Skip to main content


Wattpad Launches, Updates a Cover-Making App

covers wattpadDid you catch the news about four months back that Wattpad had released a mobile app which authors could use to make covers for their ebooks?

Neither did I, but last night a reader tipped me to the news that the app had been updated (Thanks, Phil!). This is a relatively minor update which would normally go unremarked, but since I had yet to announce the app I thought it was worth a post.

Covers by Wattpad is pretty simple; it lets users select one of a set of stock background images, crop it, and turn it into a cover. You also have the option of using your own image or one from your photo gallery.

It’s good that you have the option of using your own images, because the selection of stock images for each category is limited to a few dozen options and includes images which are unusable (I found a half dozen with someone’s watermark splashed across) or of limited value (the number of photos of scantily clad women should thrill erotica authors).

Once you find a stock image you like, you can crop the image to fit, and add filters. There are a couple dozen filter options, which is good, but unfortunately there are far fewer options for where and how you can place the title, subtitle, etc. I was only offered the option of up to 5 lines of center-aligned text.

Update: It turns out you can move the text around; for some reason that was not working for me before.

I spent a few minutes with Covers, and it didn’t take me long to create this abomination:


Now that I’ve played with the app, I can understand why Wattpad didn’t announce it. I haven’t seen a cover this bad since the last time I was rickroll’d into looking at the GIJoe section of Kindle Worlds. (I think I could do worse; would you like me to try?)

The v2.0 version of Covers released yesterday didn’t add any features, just bug fixes, so I think this app has a long way to go. I could have done a better job with MSPaint; that app at least let me place text in a specific location rather than just 5 specific locations. (I’ve used business card design apps which offered more options).

In addition to more text options, Wattpad would be wise to add the option to search image repositories like Flickr for CC-licensed images which could be used legally. That alone would add a lot of value.

As it stands, though, I don’t think this app is good for much other than making hilariously bad cover images.

Coincidentally, Covers by Wattpad is the second new app Wattpad has released this year, following the Hookup web app released in early April. The iOS version of Covers was released in August, and the Android version in November.

You can find the new app in iTunes. The Android app in Google Play has not yet been updated.

So Wattpad Has the Same Piracy/Plagiarism Problem as eBookstores – What Do We Do About it?

PW reported earlier today that Wattpad has the same piracy problem as the ebookstores, Scribd, and pretty much every other site that allows users to upload content:

A zero-tolerance policy on Wattpad, the social media site that claims 35 million readers and writers worldwide, has not done away with the problem of digital piracy on the site. Earlier this month over 41,000 readers downloaded free copies of a novel by New York Times bestselling author Jasinda Wilder, which had been pirated. The incident, Wilder estimated, cost her roughly $168,000 in royalties.

Even though Wilder pays two companies to search for illegal postings—one found close to 32,000 of them—it’s unlikely that any company could have found Wilder’s pirated work on Wattpad. The plagiarizer gave the book a new name, My Dominant Alpha, along with new cover art. The title was also posted by a different user: Amyleigh153. Because Wattpad pirates are now changing basic, but key, elements of the original work, they have become an even more worrisome issue for authors on the website.

While I don’t want to deny the problems faced by authors or suggest that this behavior is okay, I do want to point out that PW’s report is lacking in context.

As a brief skim of the related tag on Dear Author will tell you, piracy/plagiarism is a known problem, and now that we know that it extends to Wattpad the next question to ask is what authors ( and their fans) should do about this.

Any suggestions?

I’ve thought up a couple ideas that won’t work,but not one that I know will work – or at least will have a positive effect.

What’s your idea?

image by Kris Krug

Wattpad Acquires, Closes Competing Author Site

redroom-logo[1]Wattpad put the $46 million raised in their latest round of funding to good use last week.

PW reports that Wattpad has acquired a smaller rival writer site called Red Room for an undisclosed sum. In what could well be described as a whirlwind acquisition, Red Room informed members only last week that the site had been bought, and they turned off the servers today (no, seriously.)

Launched in 2008, Red Room was one of a number of sites intended to be a "Facebook for authors". The site was founded by Ivory Madison, a lawyer, entrepreneur, and author. The site grew out of Madison’s previous project, the Red Room Writing School. "One grew out of the other,"” Madison said in 2009. "I wanted something scalable that could serve more people than the school. And I wanted it to be about something I care about—writers and writing."

