A question about publishers and followings


#41

My point is their popularity came before they started trying to SELL using the platform.

Yes, I’m on social media and have been for over a decade. I’ve seen a LOT of writers crash and burn because they don’t know how to use it, because they try to use it as a marketing tool without the social aspect.

You’re right – it should be about slipping in a mention occasionally. Very occasionally. The vast majority of the posts should be supporting others, posting interesting content, sharing other interesting things, making it personal.

As far as your original question, I stick to my original answer. You’re free to discuss it. I think it would be meaningless.


#42

Oh, of course! People who start an account as an unknown solely trying to push their product into peoples’ faces will most likely fail at gaining a decent following. If that’s their marketing technique then I feel really bad for them :joy:

Lol, the question was just to get peoples’ thoughts, not to discuss those thoughts beyond what should be discussed, lol. I only meant that we were getting off topic :blush:


#43

I have 2,400 members on my Yahoo Group (it used to be 2,500 so my inactivity (spending a year writing a novel) has cost me). But those 2,400 generate sales. If you need over 10k followers on wattpad, that says something.


#44

Your biggest issue is going to lie in the fact that publishers lose first rights to a book.

That being said, if your story has a few million reads and a few thousand people over 18 (i.e they will be able to buy a book on publication) the publisher might take that.

In truth, it won’t hurt you so much in finding a publisher, but it can hurt your negotiation power. One major thing they are buying when they are paying you is the right to publishing it first. However, if you have a sequel or a series and guarantee first rights to those for the publisher, your negotiation power just went up.

As much as publishers and agents respect the writing community and beautiful work, they are primarily out to make money. If your story can prove that you will be making money on your debut with reviews coming in from loyal fans, a lot of agents and some publishers can see the positive in that.

But it has to be more than 100k reads and you probably want at least 1,000 solid followers. If you can have a large following on Wattpad, and also a strong twitter or instagram, you are basically telling the publishers you already have a strong platform for marketing. Which means easier access to money for publishers.


#45

Lots of stuff to unpack in this thread, @LightenTheShadows . Here goes.

First off, let me say that for a 16-year old you are very articulate and poised and represent yourself as having a good head on your shoulders. These are all qualities that will serve you well, in writing and otherwise.

I’ll address your questions first, then move on to some of the points raised by other posters, some of which I disagree with.

Firstly, as others have said Wattpad is not the place to launch a traditional publishing career (usually - more on this later). Publishers know that most of the books with tens of millions of reads here are light years away from something that will be successful if published. Personally, I’ve found very little correlation between quality and popularity on Wattpad - my favorite story ever here languished with only a few views before the author abandoned it. Now, the caveat is that SOME writers have launched careers here and been picked up by traditional publishers. It is extremely rare. When Wattpad when first starting out and was the hot new thing, agents and publishers were beguiled by the hordes of YA readers on the site, and actively recruited the very biggest Wattpad writers. Taran Matharu’s Summoner (now a very successful YA series) was first a Wattpad book. Anna Todd’s After was another big success. These days, there are many books with millions of reads and publishers are less influenced by gaudy Wattpad numbers. They know that most of these books are not good. What I’ve seen recently (and it may be an isolated example, I’m not sure, but it is a reference point) is Wattpad contacting the author of a book they think is marketable outside of Wattpad and offering to be their ‘agent’ in negotiations with publishers. If my understanding is correct, this is what happened with Pandean’s White Stag (which launches in two days from a major publishing house! Yeah Pandean, go support her if you like YA fantasy)

Long story short, millions of reads and hundreds of thousands of followers will not make a publishing house pick up your book . . . but I think it may be the difference between a cursory glance at a query and a careful reading. The value of that should not be discounted. Any advantage in the querying process is good. And for that reason I don’t think whether it’s under your pen name or real name matters very much. Publishers know Wattpad followers don’t translate into that many sales, so they shouldn’t care what name you’re publishing under. They’re looking for the ability to tell a compelling story.

Okay. Let’s move on to some of the other points raised here:

Yes, you technically lose first rights publication. But I don’t think it will affect any advance you get. The idea of ‘first rights’ is antiquated and for novels, at least, I don’t think they are used to depress advances - which are already not so large. ‘First rights’ may affect a reprint of a short story in an anthology, but Random House is not going to reduce an advance because the author is popular on Wattpad. I’ve never heard of this happening.

@MichaelJSullivan self-published his fantasy series, and when it was traditionally published he got a very nice advance. Actually, every self-published author that I’m aware of (and aware of their deal) who has been picked up by trad has gotten a good advance and never been forced to deal with ‘first rights’ depressing their deal.

I suppose we could ask Pandean how the negotiations for White Stag went down to see if we can get a very relevant data point, but with her book launching in a few days I don’t want to bother her. I sincerely doubt that Random House was like 'well, we want to publish White Stag but since it was up on Wattpad we’ll only give you 25% of what we were going to give you." If a publisher ever did that I’d recommend for the author to walk away and seek out other publishers or self-publish.

This is all true, I think. Good post.

Personally, I think you’re right. Others very knowledgable disagree with me. Now, you don’t NEED a social media presence to get an agent, but anecdotally I’ve see several aspiring writers with large platforms immediately scooped by agents when they queried. Maybe their books were awesome. But being able to name-drop their popular blog about XXX genre (which they write in) or tout the fact that they are friends with XXX writers in their genre I have to think is only a big plus. Just this year, a popular book blogger in fantasy got an agent with her first query letter - in fact, the agent did not even ask for the full book, but went off the first 50 pages. Another aspiring writer who runs a popular Facebook group for fantasy authors - with some big names - got scooped with his first query letter, and in the query letter (which he posted) he spent a paragraph discussing this group and the connections he had made with popular trad-pubbed authors. Basically, I don’t think agents or publishers will take on a bad book, but showing a large following should result in more care and time being spent evaluating your query letter, which is very important.

