Monday, January 9, 2017

Interview With Wattpad’s Ashleigh Gardner On 10-Year Anniversary

1.      Ashleigh, what can Wattpad boast about on its 10th anniversary? We’ve got quite a lot to be proud of. We’ve successfully build an engaged monthly audience of over 45 million, with more than 2.3 million of these being writers. Not to mention we have more than 300 million original stories available on our platform. Beyond this enormous growth, we’ve also made quite a few significant strides in our 10th anniversary year. We launched Wattpad Studios back in April which allows us to work with the entertainment and publishing industries to co-produce Wattpad stories for other platforms. We’ve also had New York Times bestsellers originate on Wattpad including  Anna Todd’s After, Natasha Preston’s The Cellar and Taran Matharu’s Summoner.

2.      How is Wattpad redefining publishing? There are a couple different ways that Wattpad is making a difference in the industry. First, we’re making reading a social experience. There’s no separation between readers and writers on our platform, which means readers can directly influence the direction of a story through commenting and engaging with the text. This lends itself to valuable insights for publishers – they can know the parts of the story that readers are most engaged with, which can help them in the development of a novel. Second, we’re helping writers find new ways to monetize their work. Beyond working with publishers, we also offer monetization opportunities through Wattpad Brand Stories – which pairs Wattpad Stars with brands to create organic content that resonates with their audiences. We also unveiled Wattpad Futures this past August with allows writers to earn additional revenue by showing ads in between chapters of their stories. Finally, under Wattpad Studios, we’re working with publishers to tap into a wealth of data and insights that can help inform which stories to develop and which will be hits. Publishing – like so many industries – is increasingly becoming more data-driven, but companies such as Amazon can really only provide insight on content that already exists. Wattpad is able to identify not only the stories that are most popular, but also the topics and trends that are resonating with audiences. That way, publishers can make more informed decisions about which genres and stories to pick up.

3.      You helped St. Martin's Press acquire the rights to a trilogy from Wattpad sensation Kara Barbieri. Why is that significant? It’s particularly significant because it’s one of the first book deals under our Wattpad Studios umbrella, and it was a data-driven acquisition. We saw that the Wattpad community was spending 6.5 times more hours on Kara’s story than other top fantasy stories on Wattpad. There was a massive following and built-in audience for her trilogy already, which made it a natural choice for publication with St. Martin’s Press.

4.      Where do you see book publishing industry heading in the coming years? I think we’ll certainly see more data-driven acquisitions, similar to White Stag. We’ll also see more of an international audience for stories. As mobile devices become ubiquitous, more audiences will garner exposure to content they previously didn’t have access to. Ninety percent of Wattpad activity is on mobile, which leads to an enormous expansion of content on a global scale.

5.      Wattpad posts 24 hours of reading material every minute while traditional publishers crank out 1000 books every single day. How can the reading public absorb all of this content? In short answer, they can’t – however, they can be led to find the content that most resonates with them. Our recommendation engine helps readers find the stories they’ll like the best. Similarly, we’re helping publishers find the stories that engage people the most. So while you’ll never be able to read everything that’s out there, data and insights can certainly help in finding the best story for you.

6.      Wattpad claims there are two million writers sharing something every month on the site. How can a writer breakthrough if he is competing with so many people? For any writer on Wattpad, being a reader yourself can help you understand how best to engage with the community. Observe what successful Wattpad Stars are doing – everything from how often they publish, to how frequently they comment can help inform budding writers on ways to stand out. At the end of the day, Wattpad offers an audience for every type of story. So while there is a lot of content on the platform, there’s also an enormous opportunity to reach people you otherwise wouldn’t have access to as a writer. That’s the magic of social media-driven storytelling.

All-New 2017 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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