Youth writers and Wattpad

Been busy lately. Moving offices at work, moving apartments to the other side of town. Moving copies of [sic] off of Wattpad, Amazon and Goodreads. A lot of movement in my life lately.

I’ve had a lot of success on Wattpad. From what I can tell, [sic] has one of the highest “views-to-votes” ratios of any book on the website (and there are tens of thousands of books) and I’m very grateful for that. My older freebook, Frightened Boy, is also somewhat successful. But, both of these were books I released after a decade of writing books that no one read. Shitty books.

A lot of the books – most, probably – on Wattpad that aren’t very good, are books written by young, first-time authors. They dabble at writing, and most of them never finish their first story. Not all of them – some of the books written by young teen girls (who make up about 80% of the population of Wattpad) become very popular and successful. They really seem to tap into their core audience. But for the most part, the stories just fizzle and die.

I have to wonder if it serves writers better to suffer in total obscurity for a while. I wrote four or five complete novels that no one ever really read. I finished them and decided they weren’t good enough to hold up to the world and attempt to be proud of.

My first one was finished when I was fifteen. It was called “Kid.” It was about being best friends with the reincarnation of Jesus, and having that reincarnation steal your girlfriend. The premise is kinda neat, but my delivery was sorely lacking. I would try to shoehorn whatever my interests were at the time into the book, in a misguided attempt at “writing what I know.” Kung-fu in a religious allegory? Sure.

The second book was Dark Scary Monster. It was about a secret society who travels the world faking miracles in order to drum up a belief in God.

The third book was called Steam. It was about a girl who was everyone’s collective last breath. Three men with different motivations meet her and want to know how they die. There’s a love triangle in there somewhere, too. Steam (also the name of said last-breath girl) also knows how she dies, which is what draws her to interact with these three people. I actually like this concept quite a lot, if I ever get bored enough…

Then I wrote Jimwamba, which I did like, and was published by Flame Books. There’s a sequel to that one which no one ever read, called Liq. Then there’s my space-time cartoon moon epic, IDa, which was also not very good.

Then there’s Ten Minutes to Midnight, which I finished last year and probably will never release due to its mediocrity.

I’m seeing a trend here. My bigger question, though, is: If I had put Kid or Dark Scary Monster on a website like Wattpad, would that have discouraged me from continuing to write? Would it have inspired me? I have really developed a mindset of “I write for myself, not to make money.” I think this gives me the freedom to write better books. I have a comfortable job and don’t have any pressing need to make a big profit from my novels, though my ultimate goal is to quit my job and only write.

Fluff questions, really. I just wonder – was I one of these cringe-worthy writers we see on Wattpad (probably) and at what point in my process did I step out of those ranks and rise slightly above? How long did I just believe I was a good writer, before I actually became a decent writer? If people had been around to crush those beliefs (mainly through their total lack of interest) would I have stopped?

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