Canada’s Wattpad Updates Its Paid Program: ‘Originals’

From Publishing Perspectives:

Not since it opened its “Paid Stories” program several years ago has the Toronto-based Wattpad updated its remunerative offer to writers in any substantial way.

Announced this week, “Wattpad Originals” is a newly offered approach, an apparent recognition that some writers are looking for more in return from the platform than readers. The change may reflect the fact that serial writers who like the rhythm, the hustle, and the interactive tenor of online storytelling-and-response have more options, more companies, more platforms available to choose from, especially as graphic-narrative options have expanded from Asia into Western markets.

Tokens, called “coins” and a subscription called “Premium” are familiar brand-terms being offered to Wattpad readers, who make up the vast majority of the current 85 million people who “on average discover and share stories on Wattpad monthly,” according to company figures. (It has always been best thought of as a reading platform, the minority being its many writers, as company officials have stressed in the past.)

Those currently posted numbers state that 92 percent of the audience remains in Gen Z and millennial parts of the populations on which it draws. The main graphical idiom of the company’s online sites has persisted in its youthful appeal. Wattpad remains reliably international in its presence in Southeast Asia, Europe, Latin and North America. As in the past, it today carries content translated into at least 50 languages, according to the company.

Typically attracting far more female users than males, the platform cites an average session spent on Wattpad as lasting 60 minutes. The aggregate usage meter on the system reportedly is 23 billion minutes being spent on the platform monthly.

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The ‘Wattpad Originals’ Option

What’s being described now as the next step in writer revenue delivery, “Wattpad Originals” gives reader several options:

  • They can pay to read ahead, using those “coin” tokens or a “Wattpad Premium” subscription.
  • Wattpad Premium subscriptions are offered at US$7.49, which opens two Wattpad Originals per month.
  • Another Wattpad Premium subscription goes for US$4.99 per month, but does not unlock Wattpad Originals
  • Or they can wait for content to become free to read.
  • A new chapter added on the front end of a serial means that a previous chapter becomes free, thus incentivizing writers as well as readers to keep moving.
  • A maximum of 10 chapters, the most recently published, will be behind the “Originals” paywall. The program also expects to show readers how long they will need to wait for a free chapter to become available–which means that writers are making some sort of commitment to when they’ll be adding something new on the front end.
  • When a Wattpad Originals story is finished, a sample of it will be offered free to let readers see some of the content and , with luck, buy the full narrative.

Regular subscribers to television’s streamers will recognize this as not unlike the tactic weighed by consumers of those systems: They can pay for a monthly subscription and see each episode of a show as it rolls out weekly, or they can wait and buy, say, one month’s subscription and binge-watch the entire season of that show after all of its weekly episodes have been released.

This is a model that Wattpad says it has gotten from Webtoon, the comics platform based in Seoul with which Wattpad became closely connected when Webtoon’s parent Naver bought Alan Lau’s Wattpad for a reported US$600 million in 2021. It’s unclear whether Wattpad’s local administration in Canada has opted to adopt the new “Originals” plan or has been directed to do that by the South Korean ownership at parent company Naver. Media messaging simply asserts that Webtoon has used this approach “to great success” and that the new plan “will strike a better balance for readers and authors, creating more opportunities to build fandoms and reading communities while also making money.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG admits he hasn’t spent any time looking at what Wattpad has been doing for several years.

From Wikipedia:

Wattpad is a free online platform that allows users to read and publish original stories.[5] Wattpad has stories available in more than 50 languages, and nearly 300,000 writers from 35 countries take part every year in the largest writing competition, The Watty Awards.

. . . .

In January 2019, Wattpad launched a publishing division named Wattpad Books in an effort to take the “guesswork” out of publishing for authors.

In January 2021, Naver Corporation announced that it would be acquiring Wattpad; the deal was completed in May 2021. As of November 2021, Wattpad has a monthly audience of more than 90 million users, who can directly interact with the writers and share their opinions with fellow readers.

