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Kobo Writing Life Podcast


The Kobo Writing Life Podcast brings you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We feature interviews with bestselling authors and industry experts, who share practical advice you can use to improve your writing and sell more books. Hosted by KWL's very own Chrissy Munroe and Stephanie McGrath, you'll also get the latest news and updates about Kobo and the KWL platform. Self-publish today at www.kobo.com/writinglife

Dec 8, 2015

US Manager Christine Munroe interviews Ashleigh Gardner, Wattpad’s Head of Writer and Publisher Partnerships. Wattpad is a social media app with over 40 million monthly users around the world and growing. How can you take advantage of this community as a writer and reader? Listen in to learn about:

  • What is Wattpad all about? A social media app for telling stories, all user-generated content.

  • Currently attracts 40 million users per month, growing at a rate of over 1 new user per second.

  • It’s mostly readers – 90% of site users. Writers can use it to build reading communities.

  • The longer a user is onsite as a reader, the more likely they are to become a writer.

  • User demographics: 45% of users are 13-18. 40% are 18-30. Fastest-growing segment is women 25-35. A common misconception is that it’s just teenagers.

  • Wattpad is strong internationally. #2 country is the Philippines, where Wattpad is the #1 website and they have their own TV show 4 nights a week.

  • A lot of the content is unfinished when it’s first uploaded. The encouragement and acknowledgement from the Wattpad community inspires writers to keep going.

  • It offers a very supportive, encouraging environment and culture. Readers are used to a rawness – think of it as a “digital campfire” more than a digital book – so they aren’t critical in the same way as you see on other social media platforms.

  • Why should authors post free content? Learn your audience. Grow your audience. Post a portion, or the first book in a series, then encourage readers to buy the rest elsewhere.  

  • What is a Wattpad success story? It’s different for everyone, as every author is writing for different reasons. The most traditionally successful author is Anna Todd, who has become an internationally bestselling author. Tons of other young writers are gaining confidence every day from having tens of thousands of followers encouraging them to pursue writing opportunities. Brands are sponsoring stories, for example SourPatch Kids and Ouija Boards.

  • How to succeed on Wattpad: follow other writers in your genre. See what they’re doing, how they talk to their fans. Find your network – share on other social media outlets that you’re posting on Wattpad.

  • What does Wattpad do to combat piracy problems? They don’t allow copy/pasting. Duplications are detected, reported, and removed quickly. Everything on Wattpad is date and time stamped, so it’s very easy to prove the origin date.

  • Ashleigh’s favourite kind of fan fiction: high-brow commentary on contemporary events. Finding that line between real life and fan fiction when the line starts to blur is really interesting.

At the end of the episode, we showcase a speech that Michael Tamblyn, Rakuten Kobo President, delivered at FutureBook 2015. FutureBook is an annual digital publishing conference that took place last week in London on December 4th. Tamblyn outlines what he sees as a "reader’s bill of rights." We should be able to read: 1. Easily 2. Shamelessly 3. Freely (not meaning no cost, but in terms of time - free time to read in the midst of the distracting world) 4. Publicly 5. Privately   In addition to analyzing, trying to understand, marketing to, segmenting, collecting information about readers, publishing professionals (including authors!) need to step back and think about how readers want to read. “Earn the right to the reader’s attention… and we’ll get to keep doing what we love.”