Looking to take advantage of an active membership of more than 16 million visitors every month, Wattpad, an online writing community, is launching Wattpad Fan Funding, a new crowdfunding service that allows Wattpad members to pledge financial support to writing projects from their favorite Wattpad writers. Wattpad’s Fan Funding platform is launching with projects from three writers, including Brittany Geragotelis (Ki$$ and $ell), whose campaign starts today, and Jordan Lynde (A Proscriptive Relationship) and Tara Sampson (Catch My Breath) both of which debuted in a soft launch last month.
Wattpad CEO and founder Alan Lau said Wattpad’s Fan Funding service was similar to aspects of Kickstarter, but emphasized that it was devoted strictly to the needs of writers and publishing. “This isn’t for raising money to design electronics or gadgets, it's to raise money for an editor, for self-publishing or to get a book designer,” Lau told PW during a phone interview. “Wattpad was launched as a social media platform so I think we’re a little different than the usual crowdfunding platform. We have an established fan base and our writers have been interacting with tens of thousands of fans for some time, so the fans have a built in incentive to support them.”
Much like Kickstarter, Wattpad Fan Funding projects are organized by writers and are likely to be appeals for funds to self-publish. Wattpad is providing the infrastructure (Amazon provides the payment structure for Kickstarter) and requires the use of a credit card. Lau said Wattpad will take a “minimal service fee”—5% of funds collected, while online payment company Stripe will also take a 2.9% fee plus 30 cents per transaction. Writers can offer incentives (T-shirts, signed print copies, e-books, virtual and real meetups, and more) for donations; Fan Funding campaigns last for a month, fans can pledge whatever amount they want and are not charged unless the funding goal is achieved.
Over the last few years, the Wattpad writing community has become a magnet for novice and veteran writers looking for feedback from readers on a wide variety of genre writing. The site is also attracting scouts, literary agents, editors and publishers, all looking to see what’s popular among the Wattpad fan community as well as looking for new writers to sign to conventional publishing deals.
The site is both a writer’s community and a social media platform. It does not sell content, everything is available to read for free and readers can “follow” their favorite writers as well as “vote” in support of their favorite works. Now, using Fan Funding, fans can pledge money to help the authors publish specific projects in electronic or print formats.
Wattpad Fan Funding is launching with projects by Geragotelis, a Wattpad writer whose Life’s A Witch YA teen paranormal series originally debuted as a serial on Wattpad before it was published as part of a three book deal by Simon & Schuster last year. In addition, Lynde, a 19 year-old college student who has published 13 works on Wattpad, and Sampson, a mother of three who has published 31 different works on Wattpad, also launched Fan Funding campaigns to publish print editions of their books in a soft launch of the service that began last month. Sampson’s project, Catch My Bread, a romance novel set in the south, was successful and raised $5,079 via Fan Funding, while Lynde’s A Proscriptive Relationship, the story of a high school girl’s attraction to a teacher who has criminal secrets in his past, has raised $4,845 out of a goal of $7,500, with about week to go. All the writers are experienced Wattpad members and boast millions of readers across all their stories.
Geragotelis is launching a new YA teen novel called Ki$$ and $ell and looking to raise $2,000 on Fan Funding to support editing and cover design to self-publish the story. Ki$$ and $ell is the story of a teen girl who has never been kissed, Geragotelis said, so a bunch of her friends decide to sell her first kiss on eBay. “It’s very PG,” Geragtelis told PW. She said she is also looking to continue self-publishing along with her conventional publishing career. “I’ve been thinking about the rise of the hybrid author, who manages self-publishing and conventional publishing. There’s a world of choices for writers now and you can pick and choose your projects. Self-publishing is something I want to reincorporate into my career.”