A super agent's opinion about publishing on Wattpad


The generous exception most make is for work being processed in writing circles and critique groups, whose online presence is private, and do not allow pubic access. This is because public exposure is limited to the work group, and editors want submissions that have been preened as well as possible. These can be harder to seek out than you might imagine. Yahoo groups, for example, has several hundred such clubs, but many of the clubs owners forgot, or did not know, to set them up as private or semi private. In plain words, with pubic access or without public access. Only those who block public access to the site materials qualify. If you know how to read the site descriptions (or bother to) you will find the safe choices.


I assume this is up to the individual editor or publisher. How much,or if any, part of a work may be bandied around the “town” Most all allow quotation for purposes of review and critique. Copywrite allows for exposure for certain educational purposes, in general, so on. The relevance would be determined in a court of law.


This is certainly true for the short story market and contests. From my observation the majority of agents / editors (as Janet Reid said here) do not care about novels put up on an online story sharing site before submission - except, as she points out, when the story does not do well, as that may speak to its popular appeal.


Sure, if its not gonna sell, might as well use it as publicity for future work. Pubs usually seek stuff to fit a theme or to center on a currently popular motif (not always, but whats hot is hot, and they look for work that at least will sell enough to cover the costs of the production run so…) Its not always the case that the writer isn’t ready, just that the work is not targeting the current market. You know, being a business and all. If the work is memorable and demonstrates skill, why waste it?

As for publishers, just read their submission requirements. There is absolutely no need to take anyones second hand guess as to who wants what and in what condition . Twenty minutes on line, and you will have the facts of the case for any particular publisher. free of cost. Or as they say, READ.


Apologies, I’m not sure what your first paragraph is referring to. We’re talking about whether publishing on Wattpad or another online story-sharing site will affect the chances of a novel being picked up by a traditional publisher, yes?

As to your second paragraph, this is actually my issue. Wattpad counts as first publication rights. Publishers in their standard language about acquisitions always say they want first publication rites. But when you pin down agents and editors (as with Janet Reid here) they almost always explicitly say publishing on story sharing websites does not matter. Surely you can see how confusing this all is. My feeling is that the publishing houses are still using language regarding their acquisition policy that hasn’t changed in decades, and it no longer reflects the reality of publishing in the modern era. That losing first rights on Wattpad or whatever does not matter to most publishers (it has no intrinsic value, after all. A book’s worth or potenital is in no way diminished by appearing first on a story sharing website) but they haven’t updated the language on their websites.

Anecdotally, I queried a book and was very open that I had put it up first on Wattpad and no agent mentioned that and I had a partial / full request rate of about 30%.


I think she’s pretty clear that publishing on story sharing websites has no impact on whether a publisher picks up a book or not.

> A. How much is too much to post?Does it matter
It doesn’t matter

> 1. How do agents and publishers feel about work that has been previously posted online? (if the work posted online is the same work being queried)
It doesn’t really matter

There are more than a few authors who have transitioned to traditional publishing from these newish online publishing platforms. They generally had a Wattpad readership north of six figures.

It doesn’t matter if your work has been on any of these sites. You just need to tell me about it in the query.

Previously published is NOT a deal breaker; we just need to adjust the contract language.

That all seems unambiguous and clear. Janet Reid does not think that publishing a novel on Wattpad affects whether it will be picked up by a traditional publisher . . . unless your read numbers suggest it doesn’t have popular appeal. But that’s a separate argument from losing first publication rights.


You can easily query a particular publisher about any changes to their policies. I don’t assume anything. Agents might also vend to boutique publishers and other venues. The answer remains, Just ask.


Contacting potential publishers while you’re still writing or working on your novel and asking whether it would be okay to share it on a story-sharing website to get feedback doesn’t seem like the logical first step. More realistic is contacting a top literary agent (she knows what the real policy is) and asking them point-blank whether appearing on Wattpad would be a detriment to being picked up because of the loss of first rights - and Janet Reid has given a clear and unambiguous answer: no, it wouldn’t.


