The Wattpad Problem

I first learned about Wattpad from followers on Twitter, when I still used that service. I was not impressed. It was the work of amateurs, and bad amateurs at that (with glittering cover graphics). Also, I did not seem to fit the demographic, which appeared to be mostly young women. And there was the flotsam and jetsam masquerading as “fiction” that some of the writers posted. For example, a collection of “true horror stories” that merely consisted of poorly summarized news stories found on the Internet. Not exactly what I would define as literature.

I deleted the app from my phone, and did not return to the site, for a while. Still, I remained interested because of the Wattpad’s potential for online publishing. It is a very large, active community. With very high visibility for some of its authors. The only problem is the demographics. I’m not sure how could reach Wattpad’s demographic base effectively (while remaining true to myself).

I revisited Wattpad recently, just to give it another try. I hoped to find  content on it that was more suitable for my tastes. I did a search for “Lovecraft,” hoping to find some Cthulu Mythos stories, and to steer myself away from the plethora of teen romance novels. I came to a story titled H.P. Lovecraft, and took note of the odd summary: “Lovecraft owns these stories, not me. Enjoy.” I then discovered an anthology’s worth of Lovecraft stories, including some of his classics like “The Dunwich Horror”, and the complete novella, “At The Mountains of Madness”. Just posted there, for no reason. I asked myself, why? Why would anyone just want to rip off an anthology they downloaded somewhere else and post it all on their Wattpad page?

I was concerned about copyright issues and I did some research, hoping to put a stop to this. Unfortunately, I learned that Lovecraft’s works are largely considered to be in the public domain. This clever user must have known it as well, so no laws were violated. That doesn’t mean that it was right.

So why, after all this would I want to publish on Wattpad? There are significant advantages. I can publish an entire novel. For free. With no strings attached. But I can’t expect anything in return except for the odd chance that a publisher discovers my novel and offers me a book deal, which seems a like a reversion. Why would you take a novel that was published online with current technology, and make it into an antique book?

I am skeptical whether Wattpad has any other promotional value for a writer like myself. Then there is thought of toiling day and night over a novel, and then posting it, for free, on a social media site. Is it me, or does that not seem like a plain waste of time?

As I have said, I will attempt to publish fiction on this blog, although my options are limited here. I cannot publish novels. I am limited to short, unserialized works that would be difficult to market on this platform. I may decide to setup a sister site with a better format for online literature. Perhaps I could get other writers to join me. Let’s face it, we can do better than Wattpad.




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