Today’s post is taken mainly from a conversation I had with a writer/friend I met on Wattpad. He wanted to know how my book was doing so well, so quickly.
First, it was news to me that my book was doing well in comparison to another author’s book, one which I am truly enjoying reading and consider to be well written and entertaining.
How is it that a story with such strong hooks, interesting characters, compelling ideas, and plenty of action could languish unnoticed on Wattpad for the better part of a year?
This made me think a little more deeply on the matter. I wish I knew the answer to his question, which at it’s root was “what I had done differently?” As I’ve said here before, I announce each update on Twitter and sometimes on Facebook, but I don’t get many people clicking through from there (if any).
At first I thought linking to the story from this website, FB, and Twitter might have contributed to the read count. Then, the one time I had the most reads, I forgot to tweet about the update for several hours and still had a jump in reads. Another time, I tweeted and had almost no reads.
The very first part of my story published received over a hundred reads within the first few hours. I don’t know why. I’ve seen stories that have been on much longer with fewer than 50 reads.
My best guess is most reads come from inside Wattpad. I’ve been exploring the site and commenting in the forums. I followed a few people other writers whose books interested me. I read the first chapters and commented and voted if I enjoyed the reading. That’s about it.
The biggest contribution to the number of reads probably came from posting the story/cover on the Fantasy forum’s self-promotion board, followed closely by just being helpful when people ask questions I can answer.
In the process, I’ve also caught a glimpse of the dark underbelly of Wattpad: someone asked me to do a vote for a vote program. The requester called it her “help a wattpadian campaign.” In essence, I should vote for her story installments and she would vote for mine. Gaming the system like that is wrong and I’m pretty sure it’s against the terms of service. I personally wouldn’t vote for or comment on works that I don’t like anyway; votes and comments are personal endorsements. I didn’t respond to the request.
If personal integrity isn’t enough to keep authors honest on Wattpad, here’s another thought:
By not gaming the system, when our stories get reads and votes, we know it’s because they appealed to a reader, not because someone wanted something from us.
To me, that is very important. Wattpad is a personal challenge: “How can I write that will engage readers?”
I want to be able to see how readers respond to each installment that I post. The bottom line questions are, “was the last installment compelling enough for readers to come back?” and, “was the current installment engaging enough to garner a few comments and votes?” Vote trading would undermine the utility of Wattpad in answering those questions and devalue the amazing metrics Wattpad provides.
If you post a story on Wattpad, my best recommendation is to become active in the Wattpad community. Read other works and vote and comment if you like something. Take part in the clubs. Not only will readers be more likely to notice your work but you may become friends with other Wattpad authors and readers, people who will enrich your experience and your life.