Doing Digital: Writing on Wattpad
“The world’s largest community for readers and writers.”
There’s something to be said for an online writing platform that wields the kind of numbers and power that Wattpad does. In case you didn’t know, Wattpad was founded back in 2006 and has achieved an exponential growth, currently boasting over 40 million unique monthly users who are spending over 13 billion minutes per month on the site (mobile, web & in over 50 languages).
It’s no wonder that this platform is beckoning to writers who want to get their voices heard.
If the idea of writing on a platform with a ready-made audience is right up your alley, then there are a few things to know before you create a login and get writing:
- It is a social network for readers and writers.
- Content can be commented on by readers both in line and at the bottom of a chapter.
- There is no guarantee that you will be a Wattpad superstar and get signed to a million-dollar publishing deal.
Mashable has even called it the “most active social site you’ve never heard of”, and yes, that means it can be put into the same category as Facebook and Twitter. This in itself is a great thing. You can make and connect with friends, join clubs, chat with people who are interested in the same topics, genres, and styles of writing as you. You can create reading lists and give and get support as you write and read.
At the end of the day, you, as a writer, need to keep in mind that it is still a social network and you need to treat it as such
Your readers even get notifications when you post a new work or a new chapter, which really encourages people to remain engaged and reading what you write. But like most social networks, there is a format that must be followed, such as the serialisation of your work, and you need to be able to fit your work into that mould. This should be fine for most people (poets aside), but if you are working on experimental fiction that you really want to be styled like House of Leaves, you may be disappointed.
At the end of the day, remember: it is still a social network and you need to treat it as such.
Never read the comments. Always read the comments.
When you post something on Facebook in a public setting, you should expect people to react to and comment on it. Keep the same thing in mind when you are posting your work on Wattpad. What you post can be catalogued, searched for, read, shared, and commented on by any one of the billions of people who access the site.
Not all of them will comment, but some will. Some will take advantage of the feature that allows a reader to comment on a specific part of a text. Some of this commentary will be very useful, helping you figure out a plot hole that you hadn’t noticed before. Some of the comments will be uplifting and supporting, waxing on about your writing. On the other hand, some people may comment negative and unhelpful things. There may be trolls. Keep in mind that there are always critics of a written work, but platforms like Wattpad give you direct access to these comments and you could need to develop a thicker skin than you might have anticipated.
Putting your work on Wattpad does not guarantee you will be the next literary superstar.
In fact, the vast majority of people on Wattpad are writers who are testing out a new manuscript, writing for the joy of writing, or have decided to forgo the traditional author-agent-publisher route to getting their work out in the world.
There are some great success stories of Wattpad works being published by large publishing houses (think Taran Matharu). And, in some places like the Philippines Wattpad has transformed the publishing ecosystem (and, to some extent, the film and television industry), but there is no formula to getting picked up by large publishers. The majority of people never do.
That being said, Wattpad’s founder Lau has mentioned that helping writers get traditionally published is part of their agenda, but what form this takes is still being solidified. Then there’s the issue of intellectual property rights, but that’s another blog entirely.
To get more insider tips on using social media as a writer, check out our Five Tips for Writers Who Are Scared of Twitter, our handy resources for writers in the digital age, and check out our Doing Digital blogs.