(And why you shouldn't be disheartened by it)
Wattpad is a social storytelling platform that can be used as a great tool for sharing your stories, gaining reader feedback, building an online platform, and even making money from your works.
With over 70 million users logging in each month, the potential for building an audience is HUGE. But there are also a LOT of other stories on the platform - which means it's very easy for your stories to get lost within the hundreds of thousands of other free works on the site
In the coming weeks I'll go through some practical ways to get 'reads' on Wattpad, and I'll outline tips for building an engaged audience.
But in this first 'Wattpad Wednesday' post I'm going to talk about Wattpad, its core audience, and the effect this has on the size of your readership. I think it's highly relevant in terms the things you can do to better adapt your book to the Wattpad environment.
A note on Wattpad Reader Demographics (and why your good book might not get lots of reads, and why you shouldn't be disheartened about it)!
Let's look at some of the the Wattpad Stats (and what they mean for you)
70+ million monthly users (lots of readers!)
400+ million story uploads (lots of competition for your stories!)
90% of all Wattpad activity is on mobile (Wattpad books are different to traditional books!)
Majority of users are female aged between 13-24 (books aimed at this demographic are going to get more reads!)
Now I'm going to say two radical things:
1. Wattpad books aren't the same as traditionally published books!
I don't mean this in a negative way, and I don't mean that Wattpad books can't be traditionally published (they can be, and are!).
But the way I see Wattpad- it sits somewhere between publishing, entertainment (i.e. tv, film, media), and social apps.
This can be used to your advantage (we'll talk about this in a later post), but if ignored it can be detrimental! A format and style that would work for a traditionally published book may not work as well on Wattpad.
2. Not all books on Wattpad will find their audience
(it doesn't mean the book isn't good)
Imagine you're sitting down to watch some cartoons. You put on a cartoon network. Suddenly a serious documentary comes on. What do you do?
You probably change the channel.
It doesn't mean the documentary isn't good, but it wasn't the reason you turned on the TV.
I see Wattpad in a similar way. I'd say that when the majority of people use Wattpad they're looking for a specific type of story (from my observation I'd say it tends to lean on the side of escapist, easily digestible content) - If you're writing something completely different to that it stands to reason that it will be harder to find your audience (but not impossible!).
Wattpad is a form of entertainment in itself
It's easy to see Wattpad as a stepping stone for publication - but Wattpad is a form of entertainment in its own right, with it's own unique environment, and with it's own unique audiences who want particular things. Millions of people log in every day to be entertained by Wattpad stories (not to help authors reach their publishing goals). The stories that get incredibly popular on Wattpad are clearly meeting the demand of this core Wattpad demographic, but there are other demographics of book readers that exist in smaller numbers on Wattpad, and who exist outside of the Wattpad environment as well.
Why am I talking about this? Well, just because a book doesn't do well within the unique Wattpad environment - it doesn't mean it won't do well in another environment outside of Wattpad! And just because a book does incredibly well on Wattpad - it doesn't necessarily mean it will succeed on the outside!
An interesting note based on the above - Vic James's Gilded Cage trilogy started out on Wattpad. It got less than half a million reads. And it is now published with major publishers around the world (if you haven't read it yet, do! It's awesome!).
A million reads on Wattpad doesn't automatically mean publishing success. Less than a million reads on Wattpad doesn't mean publishing failure.
So, with this in mind, what do we take away from this?
I think it's helpful - when starting a project on Wattpad - to think closely about the audience for your story, to set yourself some realistic goals, to manage your expectations, and to come up with a plan of how you're going to use Wattpad as a tool to help you as a writer.
Wattpad can be used as an effective tool to gain feedback, to interact with fellow authors, to connect with readers, as a means of motivation, as a way to build an online presence and author platform, to test ideas, to market yourself and your works, and as a place to hone your writing craft - regardless of how many 'reads' your book gets.
If you're looking at books that are typically popular on Wattpad that have millions of reads, though, and comparing yourself to those books when you're not writing a book for the same audience - you're going to get frustrated.
(If you are writing for the core Wattpad audience and still aren't seeing the results in terms 'reads' don't worry! We're going to talk more about that in coming weeks!)
My most popular series on Wattpad, Cupid's Match, has millions of 'reads'. Now, don't get me wrong - there were a lot of tips and tricks I applied to Cupid's Match when writing it on Wattpad to give it the best possible chance of success (which I'll share with you in coming posts). But one of the main reasons it got such a high amount of reads, is because it very specifically caters to the core Wattpad demographic (it's fast paced, easily digestible, escapist, aimed at teens, it plays on well-loved tropes and cliches, it's serialized, and it's very silly!).
I have other books on Wattpad that I've managed to build a respectable readership for (e.g. my dark adult fantasy romance, Ink) - but which I know will never gain the same level of popularity on the platform. And that's OK!
Write the best book you can (and don't stress over reads)
Some stories – if they don’t fit in with the main demographic of Wattpad – may not ever reach that million reads read count. That doesn’t mean that those stories aren’t worth telling, that they aren’t good, that you can't still use Wattpad as a tool to help you as a writer, or that your stories wouldn’t do well outside of the Wattpad arena.
Regardless of whether your audience is dominating Wattpad - there are still a whole load of things you can do to ensure that when a potential reader for your particular book sees it, they read it. And in the following weeks I will go through some of these.
But in the meantime - write the best book you can, think about your audience, manage your expectations, and don't stress too much over reads!
Are you a writer on Wattpad? What has your experience been on the site? Who is your target audience for your latest project? Let me know in the comments below!
LAUREN PALPHREYMAN is an author based in London. She is best known for her supernatural teen romance series, Cupid's Match, which has accumulated over 40 million reads online. Find her on Instagram @LaurenPalphreyman and on Twitter @LEPalphreyman. You can read first drafts of her books for free on Wattpad.