Wattpad is certainly a useful platform for writers. Wattpad is also riddled with fake accounts, bots, teenagers who use it to chat and role play, cam girls trying to get viewers, and people who simply post pictures. It’s a very strange platform, barely regulated, and one that I believe is less utilitarian than Quotev, but it can still be effective especially for aspiring writers. It’s also a decent place to get feedback on a work in progress.
Right off the bat, the one major thing that I do not like about Wattpad is that you can’t place URLs in your body of work. You can place them in your announcements to your followers, but you can’t add a link in your book to another book or to a website. Naturally, you can get around this by typing something like: Be sure to visit StoriesbyDennis.com
If people really are interested in checking out my website, they’ll type that into their search bar. No one who is curious is going to fight their own curiosity because there’s a lack of a clickable link.
Another thing that I don’t like about Wattpad is the same thing that I abhor in every social writing platform. Be it SteemIt, Medium, Wattpad, or Quotev, every single writing platform, e-publisher, whatever tends to have their favorite writers, which are writers who seem like they get a lot of views of their work. Sometimes, though, these platforms skew the real results by bending their own rules.
See, in the image above, that top row contains stories picked by Wattpad editors, and I know they aren't reading every story; they're only checking out stories that are already hitting big. Then, just below, you can see there's a list of completed stories, which means the editor's picks aren't even picks of completed stories. It's a very strange setup.
If Wattpad shows potential writers that they can get 36 million reads of their book then more writers will join Wattpad. If more writers join Wattpad then Wattpad can earn more revenue from paid services. I believe that any time a book on Wattpad sees a lot of traffic, the Wattpad team continues to show that book on their recommended page, which entices people to read that book.
This means that a great book with low traffic requires someone to search for it specifically. This is also means that the writer has to successfully market that book in order to get views and followers, and not everyone is very good at marketing. Not all writers have a ton of followers on social media, much less a social writing platform wherein they have a single book, their first book, published. Moreover, you can’t advertise your book on Wattpad to Wattpad users because when you’re new and have no followers, you have no one to message.
Naturally, you can begin by following a bunch of people, and this is where Wattpad is very much like Twitter. The one great thing about Wattpad is their community; if you follow a bunch of people, most of them will follow back, and then, every time you update your story—edit, post a new chapter, complete it, whatever—you can go to your profile, click conversations, and send out a general update. All of your followers will be notified that you have done something, so build a fan base and let ‘em know ya’ done good.
Unfortunately, a great deal of the Wattpad user base isn’t comprised of real users; they’re bots from other countries, so I know a lot of “writers” are buying “followers” like people can buy “followers and likes” for Twitter and Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, people from other countries use Wattpad, but when an American based writer has 1,000 followers all from Turkey or the Philippines or Kerplakistan, they’re bots.
“London boy”, whose account was made in 2017, had 9.1k followers on Wattpad. That’s a lot of followers for Wattpad. He had no “work”, no reading lists, and no activity. How did he have 9.1k followers…? I can't even find that profile anymore. I wish I had taken a screen shot, but I easily found this one.
Here, you can see this "person" with no stories or story lists has 4.3k followers and is following 995 others.
One time, I clicked on a profile to check out a story. I noticed the writer had 10 followers, so I clicked them to see who they were. I got a drop post showing that there were zero followers.
Look, I like Wattpad, or perhaps, I should say that I enjoy using Wattpad. I want to believe that people can succeed through Wattpad in more ways beyond building a fan base for future works. Wattpad also makes claims that they help writers by making some of their stories “paid” stories.
I see some of these paid stories and the only way to read them is to purchase “coins” through Wattpad. Must be Bitcoin, right? Joking.
Readers can purchase coins and then spend those coins to read those stories, and I suppose the writer receives some of those coins, and they can, I assume, redeem them for cash. I haven’t found any evidence of this being the case though….
I’ve sent out numerous requests via social media, asking anyone with a Wattpad success story to contact me, so that I could feature them in articles, and I’ve never received a reply. I’ve interviewed agents and editors. This is what leads me to believe that Wattpad is not all it’s cracked up to be. Furthermore, they claim to help writers achieve contracts with major publishing houses.
I’ve written before that writers needs agents to negotiate those contracts. You can read that article here.
Personally, I wouldn’t jump on a contract from a major publisher without an agent. I mean, how would you feel if you wrote a piece on Wattpad, and they got you a contract from Random House? The book is made into a movie. There’s a video game, card game, action figures for all the loyal fans of your awesome book, but your contract states that you only earn revenue from e-books sold. How do you feel now?
Speaking of movies, supposedly books from Wattpad get turned into shows for Hulu or Netflix. You’ll need an agent to negotiate that contract, too. Here’s the thing, though; here’s what bugs me. I just don’t believe this is true, or of it is, the people who are receiving these benefits are probably working for Wattpad.
