Wattpad vs Trad Pub stories

From being in the wonderful Struggling Writers’ Daily Den: rant, share, complain, ask, daily progress thing and also from doing my own research, I have a question:

*Why do people think that Wattpad stories are the same as other published stories?

They’re not. Wattpad stories are meant to be entertaining straight off the bat and fast paced. The readers don’t care about how structured it is, and how accurate it is, as long as they’re amused and invested in the story.

Why do you think that Nick wants to review your first chapter and workshop your work to make it fit for the Wattys/Wattpad stories every year?

I’m not saying that traditional works can’t be successful on Wattpad but the difference between them and what Wattpad wants is quite substantial. Wattpad wants stuff that it knows it can market on its site based off what the average Wattpad reader wants. Anything less, and it will usually get overlooked on the website for further consideration (i.e, paid stories, Wattpad books etc).

Making more books profitable for Wattpad means more money. Exclusivity also brings more customers because you can’t read this work anywhere else. And since Wattpad has become a business (Wattpad Corp), it basically has been trying to suck every popular story dry in order to make maximum profits from it.

The business model is different from the Trad Pub industry because of this. The works are all usually first drafts and they are also serialised first on Wattpad instead of being released all at once into the real world with 300+ pages.

Can Wattpad books become published? Of course but they need to be edited a lot and re-released. After is completely different on Wattpad, and the published story and even the movie is different. It depends on the format and the audience it wants to reach.

No two stories in different mediums will ever be the same.

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I can’t believe anyone thinks Wattpad stories are the same as other published stories, but you’re probably right. A lot of people on the site don’t seem to be very well-read outside of Wattpad.

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Yeah, that’s the problem. When I read a 300+ page book, I’m not expecting it to be like a Wattpad story. I’m expecting it to spend time introducing the characters and the conflict in such a way that keeps me engaged and continuously flowing through the whole book.

On a Wattpad story, I’m expected to be entertained by the end of chapter one and on a cliffhanger. And I’m not expecting amazing quality or anything.

They’re both in two different leagues. Different audiences like I said.

Yeah, because they don’t read much outside of social media. I am trying to get much better at reading paperback/hardback books. Distinguishing them, and learning from them and reviewing them. I’m reading one called Seven Days in June and I’m enjoying it more than I expected to.

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I agree with you completely, and this is really a sticking point for me because I’ve had too many irate conversations with people who don’t understand that just because a story is physically on Wattpad doesn’t mean it’s being written as a traditional Wattpad story. Not just my book, but others, too—people get all up in arms about stories being gripping or “the digital age” or “short attention spans” or “hooking the reader,” all those usual platitudes, because they can’t bear to admit they’ve forgotten what it’s like to read off Wattpad. If you only have a hammer, everything you see is a nail, and it’s like there’s this mental block people have where they can’t see stories as anything but vehicles for clicks, comments, and votes.

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Completely agreed. I feel like a lot of this comes from the demographic gap, too. Reading a physical book often demands a lot of effort to stick through the start, because it doesn’t have to capture you right from the start. But on wattpad, that’s completely different, because everyone online tends to have shorter attention spans. It’s also different in the kind of stories and tropes you will find. In trad pub, or really, any published physical book, the tropes can be much more nuanced and heavier than on wattpad. You also get to tackle tropes that could be controversial, or are very detailed.
I also think it varies in terms of length. Wattpad stories tend to be shorter with shorter chapter - again, for the attention spans.

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Personally, I often give my best to stories I write on WP. Drafting, editing etc. I wouldn’t know how to improve it any more when my story is finished on WP, unless it is so obscure I know it will not be read no matter what I do.

So, I know, I’m a lousy writer, but just because WP is as far as I can go, it doesn’t mean I don’t try as hard as if it were Big Five.

Also, tbh, most of the published books do not stand the test of realism and do not HAVE to. So long as they are fun to read. Like, take my beloved Dan Brown… Most of trad pub books I read are fast paced with fast starts as well. Sometimes I pick up a book at the library and it’s indistinguishable from Wattpad stories.

So, I think people might hold this opinion because Wattpad has a range of books, from very unskilled work to stuff that is fantastic. Imo, trad publishing wants the same qualities Wattpad (and Nick) want, and that is fast immersion, page-turning quality of the book and new-trend potential.

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Different doesn’t mean that one is worse than the other. They’re just different. Because I do believe that writing a successful Wattpad story requires somewhat different skills than writing a successful trad story (because Wattpad stories are often read in different kinds of situations than a trad published book, it’s something you can on the go). And that’s alright.

Wattpad stories can be beautiful and skillful too, in my opinion, they will just display that in a slightly different way, that is adapted to the medium at hand.

So the question I guess, is whether you’re interested in writing a succesful Wattpad story or not. If you don’t, and just use the platform as a pastime, then you don’t need to adapt to the format (but you also can’t complain that your story isn’t successful), but if you do, then adaptation is crucial to be able to achieve that.

I want to write a successful Wattpad book, and therefore I’m trying to adjust my writing to that format. I will also listen to advise from someone like Nick, who has insight into what works in this specific medium. But that doesn’t mean that I take his advice as gospel for any kind of writing.

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I really want to write a successful story too!

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Let’s hope you both suceed!

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In my mind, you have! Like you’ve won the Wattys and got hundreds of thousands of reads. But I guess the bar also get higher the higher you reach :sweat_smile:

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It’s more of that snowballing effect I am after, you post, people flock… that sort of thing.

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As much as I agree with the schematics of what you’re saying, I think you’re giving trad publishing too much credit. New books on the market often mirror the fast-paced tone you’re talking about. I don’t believe writing that way is just a Wattpad thing anymore, but it’s being adopted as a form of storytelling in published books, too. Trad published books are usually more polished and detailed, sure, but in content there’s a lot of shite trad published stories out there.