According to the press release, Madison notes that the acquisition will give Red Room authors access to the 30 million people that visit Wattpad each month. "When I launched Red Room in 2008 I wanted to break down the walls between readers and writers. I’m thrilled Red Room authors have found a new home in a friendly and supportive global community."

I am having trouble finding recent coverage of the site, probably due to the commonality of the name.  We do know that the site had 20,000 members in 2009, and that it had raised around two and a half  million dollars in capital. But what I have found in Google suggests that many members only learned of the deal last week.

I’ll be honest with you: I had never heard of it before. From what I found in the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive, the Red Room was far more commercial than Wattpad, and included both a paid premium membership option and a bookstore. Wattpad, on the other hand, is still trying to find a way to fund operations.

Did you use Red Room? How did it compare to, say, Booklikes, Tumblr, or Wattpad?

Wattpad Plans to Stay Free Forever, Will Make Money From Native Ads

wattpad ipadWhen it comes to funding a website with a lot of users, there are a number of tried and true business models, including selling ads, selling user data, charging for a premium service, and so on. Facebook, for example, started out by selling ads and later switched to charging users for access (FB calls it "boosting posts"), but not everyone goes down that route.

The online writing community Wattpad, on the other hand, is taking a different and somewhat riskier path. In a recent interview, Wattpad CEO Allen Lau said that rather than charge for access or clutter up the app and website with over ads, Wattpad was turning to native advertising.

From TechCrunch:

Wattpad’s first advertiser was 20th Century Fox, which was promoting its film The Fault In Our Stars. To do that, it created a Fault In Our Stars account on Wattpad, where it featured fiction from Wattpad authors that was either directly related to or at least inspired by the enormously popular young adult novel of the same name — some of those stories were actually commissioned by Fox. Then, similar to ads on Twitter and other social networks, Wattpad mixed promotions for the account and for the individual titles in with its regular recommendations. (The promoted content was labeled as such, as you can see in the screenshot to the left.)

The result? The account became the fifth-most-followed on Wattpad, with more than 200,000 followers, the ad units saw 25 million impressions (with a clickthrough rate of 2.5 percent), and the commissioned stories saw 1 million unique readers. Oh, and the movie was a hit, though I don’t think Wattpad can take full credit for that part

This is only the latest of Wattpad’s monetization efforts. The community had briefly tested a fan funding program in the middle of 2013, but so far as I know that did not make it beyond the first few initial trials.

Native advertising, on the other hand, has a much more promising future. It has long been argued in some circles that advertising is content and content is advertising. In other words, some pundits argue that one should make the ad so enticing that it is what people come to see. That idea can come across as crass, and when tried by a news organization it’s highly unethical, but when done right it can work.

For example, in 2012 OKGo shot a car commercial for Chevrolet:

That music video has been viewed tens of millions of times and when it was first released it was written about extensively in the press. And all that attention was given to a car commercial.

And while there’s no way to predict whether this model will work out, the company is not short of funds or ideas. Wattpad raised $46 million in a series C funding round in April, and according to Lau it is still  the "very early days in our experiments". Lau suggested that another possibility is releasing stories for free, then charging for bonus content, but he one thing he never plans to try is charging for access to Wattpad itself: "It will remain a free app forever".

Wattpad Raises $46 Million in New Funding

Wattpad wattpad_logolaunched phase 3 of their expansion plan today:

  1. Launch community
  2. Not be acquired by Amazon
  3. Profit!

The online reading community announced on Tuesday that they had raised a total of $46 million in a C Funding round. The round was led by OMERS Ventures and included all of the company’s existing investors as well as August Capital, Raine Ventures, and Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund.

Wattpad boasts that they have around 25 million monthly active users, or about 4 times as many users as when they secured their last funding round in mid-2012. Wattpad users now spend a cumulative total of over 6 billion minutes per month on the site. "To give some idea of how much content users are posting on Wattpad, they’re uploading one chapter every half a second," Lau told TechCrunch. "That’s about 150,000 uploads every day, and if you translate that to reading time, that’s about ten hours of reading uploaded to Wattpad every minute."

