A Writer’s Beginning: Wattpad

Many young girls can relate to staying up late reading fanfiction on Wattpad. The stories ranged from boy bands to television shows or even original ideas. Countless account holders on this app were dedicated to the weekly upload schedule and never-ending stories, but what about the writers? Whatever happened to the more gifted of our middle school storytellers?

This article will explain where these authors are now and the success they found by beginning their careers on Wattpad. Silly stories written for fun have turned these writers into New York Times best-selling authors. There are so many benefits and opportunities for accomplishment with any starting point in the publishing world, even digital publishing through Wattpad. Here you will find how Wattpad promoted their careers.

What is Wattpad?

Wattpad is a reading service created by Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen in November 2006. It was launched to create a platform for young writers and readers alike to share their works of art with the world. According to Publishers Weekly, Wattpad hosts 45 million consumers monthly. Creators can post their own stories or reimagine popular television shows or movies in their own image. It wasn’t long before Wattpad had taken over the digital publishing space for young viewers.

How does Wattpad help young writers?

Since 2006, Wattpad has grown tremendously in the publishing space. Authors are now being paid commissions for their work on the app. TechCrunch.com explains that the platform has started a program that can pay writers 25,000 dollars for their work. Wattpad finally paying their creators is huge for aspiring authors. This commissioned payment could help them publish their works through companies and get their names out there more than ever before.

The new Creator Program isn’t the only way Wattpad allows its writers to make a steady income. Wattpad is now offering its creators payment through paid stories, brand partnerships, and potential book and movie deals. For an aspiring writer, this allows them to begin making their dreams come true. These writers will be able to reap the rewards for their hard work and dedication. It is certainly a great beginning stage for a student who needs feedback and practice.

Does it actually help authors get discovered?

So many of today’s best-selling authors started out of Wattpad. Anna Todd is one of the more notable authors who has risen from Wattpad fanfiction. She has been offered movie deals for her series After and has recently become a writing sensation across the globe. This movie brought in a box office of 69.5 million dollars. Mrs. Todd isn’t the only author to find success from Wattpad. Beth Reekles is the author of the New York Times bestseller “The Kissing Booth”. On Wattpad alone, Reekles’ story grossed 19 million readers.

The proof of Wattpad’s intention to bring success is found within these aspiring authors. Wattpad has helped people who didn’t even know they could be authors become some of the best. The success stories of Todd and Reekles are some of the more notable but far from all of them. Wattpad has shown that anyone can be a writer with the right support and talent.

How do I become a Wattpad author?

It sounds very simple but download the app. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, but through practice and constructive criticism, anything is possible. For an author to be successful on Wattpad, they must have a relatively normal upload schedule and show consistency. Wattpad themselves advises writers to brush up on their writing and grammar skills to attract readers. Consumers are looking for something familiar from a writer but not predictable. Being a writer on any platform can be a struggle. Like any other publishing medium, an author needs to work hard and plan ahead.

Wattpad might be seen as a light-hearted writing forum for children. Over the past decade, it has built from that. Writers are getting movie and book publication deals. Those kids who wrote fanfiction are now multimillionaires following their dreams. Wattpad might not be where many saw themselves starting, but every author has to start somewhere.

From Fanfiction to Film: How Wattpad is Ushering in A New Age of Writing

Wattpad is an online community of authors and readers that hosts stories from typically unpublished authors. The site is unique in combining social media and a reading platform, which allows readers to interact with the books and the author. Wattpad was founded in 2006 by Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen as an e-reading platform where “readers could download an app to read and chat about fiction shared by professional and aspiring writers from around the world.” According to Lau, being mobile was the top priority. This mobility allowed for interaction on the site to skyrocket. Wattpad appeals to up-and-coming writers who wanted to distribute their work without going through a publishing process. 

Writers typically release the book a chapter at a time and readers can make in-line comments on stories, allowing the writer to adjust the book to the reader’s preferences. Wattpad readers are primarily young people who were drawn to the appeal of free books written by their peers instead of older, more established authors. Many of these young authors became success stories through the constructive criticism and praise they received from their fans.

