Wattpad looks to pro­pel creators to main­stream

Cape Breton Post - - Arts/ Entertainment - BY LAUREN LA ROSE

The Cana­dian on­line sto­ry­telling plat­form Wattpad has proven to be a pop­u­lar han­gout for pas­sion­ate read­ers ea­ger to em­brace the work of new writ­ers, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to fan fic­tion tales in­spired by pop stars, ac­tors and lit­er­ary char­ac­ters.

Now the Toronto-based com­pany is in­creas­ingly look­ing to pro­pel the work of its cre­ative stars more into the main­stream, with part­ner­ships for books, TV and films.

Tra­di­tional en­ter­tain­ment com­pa­nies have taken no­tice of Wattpad’s grow­ing in­flu­ence with en­gaged young read­ers. The com­pany says it has 60 mil­lion ac­tive users and 2.5 mil­lion ac­tive writ­ers each month.

Last year, Wattpad joined forces with Univer­sal Ca­ble Pro­duc­tions — a di­vi­sion of NB­CU­ni­ver­sal Ca­ble En­ter­tain­ment — to de­velop orig­i­nal con­tent for TV.

And it was re­cently an­nounced that Wattpad will work in tan­dem with Harper­Collins Chil­dren’s Books and its ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor, Sara Sar­gent, on choos­ing teen sto­ries al­ready shared on the plat­form to be brought to mar­ket through tra­di­tional pub­lish­ing. French fic­tion pub­lisher Ha­chette Ro­mans will also trans­late Wattpad sto­ries in print and dig­i­tal book for­mats be­gin­ning in Septem­ber.

“Not only do we have phe­nom­e­nal sto­ries from unique, di­verse sto­ry­writ­ers all over the world, we also have au­di­ence and data be­hind it,’’ said Aron Le­vitz, head of Wattpad Stu­dios. “We know what coun­tries their sto­ries are big­gest in. We know how many peo­ple read it last month .... We know there were parts they love and parts they hate.

“There’s a lot of things that change from the mo­ment we work with a pro­ducer or pub­lisher to put out a movie or pub­lish a book. But when you’re start­ing with a built-in au­di­ence, peo­ple who love that prop­erty, you have a way higher chance of suc­cess than you would if you’re just tak­ing a dusty man­u­script out of a drawer.’’

Among the com­pany’s big­gest suc­cess sto­ries is Anna Todd, who tran­si­tioned from a Wattpad reader into one of its most pop­u­lar au­thors. Todd’s “Af­ter’’ se­ries in­spired by su­per­star boy band One Di­rec­tion net­ted mil­lions of reads, trans­form­ing the fledg­ling Los An­ge­les-based fan-fic­tion writer into a best­selling pub­lish­ing pow­er­house. The “Af­ter’’ se­ries has been trans­lated into more than 30 lan­guages and a film adap­ta­tion is on the hori­zon.

“She had a bril­liant voice,’’ said Le­vitz. “She talked about sub­ject mat­ter that was in­ter­est­ing, new and dif­fer­ent, and it didn’t mat­ter that the char­ac­ter’s name was Harry Styles — she’s a good writer, pe­riod. So, it was easy for us to take that to Si­mon & Schus­ter and say: ‘Let’s change his name to Hardin Scott and pub­lish this thing.’ And it was easy for us to go to Paramount and say: ‘This is a ma­jor mo­tion pic­ture, let’s get this thing into devel­op­ment.’’’

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