Wattpad's CEO AMA

Hello everyone! This is Allen Lau, CEO and co-founder of Wattpad Please feel free to ask me anything!

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For every one male Wattpad user there are nine female users. Virtually all of Wattpad’s most-read stories are women’s fiction, chicklit, and romance (paranormal or otherwise) aimed at teenage girls. Wattpad’s corporate sponsors, partners, and sponsored contests often target young females and advertise this same content.

However, to crack the entertainment (and publishing) industry the way you describe, wouldn’t you need to broaden Wattpad’s corporate scope? Men, women, and people of all ages watch TV and film; read books.

It goes without saying that all colors of content exist on Wattpad, but it’s also irrefutable that the most read, the most advertised, and those stories with the greatest corporate opportunity are those aimed at a young female demographic. Because of this advertising, Wattpad has the reputation of being “for kids” and even “for girls,” which keeps a large portion of readers from joining and changing those figures. It’s been a self-fulfilling prophecy ever since Wattpad became known for “After.”

Is Wattpad planning any initiatives to alter this pigeonholing trajectory, besides the redoubtably inclusive Wattys? Is Wattpad’s marketing going to change, or continue to cater to the audience it knows it can get?

By way of analogy, do you see Wattpad being its own TV station (say the Disney Channel, with its own target audience) or being a broad entertainment enabler (like Netflix)? And if it’s the latter, in what way is Wattpad willing to risk what it has in order to be something more than it is?

Thanks for your time, Allen!
Henry

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Hi sir! How are you today? :smiley:

Hi Allen!

I have a couple questions:

• In the future, will Wattpad’s writing section become a cross of Word and Scrivener?

• Are group PMs a possibility someday? Book clubs and beta readers would benefit greatly from this.

• As a Featured Author, I found my story’s reads were propelled to a new level (100k+). However, when I mention this to literary agents, they aren’t as moved by the data—or worse, they’re wary that I put my book online. When will Wattpad become a positive factor in traditional query letters?

Thank you for taking the time to answer. I appreciate it. :slight_smile:

Hello

Okay heres a question I see pop up often from international users whenever a contest starts for something so might as well ask it:

Contests run by Wattpad are often US and Canada residents only. I’ve always assumed it’s because the sponsor sets the rules, is this correct? If not, how is it decided when it will or won’t be open to everyone outside of the US and Canada? Is there any chance of getting more contests open to all international users in the future?

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[I might still edit this, because I’m still not sure I can word this succinctly.]

[preface/where I’m coming from] I have a great love for reading and stories and digest a lot of material as research these days, but I do see myself primarily as a writer on Wattpad. I read your “Master Plan” several times. I appreciate your vision, but the part that interested me most was about “leverag[ing] machine learning to discover more great stories”.

(My favorite Wattpad work is I’m a Cyborg’s Pet, BTW; it explores various relationships humans may with their smart devices.)

Also, I noticed from the requests Wattpad Research has made that Wattpad is looking into ways to use data to better identify niche markets or genres. As a writer, I’m interested in learning ways to identify how I can reach niche markets that I know exist. I’m from the U.S. and sometimes I receive comments from readers who tell me they are from other countries, like Turkey or Namibia, or I see countries on the map in my work’s statistics. I didn’t know when I was writing that I would have readers there. But, unless they choose to tell me in comments, I don’t necessarily know why they read or like my work.

[So the question is] Is there any way that those of us who write on Wattpad can get slightly more information or tools that would allow us to recognize patterns? Obviously, nothing that compromises the privacy of silent readers. Just, if there’s a little bit more data we can access that might suggest whether it was the setting, or the type of characters, or the mood that is successful in a certain area or with a certain demographic…well I would appreciate it.

(Also, if you tell me the name of your theme park I’ll write it into one of my stories set in the future.)

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Would wattpad ever make its own movies? There are talks of studios and paramount pictures etc associated with wattpad which is great but would wattpad ever be interested to produce their own movies with some sponsorship maybe? I just think when working with big studios since they have a packed schedule it can take years for movies to be made. I think Kissing booth took years after it was scouted to reach our screens. The external studios do a great job but to reduce waiting time and avoid losing the current fans who are waiting can wattpad become a movie studio? For instance fans are eagerly waiting for CW to accept cupid match. We know it can take years but we wish they made it faster but its understandable they have other projects…

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What is the barrier is organising more marketing and networking events for wattpad users at global scale? Last year there was only one watt con taking place in Toronto. Is there any possibility for wattpad to organise more watt con events?

