The Storyteller Reports: Who Runs Wattpad?

RANT OF THE WEEK: Who Uses Wattpad?

Have you ever fantasized about putting a movie rating on your writing?

That’s just one dream come true that intrigues me about Wattpad.com. It’s been around since 2006; I just found out about it yesterday from David Gaughran. On this site, you can post any story for free. It can be a rough draft, a chapter, a short story, a novel, or whatever else you want it to be. You give it MPAA ratings. You can even list your ideal cast of celebrities to play your characters. Best of all, you can interact with readers through comments. It’s a love child of Smashwords and Facebook.

I just had to take a peek.

At first, everything seemed absolutely perfect. For one thing, the people investing in Wattpad are the same people who invested in Twitter and Tumblr. For another thing, there are millions of people using it- and actively. Some of the most popular stories range into the millions of views (yes, they ripped that off from YouTube). A few of these authors are trying to translate their Wattpad success to self-publishing, like Brittany Geragotelis. I found one self-publisher who used Wattpad to boost sales for what she already published.

I got an account a few hours ago, and so far it has been greatly entertaining. I’ve read some other stories, and uploaded Die By The Sword, a short story also available on Smashwords. A grin slowly shone through as I ransacked iMBD for actors to list in the cast. Isn’t this great?

Wattpad isn’t going away anytime soon. With people like Albert Wenger and David Gaughran throwing in, and Wattpad’s overtures to self-published authors, and its base in mobile technology, it’s going to take a sex scandal to slow this site down.

There’s no question Wattpad will be successful, but to whom it will bestow success is something else entirely.

Wattpad is dominated by YA authors and readers. YA seems to regularly fill the “What’s Hot” list, and all of the blogs and articles I have read do not question this dominance. The “Watty Awards” (Wattpad’s People’s Choice Awards, more or less) are glutted with paranormal romances, historical romances and chick lit. The majority of Wattpad’s users, according to their own statistics, are young girls. Michael Graeme, another blogger, ran into this culture and lived to tell the tale.

Right now, the biggest successes on Wattpad are with YA, and they generally involve teenage angst and kissing. What about stories like mine? Die By The Sword is about as far from YA lit as you can get. I don’t know how well I’m going to do on this site.

If I were you, I’d keep an eye on what happens with Wattpad’s courting of self-published authors. If enough good ones decide to use that system and use it well, we could see a shift in popular genres… or not. Whoever succeeds and gets media attention will be trendsetters for other Wattpad users. If a YA author gets big success, we could see Wattpad become even more of a YA empire, excluding other genres. Without diversification and adaptability, the site might die off as its primary users get older.

The social media part of this could suffer, too, now that I think about it. If everyone who has been publishing on Smashwords and Amazon jumps into Wattpad, and not enough readers follow them, there might wind up being more authors than readers on this site. Right now, there seems to be a lot of interaction between young people writing stories and commenting on others’. Will the authors transition well into this, or will we get a lot of annoying promotions and follow requests like on Twitter? All I can say is I hope the stupid indie authors stay out.

Those are my initial thoughts, but I’m going to keep investigating this site. This might not be the last post you see about this website. What are your thoughts? Am I missing something crucial about all this?

STORYTELLER OF THE WEEK

You know what? Instead of posting about some Dead White European Male, how about you go see what’s out there on Wattpad?

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