Gloomy news for authors who have enjoyed the warm glow of the Red Room’s pages. With a short notification to all members Red Room’s cosy hearth fires were extinguished this week and the loud, cold brashness of Wattpad was announced, for Wattpad have acquired the Red Room.
The new owners immediately switched off the lights, put out the coals, and killed the Red Room’s purring literary cat, presumably to remind talented authors that their time in literature’s motherly embrace is over and the harsh reality of trashy novels and illiterate word-salad has arrived.
Wattpad is a site that can best be described as a bottomless pit of teenage angst and fan-girling giddiness with very few sparks of talent in sight among its members (at this point I’m quickly naming authors Michelle Barber and William Stadler among those talented highlights, before they send me an angry red raspberry via their WordPress blogs). Generally speaking: If you don’t write gushing books about Justin Bieber or other pop sensations, if you don’t like reading endless sexy scenarios of juvenile fan fiction dreams, Wattpad won’t really be for you.
During the few days that I was a member some months ago, I must have looked through about 150 groups of readers/writers on Wattpad; frankly, I didn’t discover a single group any self-respecting grown-up writer would wish to join and engage with.
Although I got a lot of reads/downloads for the stuff I uploaded, nobody left a single comment, which means no feedback that is constructive, if you have WIP you want advice on. People just press “like” buttons, if you’re lucky, but most readers just consume story after story for free without so much as bothering to press any of the Wattpad review buttons to at least let you know they liked what they read.
For the august literature gang assembled at Red Room to fall into such a black hole must be heart-breaking. Many authors have used the fantastic author pages and blogs they received with their Red Room membership to build up a solid fan base for their work over many years.
These were readers and talented, professional writers who left grown-up comments, constructive critiques, helpful advice – not “cor’ blime me, that was a corker/stinker of a story” or words to that effect. The author page one gets with Wattpad resembles a poorly constructed social media site – not the glorious author profile and blog the Red Room furnished their members with.
So yet another small but beautiful thing has been gobbled up by a big fat American fish that cruises the waters of literature and the world of reading with an unending appetite for Facebook contacts. A huge behemoth of a shark that’s hungry for authors’ connections, but essentially an eating machine that’s not very keen to regurgitate anything useful in return, making the world of literature the poorer for it.
When I dared to complain to the outgoing Red Room team, I got not one, but two defensive emails back, from two different senders no less.
Since the Red Room will close its door any moment now, any new emails from Wattpad will naturally go into my spam folder…which is also a Big Fat Bottom Feeder that gobbles up writing…the type of trash good authors and good readers don’t want to see.