Wattpad and 'Popularity'


#1

I’ve been wondering this for a while but thought I would see what you guys think on the matter of Wattpad and popularity.

To give it some context:

I’ve been on Wattpad for four years now and have slowly watched it grow into a sight that is obsessed with reads, votes, followers. Now, I’m not going to say that I haven’t had this phase, in fact, I took a step back from Wattpad because I became consumed by getting popular and thought that reads and votes were everything. After that break, I realised it wasn’t. I realised that writing what I loved was, and always will be, more important than whether or not a story was popular or had a certain amount of reads.

My question to you all is this:

Why have people become obsessed with writing what’s ‘popular’ and not writing what they love?


#2

I think it’s the same thing as instagrammers who post what people want to see rather than what is true to themselves. The notion of popularity is closely tied to success for some people so maybe people feel that by being popular, they are being successful?

My personal opinion is that when you are true to yourself, you attract the kind of followers/fans/friends that you actually want.


#3

Validation. Humans are obsessed with validation and some seek it out online. Some do competitive sports, different competitions in different things… Not that they do it solely because of validation, but there’s still probably a little bit of need for it in everyone. That’s my theory anyways.

And why not? Validation is awesome! Being told what we’re doing is great is an amazing feeling.

I guess that’s what people seek out when they start uploading stuff on the internet. Sure, it might not be the entire reason - but I know for me, it’s parts of the reason. I want my stuff to be read. I’ve been writing for so long with me as my only reader and I got a little tired of it. I still love writing. But I also like to see a bit of a payback for all my hard work - even if it’s just in form people commenting and voting.

I’m not crushed if I don’t get virtual internet numbers - but it’s nice when it happens.


#4

I constantly need validation, lol

I started writing my book because it was what I wanted to read that I wasn’t find it, so I was very much prepared for no one to read it! Not everyone gets famous and that’s okay because I write for myself :blush:


#5

And that’s the right mentality to something like this. Don’t invest your entire emotional bank on validation because that’ll suck in the long run. Do something because you love it and share it with people because it’s fun. And because validation is awesome


#6

dang, call me out why don’t ya, Fray. Lol, jk!

But Fray basically said everything I was going to.


#7

Lol, I BASK in the validation I get! I love it! But I don’t depend on it or match it up to my self-worth because that wouldn’t be good for my mental health :woman_shrugging:


#8
I called myself out too.

#9

Basically:

  • Validation is awesome!

  • No validation doesn’t make anyone less of a person, maker, artist, craftsman, athlete, writer, etc. etc.


#10

Exactly! Tbh I’ve had to work on believing that when it comes to myself, but I’m getting there :blush:


#11

Same. I think it also comes with age. The older you get, the more you learn the value of yourself.

Or maybe that was just me.


#12

Lol, I’m a teen, so I’m in those years where I think everything I do and am is shit :upside_down_face:


#13

There’s an old quote from T.S. Eliot, who was a modernist writer and lived long enough to see the invention of the television. He said (I’m paraphrasing a bit): Television allows us to all laugh at the same joke and still feel alone. I’ve often wondered what he might have thought of the social media age.

Sometimes it seems like screen addiction has decimated the human ability to make connections on a flesh and blood level. The affirmation we used to get from a circle of just three or four friends can’t even be equaled by ten thousand followers and likes.

I’ve been writing for a long time and I can tell you this: I never found true success until I abandoned any notion of trying to fit my work into a convenient pigeon-hole. Just look inside yourself and excavate whatever feels authentic, whatever moves you, makes you sad or angry, perhaps both at the same time. Carve it into something fresh using your own voice. I promise, you’ll find readers.


#14

Aaaah, the teenage years.

Fuck those. Royally.


#15

AGREED


#16

In some sense, I think it’s not really about popularity per say; I think people just want their works out there so; the more views and votes the more other people are interested in your book then you get the reads and you’ll be more encouraged to write. I’m not sure if I made sense


#17

Hard to see, I was kind of overwhelmed by the popularity obsession myself, having come from a background of writing ficton that was generally less popular than other genres. Not a slight against those genres, just my goals have always been different.

Generally I publish my work to as many sites as possible, because of how easy it is to become obsessed with becoming popular for some people.