Anna Todd and Happily Ever After

Wattpad has been a powerhouse for undiscovered authors in the past few years. Anna Todd’s After began as a Harry Styles fanfiction in 2013. Written under the name @imaginator1DAfter became an almost overnight success, with the fanbase reaching the hundreds of thousands. Todd wrote the majority of After on her phone, with no outlining or proofreading before she uploaded the chapter to Wattpad. While some may dislike the lack of outline, Todd and her fans equally enjoyed the “social writing” model. Todd would listen to her fans’ feedback and adjust the story to their preferences in real time. Not only did Todd’s fanbase grow, but the relationship between the fan and the author grew as well. Readers felt like they had a say in the story, which increased their loyalty to the author, as well as their willingness to offer financial support. 

With the help of Wattpad, Anna Todd received a book deal with Simon and Schuster in 2014, just one year after she published her first chapter on Wattpad. After was also granted a movie in 2019, with three sequels to follow. Todd’s story is a testament to the power that her fans and Wattpad hold. The first movie currently holds an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes, though fans give it a significantly better rating of 66%.

Wattpad to Movie Pipeline

Though Todd’s story is one of the most notable, it is far from the only success story that has come from Wattpad. At seventeen, Beth Reekles became the youngest Wattpad writer to score a book deal for her story, The Kissing Booth. Reekle later went on to earn a movie deal with Netflix, though that movie also did poorly on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite the abysmal critic reviews, The Kissing Booth garnered immense fan support. According to Sara Perez, this disconnect is due to the “built in audience” of Wattpad users. 

Readers don’t just read and watch these stories, they create them. Wattpad utilizes the fan base when adapting stories for film. In an article for Quartz, Adam Epstein discusses Wattpad’s story-to-film process. The fans are integral to the adaptation process, with some “superfans” gaining access to the script to provide feedback before the film hits the box office. This process seems to work well. Epstein writes,

Most books come with a built-in audience, but this one comes with a built-in audience that’s also invested in the development process itself. It not only makes them more inclined to watch the show when it comes out, but leads them to become evangelists for the project on social media, which helps build buzz. 

Adam Epstein, Quartz

Wattpad is unique in that its user base not only reads and shapes the stories on its platform, but also the way the stories transition off the platform. 

Story DNA

According to Aron Levitz, the fans’ engagement is part of the “microtrend,” which allows Wattpad to know what will sell based on the size of the fanbase and reader engagement. Macrotrends are made possible by Story DNA. Story DNA is Wattpad’s deep-learning AI technology, which, according to Ashleigh Gardener, “deconstructs stories into their elemental features, such as sentence structure, word use, and grammar,” This gives Wattpad further insight into what makes a story popular outside of comments, likes, and shares. As a result, up-and-coming stories are given a greater chance at being discovered and transitioning off of Wattpad. The development of this technology is leading to a future of reading that is not just consumed by the reader but also formed by them.

Wattpad is unique in the fact that it is constantly reinventing itself to the benefit of its writers and readers. Wattpad has adapted from merely presenting stories to publishing them and promoting them outside of the digital platform. Wattpad not only publishes for fans but with the fans. The future of reading is driven by the reader, not the author or publisher. 

Wattpad: From Digital Publishing to Print

Image of Katherine Nobles

Wattpad connects “a global community of over 80 million monthly readers.” This community is based around a free website where readers, devoted franchise fans, and aspiring authors alike form a community where they can read or create online material. 

Wattpad targets a different audience than companies like Smashwords  and Kobo. Where those are services designed to help authors publish and sell their work, Wattpad is meant as a creative outlet for users. While Wattpad does encourage authors to “establish a global fan base as [their] story gains readership and momentum” and “connect with other like-minded writers through storytelling,” they leave the marketing to the author’s discretion. 

For the Writers 

Wattpad allows freedom for its writers. It leaves the creative rights to the author who is in complete control of every aspect of the story. For example, Wattpad authors have no publishing time constraints. According to The Writer’s Circle, “you could post a short draft and get immediate feedback from readers.” Writers are free to post new chapters of their books whenever they are ready. 

