Agents' thoughts on querying work posted previously on Wattpad


#1

EDIT
Turning this thread into a place to share information and links on the topics:

  • How agents and publishers view posting on Wattpad
  • How they view querying them with work previously posted on Wattpad
  • How that might/can affect your chances of traditionally publishing that same work.

If you come across any conversations online with agents or publishers feel free to post them here.

I think there is a lack of concrete information that can potentially have long-lasting consequences for writers.

What this thread is not
This thread is not about arguing whether or not it’s good to post on Wattpad. It’s about being more aware of the consequences of doing so for work we might plan to publish traditionally.


ORIGINAL POST

I participated in a very interesting conversation on Twitter yesterday. A woman wanted to know more about how agents view Wattpad, and a bunch of top agents showed up to give their thoughts!

It was really cool, I can highly recommend checking it out:

Now, just know that you can only find the responses by agents by digging down through the comments. They are buried (Twitter only shows the first level of comments).


LOL35 Writing group for women writers aged 35+
Decline in Reads
LOL35 Writing group for women writers aged 35+
#2

Thanks for the link.

to be honest, it factors very little into my decision making. if the book has a large following on Wattpad, that often just means the core audience has already read the book and is unlikely to buy it again if re-pubbed by a trad outlet.

I know Janet said something different, but I believe the above is the way most agents think.

I think Wattpad is great, for the record. But I also think they are separate and distinct audiences without a ton of crossover to the bookstore or physical book buying market, which is core for success in traditional publishing right now. Same logic applies to most indie markets.

I also believe this to be true. I thought it was true for YA, but maybe also in general.

However, the second one sort of conflicts with his first comment. In his first comment he says wattpadders won’t buy it because they already read it. In his second comment he says wattpadders simply won’t buy it.


#3

The thing i took from this thread is this thread of comments:

To which I responded:

To which DongWon responded:

And if you go directly to that last comment I just posted, you’ll see a conversation there that includes two other agents (and liked by other agents who were not responding themselves).

It’s unfortunate that the comments are really buried. Maybe i will try to create a seamless thread…


#4

YES! I actually just commented to him and said he contradicted himself. If there’s little crossover – and we’ve seen that here – then the core audience has NOT been exhausted.

@shalonsims I suck at Twitter. You mentioned that you have to dig down through the comments to get to other agent replies. I couldn’t figure out how to do that. How did other agents reply?

IGNORE ME, Shalon! We posted at the same time.


#5

I think the twitter thread is dead now. The agents probably got about a bajillion notifications and have since muted the thread, so I wouldn’t bother responding.

If you’re looking to prove a point to yourself about the path forward you think is best (for yourself) then you’ll find the support you need in that thread, no matter what your path is. Basically, they were quite vague, so you can read a lot into their comments.

But what I really feel that I got from the thread, as I mentioned, is that although they were all positive about wattpad and what it offers, they seem to think it’s two different markets and when you seek to publish a book traditionally, they would prefer if you hadn’t posted it on Wattpad.

Now, mind you, only agents who were positive about Wattpad responded, which leads me to believe that a lot of the agents who didn’t respond probably avoided the conversation because they didn’t want to receive any backlash. Twitter is weird that way. You can get harangued for an unpopular opinion.

But you better believe that many agents do NOT like Wattpad, and none of those agents spoke up, so… fill in the blank.


#6

I imagine some agents are quiet because Wattpad is a bit of an unknown threat to them, especially with the advent of Next and the WP Publishing division… because it’s another way that they are potentially being cut out of $ as authors need the middleman less and less.

I also think it still seems contradictory (and a bit short-sighted) for an agent to say that they are two different markets, so you shouldn’t seek to traditionally publish a WP project.

Even if WP readers don’t necessarily buy a book they’ve read a draft of for free, it doesn’t mean that those numbers aren’t good market research for the untapped reader potential if the novel made it to bookstore shelves.

Sure there are millions using WP, but there are many more millions who are not.


#7

I’ve heard it’s not that so much, but the issue is more about the ‘first rights’ to publication. And putting it on Wattpad ruins that deal. And I think when referencing that a following on Wattpad doesn’t translate to sales, they are mostly saying, “Being on Wattpad isn’t going to help your sales and you just gave away first-rights.” Essentially a publisher isn’t getting a good “deal” now that you’ve published a story on Wattpad.

@shalonsims
Do you know if it helps if your story is a series potential story, and only the first draft of the first book is available? Especially if the first draft has been heavily beta-read by Wattpad members? Or does putting it up for free just basically halve your chances of finding an agent, no matter what?


#8

Except there are lots of examples of trad pubbed Wattpad novels where that clearly wasn’t the case.


#9

First Rights is a stickler for magazines, not book publishers.
Book publishers are simply looking at the size of the number of buyers.


#10

I’m so new to the market that I don’t see these :rofl::weary: I only hear the generic advice of “first right”, etc.

I’m hoping that’s the case! I guess I will find out first-hand when I go to try and query in the next six months :joy:


#11

As others have said, I’ve never gotten the impression that WP is a problem where “first rights” for a book is concerned.

Most novels that have gone from WP to traditional publication have gone through an editing process that resulted in the novel being different from the uploaded version.

Kind of like how FSOG wasn’t exactly what people read on AO3, and “After” had Harry become Hardyn, etc.

They make enough changes to not have “first rights” be a concern.

WP is looked at as a “workshopping” and “beta reading” resource by many.


#12

So true. I think different agents are just so subjective they are not all up to speed with wattpad and I suspect wattpad getting into the publishing game might upset some folk.

