The Master Plan

The following post is written by Wattpad Co-founder and CEO Allen Lau.

I wish I had written a blog post like the one you’re about to read when Ivan and I first started Wattpad 10 years ago. Although we shared our plan numerous times in bits and pieces, it was scattered across the internet, and very few people outside of the company had the complete picture.  

The First 10 Years

Our plan was actually quite simple. We wanted to revolutionize how people discover, share, and connect through stories. Here’s how we did it:

  1. We created a reading app for the RAZR and other feature phones using public domain classic books to attract our first group of users.
  2. We leveraged the growing audience to attract our first group of writers who would share original stories on Wattpad. We created direct connections between these writers and readers around the world.
  3. We established new, disruptive ways for writers to earn money, and for Wattpad to generate revenue, once the community reached critical mass.

Ivan and I believed people would read and write on devices that they would carry with them all the time. But when we launched Wattpad in 2006, we were missing two crucial elements that didn’t quite exist at the time: smartphones and the mobile internet. Serendipitously, the iPhone launched in 2007, the App Store followed in 2008, and soon after Android devices grew in popularity. Decreasing data costs allowed more people to access the mobile internet, and the rest is history.

Ten years later, the Wattpad community has over 45 million monthly users, with over 2.3 million writers who’ve shared 15 million chapters in the last 30 days alone. If we print these stories on paper, every two weeks we would create a stack of stories as tall as Mount Everest. Today, Wattpad has more writers and content than the entire publishing industry.

Wattpad is one of the fastest-growing and most-engaging platforms in the world. Because of Wattpad, people are reading and writing more than ever. Reports of the death of reading are grossly exaggerated. Reading just looks a lot different today. It’s a social and interactive experience, not the solitary pursuit it once was.

But at its core, Wattpad is more than reading and writing — it’s entertainment. Wattpad Studios brings popular stories to life in other formats. Hundreds of Wattpad stories have become blockbuster movies, hit TV series, and bestselling books. Our native ads help brands reach consumers around the world with entertaining and engaging stories that don’t interrupt the experience they’ve come to know and love on Wattpad.

What’s more, we’ve established programs like Wattpad Stars and Wattpad Futures to help creators make money. And we’ve changed millions of lives in the process.

For the most part, we have achieved what we set out to do 10 years ago. So what’s next?

Wattpad is Entertainment

A decade after we launched, it’s obvious that we’re not just building an app or a community. We’re building a global, multiplatform entertainment company. We have ambitious – and achievable – goals for the next 10 years. Before I share our plans for the future, let’s take a look at how the entertainment industry operates right now.

When it comes to making a movie, here are the steps it would likely take:

  1. A producer or studio executive finds a story they like. They will run it by one or two more people before they spend the money to turn it into a script.
  2. After a whole lot of back and forth between script writers, producers, and executives, the studio ends up with a script they like. They show it to a few more people before the story gets a thumbs up. Initial production begins.
  3. A sizzle reel is created and gets shown to a few more people at the studio. Sometimes, it’s also shown to a focus group of 20 people. If the outcome is good, the movie and its million dollar budget is green-lit.

The process above is inherently inefficient. Only a handful of people need to buy into an idea before millions of dollars are invested into a project. No one really knows if people will show up at the theater and actually enjoy the movie. There’s no solid evidence to show that the movie will be a success. Right now, the entertainment industry operates on hunches and gut instincts.  

It’s the same for new media companies like Netflix. Sure, they have a lot of data about content already produced so they know what genres work. But creating new content? It’s the same old process. Similarly, other forms of storytelling – television shows, web series, books, narrative-driven games, fiction podcasts, etc. – all follow the same linear process that’s been around for a century.

Entertainment is a hit-based industry, and most projects fail because the process is broken.

Reinventing the Industry

Wattpad is where the world’s stories live. With over 300 million original stories already shared, and over a million more added each week, Wattpad has the largest collection of original content. Not only do we have a ton of stories, we have a lot of amazing stories with built-in fan bases.

