Over the last few months, those who frequent the social media realms of Twitter and Wattpad may have come across the increasingly popular trend #WattpadBooksAreRealBooksToo. Some know of its origins, others not so much. I, myself, as a dedicated and proud Wattpader, have participated in a few of the events held by those responsible for this new avenue of support, and want to shed a little more light on the trend and the efforts.
The hash tag was originally a rebuttal for a less than respectable tweet by Viner Tom Harlock. In response to a friends tweet stating he had just finished his book, Harlock in turn tweeted “fan fiction on Wattpad isn’t a book”. Of course, this touched a nerve with those who not only write fan fiction, but any works on the popular forum, prompting much backlash to the Viner.
The weeks that followed, the hash tag #WattpadBooksAreRealBooksToo was born. It has since been attached to various writers works, readers recommendations, as well as others reasons for why works on Wattpad are just as credible and worthy of praise as any traditional work. Anyone familiar with Wattpad, its efforts and those who read and write on the site know just how invaluable it is to the social media and literary worlds. It gives some with no previous options for trying their hand at the written word an outlet, and for some, has changed their lives.
Writers such as Anna Todd (After), Natasha Preston (The Cellar) and Ali Novak (My Life with the Walter Boys) are all examples of the power and impact that Wattpad has on the writing world. Works such as 50 Shades of Grey, After, and others started as fan fictions, and ended as phenoms. Even beyond just writers and readers, it has been noted that some publishers and literary agencies have taken notice of the trend.
February 9, 2016 was the first of many promotional attempts by the dedicated group of writers behind the trend to raise awareness for the Wattpad community, as well as show support for those who use it for their writing. It was widely successful, and while the hash tag didn’t quite make it on to the trends chart, the word was spread, with more and more people now familiar with the effort.
The next event is coming March 21, 2016, where organizers have planned ‘Unofficial Wattpad Day’. Another Twitter and Wattpad based attempt to increase the knowledge and awareness of the site and its incredible writers, with the hopes of making the hash tag on to the trend listing for the day.
As someone who writes on Wattpad myself, I can attest to the impact is has. The site allows authors not only a place to host their work and release their creativity, but also interact with readers, improve by suggestions and feedback, and make lifelong connections. Regardless of how a book came about, whether online, or on a laptop, should not diminish its impact and value to those to put their endless hours, their creativity, their hopes and their experiences on to those pages. The progression of a book, regardless of its physical form, is the same. Hours of thinking, considering where to take the concept you have floating around in your mind. When you do finally sit down and decide to write, it takes weeks, to months, of writing, writing, writing. Then you delete most of it, and write all over again. You have friends beta read, get comments and feedback from readers when you finally do post your chapters on the site, and then make revisions that feel endless. Just like a traditional ‘writer’, the process is the same. The only difference is the mode of interaction.
And even beyond the books themselves (yes, they are books) the people who make up this community are unlike any other collection of creative minds I have ever come across. Whether they chose to write, read, or review, each person has a role within the forum, they interact, share ideas, promote and encourage in ways that traditional publication just cannot provide. With traditional publishing, you never know the true impact or success of a book until it is already on the shelves. Should you have changed a theme? Is your main character relatable? All these questions are answered through forums such as Wattpad, where authors can get direct and invaluable feedback from those who read their work. It is a partnership between the writer and reader, and one that exists nowhere else in literature.
So for someone to diminish the impact, the dedication and the efforts of these writers based solely on their forum of choice and subject matter is the largest example of insult I have seen a in a while. If you don’t care for fan fiction, or online works of literature, that is fine. But don’t criticize the work and effort of those who have chosen it as their own.
Besides, if Wattpad books aren’t real books, why would New York Times Bestseller Anna Todd begin to post her latest book, Nothing More, back on the site? She has no need for the promotion, her following already unmatched by any other. But she stated honestly she missed the connection, the relation to her readers, and the direct feedback it provided. If someone of her influence still loves and cherishes the site and its community, who is Tom Harlock to dismiss its validity?
For those who haven’t checked it out yet, I encourage you to type the hash tag in to your twitter search. See the stories linked, talk with those involved. It is a close knit community within the world of Wattpad, with the goal of spreading awareness, love and support for the site that changed so many lives.
So on behalf of myself and the millions of other writers and readers who know that Wattpad books really ARE books too, thank you Wattpad!