In recent years, Wattpad has been shifting its focus toward helping writers get published and paid for their work, with introductions such as Paid Stories, Wattpad Publishing, Wattpad Books and Wattpad Studios. I believe this is great, but there’s one thing preventing me from getting behind paying to read stories published here, and that’s a lack of peer review.
Wattpad lets us initially assess the quality of a story by displaying its views and votes. So far, this (and the free chapters) are all Wattpad gives us to convince us to buy their Paid Stories. So if a story has 100k views and the free chapters are good, then it’s got to be worth reading… right?
Not necessarily. A story could have 100k views and 50 chapters, but that could mean anything. Does 100k views mean its quality is consistent throughout, or does it mean the first 10 chapters went viral but the rest dropped in quality and weren’t worth reading?
If you pick up a free story and it ends up being the latter, it’s no big deal because you don’t lose any investment. But if it’s a Paid Story, then you’ve lost money, and if someone loses money on one bad Paid Stories, they’ll be less likely to spend their money on all Paid Stories.
Let me stress there are some fantastic authors on this website. Over the years, I’ve read free stories that either matched or exceed the quality of some of my favorite traditionally published books. But I’ve never finished a Paid Story because of a drop in quality, even though it had lots of views/votes, the free chapters were good, and it sounded interesting from the description.
I’m not sure if I’m just choosing the wrong stories, but that’s beside the point. I believe Wattpad could increase people’s trust in Paid Stories if they introduced a 5-star review system only accessible to people who’ve read a few of the paid chapters. Reviews increase trust and drive sales if they’re favorable. But even if they’re not and they dissuade a potential buyer, at least you’ve prevented someone buying a story they won’t like or finish, therefore reducing their trust in Paid Stories and their willingness to buy more.
Thank you for listening!
Also, let’s be real: The comments aren’t the best way to indicate quality since they’re localized feedback (for certain chapters/ sections) and are normally made before the person has finished the book or even the chapter they’re commenting on.