UPDATE (2022–12–22): It is my intent to empower aspiring and novice writers, as well as inform them of their publishing options in the online space. In a recent post, I used language that positioned the company Wattpad in an unfair and deleterious light.
In the initial post, I used the heading Wattpad Ousts Jeanne Lam for a Naver Representative. This is false; Jeanne Lam was not “ousted” from her position as president of Wattpad, Lam left the company of her own volition.
Also, in my initial version of the post, I claimed that Wattpad expected an “exploitative amount of output from its writers”.
For clarification: Wattpad is a free writing platform, and writers have free rein to choose the pace at which they create and share content on the platform.
I have my opinions regarding the process by which writers become eligible to make money on Wattpad; however, that process by which the platform operates in no way translates to an exploitative treatment of its writers. I concede that I did not make my position on the financial compensation aspect of Wattpad explicitly clear and regret that I may have misguided readers with my choice of words.
Wattpad is not a scam; it is a multinational company that encourages creatives to share their stories with readers from around the globe. I invite you all to do your own research to determine if the platform is suitable for you.
I also hope that you will continue to put your trust in me to provide insightful commentary on the ever-changing landscape of writing and publication. I want to be able to inspire and uplift with my words; I, in turn, will continue to put my trust in my audience to hold me accountable.
When you think Wattpad, you think fanfiction. The platform dedicated to stories is home to some of the most well-known pieces of fanfiction on the Internet. After, one of Wattpad’s most lucrative success stories, began as a humble Harry Styles fanfic before spawning a series of popular films.
Yes, in the beginning, Wattpad and fanfiction used to go together like bread and butter. But somewhere along the way, something had shifted.
It could have been with the launch of Wattpad Premium, the paid tier of the platform, in 2017. Or the steady proliferation of paid stories, and the creation of their own in-house publishing branch with Wattpad Books. Or it was Wattpad’s acquisition by South Korean conglomerate Naver in 2021.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when the ethos had changed. One thing’s for certain: Wattpad wants to shed its reputation as the place where people indulge in cringe fanfiction.
Wattpad wants to be known as a place that not only houses original quality fiction, but as a viable option for aspiring writers — dubbed writerpreneurs — to generate income and be financially compensated for their output.
This trajectory was evident with the 2023 edition of WattCon, Wattpad’s annual writers’ convention which had been on hiatus for 4 years.
Youtuber Swell Entertainment (aka Amanda Golka) documents her experience quite extensively in her video review of the event:
There are some intriguing points to note regarding Amanda Golka’s experience at WattCon.
First: while Golka has a Wattpad account, she identifies more as a reader than a writer. This perplexed many of the attendees at Wattcon, as the event appeared to target aspiring writers hoping to monetize their craft.
Second: WattCon promoted the idea that with enough grit and determination, anyone could make money and live off their fiction.
To Golka, this screamed MLM — a multi-level marketing endeavour, where only a few at the very top would ever see any ROI on their dedication to the craft.
It’s very interesting to see this assessment of Wattpad from someone on the outside. I’ve written about Wattpad in the past, particularly the new Wattpad Creators Program.
Prior to its inception, the only way to make money on the platform was to join the Wattpad Stars program and then submit your stories to be part of Paid Stories. The other, less feasible option was to get “discovered” and to have your story turned into a book, courtesy of Wattpad Books. Failing that, writers could use their Wattpad profiles to direct readers to their own website or to Amazon.
I’m taken with how Golka’s criticisms mirror that of my own for the more predatory platforms of GoodNovel, WebNovel, Dreame, etc.
I Wonder About Yonder…
Golka also mentions Yonder, a new sister app branched off from Wattpad, and the subject of one of the main panels at WattCon.
Yonder champions serials — soap operas in story form. That is, never-ending stories readers could follow and consume in exchange for the platform’s in-house coin system.
Golka points out that the panel challenged writers to shift their mindset from the completion of a traditional narrative to that of an indefinite pipeline of content, which in turn would potentially provide the writer with a steady stream of income.
I say “potentially”, because, according to Golka, a major red flag about the entire WattCon experience was that presenters were hesitant to discuss any sort of hard numbers concerning revenue.
Golka posits some valid theories on why this may have been the case; still, the lack of any hard, concrete numbers is suspect, especially in the context of Yonder.
At the time of my writing this, Yonder is still only invite-only, which means only a select few would have access to what a contract would look like should they agree to create content for the app.
Jeanne Lam Departs Wattpad, Naver Representative to Replace
As I researched for this topic, I recently learned that Jeanne Lam recently stepped down as president of Wattpad. Lam, who took over after Wattpad founder Allen Lau stepped down, left the role to KB Nam of Naver Webtoon.
I’ve been monitoring the activity of Wattpad since Naver’s takeover in 2021.
This sudden shift from a Wattpad lead to Naver now taking the reins has given me pause.
Combined with its gradual departure away from fanfiction and the sudden, aggressive promotion of this new platform Yonder, I think we may be seeing the beginning of ends of Wattpad.
Wattpad will continue to be successful. But with the gradual, steady influence of the Naver takeover settling in, Wattpad’s identity as a place to write and to celebrate fanfiction is all but dead in the water.
That may be good for the aspiring gen-Z writer looking to make it big with their next werewolf mafia fantasy romance novel, but if you just want a place to plop your Wednesday x Enid one-shot fanfiction, perhaps it’s time to transition over to Archive of Our Own.
Wattpad is no longer the place for you.
Thanks for reading — if you’ve gotten this far, I’d like to take this opportunity to announce that I’ve published Elite & Tawdry on Amazon KDP!
The story is still ongoing, but if you’d like the first 33 chapters in an easily-consumable format, head over to Amazon and purchase Book 1 of the Series today!
Sylvie is a dual American/Canadian citizen living in Toronto, Canada. She has written for numerous sites, including Screen Rant, The Spool and Midnight & Indigo. Sylvie is currently writing her first YA novel; follow her writing journey at https://sylviesoul.com.
Sign up for a Vocal+ membership today! If you use my referral link, I receive a 50% commission. :)