Agents' thoughts on querying work posted previously on Wattpad


#81

Thanks @shalonsims and @MakaylaSophia both for sharing these! It’s great to be collecting as much information as possible.


#82

I completely agree with you 100% and I think Wattpad is a great place to build writing skills for us amateur writers, and a fanbase for people planning to self-pub. I wouldn’t have even finished my series if I hadn’t started posting it on Wattpad in 2014.

However, I do strongly believe that authors should know the possible consequences of posting here. The fact of the matter is that I will NOT post any other books on Wattpad that I plan to publish traditionally.

However, I think saying there are “too many exceptions that show a great book will find a home regardless” is misleading. I don’t think there are more than 50-100 exceptions, and when you consider how many people post on Wattpad, that is like .00001% or it might even be something on the order of 1 million to 1 (.000001%). Even considering only the people who plan to publish traditionally, it’s still a drop in the ocean.

And the truth is that those exceptions aren’t necessarily “good” books that are ready to query. They are just timely books that fill a great need in the market. They can be poorly constructed and poorly written but because they’re hot, it doesn’t matter.

Anyway, this thread isn’t 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.

I think it’s important to remember that people using Wattpad are pro-Wattpad. Of course we’re almost exclusively going to hear, “Wattpad is great – posting your work here is great, forget about the consequences because… well Wattpad is great!”

And with the lack of information that’s available from agents and publishers, it’s easy to feed into that narrative. It’s confirmation bias. Look for what you believe and you’ll find examples.

But there is a real need to share more information about this because it DOES have consequences.

I would NOT go back in time and tell my past self to avoid Wattpad. I love Wattpad and am so grateful for the community I’ve developed here. However, until the market changes, i won’t be posting my long-form works here anymore. I probably won’t post much of anything tbh.


#83

Note that I specified books that queried. 99.999% of the books on Wattpad are never queried. Heck, most of them aren’t even finished.

Frankly, in the real world, less than half a percent of manuscripts queried are eventually traditionally published. When you limit the pool to books that are polished and queried, I’d say Wattpad actually has a damn good record – and many of the ones that were trad published got really good deals, no matter what those agents say.

I agree that there could be consequences. I just don’t think those consequences are serious enough to recommend against posting on Wattpad, ESPECIALLY if you’re a developing writer. That path is just too long and windy to waste time worrying about a step in your development that takes years to reach (and for most genres may not be a good thing anyway).


#84

Absolutely! I think Wattpad delivers a good opportunity to people who write YA and NA and who have something sexy. Basically, Wattpad delivers the trad pub machine with a YA book that’s already proven itself.

But a book that’s, say, for example adult-oriented genre fiction, or a bit cooky, literary, pushing the edge, or a discovery draft, or poorly constructed first draft then it’s probably not going to transfer from Wattpad to the real world.

But that doesn’t mean the book’s not viable (one day). Just not on Wattpad. And for people in those categories, it could be basically shooting ourselves in the foot to post it here on Wattpad first.

There are so many variables. At the end of the day, each person gets to choose, but should do so with all the facts.


#85

That I agree with 100%. I wouldn’t see any point in posting it here in the first place, unless you had a private critique group. The reads would be so low on stories like that that they could inadvertently hurt a writer if mentioned to an agent or publisher.


#86

Not to pick nits or dispute your facts, but the Math Nerd in me wants to point out that the way to represent One in One Million as a percentile is 0.0001%.

That is all. Peace! :slight_smile:


#87

I tried to impress a girl once on Valentine’s Day and whispered in her ear over dinner, “You’re point zero zero zero one percent”. Didn’t get the response I was hoping for. I’ll stick to, “You’re one in a million.” LOL


#88

Ha ha ha. That is very funnee.
It’s even better on a card.
With strawberries and champagne.

:slight_smile:


#89

@shalonsims @XimeraGrey Been thinking about this topic a bit, (for some reason I don’t see much agent responses on the twitter thread not sure if i’m not using it right) Have you all asked agents how they feel about different books revolving around the same universe? Even more importantly, how do trad publishers feel about it? To use my own practice writing as an example. Lets pretend i’m polished enough and at query level.

I’m writing a novella (Ignore the fact its not novel length) that’s NA urban fantasy. Lets also pretend that its completed and remains on wattpad and this book isn’t queried.

If I were to query another book that’s YA with different characters but happens within the same universe

  1. would existence of the Novella be a threat?

  2. Would there be a problem if characters from both books cross paths? (I suspect this might be true)


#90

I’ve never asked about that sort of situation, but I can speculate.

Publishers don’t want the second book in a series, but I don’t think they’d care if there was another book out there already that was in the same universe as long as nothing in that other book was necessary to understand the one they’re considering.

BUT be aware that if you sell a book in a certain universe, you’ll have to negotiate damn hard to be able to publish anything else in that universe for a long time. Their contract will stop you from publishing anything “similar” (and sometimes anything at all!!!) until some date after the release of the book they’re buying.

While it’s easy for everyone else in the world to see how other stories would improve the sales of the book they bought, they see it only as competition and an opportunity to DAMAGE their property.


#91

This is such a tricky bit of the contract, I believe this falls under the “non compete” clause? correct me if i’m wrong. IMHO I think its silly of them to think an author would publish something to damage their property which is also the author’s own intellectual property but go figure. I can see in their minds I guess they see the possibility of you pushing out a similar book to another publisher but the chances of that are slim honestly. Thanks for taking up the question. I guess on average you’d have to wait to year or two(on average) before you can write anything similar. But I do wonder how wattpad would be equated into that.

The fact that some agents see wattpad as self publishing and the book already having its chance is a bit unfair to developing writers


#92

I suspect it’s because most of tradpub is obsessed with hitting the bestseller list, which is easier to do if you sell a lot of copies of one book than if several books sell a smaller number of copies. (Even if the several books sell more copies all together than the one book.) Multiple books from the same author in a short time just means they’re competing against themselves for the same slots on the list.

Being able to say, “One of our authors hit number one this year” sounds more impressive than “One of our authors had five books in the top 20 this year.” (Assuming you care about bestseller lists, of course.)


#93

Yes, the non-compete. Some of those non-compete clauses literally stop the writer from writing ANYTHING, even unrelated. It’s a horrible clause that stop a writer from trying to earn a living as a writer.

So many of the clauses in traditional contracts are evil – and it can be difficult to negotiate them to anything reasonable. Non-competes can usually be negotiated, but I don’t know if you’d be able to get it stricken completely – and that’s what it would take to write more stories set in the same world.


#94

You know I like trad pub but this is the problem I have with the major power imbalance in these relationships between publisher and author. These people are making millions at the end of the day while crippling the very engines that give them the content to sell in the first place. What I keep on seeing repeatedly is that these draconian measures aren’t always necessary for their protection, but simply because of monopoly. Simply because they can. As you said: Evil.


#95

That’s exactly it.

I don’t hate trad pub, per se. Or maybe I do, but I can see where they have certain benefits that make them worth the sacrifice in some circumstances. But I think writers need to study up, go in with their eyes wide open, know what they will and will not accept, and be willing to WALK if they don’t get what they can live with.

Writers won’t get everything they want, and they will have to make huge sacrifices. But there are legit reasons to do it for SOME writers and SOME books.

I will add that I have zero sympathy for writers who get screwed and then whine about it. They were not forced into their contract. Whether they didn’t understand it or just made the choice to accept the bad terms, it’s on them. They chose it. They were not victims.


#96

This.I think if more writers maintained the power to walkaway you then keep your power rather than giving it away. Its not a privilege to be published if you sat your ass down and did the work. Reward for hard work is just the next step and I feel the culture of being grateful for being published (not saying you should not be thankful to everyone who helped you along the way) leaves openings that can seeds of exploitation can be sowed. I also think if all self published writers can get their books into book stores without a problem that would be good competition against trad pub correct me if i’m wrong but they seriously need real heavy hitting competition to force them into giving better contracts for writers.

I can agree on some cases but I have to disagree also. I have known cases where people have come from abject poverty and part of getting their big break in life, was getting published (though not the initial focus) and they just weren’t educated enough to understand the ins and outs of publishing and were deceived by people they trusted. For me I just know they’re are bad deals and horrible people and sometimes folks just play on people’s ignorance.


#97

I got a non compete clause, which means anything in that particular world is under the contract. Given the others are sequels, that actually makes sense. i can publish a different world, though. If that had been blocked, I would not have signed.


#98

I agree with @XimeraGrey – and actually one of the agents addressed this question directly. It’s not so much the ‘universe’ that matters, just the story itself.


#99

This is a great insight into the publishing industry that I didn’t know before. Thanks. This makes complete sense, and is at the same time completely nonsense! Ridiculous, but so obviously true.


#100

I wish you could have gotten it defanged but once you’re okay with it then cool. I would definitely not be happy if they locked me down completely.