Can we have a moderator combine the two threads, please?


We can do this if the TO asks for it. I would not like to just go in there and mash things together


I posted this one. You’re welcome to merge it into the other one.


I don’t mind either.


I have read several agent blogs, and her opinion is her own, she works with what she works with, and the professional contacts she maintains. It is not a unilaterally shared view… Most say just let me know, but they also do not spend a lot of time going into what that might mean for the contract offer, price, or who they are going to end putting your work before… If you are not going to man up and ask the customer, then you are not. Its a simple question and not tied to a manuscript, its history, or your intentions. If you think trashing your own first rights and suffering reprint rate evaluations is a sweet idea, then you do. You want to dismiss trashing first rights with a handwave,that’s just an astounding mis-evaluation of their worth. I direct you to Absolute Write,Preditors and Editors,The writers guide, and every other available reference. To me, it sounds like a swell way for publishers to to excuse low ball contract offers. They have excellent histories of doing just that, - one of the reasons for agents to start with. And they do pay less for reprints.(no first rights available) Period. So knock yourself out. Wattpad is nice, but I am not working for Wattpad, employed by Wattpad, or an apologist for Wattpad. Just a participating member. I don’t put up stuff I intend to sell without massive revision, or only do so after it has been tested in the market, or if I do not intended to sell it… I am certainly not putting my opinion up for debate. However I think its a joke idea to do, and I am not singular in this evaluation. , .


yes, the second paragraph responds to your post, the first does not.


That’s not my experience. From the agents I have followed and blogs I’ve read they all agree that publishing on sites like Wattpad don’t count as first rights. If it were an issue, then there wouldn’t be 6-figure deals happening for Wattpad stories.

This has been discussed numerous times on writer forums (like QueryTracker) and over and over its shown to be a non issue.



In over-simplified terms this means the person/publisher that gets to publish the story first.

Here are a few examples of situations where a story has been published:

  • it appears on a publicly available website (like Wattpad or a forum, even one with membership restrictions)

And here’s another: https://www.youngwriterssociety.com/viewtopic.php?f=154&t=97489

Websites That Take Your Rights
Some websites’ terms and conditions have a clause that says they can use the work at their own discretion, without any consultation with you. Some will explicitly say you sign your rights over to the site when you upload it. If you have uploaded your work there, then no publisher will take it.

Always read the terms and conditions for any site you intend to post your writing on. Sites like Facebook, LiveJournal, Wattpad, and Tumblr are well-known examples of sites that strip users’ rights to their own writing.

If you have posted the entirety of your work on such a site, you may unfortunately not submit it for publishing as-is. Your only hope is removing the work (if at all possible, but it isn’t always), and heavily editing the story before submitting it for publication.

If you’ve only posted snippets, stop posting immediately so publishers will still be the first to show the whole story.


Do you realise you are quoting sources that are years old and one is from a magazine - which has been said repeatedly treats it quite differently. You cannot compare a magazine requirement to that of a publisher of novels. They have two very different views, as has already been addressed.

I can only speak from my experience and I wouldn’t rely on information that’s years out of date and from a source that’s not applicable to novels. I’ve been in the query trenches, I’ve seen it asked of multiple agents and it’s a non issue. I know people get trad deals after posting on Wattpad and obviously the Big 5 don’t have an issue with it.

People can do what they want with their work, if you genuinely think posting on Wattpad is going to stop you getting a trad deal, then don’t do it.


Correct. For contests and magazines (short stories!) it looks different. But Janet mentions the contests as well


I wasn’t saying a publisher or agent won’t consider your novel if you no longer have First Rights to it. I was simply responding to “they all agree that publishing on sites like Wattpad don’t count as first rights.”

It does count as First Rights. At least from what I’ve read.


I love Janet Reid. If I wrote in the genres she agented I’d SOOOOO send her everything. She’s my dream.