While that puts Wattpad far behind Youtube’s claim of 100 hours of video uploaded every minute, it is still an impressive accomplishment for a niche community.

Wattpad plans to use the funds to grow its user base, in particular the international membership. Wattpad has always had a strong international presence, and right now 50% of Wattpad’s activity comes from users outside North America. The social network plans to capitalize on that.

Wattpad Announces New Writing Contest

For the logo-wattpad-prize[1]past 4 years Wattpad has been running an annual writing contest called The Wattys, and after the latest one proved quite popular this online community decided to take things in a new direction.

Wattpad has just announced a new writing contest called The Wattpad Prize. Rather than judge submissions simply as a popularity contest, Wattpad plans to select a jury of Wattpad members to help the judges identify original works of fiction and nonfiction.Yes, only original works will be accepted, meaning that the fanfic and popfic which might have been submitted to The Wattys are not eligible for this contest.

Few details are available at this time, but I do know that the jury will be made up of experienced readers and writers who are active in the Wattpad community, and that the winning stories will be chosen by theme and not by category or genre.

Wattpad plans to release more details on 2 April.

Wattpad Updates Their Social Reading Apps With Offline Mode, Inline Comments

The wattpad_logosocial writing network Wattpad rolled out a new update last week for their mobile apps. In addition to bug fixes and performance improvements, the apps now support a new offline mode which enables users to not just read and write stories, but also add comments and vote on stories. With over half of Wattpad’s writers having posted a story from their iPhone, this was a timely move which will enable users to continue to interact with stories even in places where their internet connection is spotty or simply none existent – airplanes, for example.

It’s an idea that Wattpad has been wanting to implement for some time, but it tooks ome time to get right. Co-founder and CEO Allen Lau said that "One of the biggest challenges was ensuring a smooth transition for users who went from an offline experience to an online one. We had to capture offline actions and then seamlessly process them once an internet connection was established without disrupting the user experience."

In addition to the new offline mode, the apps now also support inline comments. Now readers will be able to comment on specific points in a story, rather than simply commenting on the story as a whole.

Wattpad has grown to be the single largest online community for writers. at the end of 2013, this social network boasted 18 million members who had uploaded 32 million stories since it launched in 2006. Over 41 billion minutes were spent on the site last year, with users leaving 38 million comments and casting 161 million votes.

Google Play



Two Years Later And Amazon Still Blocks Competitors' Reading Apps

Did youscribd-logo-blk_100x28 catch the news today about Scribd?

They put out a press release this morning touting their new reading app for the Kindle Fire, which can be downloaded from the Scribd website.  The new app has all the features as the current Android app (including access to the 4 month old subscription ebook service), along with a few technical adjustments to adapt it for the Fire.

I almost didn’t report on the story, given that there is an Android app and it has long since been available in the Amazon Appstore, but then I read Teleread’s coverage and decided the larger story was worth a post. You see, Scribd is hosting the new app on their website because they can’t make it available in the Amazon Appstore:

We submitted the Scribd app several times to Amazon over the past three months, but did not receive a response to our requests, so we decided to publish it directly, making it available to everyone.

This comes as no surprise; Amazon has been blocking their competitors' reading apps ever since they launched the first model 2 years ago.

I noticed, shortly after getting the original Kindle Fire, that Amazon was blocking the Nook, Aldiko, Kobo, and other reading apps from showing up in the Appstore on the KF.

And just to be clear, Amazon was blocking apps which would otherwise work just fine on the Kindle Fire – just like the Scribd app mentioned above.

Sure, you can find the apps elsewhere and download them from other sites and install them, but by blocking the apps in the Appstore Amazon is probably discouraged a majority of users from getting the apps and installing them on a Kindle Fire. It’s just too much effort.

Those apps are still blocked today, with a couple exceptions. The Wattpad app is available on the Kindle Fire, and so is the OverDrive Media Console app.


Well, Amazon has never explained their actions, but it’s pretty clear that Amazon doesn’t want you to spend ebook money elsewhere. I’m not sure why Amazon decided this, but if you check the Appstore you will see that this policy extends to Bluefire Reader, Aldiko, Moon+, and many others. Curiously enough, the policy doesn’t extend to Hulu, Netflix, or any other media app, most of which are listed in the Amazon Appstore as being compatible with my Kindle Fire HD.

