the planning of the book. Kevin doesn’t like to know the ending of his book until he’s close to writing it. I prefer to have it fully plotted from the beginning. This led to some interesting conversations where we eventually settled for planning out the main character conflicts and motivations and planning six chapters in advance. This method worked, because I knew where I was going with my chapters and Kevin didn’t have the constraints of a plan hindering his style of writing.
One of the wonderful things I’ve discovered about writing in collaboration is that two heads are better than one. Whereas I am a purely structural writer, and plan and organise every aspect of my books, Kevin is a sentence construction and line editing genius. He is wonderful at making sure my words are in the right places and making sense and I hope I am helpful in providing reader access to the story via structure.
I tend to write female main characters and slot a fair chunk of comedy and romance into the story, Kevin writes from a male character’s point of view and focuses highly on comedy and action. By working together I’m finding that we are both strengthening our skills in new areas of writing, which perhaps we had not explored before. Doing something different is a wonderful way to expand your knowledge and abilities. So, on some level we mentor each other too.
Also another dynamic for us was cultural. Kevin is from New York in the United States. I’m from York in the United Kingdom. Language and cultural differences seemed to add another dimension to our writing. The book we are writing is set in America and written in American English, but there are elements of Brit humour in it, which seems to work. So overall, by writing in collaboration the book is more dynamic because we both strengthen each other’s weaknesses and can focus on the areas we enjoy writing the most. It’s enjoyable and easier in many ways than writing on your own.
One of the main advantages I’ve noticed is that we are growing as writers together. There’s a wonderful opportunity to improve and develop in collaboration, and I hope we have the opportunity to write many books together, because it’s highly enjoyable and a great learning experience, so far.
For the writing itself we used Skype and wrote while on live-chat to each other. I didn’t think this would work at first, because I’ve never managed to write with someone else in my head, or in the room before. However it did work wonderfully. Each comment inspired the next part of the story and instead of spending hours worrying over a sentence. I could just run it by Kevin for an objective opinion. After a several hours on Skype we had our plot and first two chapters ready for the masses, and it was great fun from start to finish.
So next on the new experiences for me, was the Wattpad experience. I’m pretty new to Wattpad myself, but Kevin is the king of comedy on the website, with two highly ranking novels on there (Psych Investigation Episodes and Questing Sucks – both soon to be published at Ragz Books). As a traditionally published author, Wattpad was a new experience for me. I’m used to being somewhat distanced from any fans of my books, with Whatever Became of the Squishies and Shattered both only available in book stores through my young adult fiction publisher Ragz Books. It’s very rare that I hear from readers of my books, which is a shame. So Wattpad appealed to me as an author, because I like to know what the readers think of my books, and enjoy talking to them about them.
I was incredibly nervous when the first two chapters of ‘Don’t Date Superheroes Who Attack Cities With Giant Octopi’ went online, but we were very lucky with our venture and the readers loved it. With just the first two chapters we ranked as high at fifth in Adventure in just two days, which was amazing. So our next challenge is to get out the next chapters and see where the adventure takes us.