. . . .

Wattpad was developed in 2006, as the result of a collaboration between Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen. The company is based in Toronto, Ontario.

. . . .

As of January 2018, Wattpad had received almost USD $117.8M in funding from investors. In 2011, Wattpad announced that it received $3.5M in total funding from its current investors, and from W Media Ventures, Golden Venture Partners, and Union Square Ventures. Then in June 2012, Wattpad raised $17.3M from a group of venture funds led by Khosla Ventures.

In April 2014, Wattpad announced $46M in the Series C funding led by OMERS ventures. In January 2018, Wattpad announced USD $51M in funding from Tencent Holdings Limited, BDC, Globe Telecom’s Kickstart Ventures, Peterson Group, Canso, and existing investor Raine.

. . . .

In January 2021, Wattpad announced that it was to be acquired by Naver Corporation in a $600 million cash-and-stock deal. In an interview, Lau states “it’s also been very clear from Naver, and we agree, that we should operate as independently as possible.” Wattpad will remain headquartered in Canada and under its current leadership.

Link to the rest at Wikipedia

From Kindlepreuneur:

What Exactly Is Wattpad?

Wattpad describes itself as a ‘social story-telling platform’.

It makes use of technology and community in order to help writers find an audience for their serialized novel, short stories, etc., and for readers to find new up-and-coming writers to check out and follow.

The company is based out of Toronto, and has a very hip ethos and aesthetic. They make it clear that the platform is primarily intended for Millennials and members of Generation Z. As such, you can expect a pretty groovy, inclusive type of vibe from Wattpad.

However, the way a company describes itself is one thing. What it actually does is another.

So what is the actual bread and butter of Wattpad?

  • Talent discovery: Wattpad is a little like shows such as the X Factor or The Voice, but specifically for writers. Anyone is welcome to join and start publishing their work for free. Only the ones who get a good response go further in the process. How? Wattpad offers resources for writers to grow and develop. The best of the best become eligible for specialist programs connecting them with publishing houses and even TV and movie production companies.
  • Social platform: You can think of Wattpad as a sort of social network for writers and readers. Instead of it being a place to like cat videos shared with you by a distant relative, it’s a platform to discover stories. It aims to give writers a place to express their unique voice, and has a broad and inclusive approach to genre.
  • Technology: As you’d expect from a start-up company targeting millennials and members of Generation Z, tech has a big part to play. This is apparent both on the front and back ends of the Wattpad service. Behind the scenes, Wattpad makes use of machine learning and AI to spot the brightest stories among its many uploads. On the front end, Wattpad offers a mobile app to allow readers and writers to connect on the devices they love the most.

In a nutshell, Wattpad is a social platform for lovers of the written word. It offers opportunities for writers to get their art discovered and for readers to find new favorite stories and artists.

The rest of this Wattpad review will focus on what the service has to offer for writers. If you’re a writer, what can Wattpad do for you, and is there anything you need to be wary of?

. . . .

Wattpad Review For Writers – The Process

Signing up for Wattpad is easy, as you can see from the below image. You can either quickly register through email, or use one of your social accounts to gain access.

So how exactly does Wattpad claim to help writers? They break up the process of using Wattpad from an author perspective into three stages.

  1. Create: The first stage of using Wattpad as a writer is to create your story. You are given pretty much free reign to write how you want and in whichever genre you wish. You can check out a full list of genres a little later in this article, but it’s fairly comprehensive. You can shoot from the hip, or make use of the writing resources provided by Wattpad to shape your story.
  2. Build: Wattpad describes the “build” stage of the process as “establishing a global fanbase.” To be fair, the service does have over 70 million readers from around the world, and the metrics show that readers do spend a large amount of time on the platform per session. However, there are, of course, no guarantees. Your ability to tap into this potential fan base will depend upon the quality of your stories and the effort you put in to promoting them.
  3. Amplify: If your work gains traction on Wattpad (as judged by the service’s machine learning algorithm, taking into account factors such as popularity and engagement) you may get a chance to monetize through the Wattpad platform. Top performing stories gain the chance to get a publishing or movie deal. Of course, these are a minority of the stories published. Most writers will not be able to monetize through Wattpad.

