How Wattpad and Social Reading Could Help You Get Published
One would be hard-pressed to find an industry unaffected by technology as pervasive as the internet. From television to radio, the internet has changed the way we consume media, and the book and publishing industry is no different. If nothing else, the proliferation of e-books and the ease of self-publication have helped to make the industry more accessible to a wider range of people, and writers for different genres have found new opportunities to get their work across to greater audiences.
More than self-publication through e-books, however, we’re seeing a new trend take form: social reading through websites like Wattpad is becoming increasingly popular. How does this help, and how do writers use this phenomenon to help get their career off the ground?
The first thing you have to consider is that numbers don’t lie. Wattpad gained popularity as a free mobile app through which thousands of stories are published and read, and in 2013, 20 million users spent 41 billion minutes reading and writing on Wattpad according to a report by Huffington Post you can read here. Releasing a free mobile app has doubtlessly contributed to the popularity of the service, as mobile has served as a disrupting factor across industries. Gaming Realms, a company whose work in mobile-optimization can be sampled here, has reported that there are now 60% more people playing on mobile devices than on desktop computers, signifying an obvious preference for the former.
It is this preference for mobile that has helped Wattpad gain a following, and has subsequently reintroduced reading to younger generations. After all, 85% of all Wattpad activity is done through mobile. “We don’t believe people are reading and writing less, we just have to make sure reading and writing can adapt to the current culture,” says Wattpad founder Allen Lau, who adds that, “making long form content bite size is more digestible in today’s culture.” He continues by saying that, “There will be five billion phones, all internet enabled, in the next two, three years. The addressable market is billions of people. We’re at barely one percent of where we want to be.”
While many of the people on Wattpad are casual readers and writers, it’s important to note that the platform is also suitable for those who want to break into the industry. Already, several authors have landed major publishing deals through the stories they posted on the platform. One author, 18-year-old Beth Reekles, in particular, is most inspiring. Having garnered 19m views on Wattpad, she went on to signing a 3-book publishing deal with Random House US.
While the platform is undeniably more popular with teens, this doesn’t mean that older generations shouldn’t try the platform out for themselves. “Publishers are increasingly aware of Wattpad and novellas and fan fiction and they are certainly keeping an eye on it,” says Charlotte Eyre, children’s editor at The Bookseller. “Publishers want the best books and if they find great writing talent on Wattpad, why not? They are very aware that teenagers read and write [on the website] and also that teenagers aren’t big readers of eBooks. I think it’s fantastic and more publishers should do it.”
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