The double standard policy is puzzling, yes, but it looks like it has had some success in stymying Amazon’s competition. For example, Amazon’s restrictions were such a bother for Bluefire that they posted a copy of their Epub app on their website in early 2012.

And then there’s the Nook app and the Kobo app. Neither app is available in the Amazon Appstore anymore, even though they were present when the Kindle Fire launched in late 2011. I know both were available at one time, but neither can be found today. That raises some interesting questions, I think.

Update: I was half wrong on this point. B&N reports that their app was never in the Amazon Appstore. But I know for a fact Kobo’s app was listed at one point.

Did Amazon actively remove the competing apps, or did Amazon use a more subtle "ignore them until they go away" trick and simply not approve the app updates?

I don’t know, but given how Amazon is behaving towards competing reading apps, either option is possible. Sadly, I probably won’t be able to find out the truth; this is a topic that almost no one is willing to discuss on the record.

If anyone wants to talk off the record, you know where to find me.

P.S. Another unrelated point worth noting here is the apparent double standard between Amazon and Apple. One quietly blocked apps, while the other publicly slapped around their competition. It’s interesting how one got all the attention while the other got almost no coverage at all.

Wattpad for Android, iPad, and iPhone Updated With New Ways to Get Content

wattpad_logoWattpad, the world’s largest online writing community, rolled out an update earlier this week for mobile apps. In addition to the usual bug fixes and speed improvements, Wattpad has added a newsfeed option.

wattpad androidReaders will no longer have to go searching for new stories or to find out what their favorite authors are doing; now Wattpad will deliver the updates to their mobile apps. The newsfeed includes all the latest goings on in your local section of the Wattpad community, including story updates, comments, and who is following whom. And if there aren’t any updates, Wattpad will recommend stories to read.

The app also lets readers download free stories in a variety of genres, including SF, fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, thrillers, classics, poetry and more. Readers can share what they’re reading, vote on the stories, and leave comments  on what they just read. The app can also function as a writing app, enabling users to publish anything they write for others to read.

Wattpad is a 9-year-old site that, at last count, had garnered nearly 16 million page views per month, all while providing an environment that encouraged and enabled authors to post free stories for their fans to read. A few weeks back Wattpad announced a new crowd funding platform, Fan Funding, further strengthening the ties between creator and reader.





Google Play

Wattpad Expands Into Crowd-Funding

wattpad_logoThe only writing community Wattpad has just announced a new crowd-funding platform.

It’s called Fan Funding, and it offers writers and readers a chance to connect in a way that is less social and more directly financial. With luck it will enable authors to leverage their fanbase and generate new income.

This is Wattpad’s first venture into earning revenue but according to their blog post it won’t be their last. The 9-year-old has grown to be the largest online community for readers and writers with nearly 16 million page views per month, all while avoiding charging their members for  services.

Fan funding is about bringing stories to life in a myriad of ways and giving writers the tools to engage with, acknowledge, thank and reward their loyal fans who have been there since the beginning. The millions of readers on Wattpad are fueling the next generation of writers, that’s always been the power of our community, so this program is also a unique way for readers to come along on the journey.

Wattpad will take a 5% commission on successfully funded projects. The payments processor Stripe takes a 2.9% fee (plus $0.30 per transaction for each pledge). The rest of the funds go to the writer.

The funds will only be collected if a project is fully funded. The projects run a standard 30 days, though they can end in a shorter period of time. One project has already been funded, though that did take nearly 2 months to reach the $5,000 goal set by the writer.

Once a project is fully funded the resulting story will be made available for free on the Wattpad website. This keeps the crowd-funding concept true to the spirit of Wattpad as a place for the sharing of free stories.

Wattpad is hoping that this platform will be used to fund more than just an author’s next story. “In our case, the product doesn’t necessarily have to be e-books or paper books that result,” said Allen Lau, founder and CEO. “It could be a movie script that you’re funding, and the end product could be a movie.”

There are 2 projects under weigh on the Fan Funding page. One has 6 days left to achieve the last third of the $7500 the writer is trying to raise, while the other project has only just been launched.