Now that we have an overview of the three stages of the Wattpad process, let’s go deeper and see exactly how Wattpad aims to help you.

What resources does it offer, and what claims does it make about helping you as an author?

. . . .

You now know that Wattpad is a social tech platform for writers and readers, and you have an overview of the three stage journey for Wattpad authors.

So what specifically is being offered?

Readers. Wattpad has a passionate community of readers, currently over 70 million. I would expect this number to grow, as the company has some major investors behind it and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. As a writer, finding a passionate and engaged readership is often half the challenge. Wattpad gives you an off-the-shelf audience to share your work with.

Genres. Wattpad offers a ton of genres you can publish in. 

. . . .

The bottom line is Wattpad is a suitable platform for niche authors and a great place to find engaged readers of almost any persuasion and preference.

Contests: Wattpad regularly offers writing contests. These are often offered in conjunction with events and major brands, such as a recent partnership with Converse sneakers in order to celebrate International Women’s Day. As well as being a fun community feature, winning a contest is good for your author CV, and there are prizes as well.

Awards: Wattpad has their own awards ceremony, “The Wattys,” which has been going since 2010. It celebrates a mixture of established and breakthrough writers who publish through Wattpad.

Authors can also gain exposure through Wattpad by being featured as a “pick.” Picks are stories chosen by the Wattpad editors, and they gain a greater level of exposure than regular stories.

Conference: Wattpad hosts an annual conference, known was Wattcon. It is a chance for authors and readers to get together, share tips, find mentorship opportunities, and take their online love of reading and writing into the real world.

Community: The community aspect of Wattpad is a cornerstone of the platform. It offers a chance for readers to give feedback and help writers grow. Authors can also directly engage with fans of their genre and hopefully turn them into fans of their work in particular.

. . . .

What You Need To Know Before Signing Up for Wattpad

Authors are often skeptical, and rightly so. There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there.

So what are the no-gloss, straight up facts about Wattpad you need to know as an author?

  • Rights: You own the full rights to your work. Wattpad doesn’t. Your writing is protected by copyright as soon as you publish it. You can remove it from the platform and publish it elsewhere any time. You can also offer stories you’ve shared via Wattpad to publishers, and these are not legally viewed as reprints.
  • Monetization: The monetization stage of Wattpad is in beta. It’s not the primary purpose of the platform. However, the top-performers receive opportunities for publishing deals and even links to movie and TV studios.
  • Growth: Wattpad offers a ton of free resources to help you grow as a writer. These include craft tips, such as character development, and marketing tips, such as boosting the engagement your work receives on the Wattpad platform.

If your primary purpose is to make money through your writing, Wattpad might not be the best pick for you. However, it definitely doesn’t impede you from doing so elsewhere.

. . . .

Wattpad Pros and Cons

We’ve explored everything Wattpad has to offer. So, in a nutshell, what is my take on the service?

Wattpad Pros

  • Free: No cost to read or write on Wattpad — and plenty offered in return.
  • Open: I really feel this is a platform for creative writers. It encourages expression and is open to the most modern of genres.
  • Community: Having a community of 70 million readers is an awesome resource. This is like if everyone in the United Kingdom, plus a few more million, was reading on Wattpad.
  • Growth: I love the free resources offered by Wattpad and the mentorship and development opportunities available.

