It is the event of the year for the Wattpad community. The time where friends and fans from far and wide converge together to talk all things writing, story and creativity. This year, Wattcon took over Times Square New York, turning the brightest area of the city orange in the most fabulous way.
Hosted at the Marriott Marquis Times Square on October 27 and 28, it was two full days of panels, chats, workshops and more, giving insight into the creative process and has brought us some of our favorite Wattpad stories and entertainment. It was not just about the stories on the site…but how those stories have transformed the entertainment community and the individuals behind them.
October 27, everything kicked off bright and early, swarms of fans, friends and fun taking over the 7th floor of the venue. The fabulous Samantha was the mastermind behind the event (along with help from her friends and colleagues), and launched the weekend off both live in New York and over the live stream for those who could not be there in person. Swag could be seen far and wide, both provided by Wattpad in the form of loot bags, merchandise for purchase (yes, I spent a small fortune and am not sorry) and items brought by writer to help reach their audience with items such as magnets, buttons, pens, and more. Attendees were weighted down their treasures, and ready to take in two days of story-centric information.
The first panel, “The lay of the land: a writers journey in publishing” featured Zoe Aarsen, the mastermind behind the Hulu hit Light as a Feather, After editor Adam Wilson, Wednesday Books editor Eileen Rothschild (the editor behind the upcoming White Stag by Pandean), Ashleigh Gardner from Wattpad HQ, and Jessi Smith from Simon Pulse. The panelists discussed the art of bringing some of your favorite Wattpad books to life in traditional publishing with some of the biggest success stories from the forum.
“Setting the Scene: A Writer’s Journey in Entertainment” brought attendees face to face with the author of one of the years biggest Netflix hits, the Kissing Booth – Beth Reekles. Along with Lindsey Ramy and Eric Lehrman of Wattpad Studios, and Christina Henne from Bavaria Fiction, the panelists discussed how to bring our favorite stories to the screen. With The Kissing Booth bringing a whole new set of fans to the Wattpad forum thanks to its Netflix success, it is probably safe to say that there will be more success stories in Wattpads future. When asked what brought Beth to Wattpad, her answer was easy.
“The site is just regular people sharing stories. I was a voracious reader & always i loved writing so it was perfect for me” – Beth Reekles
The panel also pointed out that publishing and film adaptations are not a quick process. In fact, they are anything but. For Reekles, it took 5 years for TKB to reach the screen.
“It took 5 years… random House bought TKB in 2012 & then Netflix came, they understood wattpad as a platform & the audience behind it It was filmed Feb. 2017 & released in 2018. A lot of it was just waiting” – Beth Reekles
Many writers on the forum are looking to launch their career into the traditional realm, but arent always sure how to go about it. The business can be daunting and rather terrifying, and it is not just about writing an amazing book. Now, the author is just as much of a product as the book itself. Hence, branding and marketing your personal brand is an important step for upcoming writers, and Wattpad helped us learn the ropes.
“Be your own hero: the wattpad Writerpreneur” taught writers, viewers and attendees tips and tricks on starting their career. From goal setting, to building their personal brand, panelists Monica Sanz (author of Seventhborn), Watty award winner Adrian Birch , bestselling author Jo Watson, and Watty award winner LL Montez, explained how to bring not only your books to the forefront, but yourself as an author. Some tips? Create relationships with your readers! Respond to comments, interact with them, and they will learn to love you as well as your stories. But they also pointed out that branding is work…it is not just a single tweet that goes viral, or a good Instagram post. It is possible to break out from the pack, but you need to work for it.
“Wattpad is a launch pad… a writing career is possible.” – LL Montez
At the “A Call to Action: Writing for Different Mediums” panel, experts included Wattpad TAP GM Dani Zacarias, Ariel Klontz, Debbie Goelz (the brilliant mind behind my personal audio book fav, Mermaids and the Vampires Who Love Them), Keri Halfacre, and Romi Moondi, the topics stepped off the traditional page (or screen) and discussed the various forms your stories can take. Wattpad is no longer just about typical stories; with their TAP program, writers can experience text stories that give a new dimension to traditional story telling. A good concept to learn if you want to try your hand at TAP? Look at screen writing principles to change the way you tell your stories.
