Episode 046 focuses on Wattpad, the social media app for readers and writers with over 40 million monthly users around the world and growing. US Manager Christine Munroe interviews Ashleigh Gardner, Wattpad’s Head of Writer and Publisher Partnerships, to gain insight into how to become a part of the Wattpad community and use it to grow your business as an author. Listen in to learn about:
- What is Wattpad? A social media app for telling stories, all user-generated content.
- Currently attracts over 40 million users per month, growing at a rate of over 1 new user per second.
- It’s primarily a community of readers, who make up 90% of the site’s users. Writers can use it to build reading communities.
- The longer a user is onsite as a reader, the more likely they are to become a writer.
- User demographics: 45% of users are 13-18. 40% are 18-30. Fastest-growing segment is women 25-35. A common misconception is that it’s just a community of teenagers.
- Wattpad is also strong internationally. #2 country is the Philippines, where Wattpad is the #1 website and they have their own TV show 4 nights a week.
- A lot of Wattpad’s content is unfinished when it’s first uploaded. The encouragement and acknowledgement from the Wattpad community inspires writers to keep going.
- It offers a very supportive, encouraging environment and culture. Readers are used to a rawness – think of it as a “digital campfire” more than a digital book – so they aren’t critical in the same way as you see on other social media platforms.
- Why should authors post free content? Use it as an opportunity to learn your audience. Grow your audience. Post a portion, or the first book in a series, to entice readers into your writing and convert to customers elsewhere.
- What is a Wattpad success story? It’s different for everyone, as every author is writing for different reasons. The most traditionally successful author is Anna Todd, who has become an internationally bestselling author. Tons of other young writers are gaining confidence every day from having tens of thousands of followers encouraging them to pursue writing opportunities. Brands are sponsoring stories, for example Sour Patch Kids and Ouija Boards.
- How to succeed on Wattpad: follow other writers in your genre. See what they’re doing, how they talk to their fans. Share on other social media outlets that you’re posting content on Wattpad.
- What does Wattpad do to combat piracy problems? They don’t allow copy/pasting. Duplications are detected, reported, and removed quickly. Everything on Wattpad is date and time stamped, so it’s very easy to prove the origin date.
- Ashleigh’s favourite kind of fan fiction: high-brow commentary on contemporary events. “Finding that space between real life and fan fiction when the line starts to blur is really interesting.”
- For a selection of Wattpad titles available on Kobo, head to https://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/Collection/wattpad
At the end of the episode, we showcase a speech that Michael Tamblyn, Rakuten Kobo President, delivered at FutureBook 2015. FutureBook is an annual digital publishing conference that took place last week in London on December 4th. Tamblyn outlines what he sees as a “reader’s bill of rights.” We should be able to read: 1. Easily. 2. Shamelessly. 3. Freely. Not meaning no cost, but in terms of time – free time to read in the midst of the distracting world. 4. Publicly. 5. Privately.
In addition to analyzing, trying to understand, marketing to, segmenting, collecting information about readers, publishing professionals (including authors!) need to step back and think about how readers want to read. “Earn the right to the reader’s attention… and we’ll get to keep doing what we love.”
Ashleigh Gardner, Head of Writer & Publisher Partnerships, helps publishers, writers and media engage with emerging stars and members of Wattpad, the world’s largest online community for writers and readers. . Before joining Wattpad, Ashleigh was Director of Content Management at Kobo, where she focused on expanding Kobo’s existing catalogue while developing new eBook stores in international markets. Prior to Kobo, she was manager of digital development at Dundurn Press. Ashleigh graduated from York University with a Philosophy and Law degree.
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