I mean, do you really think the Wattpad staff doesn't have a writing account? They're the ones with the connections to Penguin Random House.
Wattpad does have writers and editors. They have analysts and marketers, too. They also have salesmen and probably agents. I also intend to find out as much as I can about how they all function.
See there's a new feature; it’s still in Beta-testing, but I think now is a great time to look into it. From your books statistics page, you can purchase a sort of review of your story. I liked the idea and for only 10 bucks, it seemed worthwhile.
Before I show you the report and dissect it, I have to add that I’m not sure exactly what qualifies the Wattpad operatives to judge and critique my work, and I would love to pit my report of my expertly crafted novel against the report of a book from a 15 year old high school kid who doesn’t understand that a paragraph is supposed to contain and expound a single idea.
I sincerely wonder if the people who read my story like my genre. Do they like my writing style? I don’t mean whether or not I’m good at using that style as some people simply enjoy poetic prose whereas others prefer a sinister narrative. Are they native English speakers? Have they studied literary arts? Are they actual editors? Are they male? Female? Straight, and from where are they?
Are "they" really just a program...?
All these things matter when someone is judging a story. Take you, you reading this, right now.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, and you really believe that Harry Potter was written for adults, you’re not going to like my writing style. If you’re a straight, white, Christian, married woman, at age 65, from Seattle, and you’re a fan of The Office, you’re not going to like my writing style. If you’re a bi-sexual, emo, gamer girl, aged 26, in college, and a fan of Skyrim, you’re probably going to cherish my writing style.
Well, at any rate, here’s the report.
It begins by describing my style. Advanced narrative, which means that I know how to write, how to provide information, make it understandable, and all while employing some poetic prose here and there to elicit wonderful imagery for all senses. Yeah, I'm pretty good. Did you hear that? That was me tooting my own horn. But I kid!
Next, I got to see where I measured up to other writers on Wattpad, and it seems that most of the writers who do well, end up selling paid stories, and win Watty awards write in a style similar to mine, but wait a second... This is a new feature. It had only been available for about two weeks before I purchased this report. Is this how I stack up to the other 100 hundred writers who may have purchased a report? Is this how I stack up in comparison to those editor's picks I mentioned earlier...?
Hah, you see that? Recall that earlier I mentioned that a person who thinks Harry Potter was written for adults might not like my writing style? Here we can see that Wattpad knows that Harry Potter is written for kids.
I once had an argument with someone who was adamant that H.P. was written for adults because people die. I was like, "Yeah, Bambi's mom dies. Simba's dad dies. Are these movies for adults...? Death is a major part of kid stories."
But I digress....
As the report continued, it became a little convoluted. In this section, the "editors" try to tell me that I may be using too many adverbs. Sometimes, during action scenes, you need a lot of adverbs, so that the audience can know what the sequence "looks like". This is what I call "writing like a camera man". You pretend you're filming a scene, and then you have to describe it to someone who can't see the film.
This isn't something that should be employed often, but it's okay to do in something like a prominent fight scene, say, between a dragon slayer and a dragon. On the other hand, I know the story I submitted wasn't perfect, and that's precisely why I wanted the feedback, so I will go through to examine if I have indeed employed too many adverbs.
I have to add, though, that no reader is going to hate a story solely due to the words quickly, slowly, and beautifully being employed a few dozen times. They might hate a story for the words would, could, and should being employed too many times. You can read about that, too.
The last portion of the report revealed which words might have been over used, and this is a great addition to the report unless...the words employed most are pronouns. This part of the report didn't help me at all. You're not going to get very far writing a book without abusing words like his, her, them, they, you, it, and a.
All in all, I guess the report was worth the 10 bone I spent especially if I've drawn the attention of the Wattpad staff. These people now know for a fact that I exist. I was expecting something a little more personal though. Chances are that after I paid for the report, my story was fed into word checker program, like a Google crawl bot, that spit out data and compared that data to other data, but here's the thing!
I'm not writing for a computer. I'm writing for people, and what I need to know is if fans of Harry Potter are going to enjoy The Dragon of Time. That's what I need to know, and I need to know what I need to change in my series to measure up, and I did not get that.
My conclusion is that Wattpad is a fantastic platform for someone who is learning how to write a book. It’s a great place for someone to get some fans and a little feedback. It’s a great place to get a feel for being a writer.
Once you are a writer, it’s a neat place to post your works in progress and try to hook new readers. Don’t think for a second that Wattpad is where you publish your book in order to land a publishing contract and a movie deal, but if it happens to you, let me know. I’d love to interview you.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to visit StoriesbyDennis.com where you can find other helpful articles like this one. You can also find The Dragon of Time 3, Dragon Pact, which will be available on Wattpad and Quotev until I actually publish the novel.