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I understand ads are means to support the site and also wattpad premium. But how about gift shop of wattpad logo merchandise? or a service to make personalised merchandise like book marks?

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For authors picked and green lit for the screen, what is the criteria that goes into this? Sometimes a book or story works for one group of people, but not necessarily in others. And other genres have somewhat small niches.

I still need to clean up my profile from writing experiments from two years ago for a more professional finish, but it would be interestng to know why certain users are attracted to some science fiction genres and not others.

My other issue is, it seems like in Hollywood, rather than actors that fit the story, it seems like often the actors that get picked are picked based on availability rather than fitness for that story. Scarlette Johansen comes to mind in particular. Although she’s an excellent actress, and certanly not the worst example.

But what I like as an author is Author Trainining wheels, for authors looking for talent for those that are yet ready for Hollywood, but the potential is there.

But say I wanted to write a Tech Thriller about a reincarnated French girl born in the 19th century alps into the present day, whose dad works as a spy, she’s probably not realistically going to look like Scarlette Johanson.

(Even A Very Long Engagement had this same issue.)

But Hollywood seems to pick more “pretty people” than the right people.

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Okay, well none of my questions for Ivan made it over to that AMA thread (I'll try but I don't know if I'll be available for this one either,) but I'll go ahead and repost them here too, but modified for Allen.

Hi Allen! Thanks for taking the time to interact with us. I hope these questions are appropriate, so here goes:

1. I keep seeing references to video games as one of the types of entertainment you all plan, or hope, to develop. I know this is forward-looking, but is there anything on the near horizon on that front? And are we talking a CYOA game like Chapters Interactive or Episodes or something more like you’d find on Xbox?

2. I know that Wattpad highlighted web comics in the Wattys a few years ago and have experimented with them as well, but having just tried Amazon’s comiXology and Webtoons for the first time, it looks like there is a viable UI for the format (I haven’t tried it on my phone yet.) Are graphic novels an area that Wattpad would realistically consider in the near future or is it too complicated or cost-prohibitive?

3. So Anime and even adult-oriented animation (like The Simpsons or Archer) seem to be doing well but we haven’t seen any Wattpad deals in that arena. There’s the "make your own animation" approach (which gets back to the Episodes question), but will there be opportunities for Wattpad writers to have their work animated in some fashion do you think?

4 Last question - Would you ever consider writer-oriented tools on the platform – tools to help you better manage your work and grow your audience (scheduled posts and story publishing, ways to bookmark notifications in case you can’t respond before the 30-day age off, a notes field on your followers page so you can get to know your followers better by recording things you learn about them -- for example)?

Thanks!
Paula

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I have a question that hasn’t seemed to be answered yet, so here I go! :smile:

Recently, Wattpad had a major renovation in the rankings system. Now we use the new hashtag system, which has many pros but still some cons. For instance, I was just looking in the #poetry tab and noticed that a lot of the top rankings beneath that hashtag are better suited for the fanfiction or short story genre.

So my question is this: Will the new ranking system continue to be edited in the future to where the main genre hashtags show more results relating to their actual genres or will they continue to be a hybrid of many different genres?

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I would love to know what the master plan for theme parks would be. What would the rides feature? Ooh, would they be based on stories?

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Is the Q and A still going on? I was wondering if the focus would be on Scifi movies, or if other genres would also be produced?

My question for Allen:

I feel sad because all the new expansion plans do not include the publication of books or series in Spanish. There are a lot of Spanish speakers in Wattpad. Could you consider it for the future?

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Hi Allen Lau,
I would like to thank you for providing us such a great site to read and write. The experience of Wattpadding has been epic.
My questions:

  1. There are a number of contests going on but it seems only users from US and Canada are getting all the benefits. Will there be other contests in the future where it’s open internationally or contests especially for Asian writers?

  2. What can Asians writers look forward to in the future on Wattpad? Will there be any sort of deals such as publishing or…?

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Would Wattpad use the data it has gathered about what works in a story and commission an author to write something with those particular beats in it?

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What are some of the current theories that you have the machine learning working on?

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