With its emphasis on freedom, Wattpad is very lax when it comes to their content guidelines. The terms of service for anyone considering the use of Wattpad as a creative platform can be found here

Again, Wattpad is not a company that openly seeks to sell creator’s content to larger publishing platforms. However, Wattpad does offer tips to content creators for getting their stories to a broad audience. 

For the Readers 

Wattpad is unique in its ability to form a bridge between content creators and their readers. For example, they allow readers to create reading lists for easy access. Users may vote for the stories they like the most, thus pushing reader-preferred content closer to the front of the site. 

Readers can share their favorite stories on social media increasing the potential reach for any story. Users also have unparalleled access to the authors and other Wattpad users who are reading the same things. Feedback for authors and discussion about the stories is readily available as a result. 

Wattpad Books 

With over 80 million users worldwide, Wattpad has decided to take digital publishing to the presses. According to Ashleigh Gardner, Deputy General Manager at Wattpad Studios Publishing: 

We bring something completely unique to publishing: an engaged global community, the most diverse set of writers on the planet, and the technology to find every type of hit imaginable. Wattpad Books is more than a new division for us, it’s a validation and celebration of the creativity, interests, and world-building that happens on Wattpad every day. 

Wattpad Books is the company’s first direct publishing division. It “takes the stories people have obsessed over, and gives them a platform so their creators can be heard.” 

Publishing famous Wattpad stories has been a trend for a while. According to Michael Kozlowski, “To date, nearly one thousand Wattpad stories have been turned into books and adapted for TV, film, and digital projects.” 

While Wattpad stories have previously been published by separate companies, “Wattpad Books will be its own direct division.” In North America, Wattpad has partnered with Macmillan Publishers, Anvil Publishing, and Raincoast Books. Recently, Wattpad Books has announced that they will be partnering with Penguin Random House UK, the UK branch of the world’s leading trade publisher, to publish Wattpad Books in the United Kingdom. 

Wattpad Books uses a special sort of artificial intelligence (AI) to determine what books they will publish. This AI is known as Story DNA Machine Learning. According to Gardner, by combining “machine learning, deep learning, and recurrent neural network,” Story DNA will break down the statistics of the over 400 million stories available on Wattpad. 

The AI goes beyond the statistics of shares, comments, and views that a story has and “deconstructs stories into their elemental features, such as sentence structure, word use, and grammar.” This data is then compared to other stories on Wattpad as well as books in the public domain. Resulting data comparison is done in hopes of finding quality content comparable in structure and style to what has already been published. 

Once the Story DNA Machine Learning has gathered the content, the stories are sent to a team of Wattpad staff who determine what will be published. Gardner says, “Wattpad Books is equal parts art and science, and our human content and editorial experts are just as important for everything we do at Wattpad Books.” 


In 2014, Wattpad author Anna Todd’s One Direction themed fanfiction was published as a multi-part series in both print and e-book form. The After series has recently developed into a film adaptation released in April of 2019. Todd, who is now a New York Times bestselling author, is one of Wattpad’s greatest success stories to date. 

With the new Wattpad Books approach to publishing stories made famous through digital writing, books chosen by the Wattpad AI system and staff members will be published as paperbacks, e-books, and even hardback copies. 

According to Wattpad Books’ website, they are “poised to disrupt traditional publishing by harnessing data to unleash the most groundbreaking stories from Wattpad directly onto bookshelves.” That is what they intend to do with their Fall 2019 List. The list of the six titles being published through Wattpad Books throughout Fall of 2019 can be found here

Though Wattpad Books gives aspiring authors a chance to have their works published through paper and ink, Gardner says it “is more than a new division for us, it’s a validation and celebration of the creativity, interests, and world-building that happens on Wattpad every day.” 

Wattpad and Wattpad Books are proof that success in digital publishing can be the stepping-stone many need to reach success in the wider world of publishing.