For the last year or so, I’ve been working on a sci-fi adventure on Wattpad (and other platforms) called The Descent. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen at least a tweet a week about new chapters, read counts and so on. What started as a short story back in early 2017 has grown to a full-length novel that is approaching the final leg of its journey. In other words, just writing the story has been an adventure.
When I started this story, my goals for it were modest. I had a story that was less than 2,000 words long but I also knew that the story warranted to be expanded, that the short format was not enough to tell the whole story.
With the encouragement of my readers, I set out to tell the rest of the story, first by expanding the original story to four chapters and then expanding it after that. As I’ve written and posted new chapters, I’ve entered competitions and contest. I’ve won a few here and there and I’ve gained many loyal readers. As the months went on, I went from 100 to 500 reads to 1,000 to 2,000 until I reached 5,000 reads this past April.
Around April 12, the snowball started rolling downhill. That day, the official TalentScouts profile on Wattpad added The Descent to their list of the best stories submitted to them so far (the TalentScouts profile is open to submissions by all Wattpad writers and they look for stories that have potential to go further, whether it be publishing, TV and more). As of this writing, it is still one of 12 books listed on their profile in this particular list, “Amazing Stories From Our Talent Scouts Form!“. That same morning The Descent reached the 5,000 read mark. Then, a few hours later, I received the following note:
It was official: The Descent was as one of the “Wattpad Featured” stories.
Before I continue, let’s pause for a moment. What does “featured” mean?
In the world of Wattpad, this means your story is part of a handpicked group of stories featured on a special section of the Wattpad website for a limited period of time. Here’s what Wattpad says about it on their website:
The Featured List is where Wattpad spotlights our cream-of-the-crop stories, hand-curated by Wattpad staff.
At the time I was featured, this period was two weeks.
To put this in context, Wattpad is a site with 65 million users. There are many millions of stories, thousands of new ones created on a daily basis, new users joining every day. Collectively, these users “spends an incredible 15 billion minutes each month using Wattpad“. There my story was, front and center.
So not only did my story make it onto a highly visible list on the TalentScouts page, it was also featured by Wattpad based on their recommendation. It was almost like a perfect storm of good things happening at the same time.
What happened next? Did being featured have an impact on the story, was it a positive experience? Here are some of the observations I made during these two weeks.
First of all, the Descent almost doubled its reads during its time on the featured list, to 9,000 (this includes the weekend after the feature ended). I also saw countless people add the story to their reading lists. Many voted and since then, my number of followers has increased by about 40%.
One of the most interesting aspects of this whole thing is that most of the users that I ran into, one way or another, where new users. In particular, those that added my story to their reading lists were users that just had signed up. This told me that the Featured list truly was front and center to the onboarding experience for new users. It also told me that although all of these may not have read my story right away, the fact that they added it to their reading list will likely lead to a continued stream of readers for months to come, as they work through the list of all the interesting stories they found signing up.
The Descent also made it as high as #18 on the sci-fi list, which was quite an achievement.
The part that was truly overwhelming was all the notifications. This, I’d say, was also the only part that was difficult to manage (Wattpad, a filter for notifications would be great). Usually, I don’t have too much of an issue keeping up with what’s going on but I quickly found that notifications about comments and such quickly drowned in the deluge of notifications. Initially, I did my best to try to keep up but I found it was not a realistic goal. In a way, I was thankful when the feature ended because I once again had a manageable flow of notifications.
In the end, as I’m writing this about a month after The Descent was featured, the story is hovering around 12k reads and although it’s getting close to the end, there’s still at least half a dozen chapters left to write.
One final note for those hoping to join the ranks of featured authors: although many added the story to their reading lists and many read the story, it’s clear to me that being featured doesn’t translate into high volumes of feedback. If that’s what you’re looking for, being featured is not the solution. Those that have spent time on Wattpad are more likely to be part of those that leave a comment than a brand new user and if you’re looking for feedback, like I was and still am, I recommend you find a book club, serious contests and participate in the forums. You’re more likely to find feedback this way than through the featured list. This is not in any way a negative, it’s just an observation and a piece of advice to help you navigate Wattpad, should you decide to do so.
Overall, being featured for a couple of weeks was a great experience and it’s been great seeing the response and the feedback from those that did leave a note.
Finally, I’d like to offer a heartfelt thank you to all of those that have read the story and made it the success that I feel it is. I appreciate each and every one of you!
Has your story also been featured? Let me know, I’d love to hear about your experience!
Oh, and if you haven’t read The Descent, you can read it here: