Agents' thoughts on querying work posted previously on Wattpad


#61

Like I said, Wattpad Studios works with them. That’s where the contractual bits would go.


#62

(I have to pay for the article :frowning_face:)

God, I love Amazon’s approach here.

Bookshops: “We don’t want your books.”

Amazon: “K. We’ll just make our own book shop then. Byyyeee!”

But yeah, I think things are slowly changing. Especially when they realise what awesome tools are provided on online platforms. I mean, if you manage to build an audience on a site with 70 million users and 400 million books to compete with - then there must be something about this book, right? I definitely don’t think it makes it look worse if you’ve got the numbers on your side.

And if you don’t? Then it’s not like that means the book is bad. Might just be that you’re not internet savvy. But at least you tried.


#63

Me too! I mean, I’m just always excited to see Wattpadders do well off Wattpad too.

I know it’s been published in several countries now though!


#64

To me Amazon has it’s own problems though. There are times when I legit feel having an agent is actually preferable.

Ex. Through an agent, whatever publisher I’d get would probably know better than I would under certain circumstances what would work.

Although that could get tricky if … well it’s not Scifi/fantasy, not romance, not mystery, not suspence/thriller, not horror. Not memoir either. But a little bit of all of the genres mentioned.

(Serials in some ways, isn’t really the same as writing novels.)

Man do I sound like a dinosaur, at least for the US.


#65

Sure, one is polished one isn’t that’s a given hands down but I remember reading something about concerns about it via writer’s beware a while back (nothing about bad author deals except for the non negotiable contract) but I wonder how other publishers would have felt about that. I would hope it doesn’t affect publishing chances outside of Macmillan.


#66

If you’re published through the Amazon imprint, you don’t really need an agent. You’re already signed with a publisher.

https://amazonpublishing.amazon.com/about-us.html


#67

Yea I’m guess I’ve kind of flipped from a few months ago. With Amazon, you have to do everything yourself, unless your lucky and can afford an editor, cover designer, everything else, that having higher royalties doesn’t really mean much anymore.

I was mentioning to some friends on Pleroma, I don’t think the answer lies in either trade publishing or self-publishing, but rather “writer co-ops”. It’s nothing mysterious or shady, just something like what CLAMP does.

In other words, it’s more about who owns the publisher, and less the process of publishing in and of itself. Certain aspects of trade publishing are actually preferable to me.

I just wish serialization was still a thing, as that’s what I’m most suited for.

Just to be clear, I don’t mean CLAMP is their own publisher, just the organizational structure is what I’m thinking of.


#68

Not if you’re signed with their imprint. There’s a difference between being signed with their imprint and just self-pubbing your books.


#69

Ah ok, that makes more sense.


#70

This is very good to know. My stories are true stand alone novels, and I designed them that way before writing them. So this is really good to know that I need to use this term sparingly and when I am able to talk a bit more about it and explain they truly are. I know with finding an agent, it’s like speed dating but they are the Bachelorette and can deny you at any time haha :rofl:

I definitely think your strategy as merit to it. At this point, every single one of us, and our stories, are very different, but we are all playing the same game. So sharing our experiences can only help each other gauge what might be the right decision for ourselves.

Your reply was very informative and thank you so much for taking the time to write it! So far I haven’t seen many people give feedback from the side of “don’t publish on here” and that could be that it’s hard to find that information…while on Wattpad :rofl: So this has helped me tremendously!!!


#71

That’s really interesting. She seems to be saying that the bigger issue is if we wanted to keep it up once we go for publication. I am fine with taking the story down and wouldn’t try to sell something that is available for free. I wonder if removing the content, but keeping the story up, during a query process, might help with that at all?


#72

So my understanding right now:

  1. Agents don’t mind Wattpad. But publishers do
  2. Publishers don’t like Wattpad, because they are the ones selling the actual novel. And by losing “first-right” to publication, you almost void a part of the contract, which is “first-right”
  3. You’re going to potentially have an easier time with this if you write a novel publishers have been looking to market. If you want to write a novel that is very niche, and have already published it, it might ruin some of the momentum. But if it’s a novel that publishers think they can sell, they won’t care that much. Because all they want is money in the end. Problem is, we never know what they are looking for :joy:
  4. Don’t invest in the same place for success. Be ready to offer other stories that are not on Wattpad to query.
  5. No one in the publishing industry will take you if you are not willing to take your free content down.
  6. The more you change the final draft, the better.
  7. Series potential is still a really hot idea, but for first publication, it better be a literal stand alone with series potential. Like how Harry Potter was, versus LoTR. As in, the second novel is not needed to complete the story, but merely compliments the first book.
  8. Query your Wattpad story regardless. You might have the one story that people are looking for. You won’t know until you try.
  9. If you can get trad pubbed with another story, you might be able to pitch an edited version of your Wattpad story. It seems to be publishers just don’t like dealing with Wattpad stories as someone’s debut. If you sell the crap out of your debut, they might be more willing to hear your other ideas. You’ve proven you’re a worthy investment by that point.
  10. Take down your Wattpad story, or at least the content after the first 3 chapters, when going to query if you’re super nervous. It might not help too much, but it can probably be a sign that you are using Wattpad not as a real publishing platform, but to just gain beta reading and to build a base. It shows your serious. Maybe, to some, anyway.

DISCLAIMER: This is all just me thinking outloud. Anyone, please feel free to point out where I am wrong. I am trying to just figure out how best to protect myself when it comes to querying.


#73

One of the things that gets left out of these discussions is what percentage of the books posted on Wattpad – speaking specifically about ones that are queried (but NOT from writers who are further along in their careers and come here as part of a greater strategy) – are actually ready for querying. That number is damn close to zero.

It takes a lot of work, a lot of talent, a lot more work, and a fair bit of luck to write and polish a manuscript to the point that it has ANY chance of being repped by an agent. Of the people who have gone through the Industry Insider club in the several years since I’ve been here, only the tiniest fraction were actually ready to query.

My point is that I think developing writers get more out of Wattpad than they would lose if the book their querying is ready for prime time. Worse case – they set that book aside and write another as their debut, then bring this out again later. And that’s the WORST case. Frankly we’ve had too many “exceptions” that show that a great book will find a home regardless. (And that doesn’t even discuss electing to self publish the book!)

I’m not going to stop encouraging people from posting here. If I weigh all the options and all the pros and cons, it still comes out weighted in Wattpad’s favor.


#74

Can’t argue with the traditional publishers - the big ones - having empires to defend. But this statement makes Amazon sound like a feisty little hero out to change the system for the little guy. It’s pretty far from the truth. Amazon is an innovator in an industry that evidently needs innovators, but they never were in it for the little guy. And it’s currently the 2000 pound gorilla doing its best to smash whatever is left in its path and monopolize all parts of the book industry.

An absolute monopoly from publishing to distribution to retail will not be a good thing for writers.

Remember, Amazon was started by a hedge fund guy who was out to make a killing. A guy who famously never read a book. Quoting various sources: to Amazon, writing is ‘verbage’ and writers are ‘verbage pumps’. They pump their verbage to feed that huge river of ‘absolute dollar free cash flow’ (the Amazon River of money). From that starting point, Amazon built the largest retail/consumption monopoly on earth - a legal monopoly, because the old post-Depression monopoly laws in the US only recognize production monopolies.

For Amazon, publishing is just business - like retail is for them - like it is for any other publisher.

Wattpad is interesting for having one-upped Amazon, in a way. Wattpad has persuaded writers (who, to be fair, its founders never called verbage pumps) to write for free - and sometimes really good stuff. The writers live on air, while the investment funds and publishers who own Wattpad profit by allowing ad streamers to use the free writing to sell violent porn to young readers.

That too might sound like a cynical view, and certainly not the whole truth, but unfortunately it is, in fact, happening. I’d love to believe Wattpad is the feisty upstart trying to help out writers, but too much of what they do (and don’t do, like focus on fixing the broken author side of the platform) is a reminder that for Wattpad’s owner-investors, it’s a business.

Writers would be wise to remember that that’s what writing-to-publish is: business.


#75

It seems like it’s a catch 22 in a way.

Shuesha has a similar status to Wattpad in Japan, hence me saying Wattpad is Canada’s Shuesha.

To me perfection would be something like a worker-owned serialization co-op where instead of up-front payments, rather each writer gets a share of the profits. And there is no vertical hierarchy in anyway.

That would get rid of the whole “writer for free thing”. But then there is that culture of wanting cheaper and cheaper books, which granted I can’t blame them because of how expensive books had been.

Wattpad definitely has creative-commons on its side, which if used correctly, can protect the writer while also protecting your fans.


#76

That’s a great idea!


#77

What I have on WP is definitely not ready for publishing. My latest two are decent though ( I think. Hope. Well …) , and I would like to believe that’s why they are in Next.
They will get changed, I will edit and rework. But what I have there now is a lot closer to the “final product” than the story that got contracted by a trad publisher.
There, I’m still telling the same story. I just do it totally differently.
With that in mind, I would deduce that one should be okay as long as the story on WP is radically different, which most are.
However, WP is setting itself up to become a publisher in its own right. Stories on WP that get published by WP are fine.
This is definitely something to consider.
I believe, a trad contract is immensely helpful to understand how things work. That’s why I wanted one. But for the other series, I’ve now taken a different path. Querying takes so much time and energy, I would not do it for all my novels.
Hybrid is good, and I would maintain, having WP in the mix is also good. But yes, I’m biased here and very fortunate as well. Though the commercial programmes are now open for all and people can apply.


#78

I do think the thought of stories being on wattpad being bad is rather archaic so it sucks people still think that. But at the same time I can see people querying typo filled drivel because it hit the mega load on wattpad and they think its ready. Some of the self published authors who went straight from wattpad have definitely made me cringe because they didn’t edit, they published exactly what is on wattpad and that’s not always an indication its ready. But I truly believe that a good story will find a market no matter if a rough draft was on wattpad.

To me wattpad is great because it gives me a place to share my work. I absolutely have no confidence in my writing but wattpad gave me enough to at least consider publishing and for the first time in my life 2 stories made it past first draft status. Unfortunately I realized my confidence is not strong enough to survive querying with the inevitable rejections that follow, so I’ve since given up publishing. However, that brief moment of considering it never would’ve happened without wattpad.

In the end it’s all about weighing the pros and cons for each individual person. Wattpad isn’t going to be for everyone just like publishing won’t be for everyone.


#79

There are two sides to accounting — revenue and expenses.

For your model to work, for the writers to share in the revenues they must also share in the expenses.

Profit is when revenue exceeds expenses. But in your co-op model, the writer shares in the profits with no investment/risk. “Worker-owned” suggests the worker (writer) is an owner in the business and therefore shares in both the expenses and revenue.


#80

When I say investments, what I’m generally referring to is the cost of scam editing packages place like lulu have. Editing or no editing, I’m not paying 1,000 dollars for a “publishing package”. I barely even have 50.

To me Lulu and Xlibris are borderline vanity publishing.


There is also the fact that Twitter, pretty much the network where writers are expected to build their brand, is basically a pure data-farm. I’m honestly sick of having every post I make used against me, for a statement that’s not even directed at anyone in particular. Or have those be the things that keep me from being published.

Even when twitter is made private, it’s still a data-farm, it just has less people using your posts against you in a trial of “guilt until proven innocent”.

A lot of what keeps from querying isn’t stubborness or disdain, but simply a factor of time. I shouldn’t have to deal with the unchill atmosphere of some place, which makes me not want to do anything anywhere. But this takes so much time, I often just don’t have time to query.

In other words, I don’t have time to manage both my brand image, and send out and perfect query letters.