No new WWW Wednesday this week. I mean, unless you’re interested in reading basically the same post but with a progress report on where I’m at with “About a Girl” (update: it’s growing on me!)
With that in mind this seemed like a good time to write about something that’s been rolling around in my brain a bit lately. Specifically: Wattpad book clubs and reads vs readership.
I’ll be upfront about this: I have a love-hate relationship with Wattpad book clubs (as it seems I do about most things related to Wattpad). When you’re new to the community and looking for tips and tricks about how to gain traction, joining one of these clubs is generally high on lists of recommended advice. It’s easy to see why: members get assigned to read and comment on chapters (generally the first three to five) of a selected book from one of their peers. Each club takes its own liberties with the model but the idea is always pretty much the same. Not only does being a part of a book club force you to participate and be social (great ways to connect with other writers, obviously) but the system will eventually force people to read and comment on your book too.
And, let’s be real: that’s what everyone really wants.
When I was originally planning to write this post, I anticipated it being about commenting etiquette in Wattpad book clubs. I’m a member of three clubs right now and The Star and the Ocean has been featured in all of them. While I’ve definitely received some of the nicest comments and most helpful feedback via book clubs, I’ve also seen some… Less than impressive examples of compulsory participation…
“But this just isn’t my type of book I’m just reading it because of book club. But I can tell you did a great job on a lot of things.”
Like, this person realizes that I will inevitably have to read and comment on their work too, right?
In general, comments like this aren’t constructive. What they are is dismissive to the author’s efforts. I get that book clubs force you to read things you may not have touched otherwise but this isn’t how you should deal with it (and given the anecdotal feedback I got on Twitter, it sounds like this is a fairly common problem). Moral of the story: don’t be a dick when you’re leaving comments on your book club assignments because every writer looks forward to when they get to be featured and your half-assed better-than-this bullshit isn’t helping anyone.
But I digress.
My actual concern with book clubs is whether or not the time invested actually does anything to help gain you a dedicated readership.
Without a doubt, if you participate in book clubs, you’re going to get reads. You have to if people want to complete their assignments. But as thrilling as that may be at first, it doesn’t take long to see your first five chapters become saturated with reads and comments while the rest of your story just sort of… Tapers off (I think this is the case for Wattpad in general but it’s especially pronounced among book club-submitted stories).
There are no bad guys in this scenario: we’re all guilty of abandoning book club books after our assignments are over. Out of everything I’ve read so far, I think I’ve only found one or two I’m interested in reading all the way through. It’s the nature of the beast.But, I’ll be honest: I’d rather have a handful of dedicated repeat readers that are committed to the story and eager to follow it to completion than a bunch of random reads.
So, are book clubs helping me?
My first inclination was to say no. I can plainly see the stats, and my book is definitely bottom-heavy (or top-heavy, depending on which way you’re looking at it). Most book club readers drop off the moment their commitment is over, which disappointing but not surprising.
But I can’t deny that I’ve seen exponential growth in my reads since joining the book clubs – too many to have just come from assigned readers too. In the last week and a half alone I’ve seen well over 200 new reads; not bad considering it took me over two months to get to my first 200! Pleasant side effects have included slow but steady increases in votes, followers and being added to reading lists. And, if I’m being honest, I am seeing a handful of readers who have been legitimately following the story.
So, are book clubs a time consuming, imperfect and occasionally disheartening system? Yes. Do they get the job done? Yeah, I suppose, but you’ve gotta commit to the long game if you’re after sustained readership.
What are your thoughts on Wattpad book clubs? Have you found participating in them to be beneficial or have you just wound up disappointed?
Even if you’re not part of a book club, tell me what matters more to you as an author: reads or readers?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one!