Wattpad AMA - Wattpad and the Publishing Industry with Ashleigh Gardner


#1

Hi Everyone!
I’m Ashleigh Gardner and I work at HQ as Deputy GM of Wattpad Studios, focusing on publishing. What this means is I lead all the points on Wattpad that intersect with the traditional publishing industry. I help Wattpad writers get book deals, spend a lot of my time talking with publishers globally about how we can collaborate, and explore where else we can work in the vertical of traditional publishing.

Looking forward to answering your questions!


Discussion thread–post AMA with Ashleigh Gardner
What would you do if you'd win the Wattys?
What do you want to _tell_ Wattpad Studio's Head of Publishing?
#2

Hi Ashleigh! Thank you for being here today!


#3

Hey Ashleigh! Thanks for taking the time to do this!

Oh and hi from Scotland!


#4

Hi from Australia :heart:


#5

Hello there. Thank you for spending some time with us. It’s a pleasure to meet you :slight_smile:

Also, hi from New Zealand


#6

First of all, thank her for being part of a very good platform for all kinds of writers; hobbyists, first timers, published and hopefully soon-to-be published. It’s great!

I think you definitely made everything easier for yourselves with making the Talent Scouts channel. And while I know it’s totally unrealistic, it would be nice to get some kind of feedback from them. If they’re interested but still waiting around for the right gig, or if it’s not something they’re looking for at all - or if it’s not something they can use at it’s current state (aka “you need to work on this book before we can use it”) It could even be three automated messages;
Yes.
No.
No - but!

So that’s a little in lieu with what @Prisim said.


And the questions:

  • How does one get into the Wattpad Stars programme? (Like actually get in - not just the really vague description on the website)

  • Does the user’s personality have anything to do with whether or not Wattpad wants promote them? (Like feature, Stars, Futures etc.)

  • Has anything come out of the Talent Scouts yet?

  • Is a user’s nationality a hindrance in terms of working together with Wattpad? (Should we on the other side of the pond curb our enthusiasm?)

  • Does Wattpad favour new or old users? Or does it even matter?


What do you want to _tell_ Wattpad Studio's Head of Publishing?
#7

With searching for books on the platform, do you look for books via rate of growth, tags, word of mouth, user activity, interaction with other users, popularity? Or is it solely based on algorithmic findings and then determining what makes the selected book great?

With this in mind, is the Feature like a beta test to see how a potential book may be received based on user interaction?


#8

If you find a book you like, but it doesn’t have many reads, would Wattpad (either secretly, or in partnership with the author) push it through “book suggestions”, and profile readings lists etc, to see if it gains traction?


#9
  1. We all know data plays a huge part in a stories Star ability on Wattpad, but does the person, as well? For example, some people want to make writing a career (like me), while others don’t really want to. Can that willingness for a career, and in turn a willingness to do what they need to do to succeed (edits, develop new stories, etc) make a person more appealing to represent?

  2. Does Wattpad Studios ever look to work with writers developmentally on new stories? (I.e. - a writer proposes a future story to work with Wattpad on, similar to how writers pitch their agents new stories before writing them)

  3. Are the Talent Scouts the only way to apply for representation from Wattpad?

  4. How have you seen uploading stories to Wattpad effect writers careers?

  5. What is the best way a writer can utilize Wattpad to further their career? How is Wattpad helping the average user with their career?

  6. Does posting rough drafts on Wattpad ever hinder writers from receiving possible representation of their writing, whether from Wattpad Studios or elsewhere.


#10

My questions from the other thread:

I’m hosting a preschool graduation on Friday, so I won’t be able to make to this question and answer session. However, if I survive the graduation (please say a prayer for me)–here are some questions I’d be interested in.

  1. Re: What studios/publishing companies are looking for in Wattpad stories . I understand studios & publishing companies are looking for stories readers are addicted to or can’t put down. There are definitely some story concepts (bad boys and millionaires for example) that are extremely popular right now on Wattpad. Naturally, these type of stories are heavily searched for (and found) because they are the thing of the moment. Is the industry even interested in content not already popularized by society? If they are–how do they go about finding fresh content that doesn’t fit the popular molds of the moment? How do they discover breakout stories ideas? For example–stories about boy wizards weren’t a popular thing–until they were. :slight_smile:

  2. What are the industry’s expectations of a writer? Are they looking for someone with an outgoing personality and charming social media presence? Does an author’s personality have a greater impact on a writer’s success in today’s age of social media? Do they want writers to have their own web pages–and if so, what kind of content do they hope to see on those author pages?

  3. I’ve heard some publishing companies are primarily interested in writers that already have a large following. Is promoting now in the hands of the writer instead of the publisher? Do you have to already be a “success” before they’ll even consider you?

Phew! Between working with preschoolers all day and thinking about all the effort writers give their stories in hopes someone will give it a read/chance–I’m exhausted! Have fun tomorrow, everyone! Muah!


#11

Hi Ashleigh! Thank you for taking time to talk to us!


#12

Hi, Ashleigh! Thank you for taking the time to do this!


#15

#16

Hi @Ashleigh We’d had some links to talks you gave on The Creative Penn and at BookNet Canada in another thread, so I wanted to say those were informative. Those were both from around summer 2017. Any major changes since then?


#17

Some great questions!

The talent scouts is a new program so that feedback is great and there will be lots of changes and improvements in the future. Your comments help make it better!

As to how one gets into the Wattpad Stars program, we’re not trying to be vague with the descriptions on the website. The truth is there isn’t just one path and there isn’t one milestone you can reach with followers, reads, etc that will make you a star automatically.

Nationality makes no difference in working together with Wattpad - nor does age of your account. It’s all about the story you post and how it’s resonating with different communities on and off Wattpad.


#18

Thanks for the question!
It’s actually all those things and more.
There are over half a BILLION stories on Wattpad so we rely on data to help surface some of those needles in the massive haystack. But we’ve also found stories from the newsfeed when another user comments. Or from searching for keywords or through recommendations.


#19

Yes - we’re always running different experiments to see if we can help stories find their audiences (though usually not exactly how you mention it) but we’re always careful to give small boosts and look for the organic growth and word of mouth we see afterwards.


#20

Oh! I had always had a hint about that! Very interesting!


#21

same


#22

What sort of ways do you give small boosts, if not via the methods, I suggested? Would “Featuring” a story and keeping an eye on how it goes also be one of those ways?