I suppose I should preface this writing site review: I am an inkie through and through. This July would’ve been my two year anniversary on Inkpop (a now defunct writing website aimed at teens that was run by HarperCollins), and in February, when it was announced that Inkpop was merging with Figment (a writing site similar to Inkpop) I was absolutely devastated. I had a project in that month’s Top 5—the highest ranked projects in fiction, short stories, and poetry from each month that would receive reviews from editors at HarperCollins—and I’d finally found my niche in the community. I was an active member, I was critiquing and receiving unimaginably helpful critiques, and most of all, I was writing.
And then, suddenly, I wasn’t.
Ever since Inkpop’s disappearance on the first of March, I’ve been searching for a replacement. I found Wattpad on an Inkpop forum shortly after the merge had been revealed but before it actually took place. Since it seemed like most members of Inkpop were headed there, I made an account, too. Here’s what I’ve found after almost five months on Wattpad.
Let’s look a little deeper at Wattpad: Explore our global community! Connect, collaborate and share interactive stories or stumble across the newest trends in fiction. No matter where you are (or where you’re from), you’ll feel right at home.
Pretty big mission statement, right? For the most part, Wattpad lives up to this. Emphasis on the “for the most part.”
Here’s a breakdown of the website:
- “Fan” system. On Wattpad, users can “fan” each other. This means that they subscribe to another user’s updates and messages. So, say I add a new chapter to the story I’m working on: an email notification is automatically sent to my fans to let them know. It’s a much more effective tool of communicating with other users than the typical “friend” system because it allows not just socializing, but also mass messaging. Keep fans update, ask questions of your fans, send out a friendly hello—interaction with other users is simple and effective on Wattpad.
- A ton of reading material. And I mean a TON. Every page has reading suggestions on it ranging from ultra-popular projects (1,000,000+ reads) to new pieces with only a few dozen reads. Wattpad is also different from most other writing sites in that fan-fiction is not only allowed, but it’s a significant majority of the projects. Whether or not this is a pro or a con to you is a personal decision, but even still, there’s bound to be a project in your preferred genre.
- Ability to customize profiles. Users can chose their background photo, write a lengthy “about me,” and organize shelves to suit their reading needs. For instance, on my own Wattpad profile, I created virtual bookshelves dedicated to my favorite projects and to projects I want to read at a later date.
- Friendly community. Within minutes of creating my profile, I’d had about five other users write on my profile, welcoming me to Wattpad. They even offered to help me get acquainted with Wattpad. Not once was I spammed with a read request. While I’m quick to defend Inkpop, even I’ll freely admit that spammers was a huge problem. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen on Wattpad.
- “My Works.” This is Wattpad’s way of defining projects you yourself create. While the upload process is kind of confusing (though one especially nice member of Wattpad made former Inkpop users a helpful guide describing the upload process), the features of each story are the redeeming factors. Users can dedicate chapters of their stories to others, they can create a “cast list” of characters, they can even upload photos and drawings. The chapter by chapter reviewing system is also vey beneficial and organized.
- iPhone app. Pretty self-explanatory here: this is the first writing site I’ve used with an app, and it’s totally awesome to be able to read on the go.
- Voting system. Well, okay, this isn’t necessarily a con, but it’s not a pro either. The popularity of a project is judged by three indicators: numbers of reads, number of votes, number of comments. The more you have of any of these, the higher your rank within certain genres is determined. The problem I have with this system is that, honestly, it’s kind of pointless. Besides bragging rights, there’s no “reward” system, like Inkpop had with the HarperCollins reviews. The only thing close is an annual event called the Watty Awards, which involves cash and prizes. However, this is a time-consuming process, and only completed projects are eligible.
- Critiques. Or lack of critiques, more appropriately. Finding thorough, in-depth critiques is very, very, VERY hard on Wattpad. I’m sure if you scoured the form enough, you may be able to find someone willing to give this type of critique a shot, but for the most part, one-liners are the popular story comments. I sort of like to joke that Wattpad is a really good ego booster—a fair amount of the comments on projects tend to be variations of “I love this, you’re a great writer!” But while that’s certainly nice to hear, it isn’t especially helpful. Even less helpful? There’s a 2,000 character limit for comments. Of course, you can fill out multiple of these comment boxes, but it’s still discouraging.
- Upload process. I touched on this very briefly in the pros section, but this is a major fault. Uploading a story is so, so confusing. The upload link doesn’t accept .doc or .docx extensions, so it either has to be .txt or just copy and pasted into the story section. But then the project loses all its formatting. Even now, having uploaded four projects, I don’t think I could guide anyone through the process. It’s just very unnecessarily complicated.
If a low-key type of writing site is what you’re after, Wattpad will probably be great for you. It’s a friendly, welcoming community, and there’s tons to read. But if thorough critiquing is what you’re after, I’d suggest looking elsewhere.