I’m going to be posting ghost stories on Wattpad this month, some old, some new, some private (followers only), some public. Friday I posted a brand new science fiction story (public) on Wattpad, “Etiquette For the End of the World”. Below is the publication schedule for the month, and also thoughts on why Wattpad is a good venue for my stories.
Ghost Stories for October! Here’s the publication schedule for short stories this month. The first 2 stories will be private, so only followers will have access to them. (Something I’m experimenting with.) The others will be public. Follow if you want to read all of them!
Oct 7: Ashes
Oct 14: Doug’s Night Out
Oct 17-21: Ice Cream Castle
(Divided into 5 parts, one part daily Mon-Fri of that week.)
Oct 28-31? I’ve started brainstorming a new ghost story which I hope to have finished by the 28th, or Halloween at the latest.
So, what’s the deal with Wattpad, anyway? I know it’s annoying for people who aren’t on Wattpad to maneuver around their sign-up pop-up (I did it for a while before joining). How can that possibly be good? Weeellllll….let’s be brutally honest here: my author site and this blog typically get zero traffic, which ticks up to a few people when I post. This is one of the reasons I don’t post much here. Why write long thoughtful posts that almost no one reads? I get more hits for short random not-terribly-great posts on my Mighty Microblog than here. As for short stories…I’m not primarily a short story writer. I like long. Short is difficult for me, so I don’t write many short stories. I’m not one of those authors who can build a following on short stories, and because of that I don’t go through the trouble of submitting stories to an assortment of magazines because it’s literally more trouble than it’s worth given my low output. My time and energy is better spent writing and marketing novels, which is what I primarily write and which pays better than an occasional short story. So I’ve been posting new short stories here on my author blog. No one is reading the stories I post here. I mean that almost literally no one. Compare the stats for the first story I posted on Wattpad to the same story which I posted here on my blog. In the first 48 hours after posting on Wattpad “The Shepherd of the Uncanny Valley” had 17 views, 3 likes, and 6 comments, which is not bad for 2 days considering that I’m new to Wattpad, this was my first story there, and I only had 4 followers (at that time; I pick up more followers with each story I post). In contrast, the same story posted on my blog 3.5 years ago has gotten a total of 4 views, no likes, no comments. So, yeah, I’m pretty happy with Wattpad. The idea of joining Wattpad is to expose my work to more people in order to increase the audience for my work. I have no idea if Wattpad activity will translate into increased book sales, but increased visibility has to be good. After all, it’s much harder to sell a book to someone if they’ve never heard of you and haven’t read anything you’ve written, than if you’re someone they interact with online whose stories they read and like. Posting short stories to this blog is just throwing them away. Based on the stats, it’s clear that not even my real life close friends are reading them (I’ve got more than 4 friends! LOL), liking them or commenting. The stats for the few other stories I’ve posted here are about the same: few views, no likes, and usually no comments.
But, I can hear some other authors exclaim, “You’re just giving your stories away!” Well, yeah. Short story markets don’t pay well, so even if I went with traditional publication, I’d get a pittance and since short stories are more difficult for me to write than novels (and some, sad to say, have taken almost as long to write), there’s no way a paying publication would give me anything remotely like adequate compensation for my effort. I’m not one of those people who can knock out a brilliant story often, and on a regular basis. So giving away short stories means that I lose a very small amount of income—assuming that I can sell them—and I save myself the hassle of submission. It also means that more people have access to my short stories. Potentially millions of people online. Who are potentially buyers of my books. And it’s that potential that’s the real nub of the situation. If 4 friends read my story on the blog (or no friends, and 4 strangers) over the course three and a half years, then that story is just being wasted. For all intents and purposes, it has no audience, no one who likes (or Likes) it; a few people encounter it ever so briefly, and the only comments it’s likely to garner are from spammers (which my spam filter and moderation catch). I have zero interaction with readers, zero conversations about the story. As many people have said, the biggest problem for authors who aren’t well known is getting attention, standing out in all the noise of the internet, finding a way for their potential audience to find them and become their readers, their fans. That is not happening at all on this blog. No one is finding me, no one is becoming a fan, no one is reading most of the posts I write here (which is why I don’t write more; the time and words are better spend on novels, which people do read).
So I’ve got a choice. 1. I can write occasional short stories and tuck them away in the archive and no one reads them (which just strikes me as idiotic: the act of writing presupposes readers). 2. I can go through the hassle of submission, taking time and energy away from working on other things, perhaps get a story published somewhere and maybe get paid something and have a very few people read a very few short things I’ve written. 3. I can post the occasional story I write to my blog and have a very few people read a very few short things I’ve written and not get paid anything, but perhaps gain one new reader, maybe, if it’s some kind of fantastically extraordinary day. 4. I can post my story to Wattpad which is a community of avid readers and writers and get more readers every day, more likes, more comments and discussions with my readers, and build a following.
So, no, I’m not getting paid from Wattpad publication, but unlike everywhere else there’s a very good chance of building a fanbase of regular readers. Will that translate into book sales? I don’t know, but anything that raises the profile of an obscure writer is a good thing. If I build a good following there over time, and even a small percentage buy my novels, then that’s a net gain that, clearly, I am not getting from posting the stories here, where there’s almost no traffic. It will be interesting to see what the numbers for my stories on Wattpad look like after a year, or two, or three. Perhaps I’ll reevaluate things after that, but right now—with me still being a newbie with not a lot of followers yet—I’m already getting both new readers and more readers. I don’t expect my numbers to rise fast, but they are rising.
No one writes stories hoping that no one will ever read them. Who knows? Maybe I’ll write more stories now that I know there is an audience for them, people out there who are waiting for my next stories to appear…on Wattpad.