The Internet is a social place. It’s where readers find their next book, where authors stay connected to readers, where publishers keep abreast of new voices, and industry newbies hunt for their first jobs in the field. “How to use…if you’re…” breaks down best practices for literary social corners of the Internet for different players in the publishing industry.
At BookExpo, we sat in on the panel discussion “Industry Disruption and the Future of Finding Rising Stars.” Ashleigh Gardner of Wattpad Studios, Sara Sargent of HarperCollins Children’s Books, and Lindsay Summers, Wattpad star, discussed how Wattpad works and how it can be integrated into the workflow of traditional publishing industry professionals.
So, today we’ll be looking at how industry professionals such as acquisitions editors and agents, who are tasked with finding and grooming the next great writers, can use Wattpad to stay on top of new trends and new voices.
Using Wattpad as an Acquisitions Editor or Agent
Wattpad is a great resource for staying up to date with emerging trends and finding the newest voices that are resonating with audiences. Acquisitions editors and agents can work with Wattpad’s team directly to gain data-driven insights, and can connect with Wattpad authors directly or through Wattpad’s team.
What is Wattpad?
Wattpad is a social media platform for writers and readers. With a global community of 65 million members, it is a vibrant place full of passionate readers and new voices. Most of the stories on Wattpad are geared toward young women and tend toward YA, Romance, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy, although other genres have devoted followings as well. Wattpad writers have had their serialized stories turned into books, television shows, and movies.
Wattpad writers are often Wattpad readers as well, creating a communal spirit of experimentation and enthusiasm. Readers leave comments on Wattpad stories, and can even comment on a particular sentence, showing precisely where they are having an intense reaction. Writers and readers have profiles they can use to recommend books to their followers and send messages from within Wattpad. Writers’ pages have a Conversation section for them to chat with their readers and fans.
Keep a pulse on emerging trends
Wattpad makes it easy to see who is trending, and where. You can manually browse stories by genre, and search for what’s most popular within that genre under the “Hot” tab. There, you will see a quick roundup of the most popular stories and authors within that genre. Stories also have tags created by the author, which can give an overview of the subgenres or topics that readers are gobbling up. You can browse tags by genre under the “Explore” tab in a genre category. Agents and acquisition editors can use Wattpad team’s curated lists, including The Featured List and Up and Coming, as resources. Checking in on the most popular trends on Wattpad offers early understanding about what kinds of stories this massive reading community is clamoring for, and whose voice is resonating.
Find new voices
Wattpad stars have worked with traditional publishers to turn their serialized stories into novels. When authors bring their viral Wattpad stories to the traditional publishing market, they are not only bringing proven content, they are bringing their audience with them, too. Oftentimes, the traditionally-published book may be edited so thoroughly that the Wattpad audience is excited to see how this well-loved story has been revised, and the readers are able to enjoy both versions. For example, even though St. Martin’s Press acquired rights to White Stag (Permafrost #1), the story will stay up on Wattpad indefinitely. The Wattpad landing page even has a pre-order link to the St. Martin’s Press publication.
Access Wattpad’s Data
Agents and acquisition editors can work with Wattpad directly through Wattpad Studios to find authors who would be good fits for their lists. Through Wattpad Insights, publishing industry insiders can subscribe to trend reports with both data and analysis about which genres, themes, and subjects are causing a stir on the platform. Publishers including Sourcebooks, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and HarperCollins are already working with Wattpad Studios.
New technologies often disrupted business-as-usual, and the relationship between writers and publishing industry gatekeepers, like agents and acquisitions editors, is no exception. Poets like Rupi Kaur gained traction on Instagram before signing with Andrews McMeel, and literary agents are giving advice on Twitter. Wattpad is a part of that disruption, but rather than fear this new iteration of viral, serialized reading, agents and acquisition editors can embrace this tool to find their newest authors.