Wattpad was created in 2006 and is an online giant free community of amateur and professional authors across the world, giving an equal voice to writers of every level and nationality. It has risen to be generally regarded as the foremost website for published and unpublished authors on the Internet to showcase their work, having such famous names as Hugh Howey and Margaret Atwood amongst its members. Contributors and readers can follow their favourite authors; vote and comment on their stories and find links to their works whether it be Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, etc. Currently Wattpad is used by 45 million people worldwide and is worth in the region of $70 million. Its mobile app has been downloaded approximately five million times.
Currently around half of the members come from America, and the Canadian Wattpad website was recognised in 2011 as the top digital media company in the country, alongside its founder Ivan Yuen awarded Canadian entrepreneur at the Impact Infused Awards. In the Philippines popular stories from Wattpad have been turned into television programmes, and in 2015 the website launched a separate mobile app called “After Dark” focussing on adult romance material. Currently Wattpad has 35 million unique visitors every month, over one hundred thousand chapter uploads to books every day, and two million writers both professional and amateur being members and contributors offering everything from poetry to fantasy, fan fiction to sci-fi, chick-lit to serious political non-fiction.
Self-published professional authors can petition to have their work on the “Wattpad Featured List,” which is awarded after strict examination by Wattpad editors. I myself have had two books on the Featured List, including my fantasy fiction novel Dark Messiah which was placed on the list without any petition. Wattpad also holds several contests throughout the year including their primary competition the “Wattys.” In 2012, respected author Margaret Atwood held a Watty Award for poets which has continued since. Wattpad has done everything it can to promote and encourage writers onto the mainstream publishing scene including founding Wattpad Studios which helps aspiring authors connect with television and film companies and “Sourcebooks” to forge major publishing deals and establish print editions of their eBooks. Random House and HarperCollins have approached the most talented authors on Wattpad and offered them multi-book deals. The writer Anna Todd who has an incredible one billion readership on Wattpad was given a major publishing deal from Simon & Shuster and sold the film rights to Paramount.
Up until my own membership in 2012, I had never heard of Wattpad. I was introduced to the website through my partner who had read of a young English writer who after only two years of membership, had been offered a three book deal from a mainstream publisher and an advance of £100,000. It appeared literary scouts often frequent Wattpad in search of fresh new talent. I decided to give it a go as I had spent many years unsuccessfully trying to land a major publisher or literary agent and thought like many others, I had nothing to lose.
I uploaded the full copies of my books Cain and Dark Messiah to my Wattpad account. After several months I had gathered about 20 followers and about the same amount of votes. Comments were positive and encouraging. Suddenly in the space of a few short weeks, my membership exploded. It appeared word of mouth had spread about my books, in particular my historical fiction novel, Cain. Followers were coming to my Wattpad account at the rate of hundreds every day, some coming in at two or three a second! In a matter of about three weeks, I had risen to 8,480 followers. Over about the next year it dropped slightly to around 8,410 but never going much below that at any stage and still has maintained to that figure to this day. I also gathered over 1,000 votes of recommendation and between my three books, had acquired a readership of a quarter of a million. I received official notification from Wattpad Management that I was now one of the most followed authors on Wattpad and even being nominated to be a judge on prizes.
Like many other authors who are discarded or ignored by mainstream publishers for one reason or another, I had found a voice in the writing community and had discovered the confidence to self-publish, which up until that point, would have found it difficult to do so. That is why I think websites like Wattpad are so important for struggling writers to find their voices amongst the deafening noise of major publishers and literary agents who are so focussed on risk aversion and unwilling to give talented independent authors a chance.
(c) Shane O’Neill
Shane O’Neill on Wattpad
Sasha Goodwin’s father is the ruler of the world; a powerful wizard locked in a never-ending battle with his arch-enemy Soren, until a messenger brings news that will finally seal his rival’s fate. Sasha, believing this will cause the Apocalypse, sets out on a journey that will deliver her to the heart of evil and madness.
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