Also, Catherine Edward (a wattpad writer here) not sure if you saw the comment but her friend was selected during pitchwars and the agent loved the plot but rejected her when she found out the book was on wattpad. I think that’s really small minded of the agent but that’s just my opinion. Maybe she might get a different agent to bite.

So now the sales of books published via wattpad like white stag (I wouldn’t recommend after because it has a not so nice reputation outside of wattpad) may have to be mentioned to prompt an agent not to just hit the reject button ‘because its wattpad’


#13

Correct. I have a “first rights” contract. And wattpad was NOT an issue.
The book I have in the NEXT beta is a bit different. It’s supposed to make money (I don’t think cozies are very popular on the platform, but I like experiements).
That will make it difficult, but I have already decided to self-pub if need be.


#14

BlockquoteI also think it still seems contradictory (and a bit short-sighted) for an agent to say that they are two different markets, so you shouldn’t seek to traditionally publish a WP project.

This is actually NOT what they said. They definitely did NOT say that you shouldn’t seek to traditionally publish a WP project. They said they (strongly) preferred a book that hadn’t been published elsewhere. There’s a difference. They also stated that its previous status on WP would not affect whether they LIKED a book, only it might affect whether it was SOLD.


#15

Oh boy, I have an idea of what that might be!

It’s so odd, because you know, magazines picking up writers from online syndicators have been an industry standard for years and years.


#16

Charlotte,
I am in the same situation as you (I assume you’re referring to yourself in your question), and I do NOT have any advice whatsoever. However, I’ve been to a lot of writing conferences and have my ear to the ground because I too have the first discovery drafts of my series on Wattpad and I am seeking representation for the first book in that series. So I can give you what I’ve learned, but please don’t take this as advice.

My understanding is the term ‘standalone with series potential’ has been hijacked by writers who do not have a truly standalone book (with beginning, middle and end), but rather a ‘first in a series book.’ The term has become overused to the point agents are now wary of it. I personally do not use that term anymore to describe my standalone book. What I’ve heard is that being a debut and having already written the next book in a series is considered an amateur mistake. I’m not saying it IS an amateur mistake, only that it’s considered to be by many agents/publishers. They will only want the next book in your series if the first book sells well. That’s why your first book MUST stand alone (emphasis not mine).

I have heard over and over by agents and publishers that it is MUCH safer for a publisher to publish a standalone book of a debut author. When that book gets the author some recognition, they might then work to publish something with “series potential.” Or potentially the next book in that series that you just whip out of your sleeve magically, saying “Tada! I finished it already!” In that case, you are no longer an amateur but a genius. :wink:

Does that mean you will NEVER find an agent or publisher who will publish your series (previously posted on WP)? NO. That’s not what it means. My impression is that putting it on Wattpad has consequences. Yes. Unfortunately. Even if it is only the first draft and you’ve substantially changed it since Wattpad.

Being in your situation, i will tell you what I am doing, which I believe is the smart course of action (of course I think it’s smart because it’s what I’m doing, but still this isn’t advice).

  1. I turned the first book in my series to a 90% standalone book with satisfying beginning, middle and end.
  2. I finished it, submitted it to agents (with the knowledge it is VERY unlikely to garner me an agent because it reeks of series potential and amateurishness, even though I tried SO hard to scrub it clean).
  3. I abandoned the next books in my series. Completely gave them up. I will no longer work on them until the first book sells (which might be in many years).
  4. I immediately turned my attention to an entirely new project that is truly standalone that I am SUPER PASSIONATE about.
  5. I hope to finish that truly standalone book soon, and submit THAT as my debut book.
  6. I will keep my failed series book up my sleeve so when my future agent asks me what else I’ve got in the works, I can whip that out and say “Tada!” and she will go “Wow!” and I will say, “I posted the first drafts on WP” And she will say, “That’s okay because the publishers want your next book and you have the upper hand now.”

That’s my strategy. Call me crazy. It’s long term. Not immediate gratification. I have spoken with agents regarding this and they have said it is a GREAT strategy. In fact, I probably stole this strategy from an agent at a conference at some point.

sorry this is so long. Does it help?


#17

So what if your book was not originally a series, but kind of became one accidentally. But each volume has its own beginning middle and end?

Also worth knowing, I’m not even sure if I’d seek representation for te sequel as:

  1. At the moment it’s two short to even pitch.
  2. I’m currently expanding into a much longer web serial.
  3. I don’t anticipate that I’ll be done with this one story for another two or three years, if that.
  4. Most of what I write, is more the prose overview, but the ultimate goal isn’t publishing them as novels, but as Graphic Novels or Light Novels.

If every book that sought representation, worked at that rate, it seems like it would do more harm than good.


#18

Excellent summary. Thanks for sharing what you gleaned form the conferences.


#19

Fabulous feedback and kudos to you for being so determined and willing to change around something you invested a lot of your time, effort - and personality. This is a sign of true professionalism.
As to serials, you are spot on. When I queried, I too left that comment out. My novel was standalone, it had a completed story arc. It was also the flagship novel of a series, for which reason I drop a few teasers right at the end, after I landed everything.
The publisher has got first dibs on all sequels. They know I have written them and they are “not uninterested”. But they will want to know how number one does. Logical. As a debut author, I’m a risk.
So, I agree with you. No “series potential” in the queries, but series up your sleeve you can then pull from your sleeve as Shalon so aptly says.


#20

Is this article about 50 Shades of Gray relevant to this discussion?

“The erotic trilogy, originally titled Master of the Universe as Twilight fanfiction on Fanfiction.net under the pen name “Snowqueens Icedragon” in August 2009.”