For those following along at home (after this long hiatus, I’m sorry), and considering using Wattpad for releasing your own fiction into the wild, I thought I’d give an update on how it’s going.
The mechanics for uploading a chapter are super easy, at least so far—just copying and pasting from MS Word, and it keeps all the italics and everything. Once the chapters are published, cross-posting them to Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr is just a click of a button (so far, I’m only doing Tumblr). From this aspect, Wattpad is very user friendly and doesn’t require any complicated formatting or anything.
But the real question is—is anyone reading it?
The short answer is… not really. Which is pretty much what I expected, so I’m not too disappointed. The most basic underlying reason I posted to Wattpad was just to put my story out there, for better or worse, for feedback or radio silence, and to have it out in the world. In that, mission accomplished.
But if you’re thinking about Wattpad and wondering about readership, I’ll dig a little deeper. There are two potential reasons why my story isn’t being read:
Option A is that it’s just bad. No one’s going to make the effort to continue reading a story on the internet if it’s boring or confusing or poorly written, and they shouldn’t have to. This is my first completed novel, and I can accept that it probably belongs in a bottom drawer. However, if my statistics are to be believed, I don’t have too many random people clicking on the first chapter or two and then turning away (a few, to be sure, but not enough that I feel like I’m missing out on some huge readership). Whether there are random people seeing the summary and not being enticed, it’s impossible to tell—though undoubtedly quite likely.
The more likely reason is Option B—it’s not being seen. In the vast sea of works that is Wattpad, standing out isn’t easy—even just being visible isn’t automatic. It’s especially difficult when you don’t do any promotion… Probably the best tactic would be going out and reading and commenting on other people’s works, which I will admit I haven’t really done. Without an internet following of any kind to point towards my story, or any standout features to attract its own audience (such as being a fanfic of existing characters people love, or having some really unique twist), I’m not surprised that it’s lost in the void of the internet.
My guess is that it’s a combination—hard to find amidst the overwhelming crowd, and with a first chapter that isn’t going to make anyone instantly obsessed for the few who find it. Add to that my lack of promotion, and it’s destined to do exactly what it’s doing…
But that’s still cool. I will continue posting chapters until the story is complete, and then I will leave it there (and linked here on my website), and I will have put my first book out into the world. Perhaps someday I’ll have a legitimate reason to be embarrassed by that, but I think this is part of growing as a creator. You make something, you put it out there, maybe no one likes it, and then you keep making things. It’s the only way. :)
Let me know if you’ve used Wattpad and how it went—or if you read things on Wattpad, how something catches your eye! Or, alternatively, what it takes to keep you reading–and what turns you away. I’m sure every writer is just looking for that secret formula, eh?