A while back (in the couple months last year when I was doing Daily Thoughts), I talked briefly about my experiences on some book sharing websites like Wattpad and Fictionpress. But I felt that a quick post about it really wasn’t enough to get all my thoughts onto the page. So I’ve finally got around to writing this post.
I have been part of Fictionpress since 2012 (so about six years) and part of Wattpad since early 2016 (so about two years, though I did a lot of reading on Wattpad before I joined).
While I would hardly say I’m an expert on either website, I would say my years as an active member of both have acclimatized me to the basic positives and negatives as an author and a reader.
However, I feel like I should give a disclaimer before I start. I am only one person (though I have talked to people on both websites who had similar experiences as I did). So take everything I say with a grain of salt, as others’ experiences may be very different than mine.
Before I compare these two websites, I want to give brief introduction to them individually by taking a look at the things I liked, the things I disliked, and the things that were just plain weird.
Being on Fictionpress for six years, I am certainly more of an expert on this website than I am on Wattpad. Surprisingly, the organization and platform of the website hasn’t changed much over half a decade, though the readership has.
Beautiful website: Fictionpress’s website is very well organized. The search options maximize ease for unfamiliar users. There are both Fiction and Poetry categories, subdivided by subcategories (like different genres). Searching brings up most recently updated stories and you can easily add filters to work in language or if you want to only read a complete book.
Being as organized as I am, I love this website’s layout.
There are also community and forum options, but these seem mostly unused by people (including myself).
Beta Reader Option: There is also the option for Beta readers, which was something I actively participated in for several years. This is where you can offer your services to review other writer’s stories as well as write to other Beta readers to help with yours. While it can be difficult to find a good Beta reader (many Beta readers will usually fixate on miniscule grammar issues without looking at large plot/character holes), if you find a good one they can be of great help.
Readership: Let’s face it: Fictionpress is a dying website. There are few people actively posting good-quality stories and reading other’s stories. Thus, it can be really hard to get readership for your book. This was not the case when I joined back in 2012, but it seems to be the case now.
Constructive Criticism: If you go on this website (as I did) to have other people read your writing and give you tips on improving it, odds are that you will be disappointed. Most comments go something like this: “Great story!” “I want more” “OMG HE DIDN”T!!!!!” Hardly anyone takes time to write thought-provoking criticisms. Saying that, you can still find a Beta reader, but, like I said, it can be hard to find a good person to help.
There are a lot of strange things you can find on Fictionpress.
Guest Posts: One thing I both love and hate on Fictionpress is the ability for guests (that is, people who are not logged in users) to leave comments on your story.
While this is great because it lets people who don’t have Fictionpress accounts weigh in on your story, it also means there can be some weird things people say (like scam websites trying to put comments in your books). Over the years, I’ve had the strangest guest posts. Luckily, usually you can moderate comments and delate them if they’re spam or just strange.
Writers Are Sensitive: I am clumping myself in this group as well, because of course you get hurt when someone tears into your story. However, when you actively seek constructive criticism and then get upset when your readers give you what you ask, maybe you need to grow a backbone.
Being a Beta reader, I had several situations when people would message me to ask me to review their books (9 times out of 10 I would say yes to any type of story unless I was super busy). In my Beta reader profile, it even said that I would look at major plot and character issues (I didn’t really deal with grammar) and would highly critical.
However, when I would review their major plot and character issues—using the sandwich review, of course (btw, this means to say something good about the story, something that needs work, and something good)—they would be upset and literally block me.
Apparently, they couldn’t take criticism.
So you definitely have to be prepared for not letting it bother you when others critique your work as well as when people get upset by your opinions.
Being a member of Wattpad since April, 2016, I am certainly not as much an expert as I am on Fictionpress. However, I know how it generally works. At least enough to give a fairly informed opinion.
Readership: There are a lot of readers on Wattpad. Some books get millions of views compared to Fictionpress’s thousands. Also, it is much more current, being the choice of readers over other book sharing websites. If you want to promote your work, this is definitely the place to do it. It takes a lot more work to get readers than Fictionpress, but it seems as if the work is well worth it.
Success Stories: There are several successful writers who started on Wattpad, and because of their gained following they were able to get published. Caitlyn Duffy, Kirsty Moseley, and Natasha Preston are some of these authors, to name a few. So Wattpad seems to have more potential to becoming a published author.
Comments: One thing I love about Wattpad is the ability to leave comments on a specific line of the story. It’s great because if you notice a problem or a line you love, you can let the author know right away. It also may have the possibility of having the chapters get jumbled with lots of comments, but I personally love that you don’t have just tons of comments at the end which point to one line in the chapter that you then have to go back and find.
Horrible Search System: When I first joined the website, I remembering having an easier time navigating the site. However, now it is really hard to find new stories and limit your searches by preference.
If there’s a new story that was updated this morning, I would have no idea that it existed. I have no knowledge of the algorithm the website uses for what pops up at the top of search results, but it makes no sense to me. So if, as a reader, you are trying to narrow your search, you’re out of luck. This point is highly frustrating to me.
Community: There is pretty much no community outside the comments. There are things called clubs, but to me they come across as weird Reddit posts that are completely random and have nothing to do with writing.
Limited Genre: The demographics on both these websites are quite young (from early teens to early twenties), so it would make sense that the most-read genres are YA. This is the case to a certain extent with Fictionpress. But so many of the books on Wattpad that get popular come across as worse than 50 Shades of Grey (and that’s saying something). They are all sappy, shallow, and usually include a hot guy and awkward girl.
While I don’t mind these types of books per say, I would prefer if the website was less limited by its content. This is not a criticism on the website’s moderators at all, just a reality that disappointed me when I first joined.
If you do write YA, this website is possibly a good choice. If you try to write anything else (historical, mystery, more adult), don’t bother with this website.
Weird Fanfics: On Fictionpress (unlike its sister website Fanfiction, which I am also a part of), everything is an original work. However, on Wattpad there are a lot of fan fictions scattered between the original works, making for some weird stories to come across.
Personally, if I wanted to browse through fanfics, I would can to Fanfiction. I would not spend hours shifting through horrible fanfics to find a good original work like I have on Wattpad. There are also published stories (like classics or translations of Chinese books) posting there as well.
All of this just seems a bit weird to me.
Wattpad vs. Fictionpress
In the end, I think the functions of these websites are very different. Fictionpress has been more about improving your writing through helping others and getting advice in return. Whereas with Wattpad, it seems to be more about promoting your writing.
Personally, I will always prefer Fictionpress for its format and functions. Wattpad is great if you write a couple genres (like romance and YA fantasy), and honestly I’ve never read any book published from Wattpad because they look horrible (no offense to anyone published there).
I have read some good books on both sights, and had good and bad experiences on both, but, if I’m being honest, I don’t think either aided me in becoming a better writer or promoting my work. If these are either of your hopes, then I wouldn’t bother joining.
If you want help improve your writing, join a writing club (online or in person). If you want to promote your work, get out there (go to writing conferences, start a blog).
Because, in my opinion, neither website really gives much back. I have spent hours (years, in fact) helping other writers with little in return. I improved as a writer more in the first month I was part of a writing club than I did in the years of being part of both websites. As you can guess, I am not really active on either of these websites, though I do read the occasional book on the sites.
Sorry for the long post, but I just had a lot of thoughts about this topic.
What are your views of both websites? Have you used one, or both? Have you considered joining them and decided against it? If so, what stopped you? I’m curious what your views are on this topic. Let me know down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness, and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,