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?
Have you considered using a literary critique site like Critique Circle or Scribophile? I’m on both now, and I really like them. One of the cooler aspects is that you can meet other like-minded writers. I love poetic prose, so whenever I find someone else that has a mutual love, I flail around like a fan girl XD If you do end up joining, I’m Bunny9 on Critique Circle and Tessa Brant on Scribophile 🙂 I actually have learned quite a bit by critiquing and reading the critiques of others that are either good writers or just good at editing. Both sites are free to use, but have extra features if you pay. But you can post on both for free. Another nice thing is that the sites are locked, so you aren’t actually posting your story for the whole internet to see. This is a problem for me since most literature magazines won’t consider a short story for publication if it’s been blog published or published online anywhere like Wattpad.
I hadn’t heard of those before; they sound like a valuable resource, thank you! They also sound a bit more intimidating, which is probably a good thing for improving your writing but also a bit more legit… which this story is not. 🙂 But I will definitely keep those in mind in the future; I like the ‘locked’ idea for a project that I might be more serious about.
Thank you for the suggestion!! 😀
Well, there are writers of all levels on both sites. Or you could sign up and just look around 🙂 Well, I wrote fanfic for several years, so I’ve been flamed actually. It’s made me more resilient to criticism. Someone that I had blocked wrote an essay on how horrible my fanfic novel was and created a new profile to leave it as a review (so that I couldn’t remove it). They were right XD But I never said anywhere that it was good. There’s a whole list of things wrong with my 200k fanfic novel, including purple prose. It was my first creative writing project, so it is what it is. I’m not sorry for writing badly XD He’s not entitled to amazing FREE fanfiction. But I was friends with some great writers, and they let me know my faults, so I’m definitely not a newbie to receiving critiques. I wouldn’t call myself thick-skinned, but I’m not thin-skinned either.
I skimmed over your story and it’s pretty damn good for a first novel. I’m not experienced with first person, but you tend to give a lot of extraneous info that bogs down the actual story. I can’t really copy and paste from Wattpad, unfortunately. I went through that same stage and still have the tendency to do it.
Thank you so much for taking a look – I know several of the early chapters are particularly clunky, so I will definitely have to work on that. 🙂 And it’s great that you keep writing even after being flamed; that growth mentality is the right attitude!
Thanks for the comment!
This is my 2nd time on Wattpad and I hadn’t promoted my stories on the site either. Until recently. I’ve started getting a few people noticing but that’s because I advertised about them in the Wattpad groups on Goodreads, Google+, & did a search for SheWrites members who were on Wattpad and followed them. I even posted a question to my FB groups about their own experience with the site and met new people to follow and follow back. It’s true that it’s hard to get notice but what’s working for me, albeit tiny results, are reading, voting & commenting on others stories. Joining and participating in the group/club discussions. I even entered a blurb contest and the Wattys. All to get a little higher out of the void.
Thanks for commenting! I think participating in the community is a great way to promote, it just takes a lot of time and patience. 🙂 I will have to look into doing more of that. Thank you!