Wattpad is an online platform for writers from all communities to post user-generated stories. What started as a public book domain quickly took the world by storm in 2011 when it hit one million users. Now, Wattpad Studios is merging with the entertainment industry to produce Wattpad stories for print and film.
The original idea behind the platform was to create a space for readers to come together to read and discuss a variety of novels from all over the world. Ivan Yuen, one of the creators of Wattpad alongside Allen Lau, said, “before the iPhone, before Kindle and before the rise of ebooks and self publishing, there was Wattpad.” Wattpad was built on the idea of creating free novels to share with the world and allowing people everywhere the opportunity to communicate about books.
Now, Wattpad Premium has joined the initiative as “an enhanced, subscription-based version of Wattpad” that highlights an ad-free space. Other perks of Premium include the ability to download stories when the user is offline, receiving bonus coins when purchasing a coin package, and customizable Wattpad themes. The idea that Wattpad is free and accessible for everyone has been extremely appealing to users since it first launched, and now my question is why? The founders of the website believe the better question to ask is how do we create a program that still “monetarily supports writers”?
The answer is simple: the Watty Awards. Through a lengthy judging system that not only takes into account fanbase, but also has specific teams that analyze the success of a story, the Watty Awards are titles and prizes that stories win based on different categories and genres.The Watty Awards have developed hand-in-hand with Wattpad Next—the newest name for the Paid Stories Program—and Wattpad Studios, the entertainment imprint of the company. Now, in addition to claiming victory of a Watty Award, these writers also qualify for payment, publication with Wattpad Books, and the possibility of a screen adaptation with Wattpad Studios.
Allen Lau wrote a blog post in 2016 called “The Master Plan,” where he outlined Wattpad’s once simple plan to revolutionize how society connects through stories. He goes on to talk about how even though reading has grown as an experience over the years “at its core, Wattpad is more than reading and writing—it’s entertainment,” thus promoting the newest branch of their company, Wattpad Studios, led by Aron Levitz.
One thing Wattpad consistently advocates for is the importance of storytelling. With the help of their Story DNA Machines and Story Insights, Levitz believes that they will be able to “easily spot the voices that resonate with audiences around the world and the stories that have an established fan base. Wattpad Studios will help industry executives make smarter decisions, faster.” This idea ties into another one of the company’s goals: to take the least amount of risk that they can. Wattpad Studios has different divisions within it—Wattpad Stars, Wattpad Words, Wattpad Presents, and Wattpad Insights—and each imprint focuses on their own initiatives, ranging from connecting to publishers and network producers, to utilizing their already successful writers and discovering the next best writer with trend reports. Lau thinks that Wattpad Studios as a whole “will also help shape the future of community and data-driven entertainment,” furthering the influence that the company currently holds, and has the possibility of holding, against traditional publishers and film production companies.
With all of the different imprints and visions that make Wattpad what it is, the Wattpad website decided to change its slogan from “Stories You’ll Love” to “Where Stories Live” in March 2019, therefore furthering their growing grasp on the idea of storytelling.What once started as a public book domain soon turned into a multi-media, world-building phenomenon.