It is getting harder and harder for publishers to create debut breakout hits (outside of YA, which is a special case). A large following can only be an advantage when querying - though where your following is is also important. A Wattpad writer with a large following isn’t that exciting, as @XimeraGrey noted they rarely translate into paid sales. But a self-published writer with a large following - if they queried a trad book - will, I believe, have a huge boost to their chances, because their readers have already demonstrated that they will buy a book from that author. This year Tor books has reached out to several good-selling fantasy authors (me included) about sending a new book their way. They have the numbers that shows standout debuts are not being generated at the same rate as the pre-Amazon age, and are willing to partner up with authors with large platforms if it benefits them.


#46

With regard to queries… it used to be if you had a following of more than 10,000 and/or over a million reads that you would mention it in the query. I’m not sure if those figures are still relevant as I’ve been out of the query chatter loops for a couple of years.

Some people like to scare writers by saying if you post on Wattpad you lose first rights and agents/publishers won’t touch the story - but this is demonstrably false. Agents/publishers see Wattpad as a site to receive critique on a story and have no issue acquiring stories first posted here. In fact some Wattpad stories have sold for 6-figures to major publishers.


#47

I’ve read about half of this thread, so I’ll let you know what I’ve found out.

Publishers want to know if you use any platforms because nowadays, promoting yourself digitally is the best way to generate hype etc. Publishers want to know if you have a good skill within this area because it shows that you, as a writer, are capable of not only generating interest, but also have clear communication skills and interpersonal skills. If you’re a good writer and good communicator, it makes it less of a risk for the publisher. Always remember, the agent is always assessing the risk factor on a submitted work. After all, it is a business decision :wink:

Okay, so think about things in a different light. The name someone goes under - eg - pen name, is part of their image/franchise of their work. If the writer has changes their name through publication, it can confuse their followers/fans if they haven’t been clear about it. Also as a business decision, it’s very risky because on some levels, readers/followers may not see the news of said change and end up becoming a statistic and unfollow you eventually, or it could work well. From a business perspective, a name change would be best before you released your first printed book. Or of course, releasing as a KDP or anything of that nature.

At the end of the day, it’s a business decision. It can make or break you as a writer, but it depends on what your own individual views are and the choices you want to make/expect from doing a name change.

I hope this information is useful in your interest on this side of writing :slight_smile:


#48

I believe it’s 100K followers now (according to that Janet Reid article)

I calculated that about 0.1% of my followers bought my most popular WP books. The % goes down for the not so popular ones. All in all, there might be ten readers out of my 96K+ following who bought all my published books.


#49

Based on your responses to everyone on this thread clearly you want to believe that a following is important or helpful. If you believe that a following is important, then to make the jump that a name change won’t matter is an easy one.

In real life writers and performers use pen names and stage names all the time.

When Prince became “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince” his fans still bought his music.

Same with Sean Puffy PDiddy Combs.

Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, Michael Crichton, etc. have all written under pen names and people bought those books.

But these examples are obviously people who are extremely successful in their fields.

So sure a MASSIVE following is helpful and then a name change won’t matter.


#50

They definitely want your social media information, but that’s not JUST because they want to know if you can work your online presence. Another part of getting your social media information in a query is to look you up and get to know you. If they don’t like what you tweet, it’s less likely they’re request a partial or full MS.


#51

Well, first of all, thank you for all your compliments! Also, thank you for your post! It was very informative and I agree with most everything :blush:


#52

Thank you for the input! I really appreciate it :blush:


#53

Thank you for your thoughts! They’re very helpful and make a lot of sense to me :blush:


#54

100K followers on WP is very rare. I’m pretty sure that article was about a blog, not WP - though I could be wrong :thinking:


#55

I definitely thinks following is helpful - that wasn’t the point of this thread. Very few people have actually answered my question - if publishers still pay attention to that following if you want to change your name! :blush:

Thank you for your input on my actual question, though! I really appreciate it.


#56

Ah, like to see how you act and such?


#57

You are not “technically” giving up your first rights, you are in every sense of the word, giving them away for free, period. - A part of your copyright guaranteed to you by law. First rights are what most publishers purchase, or ask for. Most do not (though they badly want to) buy your copyright -unless you are a fool, and allow them to. Wanting to be the first to break a story in print is not old fashioned, it is the heart of the publication business. The drive to bring fresh new stories to market.


#58

Yes, basically. If agents don’t vibe with the writer, the MS has to be AMAZING for them to want to sign with you because an agent and writer’s relationship is extremely close.


#59

This seems to be the ditch you want to die in… yes it is “technically” first rights, but as has been pointed out to you repeatedly it is a moot point. Agents/publishers view Wattpad as being posted for the purposes of critique. Final versions of stories vary considerably in some cases from what was posted on Wattpad and it can be argued that the “loss of first rights” only applies to the draft version posted here, not the final polished version.

And of course your argument has been proven to be false, as you simply have to look at the significant deals that Wattpad stories have garnered - whether negotiated by the Wattpad team or where writers have queries and leveraged their Wattpad following/reads.

I will point out though that short stories are treated quite differently to novels in this regard, in case you are confusing the two.


#60

And a badly behaving author needs to have godly work for people to get past their personality and want to support them :woman_shrugging: