If this post ends up being too long and there’s only one thing you want to take from it, the answer is
Now, for the elaboration & nuances to this answer (because the real answer is actually a little more elaborate and not so cut & dry), here’s some of the thinking behind it.
First off, a little quick background for those of you who don’t know what Wattpad or Goodreads is.
Wattpad is an online writing community where members can write & post stories (doesn’t have to be fanfiction) & other members can comment, vote, and follow. 99% of Wattpad is serial fiction, meaning the stories are currently being written & are posted chapter by chapter.
Most of the manuscripts on Wattpad are not published, traditionally or self. They’re just posted on Wattpad, even though Wattpad dubs it “publishing” a chapter. Of course, there are some books, such as drafts of published manuscripts (i.e. Chasing Red) or self published manuscripts (i.e. Storm and Silence) that were serialized and published at the end by the author, letting readers pay for bonus chapters at the end in the published version & also letting readers read chapters early on other sites where they pay a few cents to read.
Basically, Wattpad is largely dominated by unpublished manuscripts. The published sector, self or not, is really tiny, and most of them are messy first drafts that authors don’t want to have on their permanent record.
On the other hand, Goodreads is a reviewing site where readers are able to track their reading & review books. It is an area meant for readers to learn about books, and, I quote from the Goodreads website,
Goodreads is striving to be a complete database of all published works, including works that are out-of-print.
The key word here is published works. Goodreads is a place for readers to track published works.
You’re an author, and your twelfth manuscript (MS) is being traditionally published. The other eleven MSes before were, frankly, garbage. This manuscript you’re getting traditionally pubbed is going to be the face of your writing career, it’s going to start you off.
But wait–what’s this? You check Goodreads, and there’s another book under your author profile. It’s that first manuscript you wrote, even though you know the entire idea was trash.
You contact Goodreads about getting that first manuscript removed, but they tell you their policy is to not remove books unless it’s an extenuating circumstance, and this is not.
Look at this predicament you’ve gotten yourself into. Even if you did get Goodreads to remove it, look! Someone uploaded it again. And Goodreads definitely isn’t going to remove it for you this time.
Imagine what it feels like to have your not best work broadcasted out to all the readers that see your author’s page. It’s like having someone hang your failed math test on the fridge next to your A+ vocab test. You just want the A+ up, not the failure.
And imagine if the stakes were higher, that the people who see your fridge aren’t just your parents, but also college admissions officers and other really important people that will determine your future (aka, buy your book).
And folks, this is why you shouldn’t add unpublished manuscripts (aka, most Wattpad manuscripts) to Goodreads: because the authors don’t want you to.
Tahereh Mafi once tried to publish a story about a girl with magical eyelashes, and she eventually realized that this was kind of a terrible idea, and then she went on to write the Shatter Me series. Do you think she’d want that story about magical eyelashes to be added to Goodreads? Probably not. That’s old work, that barely saw the light of day, and it’s not a good representation of her public writing journey.
Just because a book is published on Wattpad & anyone can read it publicly, doesn’t mean that it should be added to Goodreads.
I know that some people view adding a book to Wattpad the same as publishing an ebook, but in reality, for most Wattpad writers, it’s not the same thing. A lot of Wattpad writers write for fun, or have works from when they were twelve years old up. Most authors, as they grow older, cringe thinking about the manuscripts their twelve year old self wrote, and only leave it online so readers can keep enjoying questionable fiction.
By putting a first draft manuscript on Goodreads, you’re subjecting the author to criticism on traditionally published standards, not Wattpad standards. It mean’s the author’s work is going to be judged more harshly, and this isn’t something most Wattpad authors want.
I know there are Wattpad authors who don’t mind, and this is great for them. But a lot of them do mind, and if they wanted their book on Goodreads, don’t you think they would have uploaded it themselves?
And I get it. I understand why people want to add these books to Goodreads–because they want them to count towards their reading goal. But personally, I find this not a good enough excuse for potentially harming an author’s future career.
The moral of the story is just don’t add a Wattpad author’s book to Goodreads. If they wanted it there, then they would do it themselves. If you have such a strong urge and you really think that it should be uploaded, ask the author if you can upload it first. If they say no, then don’t do it.
You read the work, and you want it to count towards your reading goal. But think about the author who put dozens more hours into that book than the time you spent reading. These people are usually writing with no monetary gain, and the least you can do to reward them is to not add their book to Goodreads without their explicit permission.
What do I do if my book is added to Goodreads?
Well, any efforts to remove your book is probably futile, so the best thing you can do now is to take as much control over your profile as you can.
This means, joining the Goodreads Author Program so only you can edit your bio & so you have more control over your work. This also means asking a librarian to help fix whatever the person who uploaded your book to Goodreads did wrong–whether it’s polishing up the summary or picking a nice book cover or changing the author’s name from xxXSuperBTSFan101Xxx to Jane Smith.
Have you ever had your Wattpad manuscript added to Goodreads? Do you have thoughts about this topic? Let me know your opinions + experiences below!