Wattpad in Asia: Singapore’s Mediacorp at APOS; Manila’s Pasion-Flores at Anvil

In News by Porter Anderson

Amid Wattpad’s April shower of deal announcements, Singapore’s Mediacorp signs on for screen development, and the Philippines’ Andrea Pasion-Flores talks about Anvil’s new co-produced imprint.

From Mediacorp’s Toggle platform site. Image: StarAwards

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘A Nation’s Literature Holds Up a Mirror’ 
In yet another of this month’s furious round of announcements about significant new partnerships with Canada’s Wattpad, Singapore’s content creator and streaming platform Mediacorp has today (April 23) announced a deal to develop the work of Singaporean Wattpad writers for national and international audiences.

The new deal was announced in Bali, where the APOS 2019 trade show has opened today and runs through Thursday (April 25) with sponsorship from many major players in the field including BBC Studios, Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Disney, and Sony Pictures Television—which announced its own partnership with Wattpad on April 17, as Publishing Perspectives reported.

Mediacorp’s digital entertainment platform is called Toggle, and the Singapore company anticipates adapting scripted series and films for it as we as for its free-to-air platforms.

Local competitions are expected to be held by the two companies to solicit new work from Singapore’s writing community .

In a prepared statement, Mediacorp CEO Tham Loke Kheng is quoted, saying, “This partnership again demonstrates Mediacorp’s commitment to reinvigorating our content and formats and innovating the very way we source stories.

“A nation’s literature holds up a mirror for people to see themselves and what binds them. With Wattpad, writers and readers congregate and give voice to one another. Readers share their insights, comments and ideas with writers, while writers reveal the collective soul of a nation through their writing.

“Singapore stories have much to offer to our society, and we aim to uplift them from written word to national screens.”Tham Loke Kheng

“Singapore stories have much to offer to our society, and we aim to uplift them from written word to national screens.”

And for Wattpad Studios, the busy Hong Kong-based Asian lead, Derek Ong, is quoted, saying, “We’ve created a new model for discovering stories and bringing them to screens, unlocking a world of possibilities for storytelling in every format.

“With our data-driven approach to entertainment we’re able to identify new voices and bring their stories to audiences … creating opportunities for Singaporean storytellers.”

More on the Anvil-Wattpad Deal from Andrea Pasion-Flores

Publishing Perspectives readers will recall that Wattpad has recently announced another new Asian partnership in its deal with Manila’s Anvil Publishing for the creation of Bliss Books, a new jointly created YA imprint.

Andrea Pasion-Flores

Anvil Publishing’s general manager Andrea Pasion-Flores now tells us that the idea for Bliss Books began at last year’s Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, the 2019 edition of which opens on Wednesday (April 24).

Pasion-Flores says she was introduced to Wattpad’s Ong, Pasion-Flores says, “who flies in from Hong Kong to check on the Philippines market, meet authors, talk to TV5 Manila, and other partners.

“We’ve been emailing and speaking on WhatsApp for some time, ironing out the terms of the contract for a few months.”

By the time she met with Ashleigh Gardner, the company’s deputy general manager for Wattpad Studios, at London Book Fair in March, she says, “it was already a done deal.”

Pasion-Flores says she anticipates producing between 20 and 25 titles per year in the Bliss Books imprint with Wattpad, with a strong reliance on Anvil’s deep market penetration for distribution.

“Anvil has a very strong presence in National Book Store,  a sister company,” Pasion-Flores says. “We’ll have in-store collateral materials, not usually done for our other titles. We also have a dedicated marketing team, which not many other local publishers have. So we’re very strong in social media.

“Even before we planned the announcement, we reserved our social media channels and thought of book-signing events. We’re looking at events for author meet-ups—literary festivals, the book fairs—building a community around Bliss readers who seem to be warm to exclusive deals and such.

“Also, these titles will be distributed in other book stores,” she says, “and on local online shopping platforms such as Shoppee and Lazada.”

As has been the rule in most book-publication partnerships with Wattpad, Pasion-Flores says, the original editions of Bliss Books will remain on the big platform with its 70+ million monthly users even after the Anvil Bliss Books editions are released.

“The phenomenal thing is that the content’s presence on the platform doesn’t seem to affect the print sales.  Our print editions will be cleaned up editorially, but we won’t be lopping off chapters, for example, as readers don’t like that. So far, there’s been a close collaboration between our team and the authors for the first few titles that will be coming out next month.”

Pasion-Flores says that most of the titles for this year’s first list from Bliss Books have been chosen.

And she makes the point that what she and her staffers at Anvil are doing is widening the base of Philippines-born content from Wattpad to a wider body of work than the blockbusters alone.

“We’ll have in-store collateral materials, not usually done for our other titles. We also have a dedicated marketing team, which not many other local publishers have.”Andrea Pasion-Flores

“In addition to the blockbusters,” she says, referring to the stories that draw millions of reads on the Wattpad platform, “we’re looking for the other voices on the platform that tell good stories, too.

“We’ve picked up one author,” for example, “whose following is not in the record-breaking millions, but we suspect that he’ll do fairly well, anyway.

“Also, Anvil has signed up unknown authors in the past and we’re not afraid to do so to give variety to our lists.

“We’re happy to have a look at new and emerging authors on the platform to give them an even broader audience.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on Wattpad is here, more from us on the Philippines is here, and on Singapore is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.