A couple of weeks ago my book got featured in the Science Fiction category on Wattpad. Since then, my phone’s homescreen has basically looked like the above image and the little notification blinky has been solid orange. No, I don’t want to turn those off, leave me alone.
Before being featured, I thought my book was pretty popular for a new work from an unknown writer, yo-yoing between the mid 400s to falling off the ratings entirely. I had maybe between 5-8 unique readers on any given day. A new reader plowing through 20 chapters could bump my book up 200 positions in the rankings, telling me something about how many books are in those lower echelons in the science fiction category. Lots of books and comparatively few readers.
Also, when you’re far down the listings, you’ll see updates in rank 2-3 times per day. They shuffle the deck more frequently. Once you’re in the top 100, it takes way more eyeballs to move you around in the list and updates drop to 1x per day. Usually around noon for me in the eastern timezone.
How do I know this? Wattpad has some pretty neat charts and graphs available for writers. The Unique Readers graph now looks something like this:
This is still a day behind: Wattpad generates these every day against the previous day’s data. The high point on April 12th was 95 unique readers. You can see the jump from March 31st to April 1st when I landed on the Featured list.
Another neat tool is Wattpad’s Demographics chart. Before getting featured, I took a snapshot of what my readers looked like up until that point, on April 1st.
In case you can’t read my scribbles, the bulk of my readers were male, aged 35 and up. About what you’d expect for something in the “hard science fiction” category. Most of them from North America, split between the US and Canada. Countries in Africa, South America and Asia accounted for the remaining 50% scattered around in little 3-4% blobs.
Now let’s see what the map looks like today (April 15th):
The US is still the bulkiest part of the population, but Canada’s dropped to a mere 4.7%. Nearly 50% of readers are in SE Asia, Africa and South America. The UK has most of the readers in Europe as you might expect.
The gender distribution’s a little more even too, with 30% of readers listed as female and 20% undisclosed.
Female readers are far more likely to comment than male readers.
For the most part, I’d say 80% of all readers are silent. They find a book, they read it and they move on. Many readers have no contacts and no activity on their feed. Most don’t vote and I’m seeing that reflected in the number of views vs. votes on my book. Votes are near 20-25% of total reads. Comments are even rarer with most people never saying a peep. This may be in part because of the category I’m in. Other types of fiction get chattier. I’m OK with this honestly, I find the concept of “commenting on a chapter” a little weird as a reader, but I like it when it happens.
So what does all this mean if you’re a writer putting your book out there? Well, getting featured makes a HUGE difference in visibility on Wattpad. If you’re in North America, your book will travel around the world, so be prepared to debate the relative strengths of “aluminum” vs. “aluminium”. You may make some new friends. You will likely meet other writers trying to get noticed. It’s ok, they’re nice.
Bottom line: 2 weeks in and I’m sitting at #11 in the Science Fiction category with 13k reads and 2k votes from people all over the planet. That is pretty cool.
Don’t worry though, I haven’t been entirely distracted by Wattpad. I am still working hard on Book 2 and coming to the end of this batch of rewrites. More on that next week…