I can guarantee the next big hit is already on Wattpad. Every day we collect over 1 billion data events based on what the global Wattpad community is searching for, reading, and engaging with. Our data tells us which parts of a story generate the most intense reaction from the community and the specific genres certain demographics prefer. With our data we can significantly improve the success rate of projects as Wattpad stories are brought to life on other platforms. We can do this because we’ve put the control back in the hands of the audience. They decide what’s popular and what resonates.

That’s why major entertainment companies around the world have partnered with Wattpad to co-produce popular stories for other platforms. We’ve worked with leading companies like Turner, Universal Cable Productions (a division of NBCUniversal), Paramount Pictures, Simon & Schuster, and many others. This year alone three New York Times bestsellers originated on Wattpad. We helped our partner TV5 in the Philippines increase their ratings by 30 percent with Wattpad Presents, the No. 1 teen television show in the country. We have many more exciting partnerships to announce shortly.

What’s Next for Wattpad?

But back to the original question: What’s next?

We are going to leverage our data, technology, and community to revolutionize how content is created and how people are entertained.

Without giving it all away, here’s what we plan to do.

#1 – Leverage machine learning to discover more great stories

Millions of new stories are shared on Wattpad every month. The community does an incredible job of finding the stories they love. As machine learning advances, we will be able to identify the next Harry Potter before anyone else and even help the story gain traction among the community. Machine learning can also help writers improve the quality of their stories. The community will teach the machine, and in turn, the machine will help us accelerate the success of creators in the community.  

#2 – Revolutionize how traditional entertainment is produced

It’s getting harder and harder to manufacture original mega-hits. While gross box office revenue in the U.S. was up by five percent last year, only two out of 20 movies made were original stories. On the TV side, Hollywood produced more shows than ever last year, but a whopping 75 percent were canceled after the first season. That’s a lot of money and effort wasted.

It’s a challenging time for the entertainment industry. There’s an endless supply of content available, both user-generated and professionally produced. Streaming services with personalized content continue to grow. The control of distribution channels is rapidly changing, too. The entire industry is under a lot of pressure to remain competitive and limit declining sales and tune-in. Wattpad will revolutionize the traditional production model by leveraging our proprietary data and community insights. This will enable us to zero-in on stories with the highest engagements much faster to ultimately co-produce the next big hit.

#3 – Create new forms of entertainment

In the past few years, smartphones have become even more capable and mobile internet has become affordable, lightning-fast, and ubiquitous. Today everyone has a powerful entertainment device that they carry with them all the time that can stream content across all formats – video, audio, images, and of course, text. Similarly, with the help of Apple TV and Chromecast, the television itself has become a streaming device where producers can distribute their content directly. Next generation entertainment devices such as Amazon Echo, VR, Spectacles by Snap, and others, create multiple opportunities for us. We will expand the Wattpad experience to platforms likes these to create new ways for the world to share stories and discover original entertainment.

#4 – Distribute Wattpad stories across all formats, on multiple platforms

As we build up a library of content across multiple formats, we will distribute this library of content both directly on Wattpad and indirectly through various partnerships. This will build on what we’re already doing through Wattpad Studios. Soon, even more Wattpad stories will be available in multiple media formats and distributed and monetized across multiple platforms.

With our technology, data, and community-driven approach to entertainment, we represent the future of the multi-billion dollar industry.  Our vision is to entertain and connect the world through stories, and we are well on our way.

So, in short, our master plan is:

  1. Discover more great stories
  2. Turn these stories into great movies, TV shows, print books, etc.
  3. Create new forms of entertainment based on these stories
  4. Distribute and monetize them on and off Wattpad, earn money for storytellers

One more thing. Although not part of this master plan, at some point we will build theme parks in Orlando, Anaheim, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Toronto and Mars. Hey, Mickey Mouse: The next Disney is coming.

