Today I want to talk about the Wattpad London Convention, hosted by Victoria James(@JayVictor) and Gavin Wilson(@TheOrangutan), I have attended on Saturday, 12th of December. It was held on the top floor of Foyles – a large book store in Central London. There’s a lovely café on the floor below. They make fancy tea and it’s a great place for people watching if you are interested in that sort of thing.
Let’s begin with the overall structure of the event. There were five panels with attendees ranging from Wattpad’s popular writers, ambassadors, moderators to agent assistants and published authors that use Wattpad as a platform.
Personally, I thought there would be more people, and I’m not certain how many attended but I would estimate 25 panellists and approx. 100 Wattpad writers.
Between the events, you had 5-15 minutes to chat with the people present.
At the end of the convention there was a giveaway where a raffle was held for books and items brought in by the panellists and Wattpad staff.
Panel 1: The Watty Mix
This group was a mixture of Wattpad writers and ambassadors led by Glyn Owain. I’m a bit hazy on which writers were participating in this one because I didn’t take any notes during the event. Actually, I’m hazy on most of the things at this point. I didn’t get much sleep from flying to and from London. So as a word of warning, all of the information in this post is from memory.
I feel that the writers on the first panel were the most nervous out of all of the lot, and I want to say that you guys did well. You had the attention of the room and still stayed there and answered the questions the best you could.
Some of the questions asked during the panel:
How to react to negative feedback?
While Ammelia (@Ammelia11) said that you can report them (if it is foul language or something offensive) or delete them, Glyn Owain (@Owainglyn) suggested keeping all of the negative feedback there as in a few months’ time you may have a different outlook on it and it may indeed be helpful to you to improve your story in the further drafts.
How did the people on the panel get more reads/views/followers?
Some stated they interacted with other users in the clubs. They realized that many writers on Wattpad required feedback and worked their way up by giving feedback to those who asked for it.
As many of you have already heard about this, time and time again, as it is in almost every guide: be active. To be visible, you have to be active in the clubs, comment on other people’s work to get them to maybe check out your own, vote on their work, etc.
Do certain stories do better on Wattpad than others?
Yes. Billionaire romances, bad boys, fan fic.
What are the most popular genres on Wattpad?
Teen-fic, Romance, Werewolf, Fan Fic.
There were a few questions about Rita (@Rskovach) and her winning a short story competition held on Wattpad through which she won a publishing deal with Simon & Schuster. My congratulations on that, Rita!
I feel that Glyn’s calm demeanour and light humour kept this panel going. He is a lovely man and someone who is very friendly. It was a pleasure meeting him at the event, even if it was for a brief ‘hello’.
Panel 2: Wattpad loving authors
The second panel consisted of a few authors that either became popular through Wattpad and gained exposure that way or queried the normal way.
From the authors that were there, some had ties to the publishing world. It was an interesting balance to see different sides and stories of how people achieved their success with traditional publishing. Taran was an intern at Penguin when he wrote “The Summoner” book that exploded on Wattpad with an amazing 1M reads in the first three months of its publication on the site, followed by 3M reads in six months. That’s quite a feat on Wattpad.
Laure Eve worked for a publisher even though she did not use any connections there to boost her career forward. She said she queried the normal way and went through the normal channels until she ended up with an agent and the first publishing deal soon after.
Jeff Norton and Vic James are both very imaginative and creative people that have a wealth of experience outside the publishing houses. So, their journeys were also different, sadly, I’m at a loss as to what they said exactly. (Sorry!)
Now then, the questions that were asked:
What do you use Wattpad for?
Most said, “feedback”. It is a platform where you can get an insight into the reader’s mind as they read your story (that’s if they comment) and you see where the story may need changing in the following draft. So, Wattpad is a good place to put up your first draft and see how well it is received by the community.
Others use it to interact with their readers and give back to them by posting a side-story or a book exclusive to Wattpad – fan service.
Lastly, another one was ‘ego stroking’. Laure Eve said that it is a place where the nice feedback does lift her spirits and she is more eager to work on the story.
All three are pretty accurate.
How does Wattpad translate into Amazon sales?
This question was probably asked at the wrong time during the convention as it should have been asked during the 5th panel. The answer remains the same: it doesn’t. Very few people on Wattpad will purchase your work. It is a platform you can use to increase your popularity but you must work even harder outside of it to actually make money if you’re a self-publishing author.
Panel 3: Ask Wattpad anything.
This was the part where Gavin Wilson, most of you will know him as ‘TheOrangutan’ on Wattpad, took over and answered questions regarding Wattpad.
Aren’t Wattpad users really young? Most readers are between 13-18.
Gavin said that Wattpad is getting older. The users that were thirteen, five years ago, are now 18 and that’s how it seems to continue. Those users then bring more of their friends and family on-board of the Wattpad reading/writing ship.
