Wattpad

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Website
Name: Wattpad
Owner/Maintainer:
Dates: 2006 - present
Type: fiction hosting, social networking, contests, and commercial venture
Fandom: N/A
URL: Wattpad official site
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Wattpad is a combination of original and fanfiction hosting, social networking, contests, and commercial/advertising venture. Wattpad is a place to read and write stories.

More than 35 million people have joined Wattpad, making it the world’s largest community of readers and writers. People use Wattpad to connect with each other while they discover and share millions of free stories. Wattpad stories are available in more than 50 languages and can be read or written from any phone, tablet, or computer. [1]

The site encourages fanfiction as equivalent to original fiction in its contests and popularity ratings. [2] As of February 2015, Wattpad dropped the MPAA rating system and categorizes all content as either for All Audiences (13+) or Mature (17+).[3] Many story contests on Wattpad, especially those run by brands, allow only All Audiences (13+) content.

With thousands of stories added each day, there’s always something you want to read. Want a story about a daughter smuggling her zombie mother to safety? Wattpad probably has it. Want a story about a time-traveling frog with super powers? We don’t have that, and we’d be happy to see you write it. Wattpad stories are free. Whether you’re online or off, use the devices you already own to carry an entire library of fanfiction wherever you go. Whether you’ve never written fanfiction before, or published multiple books, Wattpad offers benefits for writers of all levels. So join the conversation about the stories you read: message the writer and interact with other people who love a fandom as much as you. [4]

Wattpad hosts The Watty Award.

Fandoms on Wattpad

A 2013 blurb from Wattpad:
7,544,914 Fanfics were uploaded in 2013: inspired by One Direction, The Hunger Games, Supernatural, YouTube stars like Marcus Butler, Janoskians and Pewdipie, Ariana Grande, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Naruto, Avengers, Miley Cyrus, Mindless Behavior, Justin Bieber, Austin Mahone, Percy Jackson, Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson, NHL Hockey, Teen Wolf, Harry Potter, President Obama, Hetalia, Glee, The Hobbit, Thor, Minecraft, and everything else. [5]

In a 2015 statistical review, destinationtoast identified the "hottest" fandoms on Wattpad at that time, including: One Direction, 5SOS, Magcon (Vine RPF), Phandom, BTS, Kaisi Yeh Yaariyan, Dolan twins, Justin Bieber, Aphmau/Minecraft Diaries, Avengers, Dylan O'Brien, Harry Potter, Joe Sugg, Seventeen (band), Star Wars, Fifth Harmony, and Vampire Diaries.[6]

Another 2015 analysis of Wattpad fic showed 89% self-insert het and only 5% slash, with One Direction as the biggest fandom, and RPF overall representing the majority of fic content.[7] However, due to the lack of search functionality and consistent tagging on Wattpad, both analyses were done using a sample of popular fics, so results may be skewed.

Some History

Wattpad did not start out as a fanfiction place; fanfiction came to it. [8]

From the 2015 interview: What's the Deal with Wattpad?:

It was founded by two gentlemen, Ivan and Alan. [9] They had worked together at another company, and decided they were going to try something new. And it started in 2006, so that’s what, eight, nine years ago now. And it started because they wanted to read, just read, on their little candybar Nokia black-and-white ‘I look like a calculator’ phones? And that was really where it started....

In those early days, first of all, it was a mobile-only experience, which has always differentiated us, right? Even today, like 90% of our users is mobile, so if you look at the other archives out there, their mobile experiences are fan-created at best, or nonexistent on the other side. So that’s something that actually does set us apart quite a bit.

But because we started in that mobile world, it wasn’t really until you get into iPhone and Android becoming so successful that really helped to fuel our growth. I won’t say that’s the only thing. It wasn’t probably until about four years ago, a little over four years ago, you know we’re closing our first round of funding, where the growth really started to go absolutely crazy.

You saw some weird things in the early days, where our founders would sit down together—and look, like I said, when it started, it was literally only for reading, they added writing eventually—and they’d sit down together and go, “Hmmm, what should we do with this? We have, like, a thousand users, what should we do?” And then all of a sudden they go back, and they have 300,000 users in Vietnam, because the whole country—a good portion of the country flocked there as a place for free expression. And then all of a sudden it grows around the world: UK, US, we’re at 40-plus million users every month now, that span the globe. A lot of that is on the back of mobile, it’s been in increased functionality on our side, the ability for people to write their own pieces…

Because our growth happens organically, we really—it’s been almost 100% completely organic growth, meaning, you know, we’re not taking out ads places, or marketing us. We just have grown, and the reason that is is we fill the spot that wasn’t filled in the social networking universe, right? If YouTube is for video, and Soundcloud then came along, and that was for audio, there wasn’t a place for writers to really collaborate on any kind of writing. [10]
There are specific fandom archives, there are specific romance archives, there are specific sci-fi writing contests, and there’s NaNoWriMo—but there wasn’t a place for a conversation to continue around writing all the time, where stories can grow and have their own kind of ethos and gravitas to them, and that’s, I think, that’s what attributed a lot to our growth. You know, you talk about mobile and all those other things, but we really filled the need—it’s almost counter-intuitive, right? Like video was probably the hardest thing to start with ont eh interwebs. And text might’ve been easier from a technical standpoint, but we got to capture that part, which has been really quite amazing... So when our founders set out, they didn’t go, “We’re going to have one of the biggest fanfiction communities on the interwebs.” They said, “We’re going to have—we’re going to create the best place for people to share, read, write, and love stories, and storytelling.” And what we found was that fanfiction…started happening. And has grown. [11]

Regarding the Writing Process

From the 2015 interview: What's the Deal with Wattpad?:

Aron Levin: So we find that really interesting, but again, because of the nonjudgmental way Wattpad kind of treats it’s community, I think it’s a safer, almost a safer environment for people to be able to interact around new things. You know, just like some of our biggest writers started writing on Wattpad because they just felt it was safe. They’re like, ‘I can do that.’ And it wasn’t like a big deal to start writing, it’s not like you have to be…you know, the term ‘beta-ing,’ like that doesn’t really happen on Wattpad, right? You write raw. Everyone expects there to be errors, and the pronoun “you” can sometimes be one letter. That’s fine, because it’s about raw love and emotion of a topic that you want to write about. So because of even how the writing happens, because of the way it’s serialized, it really has broken down barriers for people who may be intimidated in other places, where there’s definitively hierarchies in some cases, right? Of who and what you can write, and when you can write it.

Flourish Klink: So that’s really interesting. So like, beta-ing, as an idea, and the editing process as being something that’s instantiated as a barrier for people entering fanfic fandom in some other sites, it sounds like? I hadn’t thought of that.

Aron Levin: It’s something that I’ve learned, too. Because when I used to write, that wasn’t a concept. But on our side, the editing process is an ongoing process. I mean, to the point where you can comment on specific paragraphs on Wattpad—we call it ‘inline commenting’ because we’re super fancy, it’s a clever name, right? But someone can say, ‘Oh, I love this paragraph—by the way you missed a comma.’ So it’s an ongoing process instead of—no one expects it to be perfect the day of. To the point where if you look at some of our biggest stories like “After,” which was written by this woman, Anna Todd, it was a One Direction fanfiction, has about 1.3 billion reads on Wattpad now. We helped her sign a publishing deal, that’s what she wanted to do, she had aspirations for that. It exists now, it’s a New York Times bestseller, but people still come back online to read it, it’s still there for free, because it’s such a different experience. Because it isn’t that polished, edited, published piece from Gallery Press....

Yeah, it’s definitely a different literary aesthetic. It’s not meant to be that polished novel, day one on Wattpad. And they grow into it. You’ll see lots of writer notes going, ‘Oh, I’m in the middle of rewriting.’ Or they’ll literally rewrite a book as a separate story because they’re working with an editor at that point. So they’ll leave the original work up, almost like a raw manuscript. [12]

Some Fan Comments: Pro

Corporate Involvement

...it was kind of a pleasant surprise to see that there’s so much fandom engagement at like, the corporate level? because I feel like historically a lot of sites that aren’t explicitly fan-created have kind of acted ashamed of their fan contingent and kind of brushed that under the rug. Like “you can stay here, but we don’t care about you.” But wattpad has a community engagement specialist SPECIFICALLY FOR fanfiction? That’s awesome. [13]

Some Fan Comments: Con

"It's Like Your First Doctor"

I have *a lot* of Wattpad thoughts. And if you follow me on Twitter, you know what those are.

But I think...what it all boils down to is: I don’t feel welcome there? Not that I feel unwelcome, but it isn’t *my* community. I have a difficult time communicating there. I literally cannot understand some of the comments I get, because they’re using a slang I don’t know. I just haven’t been able to crack into it. I go to AO3, and I know what to do, how to interact, how to leave a comment or reply to a comment. I know how to connect AO3 to Twitter and Tumblr and I know how to use that to leverage into (hopefully) new friends as I enter new fandoms. I’m just at a loss when it comes to Wattpad. I don’t know how to do that. To be totally honest, I can’t even figure out how to *find* fanfiction on Wattpad. Like, their tagging and filtering system flummoxes me.

And for a long time I thought it was because I was old, and there’s a lot of discussion on that in the transcript, but now I’ve decided that no, I’m just *different.* I definitely have readers who are younger, who are teenagers. They’re on AO3! They’re not old! ::clings:: ...

I’m not sure it’s a function of age, so much as it’s a function of just wanting different things out of your online writing and reading experience? Or, maybe, finding different entrances to the online writing and reading experience and kind of getting comfortable there and not wanting to switch it up? Maybe that’s what it is? Maybe it’s like your first Doctor: You always love your first fanfiction database most? [14]

Popular Fandom Communities

Further Reading/Meta

  • Older Than Netfic - Ages ago, I made an account on Wattpad because I..., Archived version ("Dang, Wattpadders, I wish you’d learn to punctuate and that you likedmy Mary Sue ships. I wish I got a hundredth of those hits on my fanfic on other sites! But kudos to everyone who makes the total lack of organization on Wattpad work for them. When people bitch about AO3’s tagging system, I just laugh. Fandom can make anything work for it."}}) (Oct 2015)

References

  1. Wattpad Press Releases
  2. The Watty Awards, Wattpad's annual writing contest accessed 2010-7-24
  3. Wattpad Content Guidelines
  4. wattpad.com/about Wattpad statement accessed 2015-9-16, archived at the Internet Archive wattpad.com/about as of 2015-09-05
  5. 2013 Year on Wattpad
  6. [Fandom stats A statistical year in fandom: 2015 - toastystats (destinationtoast) - Fandom - Fandom [Archive of Our Own]], Archived version
  7. Ages ago, I made an account on Wattpad because I..., Archived version, posted to tumblr by olderthannetfic, October 24, 2015.
  8. a comment by Aron Levitz, Head of Business Development in What's the Deal with Wattpad?, August 31, 2015
  9. The Founders; WebCite
  10. a comment by Aron Levitz, Head of Business Development in What's the Deal with Wattpad?, August 31, 2015
  11. a comment by Aron Levitz, Head of Business Development in What's the Deal with Wattpad?, August 31, 2015
  12. a comment by Aron Levitz, Head of Business Development in What's the Deal with Wattpad?, August 31, 2015
  13. nianeyna.tumblr.com
  14. So. I have *a lot* of Wattpad thoughts. by earlgreytea68; WebCite to Fansplaining: Buncha Lawyers (2015)