Popular Fantasy Trilogy White Stag to be Published by St. Martin’s Press

We’re thrilled to share that Wattpadder Kara Barbieri is the latest storyteller to have their work acquired by a major publisher! Twenty-year-old Kara – or Pandean as she’s known in the Wattpad community – has written the wildly popular White Stag trilogy, which some people have described as “Twilight meets Game of Thrones.” Wednesday Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, announced yesterday that they acquired the world rights to the trilogy and publication is planned for Fall 2018.

“I think I’m still in shock,” says Kara of the life-changing news. “I’ve been a writer for most of my life, and always wanted to be a published author. I can’t believe it’s finally happening, all because I shared my story on Wattpad.”

White Stag follows a seventeen-year-old girl who was captured from her village to live in the brutally beautiful Permafrost as a servant to Goblins. Outliving most, she finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover secrets to find the truth about who she is and the world that has become her home. The Permafrost Series has accumulated over 375,000 reads and Kara is currently serializing the second book in the series, Goblin King.

“White Stag is the story of someone who learns that being vulnerable doesn’t make you less strong. The main character goes through a series of traumatic events, but learns how to heal and overcome her past by letting people into her life,” explains Kara. “The story’s resonated with so many people, in so many different ways. And that’s exactly why I write – to reach others with my words.”

Kara joined Wattpad in October of last year and began sharing White Stag with the global community immediately. Soon after, the story became one of the most popular works in the Fantasy category. In fact, the Wattpad community has spent 6.5 times more hours reading White Stag than they have spent reading any of the other top 1000 fantasy stories on Wattpad! Like all popular writers on Wattpad, Kara regularly engages with readers on Wattpad and has even hosted a White Stag contest for die-hard fans.

If you just can’t wait to read White Stag in print, read it now on Wattpad and see for yourself why so many people around the world have fallen in love with Kara’s fantastical story.

For over a decade, Wattpad has inspired and connected people through stories. Along the way, we’ve changed the lives of people in the community, and Kara is the latest example. Congratulations, Kara – we’re so excited for you!

Happy Birthday Wattpad!

Wattpad 10th Anniversary Banner

This month we’re celebrating Wattpad’s 10th birthday! It’s an incredible milestone for us at HQ, and a chance to reflect on the impact we’ve made on storytelling around the world.

In many ways, Wattpad has reinvented storytelling for the modern age. Product features like inline commenting, embedded multimedia, and writer analytics are some of the ways we’ve changed how the world engages with stories. In other ways, Wattpad takes people back to the roots of storytelling — community.

Before the advent of the printing press, we shared stories in caves, over campfires, and in town squares. People gathered around stories, and audiences and storytellers were always connected in real-time. More than 500 years after the invention of the printing press, Wattpad creates direct connections between the world’s readers and writers once again. No other company has done this on such a massive, global scale.

Today, Wattpad connects over 45 million people with stories that can’t be found anywhere else. A decade ago, though, Wattpad was just an idea scribbled on the back of a napkin.

In 2006 co-founders Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen met at the Vancouver International Airport to talk about a mobile reading experience they envisioned. They noticed the growing popularity of user-generated content and the rise of social platforms. They saw the increasing capability of mobile devices and the ever-expanding reach of the internet, and believed that in the near future, people would use their phones to read on-the-go.

They were right. Today, more than 90 percent of Wattpad’s traffic comes from mobile devices. Not only do people read on their phones, but they also write novels and design book covers.

Wattpad makes it easy for anyone, anywhere in the world to share a story wherever inspiration strikes. The open nature of the platform encourages diverse voices and views. While the community shares stories that reflect popular culture and common tropes, we also see thousands of stories every day that feature characters and plots that are underrepresented in mainstream media. On Wattpad, people gather around the content and conversations that matter to them and find communities through stories.

