As for your question…
It really depends on many different factors.
I think what you’re talking about the most are the books that’s on Wattpad already (originally published here), then get traditionally published elsewhere. This can happen, but there’s a lot more to it than simply posting your story.
Wattpad has two opportunities for specific writers if they wish to make their book into a physical, published version. The first is through the Wattpad Stars program. In order to become a Star, you have to be invited by Wattpad. There’s no application to it, and you can’t ask Wattpad if you could become one. But the program itself is where these specific writers get opportunities to talk with HQ, be a part of the community more, and talk to others (professional or a normal audience) about their books. In return, Wattpad will become your “agent.” Meaning that they will try to help you get published through publishing houses. So this is something that happened for people like Anna Todd, Pandean, Isabelle Ronin, and more.
The second is through the Paid Stories program. Now, I’m not entirely too sure if the program is already connected to you trying to get a publishing deal, but I do know that there are stories within the program that are eventually becoming published through Wattpad Books. The Paid program, though, does have an application process, so you are able to try and get on the list. But do know that it’s like a job application: you may be rejected. But there’s always the option of reapplying again.
However! …just because you are a part of these programs does not mean that you will instantly get a deal. There’s many writers within these programs that aren’t getting publishing deals. So, don’t expect to get one so easily just because you a part of a great program.
Otherwise, the only other way to get published (and get your book in a physical store) is through the normal, traditional route: going through an agent.
This is the harder option because there’s a lot to know about the industry, and it changes constantly. If you want to be published by a major publisher, you have to…
- Query a literary agent.
- If accepted, then you have to wait for your agent to get you an editor who will accept your manuscript.
- After revising a bunch of times with a professional, you then go on submission where you’re looking for a publisher.
It sounds easy, but it’s rather difficult, time consuming, and stressful. Because for one, it can take years to go from the querying stage to seeing the published version. Secondly, you will get rejected dozens of times… which is one of the reasons why it takes a long time. It isn’t always your book, it’s just the market or something else entirely. And finally, you may have to go through multiple agents and or multiple editors before you get a publisher.
Like I said, there’s a lot to know. I recommend watching the AuthorTube channels Alexa Donne and Meg LaTorre. Alexa is a traditionally published author of nearly three novels (Brightly Burning, her debut novel; the Stars We Steal, coming in 2020; and the Ivies, coming in 2021). She talks a lot about improving your writing along with the industry about the things she has experienced and what she knows from whom she personally knows.
Meg, on the other hand, is a former literary agent and she’s self-publishing her debut novel in 2020. Her channel, like Alexa’s, is about improving your writing along with the industry.
The final way to get your book physically(ish) published is through self-publishing. There’s multiple self-publishing platforms (Lulu, CreateSpace, Ingram Spark, etc.) and you can easily self-publish your novel through there. The only thing you have to know is that you’re your own publisher… which in turn means that it costs money. If you want a really good book out, you have to hire a professional editor (or more), get covers, and the whole nine yards.
Being self-published doesn’t mean it’s all online. While your story isn’t physically in stores, you can order it online as a physical copy. This is what many people do if they don’t have enough money for the retail price, if they can’t find the book in store, or if they don’t have a bookstore in their town (which is the case for me). Ingram Spark, though, has a great distribution access where you can get your book through major bookseller stores (like Barnes and Noble) online, through libraries, and more, but it does cost money to use… whereas CreateSpace, a free platform, is only for Amazon only.
If you want to learn more about the self-publishing industry and process, I recommend watching Jenna Moreci’s channel on YouTube. She’s a self-published author of two novels—Eve: the Awakening, her debut novel, and the Savior’s Champion. Her channel, like Meg’s and Alexa’s, is also on improving your writing, but also on the self-publishing industry.