Wattpad, the Toronto-based online reading and writing community that says it has received 565 million story uploads since its launch, is starting its own publishing division, Wattpad Books. Ashleigh Gardner, deputy general manager of Wattpad Studios and Publishing, will head the new unit and Deanna McFadden, publishing director for Wattpad Studios, will manage the book unit’s operations.
Wattpad Books will launch this fall with six young adult titles. According to the company, the six stories on the initial list collectively accumulated more than 100 million reading minutes from the general public in 2018. Gardner told PW that Wattpad decided to aim its first list at the YA market because, while it has a diverse audience, the vast majority fall in the Millennial and Gen Z categories. She added the future lists will expand to include "various demographics within our network."
The first title on the list, to be released this August, is The QB Bad Boy & Me by Tay Marley. Books set for September are Trapeze by Leigh Ansell and What Happened That Night by Deanna Cameron. The final three titles in the launch list, to be published in October, are Cupid’s Match by Lauren Palphreyman, Saving Everest by Sky Chase, and I’m a Gay Wizard by V.S. Santoni.
Wattpad said it will choose stories for Wattpad Books using a combination of “human editorial expertise” and the company’s Story DNA Machine Learning to “identify and publish stand-out stories from the more than 565 million story uploads on Wattpad.”
Wattpad said that by using “billions of data points” from its global audience of more than 70 million people, Wattpad Books “will introduce diverse, new, and undiscovered voices,” promising that “readers will find new genres, category-bending spins on traditional genres, narratives that tackle the experiences and struggles of marginalized communities, and stories that speak to the diversity of Wattpad’s global community online.”
Gardner said that while she and McFadden are the only Wattpad employees dedicated to the book group, she has access to other Wattpad staffers in such areas as publicity, marketing, and design. To launch the first list Wattpad also used a network of freelance editors and expects to expand its freelancer pool.
U.S. distribution will be handled by Macmillan and Raincoast is doing Wattpad’s Canadian distribution. In 2020, Gardner said she expects Wattpad Books to release 20 titles.