The Revolution of Young Writers: Is the Keyboard Mightier than the Pen?

Farheen Abbas

Maureen Richards

Victoria Silman

Sierra Zimmer

November 29th, 2015

TORI: The Revolution of Young Writers: Is the Keyboard Mightier than the Pen?

SIERRA: Hi, I’m Sierra.

FARHEEN: Hey guys, I’m Farheen.

TORI: Hey guys, I’m Tori and we’re here today with our special guest Maureen , and we’re going to be talking about Wattpad.

TORI: Beth Reekles was a seventeen-year-old aspiring writer who wanted the opportunity to write for the public. Upon discovering Wattpad, Beth was able to post her story 'The Kissing Booth', one chapter at a time, to the site and receive feedback regarding her writing skills. By doing so, the publishing company Random House discovered her talent and benefitted from signing her to a contract. (Lueke et al. 3) But this is only one example. Hey Sierra, what is Wattpad?

SIERRA: Wattpad is a website accessible internationally to writers, which provides an anonymous outlet for feedback and critique by fellow readers. It provides writers with the ability to post their work chapter-by-chapter and receive constructive criticism and encouragement towards their writing. If you'd like to know more about Wattpad, please refer to blog post ‘What is Wattpad’ ( https://stephanie-bell-m08b.squarespace.com/config#/|/blog-season1/95568388-83c6-4d60-8a67-ec482d09e4f7 )

FARHEEN: Our story is about young writers and how they are revolutionizing the dying publishing industry. Wattpad is giving opportunities for writers to broaden their horizons and enables them to establish a career in writing. It is providing young writers the ability to promote their work when otherwise they would have less access to do so. Furthermore, the publication industry is benefitting from finding young writers through the website. An instance was when Random House discovered and signed Beth Reekles to a three-book contract.

MAUREEN: To further investigate whether or not Wattpad is indeed providing a platform to success for young writers like Reekles, Sierra interviewed an avid Wattpad user to get more input into whether they believe Wattpad is having a positive or negative effect on young writers and the publishing industry.

SIERRA: So as Maureen just said, I asked a willing participant a few questions.

SIERRA: So how are you today?

INTERVIEWEE: *I’m good, how are you?*

SIERRA:* I’m pretty good! So I have a few questions for you about Wattpad, shall we start?*

INTERVIEWEE:* Yeah, sure.*

SIERRA:* What sort of changes - positive or negative - do you see young writers having with the creation of a site such as Wattpad?*

INTERVIEWEE:* I believe that young writers will be able to use Wattpad to express their creativity to the world without having to worry about it being a 100% professionally written and edited form of literature. Wattpad and such sites make this easier to achieve along with getting good feedback from their readers. This is exceptional for young writers because many of them do not have the money to pay for a professional editor. There are more young writers now due to the anonymity of Wattpad, as people feel less fear getting their work critiqued.*

SIERRA:* Do you predict any major changes to the publishing industry - positive or negative - because of Wattpad?*

INTERVIEWEE:* In the future Wattpad could potentially help younger writers enter the field of publishing. In this way I believe Wattpad will enhance the publishing industry, giving them a wide range of authors, as oppose to hindering them. Wattpad is a free and easy way for writers to get their work noticed by professionals.*

SIERRA:* Would you ever consider using Wattpad for professional or leisure use (i.e. reading stories online?)*

INTERVIEWEE:* I already do, and I enjoy the feedback process. It helps to enhance my stories and give me a more creative look at my characters and plots.*

SIERRA: From this interview we can tell that Wattpad users believe that Wattpad is good for the publishing industry, and they believe it’s a good place to gather young writers for publishers. Instead of the author swimming endlessly to find a publisher, the publishers are fishing for the authors, in a giant tank filled to the brim with fish.

TORI: We performed two limited surveys to further mimic our findings about Wattpad. Farheen, you distributed a survey on Moodle?

FARHEEN: Yeah I distributed on Moodle we had about eleven responses, but only eight of them agreed on letting us use their info. I think 37% of them knew what Wattpad was, they’d used it or they’d heard of it, which is you know, is quite a positive number I think.

TORI: Yeah and 62.5% said they weren’t aware, but in addition to this we found that 87.5% of the respondents were willing to give Wattpad a try as they found it beneficial to the skills they need for their career.

TORI: what do you think of those findings?

