Should You Publish on Wattpad?
Wattpad is an interesting platform that has grown quite a bit from relatively humble beginnings. It began as a way for writers to share their work with an audience and for readers to find new and exciting products that they could enjoy. It also allowed writers to gain feedback while they were working on their work, as you could publish things while they were being developed. It still does all of that, but it also has a publishing arm where it takes the best on the site and publishes it in print, and a television studio that produces stories on the site to become TV shows. To see if Wattpad is the right thing for you, let’s look at the pros and the cons.
It has a substantial readership. Some of the stories on the site are reaching eighty million views, which really isn’t something to disregard. Even if you don’t quite reach that level, there’s still a vast amount of content that’s getting hundreds of thousands of views as well, so if you are looking to reach an audience there’s one on Wattpad.
It’s a free, easy to use platform that keeps a record of your writing. If you’re looking to write your material using cloud storage, there are quite a few options available to you—Google Docs, OneDrive, Scrivener, plus plenty of others—but Wattpad can be used for that as well. You can write your stories on there, meaning that you can access them wherever you are without fear that you’ll lose your work if your laptop breaks and you don’t have to publish anything if you don’t want to.
It can also provide you with some pretty good opportunities. Having your work published or turned into a TV show is something that doesn’t happen very often, and Wattpad moving into that area of business is a great step forward. They’re championing non-traditional content that’s different from what is usually seen in mainstream media, and that’s a good thing if what you’re writing wouldn’t appeal to the traditional publishers of the world.
Unfortunately, Wattpad suffers from some of the same issues as self-publishing and the biggest one is over-saturation. For every story that has over a million views there’ll be dozens that have only a handful. Getting noticed is hard work and not guaranteed.
There’s also the issue surrounding getting published in the future. If you’re using Wattpad as a platform to get feedback so you can improve your writing, and then go down the traditional publishing route of querying agents, you’re going to be adding a lot of unnecessary and almost insurmountable hurdles to what is already a definite uphill struggle. While there are cases where traditional publishers or agents have found books on Wattpad and other platforms like it, these are rare. In reality, if you publish your work on Wattpad then you’re more than likely not going to be able to pursue a traditional publisher for that work. Having said that, if that’s not a goal you are aiming for then this isn’t really an issue.
It’s not particularly simple to make money using Wattpad. Very few of us get into writing as a way to make money but getting paid for all of the work and effort that goes into making your book or story is certainly something that is deserved. They are currently in the beta phase of a programme that allows writers to charge for their stories. The reader will get free content up to a point and then have to use coins, which can be purchased with real money, to unlock another chapter or the rest of the book. This is currently a very small trial run so it’s likely to change in the future, and it’s also worth mentioning that—based on some of the comments I’ve seen—this is not a particularly welcome change. One of the benefits of Wattpad is that it is a free platform for readers who can’t afford books, so putting the content behind a paywall has the potential to lower readership. I know Wattpad is also working on using adverts within stories as a way to monetise content, but this is all very early days. Even taking that into account, you are still reliant on huge levels of traffic as the pay-per-view rate is so low that it is highly unlikely you will ever be able to make any money from the platform, generally speaking.
With Wattpad, and other platforms like it, its value to you as a writer depends on what you want to get out of your writing. I’ve heard people talk about it like it’s the best thing out there and every writer should publish all of their work on there because all the major publishers look at it and I’ve heard people say that if you publish work on there it is dead to traditional publishers. Both are true to a certain extent, but it depends what you want to do with your career and what matters to you. If you want to build up a readership and hone your craft with feedback, Wattpad’s not bad. If you just enjoy writing, and you want people to enjoy reading your writing, then Wattpad is a great place for you. But if you’re looking to go down the traditional publishing route, then it gets a lot more complicated for you, for the vast majority of the time traditional publishers won’t touch content that’s been published elsewhere, especially when it’s been published for free. However, if you build up a following and then go to an agent or publisher with a completely new book it could add points in your favour.
If you think that Wattpad sounds like something you’d be interested in giving a go then give it a go, just go into it knowing what you want to get out of the experience because the platform isn’t right for everyone.
© 2019 Davina Chime
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.