The Past, Present and Future of Fan Fiction (Infographic)

wattpad_logoEarlier this week Wattpad released a new infographic that looks at the rise of fanfic, and its growing popularity among writers and readers.

The world’s largest online writing community has been supporting its members in their efforts to write fanfic for years before Amazon launched Kindle Worlds, and that puts them in a unique position to chart the growing number of stories written by fans. Wattpad reports that they currently have over 4.7 million fanfic titles uploaded to their website set in more universes than you can shake a stick at.

The infographic also confirms my suspicion that one of the earliest examples of fanfic were Sherlock Holmes stories. This iconic character even has his own fan fiction writing groups, the first of which was founded in 1934.




Reading On Android Tablets (July 2012 Edition)

Over the past couple days I’ve been exchanging emails with one of my readers. This very helpful person has convinced me that I’ve missed a very important topic, and its absence is almost an embarrassment for an ereader blog:

Reading on Tablets

It’s been quite some time since I last wrote a round up post on reading apps, so now might be a good time to do it again. BTW, if you want to know why I haven’t posted on this for a while scroll down to the end of the post.


When it comes to Android, the average user has more reading apps to choose from than you can shake a stick at. Just a brief glance through Google Play shows more apps than I can reasonably cover in a single blog post, so much so that I’m going to have to gloss over quite a few. (And I bet I missed some apps, so feel free to mention your preferred app in the comments.)

For example, there are apps (both free and paid) for dictionaries and Wikipedia as well as the Bible and Koran. Overdrive and 3M Cloud Library each have a reading app that works with their library ebooks (the best way to find those would be through your library). There’s also a plethora of PDF apps (which I’ve covered elsewhere).

And I almost forgot to mention the news aggregators like Pulse, Flipboard, Zite, and others, or the apps that let you save content to read later like Pocket, Readability, and Instapaper. (I think these apps deserve their own post, don’t you?)

Last but not least the reading community Wattpad has their own app.

 Where to Find the Apps

Your best bet would be to search for the apps in Google Play If you cannot find it there you could check Amazon Appstore. But if you don’t have access to either app store, your best bet would be to check Freeware Lovers. It’s a repository of free apps. It doesn’t have everything mentioned above, but it does have most of them.

If right now you’re still looking for an Android tablet, I strongly urge you to get one that comes with Google Play. It’s the single best source of apps.

The Majors

First up  are the major ebookstores. Two are regionally restricted, so they won’t be of much use. There are also a number of smaller ebookstores with their own app (Blio, WHSmith, BAM!, Thalia,, FNAC, etc), so much so that I cannot cover all of them here.

These apps are generally the ones you’d use to read the ebooks that you buy in each ebookstore. They offer various abilities like annotation, bookmarks and so on. The first 3 each offer some ebooks which can only be read on the one ebookstore’s apps and devices. For example, Amazon sells some enhanced Kindle ebooks that have audio and video and the enhanced content only works on the Kindle iPad and iPhone apps. Kobo and B&N also have incompatible content.

  • Kindle
  • Kobo
  • B&N
  • Google Play

The Minors

But if you’re into staying independent of the major players, you can also choose from a number of third-party apps. All of the following apps read Epub and PDF, and all except for FBReader can also read DRM-ed Epubs.

  • Aldiko
  • Moon+ Reader
  • Mantano
  • Bluefire
  • Txtr
  • FBReader

I myself like Aldiko and Moon+ because they offer a lot of formatting options and they make it easy to add my own ebooks.

Here’s Why I Stopped

I’ve been reading on ereaders for 5 years and reading on Android for a couple years.  In past year or so I’ve come to believe that reading on Android tablets is a solved problem, and that means that covering it in every review would be a tad redundant. I mean, all the Android tablets can (for the most part) run all the same major and minor reading apps. The reading experience of an app tends to be the same across many tablets, so if I wrote about how well Aldiko worked I would pretty much be able to copy and paste from my last tablet review.

That’s how I see it, but what I didn’t realize was that it’s not terribly useful information for the person who just got their first Android tablet. (So maybe I should C&P the redundant sections.)


