The Wattys 2017

The Wattys is a time of year where people are in a scramble to start books, finish books, and all around get their books ready for this annual contest. In doing all of this, a lot of people wonder how much of a chance their book has to win.

Now, Wattpad says that it’s based on quality, but how do they know? It’s obvious that they don’t read every single entry–that would be reading over 170,000 entries. Of course, it’s easy to filter out things like “100 Facts That Will Blow Your Mind” that don’t actually have a plot and can’t qualify, but that still leaves a very large numbers of books left to read.

I’m going to be blunt and honest here. If your book has less than 100 reads, your book will not win. Wattpad explicitly states that judging is based off a combination of data science and editorial judgement.

What does that mean? It means they uses statistics of your story (reads, votes, comments, chapter amount, rankings, how often you update, etc.) to filter out the bottom layer of stories. After that, they read some of the stories, most likely not the full story, but maybe a glimpse of the first chapter, to get a feel of whether your story is worthy.

This helps filter out another layer of people. It’s the most pragmatic way to cut 170,000 entries down quickly. Data science first, skimming second.

If you’ve got bad capitalization or a weak start, chances are it’s not going to win a Watty.

Because here’s the thing: Wattpad nowadays has so much creative talent on there. You may think that you’re book is the bomb-diggity, but there are hundreds of thousands of books out there that are of equal or better quality.

The Watty winner with the lowest stats in 2016 currently has around 10k reads on their story, and this is a year later. Obviously this means that their story had less reads when they entered, so I would say somewhere around 5k reads would be an accurate amount. They still haven’t reached 1k votes.

The caveat? The stories on the lower end of the read spectrum were all in the category of ‘Visual Storytelling’ aka multimedia novels which are a pretty small portion of Wattys entries. Unfortunately (especially for me), Visual Storytelling isn’t a category in 2017.

So, you can win a Watty with around 5k reads. I’m sorry, but there’s basically no chance of winning if your story is less than 1k reads, unless you’ve got great quality work, a considerable number of chapters, and are active in the Wattpad community.

The thing is, it’s almost impossible to have less than 1k reads on a story if you’re active enough in the community & have a lot of chapters published. It’s an oxymoron. By definition, being active in the community will bring you reads. People will check out your story out of the blue after seeing your profile pop up somewhere.

Naturally, you’ll have quite a lot of silent readers, but you’ll still get people checking out your work. Looking at all the Watty winners, a large number of them interact with other profiles & read other stories & are overall active members in the community.

If you don’t read anyone else’s books, there’s a slim chance anyone will want to read yours. You’ve gotta give some to get some.

Judging quality is a hard thing to do. I’m giving full props to Wattpad for managing to do so. There are just so many quality books out there.

You may claim that Wattpad only picks stories with lots of reads and votes, but you have to back up and think about this. Doesn’t it make sense that quality stories are getting votes? (Reads are an unreliable judge of quality). If it’s a good story, don’t people want to vote on it?

It’s natural that good books are popular because the fact that they’re good is what makes them popular.

Now, I know there are stories out there whose quality is questionable but still popular, but those rarely win Wattys or get featured. You know why? Because Wattpad reads at least a small part of the work they choose for this award. They’re not going choose a trash story with a lot of reads to win.

You may be asking, how am I not popular even though my book is the best thing that’s happened to the world? This is where we go back to what I said before. Interact. Interacting in the community is the key to getting what you call “fame.” Interacting will get you followers and readers and most importantly, friends.

That’s how most of these people started out. Doing things like read for reads aren’t going to get you real readers (I know, I’ve gone through the phase too). Don’t even think about doing a vote for vote, those are illegal. It’s through interacting that you’ll get genuine readers.

And sure, it might take a long, long time, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. If you insist, try out read for reads, but don’t come back crying when you have a long list of books to read and nobody leaving genuine feedback on your work.

So, the purpose of this post was to bring you guys a little back to reality. Wattpad isn’t perfect. It’s not. But they do try pretty damn hard at what they do. It’s nearly impossible for them to read everything, so don’t get your hopes up. But cut them some slack since going through 170,000 entries is no easy feat. It’s obvious they’re going to have to use data science sometime.

When they say it’s based on quality, they try for it to be. But don’t complain about quality stories having lots of reads, that’s rude to the author and rude to Wattpad. These people earned it through sweat, tears, and finger cramps, so don’t belittle their achievements.

Hopefully, you dreamers out there have a better grip on how the Wattys works, and you cynics will now cut these people some slack. Nobody’s perfect, and you can’t put Wattpad to a standard unless you put yourself to that standard too.

One last thing that I always like to emphasize: It’s important to write for yourself, not for anyone else. You shouldn’t write to fit what will win an award or garner attention, you should write things you love to write about. In doing so, it shows in your work.

compressed gifPlease note that a large majority of this is speculation and my logic of how Wattpad judges Wattys entries. Please do not quote me on any of this.

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