Nina Lassam works at Wattpad, the ‘the world’s most popular eBook community’. Today I’ve asked her to share on the platform – what it is, how it works, and how you may benefit from it.
The way I often explain Wattpad to people who are not familiar with who we are or how we fit into web fiction, is that Wattpad is “YouTube for eBooks + Facebook/Twitter for Authors”. The content on Wattpad is user generated by writers who range from teenaged hobbyists to self-published authors to established writers looking to promote and market their work to a targeted reading community.
Over 10 millions readers and writers visit Wattpad every month, spending half an hour each visit with an average of two visits a day. Like the viral videos that dominate the YouTube homepage, many writers can claim outstanding success with millions of reads and thousands of comments from fans who use Wattpad to find new works to read.
Where Wattpad has shown to be very different from YouTube is in the community-minded nature of the site. A reader comments on a story once every seven seconds on Wattpad, and writers and readers engage in discussions, provide feedback and recommend other works on the site.
There’s an App for That
One of the most common ways people find Wattpad is through their mobile phones. Wattpad is consistently among the top eReader apps in the Apple Store and BlackBerry App World. For authors who want their fiction to reach a mobile audience, Wattpad is available on over 1,000 different mobile devices and eReaders and provides a direct connection with reader.
Mobile is a large area of focus for Wattpad: we see thousands of our apps downloaded everyday and we are continuing to add more and more of the social features that are native to the website. Wattpad is not just a way to read and discover or a spot to upload fiction and poetry, but a platform that bridges both and enables authors to connect with readers in online space.
Who Uses Wattpad
The demography of Wattpad users has changed so much in the past twelve months. From a core group of young adults, we now see mature and experienced authors joining the site. The majority of members are from English speaking countries; the United States, UK, Canada and Australia and English remains the dominant language found on the site. Wattpad also sees a sizable number of readers from Asia and South America and we receive emails everyday from readers who say that Wattpad has helped their ESL skills tremendously.
Since partnering with self-publishing companies; Lulu, Smashwords, and Bubok, our presence in this community of authors has grown considerably. During the summer, we launched a program specifically for self-published writers and have opened a writing contest with literary magazine Shelf Unbound to provide self-published authors on Wattpad an opportunity for additional exposure. There is so much great fiction being self-published, but the struggle is to find readers to enjoy it. Wattpad has been able to fill an important role this way.
Wattpad Readers and Reading Online
Many times, when I talk to writers new to web fiction about using Wattpad’s social networking platform and posting their work to encourage word of mouth advertising, I find a major concern is ensuring a return on investment. If you know that you can get paid to write, it can be difficult to rationalize doing any type of writing, even casual conversations, for free.
What is important to remember and so interesting about web fiction is that online readers are also investing their time – to read what an author has written, comment, respond, and, if they like it, to recommend the work. Interacting with reading communities is a way to give back to readers while also growing a fan base and developing author loyalty.
The dynamic between readers and writers continues to change and adapt as more and more authors consider making their work electronically available. Wattpad’s place in this relationship is two fold: to host what connects both sides; namely, the literature itself and to foster online interaction between readers and writers. This second function is crucial to building the success and awareness of online authors and will continue to transform how and what we read in the digital age.
Nina Lassam has her dream job working in the Marketing Department at Wattpad. She also blogs for The Huffington Post where she writes about the changing nature of eBooks and the value of social networking for authors. You can follow her on twitter at @wattpad