Friday, February 13, 2015

What's Wrong with Wattpad

Wattpad is an amazing idea. But it has some drawbacks that need to be remedied if it expects to be a mainstream participant in the publishing business. Here are my suggestion:

Require all stories to be self-rated with more meaningful ratings. A rating of Mature means nothing if by mature it simply means the story is replete with obscenities. Many intelligent adults do not want to experience that type of entertainment. Having a rating system that casts sensitive adults in a pejorative light–as being prudes or immature–hurts Wattpad and makes its environment comfortable only for teens and young adults.

Allow authors control over what stories are recommended in the Similar Stories menu. I was surprised at the suggestions Wattpad makes for my stories and have not actively promoted them because I do not want my work associated with the suggestions. As far as I can see there is no way to filter poorly matched suggestions.

Consult with more writers, editors, and publishers about how to present the reading experience. The inability to format stories except as justified–which many professional typesetters avoid–mars the reading experience. Additionally there is only one font available. The word count in each chapter is useful but an aggregate word count for the entire story would be greatly appreciated. The fact there is no ability to add the em dash positions Wattpad as less than professional.

Make more effort to embrace a professional attitude. While I love the ability to write on the go Wattpad is making itself vulnerable to potential competitors by not incorporating at least some of these suggestions. Some negative aspects of the Wattpad environment are so egregious that in many ways it's like hanging a sign saying serious writers not welcome. Additionally it is difficult to make comments to Wattpad personnel which implies they they do not actively seek the suggestions of users.

I love Wattpad. It's an ingenious idea but to remain competitive they need to continue to evolve quickly.

Brad Teare–February 2015

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