Wattpad Creator Tamara Lush (@TamaraLush on Wattpad), has been writing on Wattpad since 2014. She is known for her hit story DRIVE. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Wattpad Corp. or affiliated companies.
It was late summer of 2019 and I was on a trip, sitting in a café in Quebec City, looking at my mediocre book sales numbers on an e-book retail site. My mood plummeted with every new piece of information.
I'd been self-publishing romance for about three years and had also published two books with a small publisher. At that point, I was spending about $200 a day on Facebook ads. I was making a profit, but not anything significant.
Not enough to quit my day job.
And that was what I really wanted: to stop being a journalist, stop covering mass shootings and executions and politics. It was taking a toll on my emotional and physical health, and I needed to come up with a plan B for my life.
I'd hoped to be further along with my book business by the summer of 2019. I'd taken a nine-month sabbatical from my job specifically to see if I could make a go of it as an author. I was scheduled to return to work that October. What was I going to do?
I took out my little notebook and made some calculations. I had some books in the Paid program on Wattpad, and by my math, the bulk of my book profit equaled what I'd made in Paid. Which meant that I was basically spending money on ads just to sell books on an e-book retail site. I was no business major and relied on using my fingers to add, but that seemed like bad business to me.
I pondered this for a bit. I actually enjoyed self-promotion on social media, I just didn't like the advertising part of being an indie author. Spreadsheets and learning about targeted audiences were BORING. This wasn't why I set out to be an author. I wanted to write.
Wattpad allowed me to just write. I could move all my books to Wattpad, perhaps.
I'm a big believer in questioning everything (there's the journalist in me). I started to wonder what would happen if I put ALL my books on Wattpad, a mixture of free and paid. I had many of them, around sixteen total at the time. The idea that I wouldn't have to advertise on Amazon or Facebook was alluring.
But going all-in on Wattpad? That wasn't something I had considered. The idea intrigued me.
I decided, right there in that café, to take a leap. I'd put all my books exclusively on Wattpad, return to my day job, and evaluate at the end of 2020, the following year.
A few things happened over the next 365 days. The pandemic, for one. I covered story after story about the virus and became more and more burned out on my journalism job. Political stories didn't help, either. I needed to find a way out, that became clear by my levels of anxiety.
But I kept writing and started a new serial web novel on Wattpad. It was a new genre, something I'd wanted to explore for a while. It was called KISS KISS BANG BANG, and it was a mafia romance. It started to do well. And to my surprise, my other stories did, too. As one book became popular, readers would find the rest.
Wattpad approached me and asked if I'd like to publish one of my other Paid books, DRIVE, with a new adult imprint, W by Wattpad Books. Of course, I said. I was open to all possibilities.
I kept updating my book, chatting with my readers, and promoting my stories on social media. Wattpad was gratifying in a way that the e-book retail site wasn't.
I started to make more money in Paid, and received an advance from Wattpad Books for the print publication of DRIVE. The opportunities at Wattpad appeared to be snowballing.
I still wasn't sure what to do about my day job. It seemed like a terrible time to quit, and yet, it was all I wanted to do. Then on Christmas Eve, I landed in the hospital with a very sick gallbladder. (I'll bet you didn't expect this post to talk about gallbladders!).
Now, I'm not a huge believer in woo, or holistic medicine, but in my reading during my hospital stay, anger and frustration are the “emotions” of the gallbladder. I certainly had experienced those two emotions in the past year. Maybe my poor little organ was trying to tell me something.
I vowed, from my hospital bed, that if I could get out of there without major illness, I'd quit my job and follow where Wattpad, and my fiction, led me. It was time to let go of a lot of things, and time to trust in my talent as a fiction author.
Four days later, I left (without a gallbladder). A month later, I quit my job. It was time to leap.
Here's what's happened to me since then: Wattpad has signed two more books for print deals. I've gotten a film option for two of my books. I was invited into the Creators program, and my books are selling well in the Paid program. Recently I went to Toronto for a book signing with Wattpad. Wattcon and other exciting things are on the horizon.
And more importantly, I've made incredible connections with readers and other Wattpad authors. I've found my people. I am happy, happier than I've been in years. I wake up, do yoga, walk the dog, and write. I don't worry about ads. I'm not as angry as I once was. I don't feel frustrated any longer.
I also traditionally publish mysteries under a pen name. Those are much different books, with a longer time from writing to publication. The schedule I keep for my Wattpad books allows me time to write those.
My life is so much different. So much better. I make enough to live, enough to be happy. Sometimes, enough is everything.
One of my former journalism colleagues looked at me and said, “You know those truckloads of cows that crash on the interstate, and one cow breaks loose and runs free, never to be found? Well, you're that cow.”
I laughed because it's hilarious. But it's also true. I feel free. Renewed. Wattpad had a LOT to do with this.
There are many possible outcomes in life, and in your fiction career. Sometimes you just need to take a chance and try a different path.
My Bloody Valentine is Tamara's latest serial on Wattpad. It's a dark, sexy, and mysterious story about Gabriel Greco, the most powerful man in the city, and Riley Murphy, the local newspaper's organized crime reporter. The two become intertwined in a dark romance. Catch the weekly chapter releases, exclusively on Wattpad, by adding My Bloody Valentine to your library.
Visit Tamara's Wattpad profile.