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Storytelling Platform Wattpad Provides Launchpad for AAPI Authors

As legacy media and publishing platforms have grappled with fallout from the steady encroach of the internet over the past two decades, a lot of old barriers to entry (both overt and less obvious on the surface) have at least partially eroded.

Remnants and engrained instincts of gatekeeping hurdles, though, remain. And many from historically underrepresented communities, including those who identify as Asian, still face unique difficulties and disproportionate challenges when attempting to carve out careers as writers.

Into this gap enter Wattpad, a new storytelling technology platform with a global community that has quickly achieved significant market footing while also becoming a valuable launchpad for diverse writers.

If seeing a real pathway is the first step in imagining one’s own future, Wattpad helps serve up that vision — providing would-be authors with a workable platform to build their own audience and monetize their work. For young and up-and-coming writers like Loridee De Villa, Wattpad helped demystify not only the traditional publishing world but also the writing process itself, and thus open up all different types of literary avenues as viable occupational avenues.


“I first heard about Wattpad when I was around 13, from friends who were writing stories on the app at the time. Out of curiosity, I started reading on the site and eventually I also started posting my own stories,” said De Villa in a recent interview. “For writers like myself, I think Wattpad is an amazing community — everyone is allowed to share the stories their heart desires. You don’t have to be a professional novelist to get your voice out there. You can be anywhere from an aspiring 13-year-old writer to someone with decades of storytelling experience they want to share with the world. And for readers, the site is just a massive library. There are so many genres to choose from, and one of the best features of the site is the reader interaction. You can comment on parts of a story as you read through it, have conversations with people reading the same story as you, and even interact with authors while they’re working on the book. It’s basically a party for readers.”

The platform is quickly becoming a party for authors as well. Malaysian author Claudia Tan accumulated more than 85 million reads of her “Perfect” web-novel series, and “Perfect Addiction” was turned into a film that is now streaming globally on Amazon Prime. Following its premiere in late March, the movie shot to the top of Amazon’s in-demand rankings in 32 countries, and the top 10 in an astonishing 81 countries worldwide.


As studios and especially streaming services look to leverage more and more content into loyal, dedicated customers, thinking about eventual adaptation for film or television isn’t just theoretical, or some downstream decision. Intellectual property rights are an increasingly important part of even an up-and-coming author’s revenue planning.

In this regard, Wattpad, as well as the Wattpad WEBTOON Studios adaptation division are uniquely situated to help writers — especially AAPI authors and those from other minority groups — maximize potential ancillary and passive income from their work.

“What I love about Wattpad and Wattpad WEBTOON Studios is that there are less barriers for writers from historically underrepresented groups,” said De Villa, who with her award-winning “How to Be the Best Third Wheel” has experienced the type of publishing success that can then help open doors and get phone calls returned in IP negotiations.

“By this, I mean that everyone is allowed to share stories, and because the site is accessible internationally, stories are able to reach a variety of audiences. In a lot of traditional pursuits to media production, there are many people in higher-up positions — who usually do not reflect the diversity of the people around them — deciding which stories ‘deserve’ to be told,” De Villa said. “In the case of many Asian and Pacific Islander creators, this means they don’t get a spot for their own narratives. Nobody gets to hear them. And if these stories somehow bypass this hurdle, oftentimes creators are forced to water-down the cultural aspects within their plots, or succumb to stereotypical views of a certain group.

“Wattpad is different because creators can share whatever they want, whether they include things from their culture or not, and the audience decides what they want to see,” De Villa continued. “Nobody is in the background telling writers that their stories are ‘not marketable’ or ‘don’t fit the trends.’ Wattpad WEBTOON Studios also does a great job supporting a diverse set of works, regardless of where their creators are. As a Filipino-Canadian, being on Wattpad, especially during my teen years, was transformative, because I got to see how my stories influenced other people who shared my experiences. Getting comments about how people finally saw someone who looked like them (and) families similar to theirs was so rewarding. Wattpad WEBTOON Studios only made the experience better, helping me get my novel out on physical shelves and obtain a greater audience, while encouraging me to share more about my own experiences. Overall, I think the site is such an accessible space for writers who might be disadvantaged in the traditional publishing industry and the online community offers a huge space for wonderful open discuss.”