Why Aren't I Famous?

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There is a frequent question I get given all the time from various users. It comes to me in lots of different forms, either asked in comments, on my page, in private messages, and sometimes it shows up in feedback posts people submit directly to Wattpad. It is the kind of question that deserves a genuine answer though.

I don't know.

It's as simple as that. Well I mean I do know, and the reason is because you simply weren't picked up yet by the public, for any number of reasons. But the first thing you must eliminate from your mentality when writing is "I wrote a good book thus I deserve to be famous."

That's just not how writing (or any other medium of art) works. It simply isn't, and nobody should think it does work like that. Not one person misunderstands this for a medium they are not contributing to. When we watch movies or talk about music, we're happy to acknowledge that there is "mainstream" and that there is "indie" and that one of them is underappreciated and filled with masterpieces and the other one just released a new trailer for The Avengers. We're well aware that our favourite musical band, one that revolutionized sound and vocals, isn't able to compete with Taylor Swift or The Rolling Stones.

But as soon as we write a book, we think we too should be allowed to compete. And not just compete, but automatically be given a win. This may not be the best place to post it in this work (the beginnning would have been suitable), but if your goal in writing is to immediately, instantly become unimaginably popular, you need to get out of this profession. I don't mean that in an old boy's club kind of way, far from it. Everyone is welcome here to try! But your expectations just need to be in line. It's totally ok to hope to be famous and want to be, but to expect to be famous in writing is way out of proportion.

Look at some of the popular works at the top of the What's Hot list. You may look at them and say to yourself "My book is better than that" or "My book is the same, why am I barely ranked?" Both of these statements can be totally merited and valid, but it doesn't matter. Writing is not about who created the absolute best work. Writing is about telling a story, and being the one story that was heard the most. Plain and simple. 

So before you write up an angry rant on how this place is nothing but lousy fanfictions destroying your chances at releasing a psychological horror in which every character is already dead, maybe consider what path you're walking on, and what you're aiming for. If you aim to also write a fanfiction, just know you have a shot at getting super popular, or you could get buried by a bunch of equal, lesser, or greater works. The quality of the work is not what determines anything. And if you write that horror, just know that it probably will never be popular with everyone, even if everyone agrees it is exceptional.

Why is this important then? Well it valdiates and proves everything that has been mentioned before. Wattpad is not the reason your book did not succeed, and neither are you (usually). It is just people and how we are. At the same time, paradoxically, Wattpad is the reason you succeeded, if you do, because it enabled the people.

Think of this: I write a story. It's catchy and engaging, if a little rough around the edges. Some people find it and get hooked on the plot, ignoring the errors, and they add it to reading lists, vote on it, and tell their friends. People see these actions and become curious. Some more people read it. It grows and repeats and multiplies and I'm suddenly famous. The only reason that could have happened was because of the tools put in place by Wattpad to allow for social connections and visibility (voting/reading list actions). But if I hadn't succeeded, it would not have been because of Wattpad. Those tools that enable people are still sitting there, waiting for people to use them. Wattpad isn't doing anything to deflect people away from the work and it isn't preventing people from seeing the story. It isn't ranking? Is that because Wattpad is intentionally keeping it off the rankings, or just because other stories are using the tools more due to the people actively on them? 

When you're frustrated that you haven't had success, you need to do a few things. First, don't blame the place hosting your story, wherever it is, at whatever level. We can't all demand to be at the front of every bookstore, or all books would be at the front and would defeat the purpose. Don't blame the other books either, because you need them around. Nobody who likes reading wants to read one book, and only one book, and you'll never write enough works fast enough to be the only person they ever read. Don't blame the quality of works, and don't blame the people either, because you need the people too. You need to understand the trends and the mainstream ideals of people. You don't have anyone to blame for failing, and that's ok, because you aren't failing. So long as you wrote a book and had the confidence to post it, that's a success in and of itself that you should be proud of. It should be the reason you were writing in the first place. But if you aren't getting famous, that's nobody's fault. I know you want it to be someone's fault because it is human nature to try to pin problems on causes. Nothing is causing you to fail. There is nothing in the literary world that actively inhibits your ability to succeed. You just aren't having that success you crave. There's nothing causing failure; there just isn't anything causing success either.

So what can you do if you find your story isn't famous? Here are some options:

1) Stop writing and give up (Don't do this one).

2) Move on from the book and continue writing other works, starting new or finishing old projects in the hopes of increasing your odds of success.

3) Increase efforts to get your work exposed and continue to push for it as your baby.

Two out of three of these have you still trying, and still writing/editing/improving. One of them has you walking away and getting nothing. I encourage all of you who come up against the wall of not-famous to pick from the latter two options. Banging your fists into the keyboard and yelling at Wattpad/fanfiction/authors/readers isn't going to get you anywhere, and it will for the most part get you looked down at by readers as someone who whines and complains, and will attract others who are in similar situations who will just group together to create a lot of depression and anxiety and little else. Nothing productive comes from complaining, alone or together, when it comes to writing. Not famous yet? Better get back to working on your craft then!

This will be my last chapter (I think) for this work, as I think not being famous is a good place to end on a work about being famous, and has a cyclical note to it. Keep in mind that while Wattpad isn't doing anything to hold down your work and keep it out of the spotlight, we're actively working to try and find ways to get every work its time to shine. Rather than leave everyone out to the wolves, we want to find a way to promote every new author who arrives or takes that first step. We've spent many hours in multiple meeting rooms speculating every single way we could ever help all authors with their works. We've got a lot of really good ideas to help give a boost to low reads books that are starting out, but even without those, you need to always look at yourself as an author and work to write. I know that I started writing because I wanted something better for me to read. I won't stop writing just because nobody reads my work, since I will always at least be reading and enjoying it, and I'll never stop loving writing it. 

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