By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘A Massive Readership, Passionate Fans’As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, Wattpad announced in January that it would begin publishing books, itself, from a division, Wattpad Books, led by Wattpad Studios deputy general manager Ashleigh Gardner.
Aside from the fact that the biggest of the Big Four in the UK is becoming the distributor of this new line from the Toronto-based platform, the significance in this news lies in how it defines as yet another development in Wattpad’s growing portfolio of collaborative business models. Publishing Perspectives has covered Wattpad’s progress with special attention for years and has tracked the stages of its development into a singular and now quickly intensifying
Initially, you’ll recall, Wattpad acted as an agent for some of its most successful authors, meaning those writers whose serials were drawing some of the biggest and most loyal fan bases from what is now a universe of more than 70 million active monthly users worldwide. Along the way, Wattpad also entered partnerships with corporate sponsors, using “Wattpad Stars” and other big-drawing writers to produce product-placement and other company messaging in various formats.
The next stage of development has seen publishers, as well as a fast-growing host of film and television producers and studios, working in partnership with Wattpad to surface story content for development, either as books or as screened content or both.
A new wrinkle arrived last month, when the Canadian platform announced a new arrangement with Penguin Random House India in which selected authors and content from the New Delhi-based PRH will be presented to the vast Wattpad readership, a drive to build readership for New Delhi’s books among the Wattpadders. Notice the reversal here: this is the first known instance of material moving from a publisher to the platform in order to gain some of the company’s readership.
And now, Wattpad has added a second major publisher as a distribution partner for its own new line of books, which are derived from writings on the site. It’s the second, because in the States, Big Five house Macmillan is distributing the books. (In hometown-Canada, Raincoast Books do the distribution.)
Criticized at times for an undoubted deep underbrush of incoherent jejune writings that lie below its featured user-generated hits, the company, nevertheless, in 12 years has evolved itself into a unique engine of original content for an expanding entertainment industry that demands new stories that will appeal to the largely female young adult demographic that dominates Wattpad itself.
But the core attraction in all of Wattpad’s widening array of monetization and content-development plays is the concept of the built-in audience, the sure thing, the waiting fan base already committed to a bad-boy romance or a YA paranormal romp and ready to follow it to the printed page and the nearest screen. What publishers, producers, and studios all see are those massive read numbers–millions of eyeballs for this and that title and chapter. See the list below for a look at those numbers.
‘We Hope We Can Learn Much From Each Other’
In making the announcement of the London deal today, Philipp Bartscher, strategy director at Penguin Random House UK, is quoted, saying, “Wattpad is a very active community for readers, writers and booklovers.
“Wattpad is highly innovative with its technology, marketing, and insights, particularly with regards to a young adult readership, and we hope we can learn much from each other during our collaboration.”
Francesca Dow is the managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s Books, and she’s quoted, speaking of “the standout YA novels from the millions of uploads written on the platform to the UK and other territories in the English language.
“This new publishing strand sits alongside our existing list of the very best, groundbreaking books and authors, diversifying and enriching our young adult publishing in a very exciting way.”
Speaking for Toronto, Gardner is quoted, saying, “Wattpad Books is about creating real, meaningful space for diverse voices and their stories on bookshelves, in bookstores, and in libraries.”
Gardner is familiar to many in the international publishing industry from her conference appearances and work in Wattpad’s international rights at Frankfurter Buchmesse,
“These stories already have a massive readership, with passionate fans who have spent hundreds of millions of minutes with these stories on Wattpad. We’re thrilled to work with Penguin Random House UK to bring these stories to bookshelves in the UK.”
UK and North American Release Dates
As was announced in January, the first list from Wattpad Books–the titles to be produced by PRH UK in the autumn–comprises six books. Dates follow for their release in the States and the UK. The @-handle after each author’s name in parentheses is the name by which the author is known to Wattpad readers.
The QB Bad Boy & Me by Tay Marley (@tayxwriter)
- More than 29 million reads on the Wattpad platform
- Available August 13 in North America
- Available September 17 in the UK
Trapeze by Leigh Ansell (@leigh_)
- More than 2.6 million reads
- Available September 10 in North America
- Available September 17 in the UK
What Happened That Night by Deanna Cameron (@LyssFrom1996)
- More than 1.2 million reads
- Available September 17 in both North America and the UK
Cupid’s Match by Lauren Palphreyman (@LEPalphreyman)
- More than 49.2 million reads
- Available October 1 in North America
- Available October 3 in the UK
Saving Everest by Sky Chase (@Teenagexnightmare)
- More than 19.2 million reads
- Available October 8 in North America
- Available October 10 in the UK
I’m a Gay Wizard by V.S. Santoni (@VSSantoni)
- More than 545,000 reads
- Available October 29 in North America
- Available October 31 in the UK