Wattpad Cons

  • Monetization: I feel as if Wattpad could offer more opportunities for authors to monetize through the platform. The new beta program is a step in the right direction, but this could definitely be developed further.
  • Not for everyone: Although there are no age limits or anything, I definitely feel older or more conservative writers wouldn’t feel at home on Wattpad. It is a very liberal, very young-focused platform. That’s fine, but a lot of authors do not fit into those categories.
  • Requires Time and Effort to Succeed: In order to see results from Wattpad, you’re going to have to invest more time in your marketing of your book. There are lottery winners out there, but most need to invest time and energy. (Emphasis provided by PG.)

. . . .

Overall, I feel Wattpad can be a great resource for up-and-coming authors looking to hone their craft. If you want to get feedback and grow as an author, Wattpad can be the place to do that. It also allows you to connect with relevant writers and find fans for your work.

However, in order for an author to build a following and gain real results, they’re going to have to become a Wattpad marketing guru and truly know how to get their book in front of Wattpad readers.  The way I see it, though, is why not focus on a paying market like Amazon and get direct sales from all that marketing effort? If you’re going to market something, might as well get paid for all your hard work, right?

Link to the rest at Kindlepreuneur

The Kindlepreuner article sums up a lot of PG’s impressions over the years. A lot of people have spent a lot of time and effort to become successful writers on Wattpad, but to what end?

Unlike KDP, it has always been PG’s impression that not very many people are making serious money from their writing under the Wattpad Way. Can you earn substantial money without selling your books to a traditional publisher, small or large, or, even better (in PG’s opinion), self-publishing on Amazon?

Is Wattpad some sort of knockoff of a social media company for bookfolk and would-be authors that is mostly a consumer of lots of time and effort on the part of would-be authors in a system that generates only a minimal return for all but a relative handful of authors?

Who has gotten rich from Wattpad?

In 2021, Naver, South Korea’s internet conglomerate, acquired Wattpad in a cash and stock transaction valued at more than an estimated USD $600 million. From Naver’s press release:

With a global community of 94 million people–including five million writers–who have written more than one billion uploads on the platform, Wattpad is a global leader in social storytelling and entertainment. Wattpad’s creator-first approach to nurturing and supporting reading and writing communities has helped authors around the world.

PG was not able to determine how much money the two Wattpad founders banked from this $600 million sale nor how large a payoff several large New York City venture funds realized from the sale. He expects the answer is some variant of “quite a lot.”

PG will be happy to hear any information about how much of the $600 million authors received. After all, the authors provided the large majority of the content that generated a lot of the traffic that made Wattpad so valuable and its founders so rich.

PG is familiar with the old Silicon Valley truism that goes, “If you can’t understand what the product is, it’s you.”

PG would be happy to hear the opinions of authors who have been or are Wattpad regulars in the Comments section for this post regarding whether he’s right or wrong in his outside-looking-in opinions about the platform.

PG understands that a very high percentage of all participants in social media platforms large or small are spending their time because they find the online experience and resulting electronic friendships to be enjoyable in and of themselves.

PG has a couple of social media accounts he regularly participates with just because he finds them enjoyable diversions. (No, he won’t divulge what they are or any of his screen names.)

If PG learns that a great many participants on Wattpad were/are engaged with the platform for the same sorts of reasons, he’ll acknowledge that his snide remarks about founders and funders getting rich at the expense of authors are incorrect.

Although PG doesn’t gamble, he understands that a great many gamblers know they’re almost certain to lose far more money than they win. But despite that knowledge, they gamble for the emotional buzz that accompanies their participation – the roll of the dice, the spin of the roulette wheel, etc.

2 thoughts on “Canada’s Wattpad Updates Its Paid Program: ‘Originals’”

  1. It is my possibly erroneous perception based on various statements, posts and conversations over the years that the people that make money with Wattpad generally don’t make money “on Wattpad”. If I’m understanding correctly, Wattpad serves as a discovery platform for them and they generally make most of their money on Patreon or an equivalent support platform by offering the content that is coming to Wattpad early to those fans that need to have it as soon as it’s available.

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