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They tend to be shite in different ways than Wattpad books, though.

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True

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That is definitely the dream!

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Absolutely!

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Honestly I began my reading journey through trad books. The Spiderwick Chronicles. Secrets of Dripping Fang. Goosebumps. Fallen. Hush, Hush. And so many more. I was an avid reader in middle school and elementary. As soon as I could read, I was.

Then I found Wattpad when I was 15. This was 3 years after I started writing. I just wanted good stories at the time so I read anything and everything—and I was naive, so I was a lot less picky about what I read back then. Anything and everything flew with me, including harmful things that I wouldn’t support today.

And I’ve got both Wattpad books (physically published) and trad books as well as indie/self published books. All of them on my shelves. And there is still a difference between Wattpad books vs trad. Wattpad books are most certainly faster paced than trad books. Especially in the fantasy genre. There’s this popular plotline where series on wattpad are so fast paced that book 1 is about insta love and book 2 is about their children all grown up and so forth. I know because I’ve written this way before and I got it from wattpad after I began reading books. And it’s not inherently bad. It’s just not my thing anymore. I’ve passed the wattpad hype. I’ve really been getting in trad books and other kinds of books more that are slower paced.

That’s why I’m glad I left wattpad. I felt like I couldn’t grow and it wasn’t the direction I wanted my own writing to take anymore.

But there are certainly differences between wattpad and trad books. And that’s honestly a good thing. It gives every kind of reader options for what they want. If you like fast paced, wattpad is a better option. If you want it slower, many trad books offer that. And I feel like self published books can offer a middle ground, too. Since there are no limits or rules for us, we get to slow it down, speed it up, add spice or no spice to our NA romance, add violence or no violence to our YA and so forth. I think trad publishing is seeing wattpad and indie books as a way to change a bit about what they’re allowing, too. Because they’re seeing these things do work. They’re all certainly different but offer readers what they want out of a book.

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It is true that Wattpad works differently than traditional publishers, and therefore, shouldn’t be compared as the same thing. Wattpad probably has a lot more in common with the self-publishing industry than the traditional industry, too.

The majority of what is posted on Wattpad are from newer writers (regardless of age), writers who have been writing for years but are looking for more ways to learn the craft or to get their story out there, or semi-experienced writers (writers who’ve been writing for years and have learned a lot about the craft of writing) or even a mixture of the three like myself. I started on Wattpad back in 2012 as a newbie. Sure, I had been writing for a few years (since around 2009ish) but I just put words on the page, and I never got any feedback so I never knew I sucked at writing until I started posted to Wattpad. But once I started getting feedback, I started learning how to write by taking their advice and looking it up myself and practicing it. It wasn’t until around 2017-2018ish where I found myself to be on the side of semi-experienced at writing. Of course, still a lot left to learn, but I had improved a lot throughout the years.

But as someone who learned the craft, I taught myself through the lens of the traditional publishing industry (AKA, trad-pubbed writers). I have also noticed this in many other people, too, so I’m not alone. However, many people do try to cater to the Wattpad “formula” to gain more readers… which isn’t always a bad thing because if it works for them, it can gain them more opportunities later on. But it shouldn’t necessarily be the thing you do once you start an account, you know?

The other problem, which is connected to the whole “most Wattpaders aren’t professionals” kind of thing, is that every story that’s posted isn’t finalized. It’s a first draft or a fifth draft. Not a final draft. And even if you know a lot about the revision and editing part, it’s a lot harder to edit the story by yourself without a professional (specifically someone from the publishing house) with you. If someone posted their story to Wattpad and leaving it be after the third draft, then got it traditionally published, the two novels would be completely different because there would be more editing done, and that editing will lead to changes in the story, changes to the characters, changes to the way it’s written all in order to improve it. :woman_shrugging:

Honestly, I think that people should never assume they’re getting a final product when looking to read something on any writing website. It’s always awesome to find that hidden gem that could be an almost final draft, but you’ll hardly ever find that.

Not to mention, just because a book is traditionally published doesn’t mean it’s “perfect.” There is no such thing as a perfect story. Every story can be revised again and again. There will always be something to edit, something to change. But because this can send many, probably the same in the publishing world, into a nauseating fit, there has to be some kind of cut off where the editor draws the line. Otherwise, you’re stuck editing it for months, years.

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The truth in this is just wow

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To be honest I never thought of it that way at lol. this is very insightful and an eye-opener.
I personally believe that pace (whether fast or slow) is just the style of which the speed/timeline of a book exists in and it doesn’t have to be specific to whether its Wattpad or Trad published.

recently I’ve been asking around how do people make it big in writing (whether in paid, stars, self/indie published, books) - usually the give the same/similar answers which are these: engage with community (both writers and readers), and craft your work.

I’m currently reading Save the Cat! Write a Novel, and am taking mental notes on how to apply it in my books. I also am trying to learn from others (how they use words, express situations, the show vs tell) - and I know I’m still a newbie and have LOADS to research as I only started to take writing seriously last year (even if I took a creative writing course and have been writing stories (without feedback) for as long as I remember).

But the more I read, the more I realize that the style or what the market “wants” in either Wattpad or Trad published isn’t always popular (though highly encouraged) - and the problem is I’m scared experimenting or writing what I really want because I don’t know if that would be sth people would want to read (either form really) if that makes sense?

like currently I’m writing a panaromal/werewolf romance. And the werewolf is obese and the werewolf hunter encounters anxiety attacks.
Now I don’t even know if that would work in either Wattpad or trad or indie publishing as I don’t see sth similar - at least not in my scope of reading?

So how do you normally know that this book/niche work would work in either track of publishing?

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