Wattpad‘s founder Allen Lau spoke on a panel at yesterday’s IDPF event in connection with BookExpo America, speaking to some exciting news and the ways that the site builds engagement between readers and writers. Wattpad’s Head of Content, Publishing Ashleigh Gardner spoke to Good e-Reader about Wattpad and their exciting news.
“I think that a lot of things that are at the core of what Wattpad does, that we’re very mobile, very social, tends to appeal very strongly to a millenial audience, that’s not to say that we don’t have a lot of users over thirty. When you’re looking at 20 millions users, yes, a lot of our content tends to be teen fiction, but that’s not to say there aren’t fantastic literary fiction communities, and science fiction communities, and mystery and thriller. As far as our demographics, they’ve also been growing up into that under 30 group, so 18 to 30 year olds are forty percent of the site.”
Lau announced during his panel one of the exciting new instances on Wattpad where a series of posted writings have been picked up for publication by Simon&Schuster and have already been optioned for a film. The series, “After,” already has over 800 million reads of its extensive chapters. Other Wattpad titles have also been picked up by Macmillan and Sourcebooks, to name a few, which begs the question if the natural evolution of publishing submissions will be to use Wattpad not only as a “slush pile” for the industry, but also as a way to demonstrate a following and genuine interest to publishers.
“Some of our writers want to be published, some of them don’t, as well. But we’re noticing that trajectory is to figure out who the right partner for that book is. We are not a publisher and that’s not the core of what we do, but we’re definitely seeing publishers looking at Wattpad. People are including their Wattpad stats when they go out and look for an agent or publisher.”
These following numbers are a way for authors to “prove” to authors that there is a definite interest in a certain title or type of work, something that is especially important for those works that blend the lines of genres or take huge risks that might be too big for traditional publishing.
“We’ve always had people worried that people wouldn’t read it because there was nothing else out there like it already, and I think that’s where people can really show that on Wattpad. There’s nothing else like it and that’s why someone should take a risk on it, because look how many people are enjoying it.”
Gardner went on to explain what’s behind the interest in taking a free book, readily available on Wattpad, and turn that into a purchasable book. As she explains, there is a tremendous amount of connection between readers who influenced a work in progress through their feedback and support, and those readers like being a part of that author’s success. Authors who do find the largest support base are the ones who treat Wattpad like any other social media site and actively engage with their potential readers.