Unlike other social platforms where trolling is rampant, we’re proud that Wattpad is recognized for being one of the most positive places on the internet. It’s a supportive environment where storytellers hone their skills, build an audience, and even get paid for doing what they love. For audiences, Wattpad is where they return day after day because they see themselves in the stories they read. People make lifelong friends and create life-changing connections on Wattpad.

With the launch of Wattpad Studios earlier this year, we hope to change even more lives around the world. Wattpad Studios will bring the best, most-engaging Wattpad stories to a larger audience. We’re co-producing movies, television, and digital series, and publishing books with partners in the traditional entertainment industry. Wattpad started as a reading and writing app, but over the last 10 years, we’ve cemented ourselves in the entertainment space. Every day, more people fall in love with Wattpad stories, wherever the discover them through the app, on their bookshelves, or on the screen.

So what does the next 10 years hold for us at HQ and across the global community? Time will tell, but we’re pretty pumped to reveal some exciting announcements and partnerships on this blog very soon. In the meantime, we want to send a heartfelt thank you to every reader, writer, and partner who has supported our incredible journey. Cheers to 10 years, and many, many, more great moments to come!

Congratulations to the 2016 Watty Award Winners

The Wattys set record engagement with 140,000 entries and 13 billion minutes spent

Wattpad has hosted The Wattys since 2010, and today it is the world’s largest online writing contest. With a whopping 140,000 entries submitted, the 2016 edition of The Wattys has smashed engagement records and almost doubled the number of submissions compared to last year.

This year, Wattpad accepted submissions in more languages than ever and brought on a regional sponsor in the Philippines through fastfood giant Jollibee. New categories like Trailblazer and Visual Storytelling also spurred unique creativity on Wattpad.

Winners of these categories include comics like The Free Willies and screenplays like The Other Worlders. Today, you can check out all the winners of this massive global celebration.

“The Watty’s is a writing contest like no other. It’s a chance for storytellers of all levels to get recognition from a global audience,” said Marc. “The Wattpad community is obsessed with the annual competition and has spent 13 billion minutes reading and engaging with this year’s submissions.”

Thanks to the Wattpad community and the behind the scenes hustle of multiple teams at Wattpad, a new batch of Watty award winning stories are ready to enjoy across multiple languages.

Please join us in congratulating the 2016 Watty Award winners by checking out their stories here!

ZAYN Shares Exclusive Content on Wattpad

Today, global superstar ZAYN is giving Wattpad’s community an exclusive sneak peek of his first autobiography self-titled Zayn prior to the official book release on November 1. ZAYN’s profile on Wattpad features exclusive excerpts, including ZAYN’s thoughts on fan culture, fandom, and images. Wattpad is the only place fans can get this content ahead of the book release!

Wattpad is where people connect over the things they love. ZAYN is adored by many of Wattpad’s 45 million users – collectively they’ve already shared 190,000 stories inspired by him and his music. They’ve also spent almost 17 million minutes spent reading Zayn fanfiction stories since January 2015.

Now, his biggest fans have a chance to read some of his thoughts and inspiration on Wattpad ahead of the book release. In Zayn, the musician shares a photographic journey of his life. He opens up with a collection of thoughts, inspirations, personal stories, notes and drawings, and never-before-seen personal photographs.

The international sensation has this to say about his autobiography: “I’m going to show you as much as I can so that you can judge me on my own terms, not on what the press or anyone else says.”

ZAYN is among the many famed artists turning to Wattpad to provide content for fans. Stars like Amy Poehler, Tyler Oakley and Grace Helbig have provided stories, video content and exclusive material for the global community.

Zayn by ZAYN will be published in hardback on November 1st. Pre-order your copy, here.

Ten Wattpad Writers Get Their Fairy Tale Ending

Ten Wattpad writers had their publishing dreams come true today with the release of Once Upon Now, an anthology of remixed fairy tales. The book is an exclusive collection of ten new modern tales, each with a fantastical twist. Once Upon Now is on sale now in Target stores and online.

