This spring, a student asked me if I knew about After, the One Direction fanfic “everyone was reading on Wattpad.” Then I saw Clive Thompson looking for people who were publishing on Wattpad… and I fell into the rabbit hole that is the reading/writing/commenting site.
Do you write on Wattpad? Or know anyone who does? If so, I'm interviewing folks for an article on it — email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
— Clive Thompson (@pomeranian99) June 4, 2014
After had already landed author Anna Todd a three-book deal, but that wasn’t the only interesting thing about Wattpad.
Probably not surprisingly based on its fanfiction roots, YA is especially strong on Wattpad. The influences are somewhat predictable. One young writer named daven whose “story” (as all narratives as labeled) December I particularly liked, had a profile pic featuring her with Rainbow Rowell.
But Wattpad is more than a site for sharing fan fiction. There are samples, bonus chapters, even a number of whole works on there, all formatted in mobile-friendly ways. And Wattpad has also managed to make reading comfortably social in a way that still eludes the Kindle team. It has the first really unobtrusive integrated commenting system I’ve experienced. At the end of each paragraph, a subtle notation indication the number of comments. You click through to read those.
Combine a strong content system with syncing for offline access and really good recommender algorithms, and throw in some sample chapters and bonus digital-only content, and Wattpad becomes an excellent discovery resource. I’m also looking forward to sharing the publishing possibilities with students. It packages your uploaded content in really app-friendly ways.
Wattpad recently affirmed that it would not move to a subscription model, but would seek funding through native ads. It’s first advertiser? 20th Century Fox’s The Fault in Our Stars campaign.
Outside the marketing and promotional accounts, as with any user-generated content, grammar and usage are spotty, and there are some spicy things. As the student who recommended After told me, “it’s not always appropriate.” But “ratings” assigned to content seem pretty reliable, and ample spoiler alerts are also posted.
It’s worth checking out Wattpad to add an improved, social e-reading experience to your bag of tricks.