A Literary Agent's View on Wattpad & Traditional Publishing

writing

#1

Hey guys! This was actually prompted by a discussion over on Tapas, but I wanted to share in case the info helps anybody else.

I submitted some questions regarding Wattpad, Tapas, and traditional publishing to Janet Reid, a literary agent at New Leaf Literary (the agency is known for managing Veronica Roth and Leigh Bardugo among other people).

You can read her answers on her blog.

She addresses the topic of querying to have your story traditionally published after it’s been posted online.

I’ve had a hard time finding other agents’ specific thoughts on this topic, so, even though it’s only one experienced professional’s opinion, I’m really glad she chose to answer. I know other people on these forums have had similar questions. I hope this can be informative to others, too!


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#2

I’m gonna sound stupid but what are first rights?


#3

Basically, it’s the right to be the first one to publish a story. This right is usually the main thing that a publisher buys from an author when they sign your book.


#4

Aahhhh that was really interesting. I’ve always wondered if Wattpad helped or hurt the chances of publication. It does seem to be that as long as your story has quite the following, publishers will take that and run.


#5

So I just realized that somebody actually beat me to posting my own question :sweat_smile:


#6

It’s even more interesting when I googled query letters and this site popped up:

And more specifically this passage:

Keep in mind that having an online presence helps show you’ll likely be a good marketer and promoter of your work—especially if you have a sizable readership already—but it doesn’t say anything about your ability to write a great story. That said, if you have 100,000+ fans/readers on Wattpad or at your blog, that should be in your query letter.

(The author, Jane Friedman has over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry)


#7

I guess we all screwed the pooch on that one, didn’t we? lol


#8

I’ve read her blog before :slight_smile: It’s also very helpful!

Yeah, based on what I’ve read, it sounds like it’s almost mandatory for an author to have an online presence these days, and is more harmful if you don’t have any social media at all.

I would just be hesitant to post my main work.


#9

There are publishers & agents that will accept reprints, so fortunately it’s not a total loss. Plus, as @AWFrasier mentioned, it’s good to have an online presence.


#10

Yeah exactly - and growing your wattpad audience makes it so much easier to get bigger on twitter (in my experience) and if you have a large twitter? Plusses all over!

Oh yeah. I keep rough drafts on Wattpad and won’t edit them further until I figure out what I want. (Still haven’t decided if Wattpad is the end game or if I wanna try publishing - either trad. or indie)


#11

So basically, a big readership is 100,000+ reads (Six figures north?) Huh, interesting.


#12

So I hear. I’m still new to Twitter and haven’t really figured out how to use it successfully, but it seems effective. A couple days ago, a very generous person shared one of my stories on Twitter and I was shocked to suddenly get ~50 reads (which, to me, is a lot).

Seems logical.


#13

I’m not really worried about that on both counts. An online presence–for me–is having something in front of you that’s your residential calling card. I don’t think that pissing off all of cyberspace since 2002 is going to make much of a difference in the long run.


#14

Yeah, I also found that interesting. I would have guessed that “readership” = subscribers, but I might be wrong on that one.


#15

I guess it’s because subscribers are something unique to Tapas, and not everyone that reads your books ends up following you.


#16

I definitely think it helps! Not to mention, there’s a lot of Wattpadders on there and it’s just fun to interact with the community on there as well as on Wattpad. Also other writers and publishers are on there, so it’s a good way to stay updated about the industry. :smile:


#17

I love twitter. Haha.


#18

Me too! Even if I end up just looking at a bunch of cute animals most of the time.


#19

To me, it seems like there are 2 things publishers are concerned with:

  1. Marketability. Does it make them money?
  2. Are they going to own the first rights to the story?

For me, I see it as: The more following I can get, the better. Both stories I have on here are in a series, meaning that the publisher is going to get absolute firs rights to the later series. So I am keeping my fingers crossed that that should help.


#20

Haha that’s basically my Instagram feed.