Once Upon Now Cover

The stories are written by winners of the #OnceUponNow contest hosted by Target, in partnership with Wattpad and Gallery Books. In the anthology, Rapunzel is homeschooled in a high-rise apartment, and Sleeping Beauty is the victim of a rare medical syndrome. Classic tales like Princess & the Pea, Pinocchio, and other favorites are reimagined in the book.

Once Upon Now features the work of some of the most beloved Wattpad writers, including:

To celebrate the release, we’re giving away five copies of Once Upon Now signed by the authors. To enter, follow us on Snap and share a photo of you dressed up as your favorite fairy tale character. Full contest details will be available on Snapchat.

Wattpad's Snapchat QR Code

The #OnceUponNow contest launched in the spring and quickly became one of the most popular contests on Wattpad. The Wattpad community voted on their favorites remixed tales, and then a team of editors at Gallery Books curated 10 of the most inventive and popular stories for the published book.

Wattpad Named CIX 2016 ‘Innovator of the Year’ Recipient

Toronto-based company wins award for transforming entertainment industry

The Canadian Innovation Exchange announced today that Wattpad one of Canada’s fastest growing companies, has been named CIX 2016 Innovator of the Year.

Wattpad has transformed the relationship between readers and content and this has caught the attention of Hollywood as a key marketing tool for movies. In June, Wattpad announced a deal with Turner to help generate ideas for shows on Turner networks, starting with the upcoming Tales from the Crypt revival.

“We are building the next major entertainment giant right here in Canada,” said Allen Lau, CEO and co-founder of Wattpad. “To accept this award in our tenth year as a company is a truly humbling experience that validates the work we do to transform how people around the world create and share stories.”

The CIX Innovator of the Year award is given annually to a Canadian firm that disrupts and transforms an industry in profound ways. The award is given to companies who represent the best in Canadian business and who are at the cutting edge in their categories. Past recipients of the Innovator of the Year Award have included Desire2Learn, Vision Critical and Shopify.

Golden Venture Partners and OMERS Ventures are investors in Wattpad and share in the excitement of this award.

“Storytelling hasn’t been the same since Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen launched Wattpad. When we first invested in the company in 2011, we were impressed with their vision of how mobile would reshape the way people share and tell stories.” said Matt Golden, Managing Director, Golden Venture Partners. “Five years later, they’ve delivered on that vision and more. Today, Wattpad stories grace every screen – mobile, television, and movie. We’re thrilled Wattpad is being recognized by CIX for the innovative company we know it is.”

“Wattpad has transformed the storytelling experience for millions of people. Wattpad connects storytellers and audiences around the world, and is now changing how the global entertainment industry discovers and produces content,” said Jim Orlando, Managing Director at OMERS Ventures. “We are very proud to be an investor in Wattpad.”

The CIX is a leading technology innovation destination where investors, innovative companies, entrepreneurs and facilitators converge to drive economic growth and accelerate the development and implementation of new ideas.

This forum attracts the key players behind Canada’s innovative technology products and services in order to learn from each other, meet and pursue customer and investment relationships, and encourage the development of innovative technology that will be an integral part of Canada’s economic growth. It is where deals happen. The CIX Top 20 Program curates the hottest new innovative companies among hundreds of applications each year and the CEO showcase their innovation at CIX. Wattpad was selected as a CIX Top 20 company in 2011.

At CIX on November 22nd, Allen Lau, CEO and Co-Founder of Wattpad, will accept the award on behalf of Wattpad and share his story and insight.

300 Million Story Uploads and One Big Thanks

That’s right. On Wattpad, over 300 million story uploads have been shared to-date. That number’s more than five times larger than the New York Public Library’s entire catalog and almost double that of the Library of Congress.

At Wattpad, we know that everyone has a story to share. It’s why we support over 50 languages and connect storytellers and audiences from virtually every country in the world.

