Per chapter, real-time updates to stories are a horrible idea
There exist websites that allow anyone to set up an account and start publishing fiction right away – just like WordPress, Medium, and all the other blogging platforms, but for fiction exclusively. I haven’t used Amazon Singles, but did actively write on Wattpad, so I can comment on it with certainty.
The first thing you do on Wattpad is set up an account – whether you’re there to write, or just to read others’ work, an account is vital. Then, you go through the standard profile setup, and you’re ready to write.
On Wattpad, stories are generally published chapter by chapter (by generally, I mean that’s the norm. No one publishes the entire thing in one go). To kick things off, you need to upload a cover and enter a title. If you don’t have a cover, your story will be graced with an ugly, blown up version of your profile picture. Next, you’ve got to pick a category for your story, and add some tags to increase discoverability.
Finally, you can begin writing your first chapter.
Until around two months ago, I used to house all of my fiction work on Wattpad in hopes of field testing my stories, seeing if others liked them, etc. I tried to get up one chapter every week, just before midday, Friday (right before the Wattpad algorithm refreshes its ‘Explore’ page, thereby maximising impact). I did a lot of research, experimenting, and asking around as to how best establish my presence on the platform, and found but a handful of long, laborious ways. At that time, I was writing on Medium and my blog too. And had about fifty other things to take care of. Put all that together, and you’ll burn out within a week at most. At best, you’ll make a very below average impact on each platform.
That obviously is not a good thing. So, I decided to get rid of some avenues. Comparing the traction, interaction and success I saw on each platform, I found that Wattpad was doing the worst, despite me putting up the most work and putting in the most effort there.
Now, I am aware of the fact that people have got actual publishing deals thanks to their work on Wattpad. I also know how awesome it feels when a particular chapter sparks loads meaningful conversations — I know people enjoy that (so do I). But the thing is, all that happens if you gain enough traction. And that’s a man-sized if. Wattpad is not a scouting platform.
The key to getting mountains traffic on Wattpad is to be an active part of their clubs and other Wattpad communities and awards. But no one can possibly manage a blog, work on their book (whether on Wattpad or otherwise), do their job, meet all commitments you’ve made, and be active in Wattpad clubs. You’d go insane. It’s just not possible.
That’s reason one.
When writing a book, we often find that something you’ve written before doesn’t really make sense in context with the rest of the story, negates something you want to add, or is just straight up horrible. It may need changing to fit in nicely with later events or re-sequencing so the story reads better. A backstory may need to be added so that the latter parts make more sense. There are just so many endless possibilities! If you update chapter-by-chapter like literally everyone on Wattpad, you won’t be able to make all these changes as readers won’t be aware of them. Sure, you could leave an author’s note at the beginning of the new chapter, but those are ugly and detract from the flow of reading. This may also discourage readers and cause them to quit reading due to frustration.
Then, there are intricacies and details of the book that you’d want to take care of when you’ve finished the book, not before you’ve even started it! If you’ll remember, at the start of this article, I told you that a title and book cover are necessary to go live. These are things authors wouldn’t even bother about until they’ve finished their first, or even second draft! Wattpad, however, forces you to sort these out before your first words are down.
In short, these kinds of services are a terrible idea for two reasons:
1. You need to invest a lot of time and energy if you want to make it big (personal experience, as well as questioning a few successful Wattpaders, talking here)
2. Your story doesn’t stay yours
You can’t make changes to anything you’ve written — once it’s up, it’s up. There’s simply nothing you can do about it without pissing off readers and hence losing that fan-base you worked so hard to create.
3. You can’t edit the details later on
Once you hit ‘publish’ for the first time, that’s it. No changing the title, no coming up with a new book cover – nothing.
So what should you do?
I’ve answered that question in depth here:
Let me lay some truth on you: only finishing your manuscript won’t get you anywhere. Even if you get a top-notch editor and a publishing deal with a big name, it still won’t be enough. The truth is, you need more than just a finished book. And I’m not talking about a kick-ass cover.
Long story short, though, start a blog and work on your book simultaneously. No, it’s not impossibly hard, and you don’t have to create any new content. Read the post for more on this.