If the panels weren’t your thing, Wattpad had you covered. the ‘Inspiration Room’ allowed those who found their creative spark early in the conference a place to escape and get their ideas down with the help of members from the Content and Creator Development Team. Those who attended had access to creative mood boards, anonymous constructive feedback, writing space and an opportunity for a 1:1 session with the team.
A second panel on personal branding emphasized just how important it is to reaching your goals. Panelists included Director of Marketing at Wattpad Emma Brooks, Textrovert author Lindsey Summers, branding aficionado (in my opinion) Jandra Sutton, Arrowheart author Rebecca Sky, and Watty award winner Lydia Carr. Each author had their own personal tips for increasing your brand, but for those who wanted to do a little reading on the subject, Jandra had the perfect option.
“JaneFriedman.com is my go to for personal branding” – Jandra Sutton
For those who wanted a little more information on some of Wattpads other writing options, there was a TAP info session panel to give you all the details. Hosted by TAP Wattpad HQ members, writers and readers were able to attend a casual meet and greet to learn all about TAP!
It is fairly well known that fanfiction is one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) genre on Wattpad. So, of course, it only made sense to have a panel entirely devoted to it. Featuring the Godfather of Fanfiction (yes, I have named him this myself) Kevin Fanning (aka KFan), veteran fanfic author Flourish Klink, and fandom expert (and intellectual property lawyer) Heidi Tandy, hosted by Wattpads resident fanfic guru Samantha, we dove into the big questions of writing fan fiction. The biggest question? Is fanfic really a genre. Of course it is! Can you traditionally publish your fanfiction featuring real life celebrities, or using the names/characters of Marvel and Harry Potter? Of course you can’t! But the biggest message at the panel was how to make your writing the best it can be, and it came from KFan himself.
“Writing is really good for you. Everybody should do it. It’s not magic, write and keep trying and that’s how you get good at it.” – KFan
For anyone who wants to learn how to make their fantasy and sci-fi writing the best it can be, then the Into the Unknown panel was the perfect place to be. Featuring experts in world building Pandean, Mikaela Bender, Paul PK Kingston, and Wattpad HQ’s own Caitlin OHanlon, we were transported to the realm of what could be. Everyone finds their ideas in their own ways, but for Pandean, it seems that sleep deprivation was the ticket to her incredible and original worlds. With fantasy and sci-fi, there are no limits; you make your own rules, as it is YOUR world.
Before the day closed, we were given a VERY special treat. Anna Todd, author of the smash hit After, was unable to attend Wattcon 2018, but she was sure to send us a very special message, along with a sneak peak of the film that we have all been waiting for! Check it out HERE
Day one ended with a bit of a treat! A special 2 episode screening of Hulu’s newest hit, and Wattpad original, Light as a Feather by Zoe Aarsen. Sitting with some of your favorite writers, friends and HQ staff, candy in hand thanks to the Wattcon crew, we were thrilled and awed as the story we have all loved came alive before our eyes. As the screens closed on the final scene, many of us (myself especially) were left craving more! If you havent watched this thrilling series yet, all I have to say is…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?!?
As the doors closed on day one of Wattcon 2018, the Wattpad community took to the streets of New York to talk writing, exchange ideas, and immerse themselves in the creativity and thrill that only New York can offer!
Check back soon for a recap of day two of Wattcon 2018!
“The Lay of the Land: A Writer’s Journey in Publishing” is starting. Hear from
@ZoeAarsen @ll_cool_jess @AdamDetritus @E_Roths and @heartbreak_pie as they explore the world of publishing with writers who have made it happen.