New eReader Store Opens in Saigon

Phuong Nam, a Vietnamese media conglomerate, opened their first ereader store in Ho Chi Minh City late last week. The 500 square meter store sells ebooks as well as ereaders, and if one of the articles is to be believed, you can even find Kindles there. (That’s what I think I see at right.)

I couldn’t find a webpage for the store, but it’s supposed to be selling several models of ereaders as well as ebooks. The Vietnamese language ebook selection is limited at the moment due to lack of supply, but customers can get 28 titles published by Phuong Nam with the purchase of an ereader.

Among its other ventures (film, printing, publishing, consumer goods, stationary, and so on),Phuong Nam operates a chain of 30 bookstores, so they’re not a complete newcomer to the market. This store will probably do a lot of business. I don’t have current stats, but in the past I have seen evidence that there is a sizable number of people reading ebooks in Vietnam.

Wattpad used to release quarterly metrics reports which tracked who visited the social reading site from which countries on what devices. One thing that always stuck out was Vietnam. This tiny country with 86 million people was usually the second largest group of visitors among those who read on a computer (following the US). They easily beat out the UK, Canada, and everyone else.

I should note that Wattpad stopped sharing the metrics report in early 2011, so this data is old. But it is likely still mostly true and it points at a potential customer base.The trick is in getting people to switch to a new device.

Assuming the prices are low enough that the average Vietnamese consumer can afford to buy, this store will be mobbed.

via, via, via

WattPad and beActive Launch new Transmedia Project

How would you like to interact with the character’s of a story as the story unfolds? Then you might be interested in Aisling’s Diary, a new experiment from WattPad and beActive Entertainment.

Aisling’s Diary is a crossover project created by beActive. It’s both a YA novel  as well as a an ongoing collection of video clips, tweets, and comments from the main character, Aisling. It’s going to be posted on Wattpad one chapter at a time, and there’s also going to be  with each chapter featuring Aisling.

The project is going to run for several months, and you can find it on both the Wattpad website as well as the iOS and Android apps. You’ll also be able to interact with the character on Facebook, Twitter, and Wattpad .

This particular project doesn’t interest me any (I stopped reading teen fiction when I was 12), but the idea can be a lot of fun. I helped create a project like this over on MobileRead Forums back in 2009.

One of the MR team had created a character called Rock Lobster who was a 1940s style private detective. Well, it would be more accurate to say that he was a satire of the genre, not a genuine attempt to recreate it. The story was told by the main character, who we had first introduced a few weeks before. We all took part in interacting with him as a real person and coming up with slightly nutty things for him to say about his job. That project only lasted a couple months but it was a lot of fun.

Now, if the  Aisling’s Diary doesn’t interest you (but you like the idea) then you might want to take a look at the vast number of fictional members of Twitter.  There are any number of faux characters from both famous and unknown novels, movies, comics, etc, on Twitter. Most are intended to be humerous but some try to take it seriously.

I’m not sure what character you’d want to meet so all I can recommend is that you go search for the ones you are familiar with. TBH, I’m not sure all what is over there. Every so often I find something new, myself.

Aisling’s Diary

The Ebook Universe: 2010

Mike Cane dug up and edited that Ebook Universe infographic we saw last year. Here’s what he noticed was missing:

Smashwords, which distributes to iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon Kindle, and Kobo (among others!); Amazon Kindle 3; iPod Touch; Barnes & Noble Nook; Kobo Reader (and Borders); iBookstore; Vook; Enhanced Editions; Augen’s The Book; Pandigital Novel; ECTACO jetBook; Aluratek Libre; Cruz Reader; PC software for Barnes & Noble (which has hooked up with HP), Kindle, Kobo, and Sony Reader; iOS software for Nook, Kindle, and Kobo. And Aldiko must go in there too, which is important for Android devices. That’s off the top of my head. Probably other things not surfacing this early in the morning.

Pocketbook, Copia, Onyx,  Hanvon, Jinke, Samsung, Audiovox, Netronix, and Gajah are also missing. And there are a number of open source projects that deserve a mention: calibre, Sigil. And don’t forget Goodreads, Wattpad, BookGlutton, as well as the Pocketbook-Netronix merger.

This really should be updated, but it’s beyond my graphics abilities. Does anyone want to take a shot at making a new one from scratch? I’ll help.