FARHEEN: I think they're pretty positive. It’s a shame not many people know about it because I think in the major were in its useful, especially if you want to put yourself out there for careers. I think it’s pretty beneficial, I’m actually thinking of using it myself. What do you think of this Maureen?

MAUREEN: Yes I could.

FARHEEN: I think you’d be good at it! You’re good at writing, Sierra. I think you already have an account on Wattpad right?

SIERRA: Yeah I’ve already used it; I’ve already posted some chapters on there.

TORI: Oh, did you get a lot of feedback on it?

SIERRA: No, I’ve only put a couple chapters and its not really out there yet. But eventually when I get more time for it I'll definitely look into it.

TORI: Sierra, you distributed the survey to Wattpad users on Wattpad?

*SIERRA: *Yeah I sent out ten questionnaires to people who I knew wrote books on Wattpad. I asked them what they used it for and how good they thought it was, and all of them agreed that Wattpad has the potential to change the publishing industry. It’s awesome.

Tori: It is awesome. Out of those respondents we found that 67% fall into category of young writers and yes, of course, they all agree that Wattpad has the potential to change the publishing industry to become more dynamic and appealing to these young writers and to flourish. This further emphasizes that Wattpad is providing a portal for young writers to the publishing through the website. If you would like more information about this, please refer to our blog post ‘Statistical Data From YOU (and Wattpad Users)’, https://stephanie-bell-m08b.squarespace.com/blog-season1/f614e03b-93b3-4d7d-8f74-b5d53d3519ef

FARHEEN: We believe that Wattpad is revolutionizing the publishing industry - that it’s making it bigger, better, and easier to publish. Some people argue the opposite, but scholars are agreeing. In Arūnas Gudinavičius, (excuse my pronunciation) “Chi (2014) offers four ‘e-approaches’ for the publishing industry to evolve and thrive in today’s digital landscape in order to adapt to the situation where e-books have become mainstream and author self-publication is becoming more and more common.” Tori what do you think about that? Do you think it’ll be more common for eBooks to become mainstream? Do you think printed books will become obsolete?

TORI: Absolutely, especially with the invention of the kindle or tablets, which you can download, books onto as well as onto your phone. With Wattpad especially, because it’s free and there’s also the free app that you can access through your tablet in which you can download stories for free, people have the option to explore novels, writers, new genres and even poetry. It's just at the touch of their fingers; they don’t have to go to the store, they don’t need to buy it, it’s right there ready to go.

*FARHEEN: *Would you say that’s an appropriate use of these technologies? Or do you think its better for kids to learn by the book?

TORI: I think both are important. It’s important for kids to know where books come from but also by introducing them to new technologies we will be able to change how to people read and can give them the ability to use these online books, and change how publishing works. Sierra, you use the app right? What’s it like?

SIERRA: You can download a story when you have internet and as long as the story is download you can read it without internet, so you don’t need internet to read anything which is good because you can read it wherever you are.

TORI: So it just makes it available everywhere for you?

SIERRA: Yeah, definitely. It’s really easy to have, especially if you’re going on a long trip and you don’t need to have internet for it. You just have to make sure the story is downloaded and you’re good to go.

TORI: So then later on you add feedback and whatnot...

SIERRA: Yeah, you need Internet to add feedback but other than that it’s totally free.

SIERRA: According to Charlotte Ashley in her article *Wattpad and the New Reader* although Wattpad is “a free service filled with free content, its highest ranked writers do try to monetize their work. A number of Wattpad writers have snagged agents and traditional publishers for their work." This proves that Internet fame isn’t enough. There are lots of people I follow who replace their books with the first couple chapters, and a link to their book on Amazon. More and more people want to be ‘real-world’ recognized and therefore wish to publish their books in print. Even traditionally published authors agree that Wattpad is not a barrier to the publishing industry. The author Margaret “Atwood has suggested http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jul/06/margaret-atwood-wattpad-online-writing that Wattpad isn’t a replacement for traditional publishing, but a gateway to it” (Ashley). Traditional authors see this as a way to obtain more readers, and get feedback on what to write to make the book better before publishing it.