Where is Wattpad planning to expand to next?
Although Wattpad is a worldwide platform, there are still countries that don’t use it. But, according to Gavin, there’s been a recent boom in users from Turkey while the numbers of users from Philippines have levelled off.
Panel 4: Dark Fic
This panel was interesting. The Dark Fiction writers such as @LittleCinnamon talked about where their inspiration comes from and whether they’re plotters or pansers. By the looks of it, most were pansers. Even when they would plan something, the characters take over at certain stages and they had to toss the plotted events out the window. Since that happens to me a lot, I can completely understand this.
Their inspiration, as it is with a lot of us, comes from the world we live in and the events that we see on TV or read about in books. They were a very lively and interesting group of people.
I feel that there weren’t enough people there into the genre to ask the questions and therefore this panel ended very quickly. Although, oddly enough, I enjoyed these guys the most since I could relate to almost everything they talked about.
Panel 5: So How Should I Publish?
The final panel consisted of two traditionally published authors -Vic and Taran- two agent assistants, and three self-published authors. We got to see the different opinions and views on how people see their progress in the publishing industry.
With Taran Matharu asking the questions, the self-pub side went first.
What does self-publishing give you?
Most of the writers agreed on this. You get control. You are able to design, format, and market everything to your own specification. You are your own boss and there are no editors/publishers poking you in the back side, bugging you with deadlines. But, as someone had mentioned, “it is a double-edged sword”. Yes, you can be in control of everything, but, if you are no good in marketing yourself, you will not be able to succeed as a self-published author.
This path does require a lot of investment from a person. After all, you become a ‘freelancer’ and you’re your own boss, marketing person, designer, editor – unless you hire a lot of people. Then, you still have to manage them.
Agent’s assistants got their own group of questions, probably more than the self-pub side. It must be because majority of writers dream about being published by a big house.
What should be in the query letter?
Although I find this to be contradictory, it was still said: you should get a little personal and try to appear different from everyone else (nothing wrong with being unique though). ‘Talk about your cat or something’ was mentioned while at the same time you have to still maintain professionalism in the letter, and make it as short as possible because agents don’t have time to read long letters.
This confused the hell out of me. I have read countless agent blogs stating the opposite that they couldn’t care less about your cat or your favourite fish. They care about your credibility, skill, awards, achievements, and if it’s a story they can sell to the publishers.
Your first page is very important. If it doesn’t grab them and if there are spelling/grammar errors, odds are your piece of work will be binned. It’s a little disheartening for a lot of people.
I do agree that doing your research, if you’re looking into the right agent, is important. Research, in general, is important in almost all aspects of publishing or working with people. You don’t want to be stuck with someone who only published books that you’ve hated as a reader. You two simply will not get along.
They mentioned that if you have millions of reads on Wattpad, mention it. If you have won the Wattys then mention that too. Apparently, it may bump you up the slush pile but the rest depends on your submitted chapter(s).
The Slush pile and how it works?
By the way they phrased this it seems that there are two piles you go through. The first is the assistant agent’s pile. So, if you make it past that, you’ll end up in the agent’s pile. And, once you make it through that pile too, congrats, you get a call. This is also done while the agent and their assistant are flooded with work from other authors they have on-board already.
They said that new agents though tend to accept more authors. It is a lot harder to get a bigwig agent by the looks of it. If you are seeking representation, it may be easier to go with a newer agent but you’d be taking risks with that.
Would a publisher/agent take a 16-year-old writer seriously?
My personal thoughts: It was a 50/50 kind of event for me. I believe this is a good event for new writers or those who have not done much research into the publishing industry. I, sadly, didn’t learn anything new. It was indeed a pleasure to meet a few people I have conversed with through Facebook and Wattpad. Putting the digital tag to a real face is always a rush.
The pitfall of the event was probably the breaks. They were too short to have a proper conversation and make a contact or two. Sometimes, I didn’t even have the time to ask the person’s name before we were called back to our seats – this happened twice. (We even had name tags on our chests, I know.)
The short amount of time made it hard to connect with other authors and get to know them a little or at all. Perhaps a mingling session in the middle of the event, for those who had to leave at five, would have been easier – or, as a friend of mine suggested, ‘one less panel’.
If the main point was to simply give information to writers, then, yes, shorter breaks are a good idea. Since the information for me wasn’t very useful, I personally did not gain much from participating.
On the other side of the coin, I’m certain a lot of other attendees did learn something from the event. Because of that, I do hope that the WPLonCon continues to grow in the future.
Also, I do want to thank Vic James for providing us all with the opportunity to meet. I am certain you and Gavin have put in a lot of effort into the event along with the panellists and the ambassadors. You guys are all great people online and in person.