"Wattpad is Dying"—and 4 More Wattpad Myths Debunked
We've all heard the rumors: Is Wattpad on its last legs? Do their users only read fanfiction? We take a look at some of the big myths around the popular reading platform.
Myth #1: Wattpad is Dying
Writers on Wattpad have anecdotally reported seeing fewer reads, and users in general have complained that updates have made the app less user-friendly, causing many to wonder if Wattpad's popularity is plummeting. However, the data proves that the social reading app is more popular than ever before.
Wattpad currently ranks as the 147th most-visited website in the world and their app was downloaded over 800,000 times last month. In the past few years, the site has been steadily increasing in monthly user engagement. In August of 2019, they announced an impressive 23% year-over-year increase to 80 million monthly users.
Since Covid-19 sent everyone indoors in March, the site has seen huge traffic spikes. In April, global sign-ups rose more than 50% over the previous month. Wattpad HQ reported that reading time increased by nearly 30% between March and April, with writer activity tripling during the same time frame.
Myth #2: If You Write Anything But Fanfiction, No One Will Read It
Talk to many writers and they'll often tell you the same thing: you can't get readers on Wattpad with an original story. More often than not, these people seem to be justifying their own limited audiences. So what's the reality? The truth is, Wattpad seeks out and promotes original content over fanfiction in most cases. Wattpad Books, their publishing arm, almost exclusively publishes and promotes original content. While this year's Watty awards still have a fanfiction category, they've established a new 50k word count minimum that some feel works against fanfiction writers. While After is a notable exception, most of the successes from the platform are original works like The Kissing Booth, White Stag, and She's With Me.
Myth #3: There Are No Opportunities for Wattpad Writers Anymore
Anna Todd (After) and Beth Reekles (The Kissing Booth) both got their start in the early days of Wattpad. Does that mean that there are no more chances to become a star on the app? If anything, there are more chances now than ever. Wattpad Studios has dozens of hits currently in the production process, including Lockdown on London Lane, Perfect Addiction, and She's With Me. Doubling down on their commitment to producing more content, Wattpad recently announced the launch of their Wattpad Development Fund to back their own projects following the success of their recent movie hits.
Myth #4: The Platform Only Has Romance Stories
Wattpad's primary audience is young women, so it makes sense that you'll see a lot of young adult fiction and romance—both popular with this demographic. What may surprise you, however, is that romance is popular everywhere. As of 2015, romance as a genre accounted for 34% of the U.S. fiction market. While you will see a higher percentage of romance stories on Wattpad and other teen-oriented reading apps, you'll find plenty of other content. After YA and romance, other top-ranking genres include fanfiction, fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and suspense.
Myth #5: Wattpad Readers Don't Buy Real Books
Over 80% of Wattpad's users are under the age of 40. People often assume young people don't read and don't buy books, so people assume the same applies to Wattpad's user base. However, we now know that Millennials are the most active consumers in our society and also the heaviest readers.
Both Gen Z and Millennial readers are avid readers and book buyers. (This may help explain why Wattpad hit After sold 15 million copies worldwide.) In a Wattpad survey, Gen Z users reported spending more on books than older generations; 22% spent between $51-$150 on books in the past 6 months, compared to 17% of Millennials and Gen X. Members of Gen Z are also most likely to spend their personal cash on books, with 60% having purchased their most recent book with their own money. In general, Gen Z is also spending more yearly on entertainment than older generations.
The takeaway? Wattpad users and young readers are reading and buying a lot of physical books.
What rumors have you heard about Wattpad? Share in the comments and we may address it in a future post...