Jordan Lynde’s Twitter bio reads, “I am a teen fiction author and one day I will rule the world.” At 16, she started writing on Wattpad. Now, at 19, she’s one of the most popular writers on the site; her stories have garnered a total of more than 100 million reads. She just landed a publishing deal with Random House. She admits, “I don’t proof read” [sic].
Wattpad, a social storytelling platform based in Toronto, proves that people—especially young people—are still eager to consume and tell stories, particularly when they can do it together.
“We think storytelling is a very universal thing and really, everybody has a story to tell,” said Candice Faktor, Wattpad’s General Manager. She added that Wattpad writers have thus far uploaded over 35 million stories and counting.
Much like a Medium for fanfiction and creative writing, Wattpad makes it easy for both unknown and professional writers to share and monitor their stories. As soon as a writer posts a story chapter, she begins to amass “reads.” An author’s read count is posted below her book cover and will qualify a rise to the top of Wattpad’s “What’s Hot” list. And reads aren’t like clicks; they actually convey how much engagement is being generated around the story. Wattpad readers spend an average of 30 minutes per session on the site, adding up to three-and-a-half hours each month. Because Wattpad stories come in bite-sized chunks (chapters are capped at a few mobile-sized pages) and appear across devices, they’re convenient for those in-between times: during a commute, waiting in line, or hanging out between classes. And though chapters are small, stories are ongoing—building suspense like a Dickens serial novel.
Readers can also vote for their favorite stories and comment on each chapter, giving authors the opportunity to respond. Faktor thinks established authors like Margaret Atwood come to Wattpad because of the site’s emphasis on audience interaction. “I think they’re finding out about us because we are the social network for the reading community, and they want to have a way to communicate with readers.”
Wattpad’s rapid growth is proof that young Millennials care about more than visual content. A love of the written word lives on in the hearts and minds of many.
Such engagement provides a ripe opportunity for branded content, and Wattpad is looking to expand in that direction. They’ve already found success with initial experiments. Last year, as a Valentine’s Day gift to One Direction lovers, Sony Music Group commissioned Wattpad for a fanfiction ebook. Wattpad found the ideal writer (LD Crichton) and collaborated with Sony throughout the publishing process. This Valentine’s Day, Wattpad worked with the same author and two other boy bands to launch sponsored fanfic stories. This year’s stories already have over 44,000 reads.
Wattpad has proven its potential for branded collaboration, and though Faktor won’t comment on particular upcoming projects, she says, “We’re really thinking about how different kinds of people and brands and properties can tell their story on Wattpad.” With an inviting user interface, social savvy writers, and serial storytelling, we can look forward to a new leader in the publishing world, both for individuals and brands.
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