I’ve been thinking about Wattpad for months now and not because I’m finding so many awesome reads or because my work has been hitting the hot list. I’ve been thinking about what it means to me as a writer and whether or not it will be a valid part of my career as I carry on my writing. After really mulling things over I’ve decided it’s not.
I have my opinions about the site, some of which I’ve already voiced here. I do think a lot of writing misinformation gets spread and perpetuated on that site with absolutely no controls to stop it. I’m also not very comfortable with where it’s going as a company, sort of a publishing broker where it sifts certain stories to the top based on . . .? Don’t know. But those stories get audio books made and get featured and get all manner of attention lobbed on them for reasons. There’s no known criteria for selection for being featured other than the whims of those behind the computer screens. Criteria for getting commissioned for work or a Wattpad Star largely relies on popularity. The former I half get. If the people commissioning are going to spend money on something, they want to make sure they get their money’s worth. And if you’re on board with playing that popularity game, more power to you. For me, the effort required to play the Wattpad game (getting as involved socially as you effectively need to be in order to really get anywhere on the site) is a needless distraction from the writing I want to do.
Ultimately Wattpad is not my path. I’m not going to discount those who have made successes of it, but I still think they are few and few between. And it also depends on your definition of success. I’ve been in publishing and actively marketing for it since 2009 and the only names I knew from Wattpad before joining the site myself in late 2015 were Anna Todd and Sarah J Maas. Two names. I don’t like those odds. Wattpad seems to be really insular aside from a small handful of breakouts and that’s not what I want for my writing career. I’ve already self-published and it really wasn’t for me either. Neither is the path Wattpad puts people on or requires people to take. It’s not a wrong path. It’s just not my path. My definition of success is mine and mine alone. I don’t expect anyone else to adhere to it and I don’t adhere to anyone else’s. I determined that I won’t be truly happy until I’m published in the way I’ve always wanted to be, with a Big 5, until I get that. Nothing works to substitute. Yes, I want my stories read, but if no one’s buying my self-published book, it’s not getting read either. So time to move on, polish up the next new book, and work on that.
My free time is limited so I need to fill it wisely. Trying to be popular on Wattpad, be that in the forums or taking part in events or whatever else there is, is not an effective use of my time. Writing and editing and trying to make my works the best that I can make them is and popular on Wattpad is only going to eat into that. Popular on Wattpad doesn’t fit my definition of success so I’m largely done with it.
I’ve removed my draft of BEFORE I’M DEAD and am rewriting it now. I got a few pieces of decent feedback on it, but that was largely only because I participated in an event that was mostly not beneficial for me. If I really want critiques I’ll continue to use Critique Circle where I can better rely on the feedback there instead of posting a story and hoping someone, someone who can give me the feedback I need, sees it. Too much to chance there.
My fic will stay up and I’ll eventually add the rest of my fic library to my profile because why not? Granted the Lost Boys fandom on Wattpad is incredibly small and not very broad, but whatever. It can’t hurt. And I do like participating in short little writing challenges that force me to stretch my creative boundaries. I will certainly give credit where credit is due: if it weren’t for Wattpad I don’t know if I would have had the nerve to dabble back into horror. I tried for so long and nothing came of it, but if you look at the shorts I have up there, that’s all the original fiction I have up (except for Exposed in Manhattan). I really enjoyed the Vampires Everywhere challenge I participated in this summer, writing 200 word microfiction based on prompts. I’m also incredibly fond of Whisper, a super creepy little short that may or may not get expanded.
I still have a library full of books that I want to make my way through. So I’ll still be reading on the site, but unless something really catches my eye I won’t be contributing much. I’ve really been slacking on my designation work and I have the books staring me down as I type this. I need to get back on that. I don’t want to take forever rewriting BID and I have another novel-length project I want to start sooner rather than later. Plus I’m dabbling in erotica and I want to submit a short or two to Cleiss Press’s upcoming anthology, which has a deadline of next month. This is where my heart’s always been and it hasn’t seemed to stray at all. So I’m going to stay focused where my heart belongs.