A friend on Facebook excitedly mentioned that her fanfiction had received over a thousand views on Wattpad.
Hot tip: Hang out with young people; they know where all the cool shit is going down.
Wattpad is an online community where you can post your writing and read books for free. It has turned the lonely business of writing into a social activity. You can write your book from a smart phone or tablet and this convenience extends to your audience who can read your books on the go. Wattpad is huge, with over 24million users the majority of which, are readers.
I signed up eagerly, posted a chapter online, sampled a few books and looked at the featured authors.
- There are some goddamn awful stories on the site.
- One Direction fan fiction will get you a hundred views by default.
- Ermahgerd this crowd is young and sexed up.
Still, I was excited and prepared for my phone to blow up with notifications. This did not happen.
Not in the first week, not even in the first month.
If you’re not writing about last night’s wet dream with Hairy Styles and Zac Afro or a zombie apocalypse at the The Playboy Mansion, then you’re going to have to work your ass off for every view.
How the fudge do I get a captive audience? It requires interaction you socially-awkward penguin! Nerts.
Let me share my game plan:
- Once again The Universe insists that I make friends, so I went after like-minded people, popular people and lonely loners with no followers.
- Read for review: Comment and review books with only a few views and then ask those authors to read your work.
- Tweet or Facebook quotes from your own work with Wattpad’s lovely templates.
- Put a word in, mate: Ask a Wattpad friend to share your writing with their network.
This was a decent start and I worked my way up to 85 views, a few votes and some reviews in my inbox. It was a lot of work for no joy and I’ll tell you why:
Wattpad is not a place to discuss the craft of writing; you will not get input on character development, lazy writing or any kind of constructive feedback. It is frustrating for functioning adults—brace yourself for teens and their emotions.
It is the high school scene rehashed. Not even the cool high school scene like The Breakfast Club, Can’t Hardly Wait or American Pie—it’s Highschool Musical.
Hot Tip For Myself: You can’t even be around adults in their 20’s; there is no way that you’re equipped for kids who have only just discovered the joys of masturbation.
Sorry Wattpad, we can’t be friends.
Before the Internet sends me karmic butthurt, let me say this: Wattpad is a cool place, anything that turns young people into readers is a good thing—it just wasn’t the right fit for me.
We get caught up in numbers as if this alone can validate our writing. No, I don’t want validation or pats on the back. I want a conversation with my readers of different ages and demographics so that I can ask questions like:
- Did you follow the plot and did it hold your interest?
- Did you find any passages difficult to read, boring or slow moving?
- Were the characters believable? Did they ever behave in a way that was “out-of-character” ?
- Was there enough conflict and action to keep you interested?
- Were there any issues you had with the formatting or grammar?
Teen readers will tell you if they think your characters are cool or relatable otherwise brace yourself for: it sucks or it’s…nice.
I trudged on and stumbled across a more diverse audience on WritersCafe. This site is geared towards the mechanics of writing; users are actually discussing the nuts and bolts of a good story. Users are rewarded with points for reviewing or commenting on posts. There’s a genuine focus on constructive feedback on the site that appeals to me and I’ve received some good advice thus far. Your job is to find the writing community that’s right for you.
There are success stories of writers who crack social media platforms seemingly overnight. Five meow meow beenz to you if you’re one of them, for the rest of us:
Keep calm and carry on.