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If Wattpad Studios succeeds, it will usher in a new model that gives amateur writers a chance at the lucrative business of influence.
On Tuesday Wattpad announced Wattpad Studios, which will develop its stories for various media outlets like a multi-channel network. And just like an MCN works with the best and brightest digital video stars, Wattpad Studios will do the same for its homegrown writing talent.
Aron Levitz will head the division. He’s had experience as Wattpad’s head of business development. The company previously launched the advertising project Wattpad Brand Stories, which has partnered with projects like The Fault in Our Stars and The Purge: Anarchy. Wattpad also championed homegrown talent under Levitz’s watch with the Wattpad Stars program, which helped talent access paid and promotional gigs. A studios arm seems a natural extension of both.
“Wattpad deals exclusively in the one thing that powers the billion-dollar entertainment industry—original and compelling stories,” said Head of Wattpad Studios Aron Levitz in a press release. “As the largest and fastest-growing platform for stories, we can easily spot the voices that resonate with audiences around the world and the stories that have an established fan base. Wattpad Studios will help industry executives make smarter decisions, faster.”
Wattpad also released its own anthology of Imagine stories, self-insert fiction about famous celebrities.
But the real silver bullet is the company’s growing user base, which boasts 250 million original story uploads from 2 million creators, and data-driven insights into which stories compel that base. The entertainment industry develops projects with hopes of a story inspiring an audience, but Wattpad knows if that audience is already inspired. That’s why book-to-film projects proliferate—and Wattpad can simply skip the book step.
The goal, of course, is to help champion creators. Studios will create more paths to monetization for talented writers, Wattpad posits, and points to the fact that some of its top writers make more money working on a Wattpad project than from a traditional book advance.
The influencer game is dominated by faces, by creators who work in the visual medium, and who share their own personal lives and identities to help drive up a brand and make money. Wattpad Studios thinks its writing talent can join that herd.
A former YouTube reporter for the Daily Dot, Rae Votta has more than a decade of experience in the digital and entertainment industries. Her work has appeared on AOL, Huffington Post, Out Magazine, Logo, VH1, Current TV, Billboard, and NYMag. She joined Netflix in 2016.