That and, while most ambassadors these days are civil enough, there was a time when ambs were not actually the most professional of folk. Though if I remember, there was only one in particular that was … as I would later find out, I wasn’t the only one who reviled them. That was back around 2016 I believe.

Why people are obsessed? I couldn’t possibly guess, self-esteem issues. I’m honestly not sure.


#18

i dont know, i guess most people love writing, but after a while some of them just start to base there ability to write on how many reads they get, and if they dont get enough reads they just lose motivation for some reason. i dont think most people want popularity, i think that they just want people to like there stories, and if they dont get reads or votes they automatically assume that there stories arent good enough. its almost like they need a certain amount of people to enjoy what they write or else they feel like they cant do it at all.

in my opinion, i dont need people to read my stories in order to keep writing them. you dont need someone to see what you do in order to keep doing it. i put them here, but i wouldnt care if people read them or not.


#19

I assume that most writers today are truly desperate for financial success. The ebook revolution has become sort of a get rich scheme. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could just sit home and write what we love and make six figures for it? And the key to that is popularity, so we’ve become obsessed with reads, votes, follows and other indications of popularity. ¯\_(ﭢ)_/¯


#20

Mostly I continued to write what I wanted to read/write regardless of how it gets votes, etc. I do still hope to discover where the audience for those work exists and get the work to the audience or bring the audience to the work. (The audience could be on Wattpad without being the same as the main/average Wattpad user/reader demographic)

But, I did experimentally write a work I thought would fit with some popular things but was still something I wanted to read/write. That was my serial. It has elements that are an inversion of the YA Dystopian stories that were popular at the time I started writing, like having the teen gay male protagonist who stands out in appearance as opposed to the teen female protagonist who looks like everyone. I tried to show that he was part of a resistance without making him the center of the resistance. I used a caste/class system as some of the genre does, but made it focused on occupation and dress code only so it isn’t about where one comes from or who they are as a person. I made it an arguably utopian dystopia where no one is overtly oppressed or subjugated, but individuality and personal expression is suffering. I felt like that allowed for shades of gray in whether the resistance is correct. And to some extent allows social commentary on our real contemporary debates about speech and when expression isn’t free.

And I did this knowing that YA Dystopia with female leads was itself a reaction to past male leads so that in a sense I was going back to the way things were, so I emphasized that with a 1930s alternate history setting to play on the typical male-hero adventure tropes while having the protagonist remain openly gay in a way that we didn’t see in real 1930s where male adventure or crime-fighting partners were often more ambiguously gay or occasionally arguably gay-coded while often having some Girl Friday supporting character.

So I included a number of female characters and other gender expressions in the ensemble cast because it is a contemporary work even if in a historical-based setting and built on a female-centric YA trend. Contemporary reads want diversity in many areas.

This work did get more reads and votes than my others. It was featured at one point. So I think I managed to write something more “Wattpad”. Yet, it didn’t get wildly popular.

I think it gets more notice for the PG levels of romance and how the protagonist crushes on his tutor and then later falls for his partner than for other aspects of the work. For all that it is silly and adventurous, I did a tremendous amount of research to write it.

That’s just par for the course, as it were, right? If readers are into the story then they don’t see how much reseach and time went into world-building.

Anyway, when I think about it, if I went through that much effort for that small amount of popularity, then…

For me, it seems like way too much effort to write something that will be popular here.

Is it worth it for someone to try to calculate trends or popular tags and then go research those genres and write that?

I don’t see that it necessarily is.

Maybe it is better to write something we love and seek the audience that will like that work that comes to us somewhat more naturally (not that all writing doesn’t involve some research and work).

And that’s what I’ve been doing lately: focusing on a work I love, trying to make it the best I can with edits/rewrites, and searching for its audience.

I sincerely worry sometimes (and I may have said this on other threads) that the audience I’m writing for may not exist anymore. It’s like I’ve been crafting a series so long that I’m writing for an audience that was my younger self, but that audience is older now and may have other interests and I may just have missed my window for this work to have an audience. Who today would read this work? I’m trying to discover that.

But I’m just really struggling with it. Like, I work on consistent branding. I use social media.

But I think I’m not connecting.

I’m not social enough. Or positive enough. Or…

But then this goes back to: is it worth it to be something else?

Where is the audience for someone that is like me without me being another person to have an audience?

Serious life questions.