We also understand how challenging and nerve-racking it can be to share your first story. So, to the millions of people who actively post on Wattpad every month, we’d like to say thank you and congratulations! Together, we’ve tripled the amount of uploads available in February of 2015.

You’ve created inspiring communities for body positivity, co-written fiction with YouTube celebrities, and of course, let your fandom flags fly! We’ve also come a long way since the earliest versions of Wattpad to provide an app that works on almost every mobile device.

Wattpad Product Family

Every month 45 million people discover, comment, and share the stories available on Wattpad. For over 15 billion minutes, our global community connects with original stories they love. Thanks to the storytellers of the world, those numbers are only going up!

If you’re a storyteller hoping to contribute to the growing catalogue of stories on Wattpad, check out these great classes from some of our Wattpad Stars.

 

Writers Can Earn Cash With In-Story Ads on Wattpad

New Wattpad Futures program helps writers increase their earning potential

Wattpad writers come from all walks of life. They’re bestselling authors who want to connect with new and existing fans, aspiring novelists who want to build their audience, and casual writers who share stories for fun. Every month, more than 2.3 million writers on Wattpad devote countless hours to writing, editing, and engaging with readers from around the globe. They have many dreams, but share a common goal: to entertain the world with their stories.

At Wattpad, we see and understand the effort put into their stories every day. We also recognize that making money from writing can be difficult – especially for online writers. That’s why, today, we’ve launched the Wattpad Futures program, a simple way for writers to increase their earning potential.

Through the Wattpad Futures program, interested writers can supplement their income with little effort. The program helps writers earn money by inserting ads between chapters of their Wattpad story. Every time a reader views an ad, the writer earns money.

“The dynamic Wattpad community is unlike any other social platform. It’s the interconnected community of storytellers and audiences that makes the Wattpad Futures program a viable income source for writers,” said Wattpad’s Co-Founder and CEO Allen Lau. “Readers have always encouraged their favorite storytellers with messages, comments, and votes. Now, they can support Wattpad writers in a way that increases the writer’s income, without having to pay out of pocket.”

Mock up of ad page

The program also allows advertisers to leverage the influence and reach of storytellers to connect with millions of engaged, mobile-first millennials and generation Z in the global Wattpad community. In-story ads are placed strategically in chapter breaks of some of the most popular stories on the platform to optimize reader engagement and meet advertisers’ brand objectives including views, clicks, awareness, and favorability.

Wattpad is home to fresh voices and content that can’t be found anywhere else. We want to encourage writers of all levels to share original content that inspires and entertains the Wattpad community of more than 45 million people. The new Wattpad Futures program builds on the existing tools, programs, and unique paths to monetization we’ve created for online writers like Brand Stories and the Wattpad Stars program. We’re proud to help Wattpad writers earn money doing what they love.

Share Your Favorite Wattpad Quotes on Facebook

Social promo image

You may have noticed a growing trend on your social media feed. Today’s audiences share #Shelfies, watch BookTubers, and post screenshots of articles and novels everywhere online. Some argue that the books we display and quotes we share show people who we are.

Wattpad’s team wants storytellers and their audiences to do just that. Starting today you can use Wattpad’s new Facebook Quote Plugin to show people who you are by sharing what you’re reading.

When our team revamped our Quote Art feature last year, it opened up a new way for people to share the words that inspire them straight from their mobile phone.

Today, Anyone who visits Wattpad on their desktop’s web browser can share quotes directly to Facebook. Wattpad’s new Facebook Quote Plugin helps people quickly share highlighted text with friends, family, and followers.

The new Facebook feature allows you to highlight up to 500 characters in a Wattpad story and share it in a way that respects a writer’s intellectual property. If you’re trying to foster support for your favourite writer or story during the 2016 Wattys awards, this new feature can help get that story in front of more people in your network.

To try out this new feature, open a Wattpad story on your desktop browser, highlight your favorite passage, and hit share to Facebook! You can review the full how-to guide, here.