Do you Wattpad?

Well, do you? If so, I hope you saw this piece today from Publishers Weekly on YA author Brittany Geragotelis and her novel Life’s a Witch.

Evidently, Geragotelis has gotten 13 million readers (yes, million) for her serialized novel on Wattpad, the on-line writing community where writers can post portions of their work for fun and feedback. Hence she’s decided to self-publish it, rather than go with a traditional publisher. And according to PW, Geragotelis is basically counting on fan involvement and support to translate into sales. As she says, “When people become fans of the book, they would ask me if they could buy a copy to give to friends and family. They become champions for the book. I’m the same way when I read something I like, I want something tangible.”

Will it work? I have to say, I’m inherently skeptical about people spending money on things they can get on-line for free. And I wonder, too, about targeting those same 13 million readers for sales—despite her fans’ pledges of allegiance, how many will actually pony up for something they’ve already read? And even if they do, will that actually break the book out into the general reading public? To me, this feels different from the other self-publishing stars, because so far the book has been taken up only by a single community, and while it’s a big one, it might not play in Peoria—or whatever the Amazon equivalent might be.

Then again, Wattpad’s model of serialization and fan involvement gives readers a bigger stake in the content than, say, a band posting its new album on its own website. So I can see readers feeling like they want the finished product, not only for themselves but to show off to others something they had some small part in. And if readers do pass it along—well, there are certainly any number of publishing success stories that grew out of grassroots word-of-mouth campaigns, especially in YA (Hello, Bella, hiya Katniss).

Obviously, this story is just beginning, and I’ll be very curious to see how it goes. But back to the original question—have any of you posted on Wattpad? If so, any stories to share? Has anything you’ve written translated into interest outside of the Wattpad community?

7 Responses to Do you Wattpad?

  1. Josin says:

    This doesn’t sound much different from people with large fanfiction fan-bases banking on them following over. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. It’s easy to grab a large pool of followers when things are free, but the indicator is the much smaller number who asked for paid copies.

  2. Catherine Whitney says:

    Overall, I’m unimpressed with Wattpad. As a nonfiction author, I’m especially gagging at the nonfiction entries. They’re pretty terrible. I do support the idea of everyone writing. However, the cream in the marketplace still rises in fairly conventional ways. And professional writers, grounded in love, ultimately need to be paid.

  3. Julie says:

    Wattpad reminds me of Figment. I think it’s an interesting way for aspiring writers to show off their work and get feedback. As far as the huge fan base, it could work or not work in the writer’s favor.

    I certainly wouldn’t buy the same book I just read for free. However, if I like the author’s style, voice, characters, world-building, etc…then I might go purchase one of their books that wasn’t free. Is Ms. Geragotelis thinking: hey, maybe I can translate those 13 million plus people into 13 million plus dollars in my pocket by going the self-pub route? I don’t know if that would necessarily work. Yes, Amanda Hocking was able to accomplish that, but I don’t believe she was on Wattpad.

    Ms. Geragotelis has to remember those 13 million plus people are reading her stuff for…free. It doesn’t necessarily mean they liked her work. If they do (kudos to her) and it’s awesome and fabulous…then if it were me I’d go the traditional route. I’d state in my query letter I have 13 million plus readers of my work of Wattpad and I’m interested in having the agent read my sample pages or chapter.

  4. I don't get it ... says:

    How can the number 13 million possibly be right? Wouldn’t she and her book be a cultural phenomenon if that number were accurate? It’s way beyond the number of readers of many of the best-known New York Time’s Bestsellers.And if she were that successful, I find it hard to believe agents and publishers wouldn’t be pursuing her a la Amanda Hawking. I just think something is off here.

  5. So how grassroots was Twilight and Hunger Games? I’d thought that they were both PW “major deal” six figure extravaganzas.

  6. Andrea says:

    I thought that publishers are not interested if (part of) a work is already published (including making it freely available on the internet). Not sure if that´s completely true (it could be the reason why she´s going to self-publish), but I don´t want to ruin my chances of publishing in the ´traditional´ way so I have never put anything online.

  7. Jean says:

    I don’t understand how she can have 13 million readers if Wattpad only has 1 million registered users.

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