MAUREEN: With further research into Wattpad we found a variety of information supporting our claims that Wattpad is indeed changing the publishing industry. In Disrupting the Publishing Value Chain, Lueke suggests that Wattpad is making work more easily discoverable, which is an important aspect as discussed. Publishers are having an issue with making books seen within bookstores as those stores are rapidly becoming less popular. Therefore Wattpad is paving the way for discovery of talent - specifically towards young writers. Additionally, it encourages young people to be active in developing their writing skills and pursuing a writing career.

FARHEEN: In the future, Wattpad will be able to expand through a mutual funding program, in lieu with other companies such as "Khosla Ventures along with Internet Entrepreneur Jerry Yang and existing partners Union Square Ventures and Golden Partners," as mentioned by Hotsenpiller. This can further increase quality and attraction of Wattpad. In addition to this, they should "build on the funnel of talent," (9), as mentioned in by Leuke to further enhance their user rates, and success of young writers. By doing so, Wattpad will redefine the publishing industry.

MAUREEN: So guys, in regards to your aspirations as young writers, how do you think you’ll utilize Wattpad to reach your own goals in the future?

FARHEEN: I don’t know because I’m not much of a digital writer, so I'll have to stick with my trusty notebook and pen. However, I can see how Wattpad would be really beneficial because you’ll get the critique, which you can't find if you keep it to yourself. So I guess in that sense it’s a really good idea, but I’m a very private writer. What do you think Sierra? You’re really into Wattpad, right?

SIERRA: Yeah, I prefer to read online. I have been writing certain things - it's really nice to get feedback. I’m not at that stage yet, but I really want to get to that stage so I can get feedback to make my stories better and enhance them, and make them more interesting. What about you, Tori?

TORI: Honesty I’m more of a non-fiction writer, but I think that writing fictional stories on Wattpad would give me the opportunity to increase my imagination and be more explorative in my writing. Doing so could enhance my journalistic skills as it could make me a better storyteller. I’ll also be able to get critique from users on Wattpad so I’d definitely try it.

FARHEEN: Maureen do you think you’d use it? Do you think it’d be a useful if you want to tell stories or are you more of an oral or written writer like myself?

MAUREEN: I am more of a written person - I like things in print. I don’t want to read online, but who knows? I could change.

FARHEEN: Yeah of course! I mean this doesn’t have an age limit or anything.

SIERRA: Yeah, you just need to be 13.

FARHEEN: Just 13 and you’ll be free to write!

SIERRA: Wattpad and other self-publishers are making things a lot easier for young writers to enhance their writings skills and to get themselves out into the world.

FARHEEN: As we talked about in the beginning, it makes it easier for publishing companies to find new talent, as our interviewee suggested that, he benefitted from Wattpad which further encouraged him to keep writing.

TORI: This emulates the idea that Wattpad is useful for young writers. In addition to this, publishing companies can work with these young writers to adhere to the changing demographic as well as the revolutionizing industry.

SIERRA: This has been Sierra.

FARHEEN: Farheen.

TORI: And Tori, and our special guest Maureen.

SIERRA: On Wattpad and the revolutionizing of the publishing industry.

FARHEEN: And this is us, signing off from InQuery.

Works Cited

Ashley, C. (2012, November 5). Once and Future. (C. Ashley, Editor) Retrieved October 20, 2015, from once-and-future.com: once-and-future.com/2012/11/wattpad-and- the-new-reader/

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Gudinavičius, A. (2015). 47 Is self-publishing a salvation for authors? The case of Lithuanian printed bestseller in the digital environment. Libellarium: Journal for the Research of Writing, Books, and Cultural Heritage Institutions, Volume 8(Number 1), 2-2. http://dx.doi.org/10.15291/libellarium.v8i1.213 http://dx.doi.org/10.15291/libellarium.v8i1.213

Hotsenpiller, Marci. "Wattpad.com Raises $17.3 Million in a Series of B Funding Led by Khosla Ventures." DMN Newswire. 6 June 2012. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.

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Lueke, T., Ramirez, K., & Weidner, T. (2013). Disrupting the Publishing Value Chain. 2- 2. Retrieved, October 19, 2015, from http://www.researchgate.net/profile/ThomasLueke/publication/236856158Disru ptingthePublishingValueChain/links/00b49519876b93aeee000000.pdf http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Thomas_Lueke/publication/236856158_Disrupting_the_Publishing_Value_Chain/links/00b49519876b93aeee000000.pdf

http://dx.doi.org/10.15291/libellarium.v8i1.213

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