Much Ado about Reads (Part 1)

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This chapter is respectfully dedicated to Ivan Yuen, the genius behind Wattpad’s Ranking Algorithm: at once brilliant, confounding, infuriating, and absolutely fascinating. Everything a good algorithm should be. :)

Note: Because Wattpad CEO Allen Lau was kind enough to tell me the official name for Wattpad’s ranking algorithm, I shall, out of respect for its creator, henceforth be referring to it by its proper name going forward: YuenRank or (YR) for short (abbreviations are mine).


Ok, the topic I’d like to explore for this next chapter is a topic that is perhaps even more misunderstood than rankings: reads. Which is a little tragic because it shouldn’t be.

Make no mistake: the number of reads is the purest and simplest indicator of a book’s popularity on Wattpad. Even users who are completely new to Wattpad understand that metric. It is very similar to website metrics: hits,pageviews, unique visitors, followers, fans, etc. But reads are inherently simple to understand because they instantly convey a book’s popularity to a potential reader.

If you are new to Wattpad and have been wondering why the heck there are authors that manage to have millions of reads and you’re wondering why yours has been languishing at 50 reads for the six weeks you’ve been on Wattpad, pay attention.

It isn’t that the Wattpad gods are against you or that Wattpad’s audience is daft and simply doesn’t recognize your genius. The story might be a lot more complex than you think, and the problem might not have anything to do with your book, or you.

It’s important to note upfront that every book on Wattpad has a different potential to succeed. For instance, fanfics draw an audience much quicker simply because the demand is built in - the original creators of your “fan-made” story have done the hard work of obtaining that audience for you. 1D’s popularity ensures at least a handful will take a look at your story, simply because.

Now, I don’t intend to belittle fan-fiction authors in the least. Several of them are amazing writers in their own respect. I am merely using this example to illustrate the fact that some books will have a tendency to do better than others because they cater to an audience that is particularly large on Wattpad.

I attribute a large portion of my own book, Kuro’s success to the fact that there is a massive Anime-loving audience on Wattpad. That wasn’t an accident. The main reason I decided to post Kuro to Wattpad was because I recognized this fact very early on.

Ok, now that we know that different books have different potentials, the next thing question we must explore then is “how do I make sure my book is living up to its absolute best potential on Wattpad?”.

Well for that we must explore the mindset of a typical reader.

Let’s for a moment imagine that you and I are at an open market. A bazaar is a good example. Everyone is hawking their wares and at first glance it isn’t easy to spot quality. In fact, when there are so many choices, everything begins to look the same.

Ah. Isn’t that interesting. Could your paltry reads be perhaps not at all related to your book but more related to the fact that there are simply too many books to choose from on Wattpad? You see, that is exactly why it is very difficult to break through the clutter.

Let’s go back to our bazaar analogy. Let’s say you are now looking at two different silk manufacturers. The first one looks like its very high quality. But it’s hard to tell, especially if you aren’t an expert on silks. You then notice the second vendor just to the right of the first. She smiles at you and draws your attention to something interesting: she has a sign says “1.5 million silks sold”. That instantly catches your attention. Assuming she isn’t lying, 1.5 Million buyers can’t be wrong, right?

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