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Is Wattpad Devaluing Authors?

WATTPAD: FRIEND OR FOE TO FICTION?

Wattpad is a phenomenon. It allows anyone to post a story and get hundreds, thousands, sometimes millions of reads from voracious fans – usually young adults. Sometimes, this attention leads to book deals. And it’s the Guardian’s verdict (via author Damien Walter), that the best of Wattpad – the stories the garner millions of reads – gives traditionally published books a run for their money. (As comparison, it only takes about 5,000 “reads” to make a New York Times bestseller).

But the question remains: Is Wattpad devaluing authors? While traditional publishers are “still lumbered with the need to actually pay writers,” notes Walter , “Wattpad is capitalizing on the simple fact that millions of people will write novels for nothing more than the love of writing them.”

The sticking point for Walter? The “YouTube of fiction” turns the written word into just another notification on a millennial’s smart phone, delivering stories in easy to digest serial chunks. “Is this good for the art of fiction? No. Does it work for genre and commercial fiction already commodified by publishers to compete against television and film? Yes, and very successfully so,” he argued. “Writing and publishing have resisted the 15-minute model of fame for longer than many other media. But Wattpad is ushering in the kind of viral celebrity for professional writers commonly associated with YouTube vloggers and the makers of crazy cat videos.”

ARE USED EBOOKS IN OUR FUTURE?

Will we ever be able to trade used eBooks like tatty paperbacks and dusty vinyl records? All signs point to … maybe. There are some efforts to tap into this market: ReDigi, which already helps people sell old digital music, is working with a bookseller to start a similar storefront for eBooks. The practical reason for launching a used eBook store is to give consumers the same option they have with physical products, and the format may be built for it. Digital products don’t suffer the same wear and tear that give those old books and records their vintage look, but eventually make them unusable. An eBook is perpetually good as new.

However, there are a few votes against eBooks being viable for resale. People who want to unload their used books usually buy the physical copy, not the eBook, and pass that on to the next user. Digital piracy may also hurt the market before it gets off the ground. People who can’t afford or don’t want to buy the product in the first place – and who may instead buy used – these days turn to piracy. Those folks, therefore, wouldn’t be interested in used digital content.

RESOURCES EVERY INDIE AUTHOR NEEDS

If you’re going the indie route, you’ll need lots of support. For those taking the plunge, Publishers Weekly offered an indispensable list of resources this week, penned by the pros. One is never enough. Here’s the list:

* Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, and Why You Should- Updated Second Edition, by David Gaughran, offers an overview of the digital publishing biz, social media, and some success stories to get you inspired.

* Write, Publish, Repeat: The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant with David Wright. Comprehensive, honest and encouraging, this book covers marketing funnels and Calls to Action, email marketing and how to split your time between writing and Tweeting.

* Publishing 101: A First-Time Author’s Guide to Getting Published, Marketing and Promoting Your Book, and Building a Successful Career by Jane Friedman, explains the differences between traditional and indie publishing, offers tips on blogging and platform, Facebook marketing, finding time to write, and more.

* Business for Authors: How To Be An Author Entrepreneur by Joanna Penn, will help you figure out how to pay your bills – with your writing.

* The Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook by Helen Sedwick, covers the little details and acronyms – ISBNs, EINs, and SSL Certificates.

And not included, but certainly one of our faves, Indie Authors Naked, edited by IR’s own Loren Kleinman, includes essays and interviews by James Franco, Hugh Howey and Rachel Thompson, just a few of the leading authors, booksellers and publishers who explore and define the world of independent publishing.

After you’ve bought all these books, you’ll need a fun gift, too. From literary socks for shower-friendly notepads, BuzzFeed has you covered.

ANOTHER SOURCE FOR CROWDSOURCING

You’ve probably heard of PubSlush and Kickstarter, but now there’s a third player in what’s quickly becoming a crowded field. Pentian acts as a publisher, ensuring worldwide print and digital distribution. The backers of individual books share in future royalties; the cost to the author is nil. Pentian has had success with this format in Spain and South America, where they published 180 books; the company moved into the U.S. recently and funded three books.

For more on the Pentian experience, check out this Publishing Perspectives article.

GETTING CREATIVE WITH ZINES

Creative youth in the Big Apple channeled an old-fashioned form of expression this past weekend at a “Zine Making and Printing” workshop in Brooklyn. It was hosted by Converse, which has resurrected the CONS Project: New York, a series of community projects meant to encourage creative expression in young people through skate, art and music workshops. On Feb. 7th, youth aged 13 to 24 learned about skate zine history and culture and about content creation, printing and binding from zine maker and publisher Brian Paul Lamotte and photographer Andreas Laszlo Konrath of Pau Wau Publications. They also walked away with their own zine.

This workshop was the fourth in a five-part series. The next will be held in April. For more information, visit consproject.com.

THIS WEEK’S HOT LIST

This week’s IR’s “The List Where Indies Count”, featuring the top ten list as of February 9, 2015, features hot and steamy titles that are guaranteed to keep you warm all Valentine’s Day weekend.

Titles are compiled on Sunday for Monday’s post, culled from The New York Times, USA Today and Amazon best-seller lists.

Happy Indie reading!