Storytelling platform Wattpad is revamping its creative program and making it more accessible to writers, the company announced Thursday. Launched last year, the Wattpad Creators program was limited and “too complicated”, according to the company. Since its launch, Wattpad has paid out nearly $3.8 million in stipends through the program. Wattpad plans to shell out another $1 million over the rest of the year.
At launch, the program had different levels depending on a writer’s goals. With the revamped program, WattPad moves from program levels with different requirements to a single level and experience for all program participants. The Toronto-based company says the change will make it easier for writers to focus on their writing, rather than where they should be aiming.
To be eligible for the program, a writer must commit to writing a minimum of 500 words per week and have at least one full story of 50,000 words or more in their catalog. Additionally, a writer must have at least one story in an eligible genre that has reached a minimum number of engaged readers. The company counts an engaged reader as someone who has spent more than five minutes on a story in the past 365 days. Criteria for engaged readers range from 9,000 for general fiction to 100 for horror.
Although the new program is currently invitation-only, Wattpad says the new criteria will allow it to add more writers. Wattpad notes that the program gives writers the option to pause and resume participation.
Nick Uskoski, head of content development and creators at Wattpad, told TechCrunch in an email that the company is removing some of the barriers to entry so it can attract more writers to the program. The original program was only open to a few hundred writers and offered stipends on entry. People were eligible for different levels of allowances based on a tier system. In the new program, the company is moving to a model that offers stipends for specific writing initiatives.
Wattpad is also putting more emphasis on training and coaching writers with the revamped authoring program. The original version of the program offered benefits to writers who are more experienced or have published more work, while the updated program will give all writers access to these resources.
All editors on the program will have access to Wattpad’s editorial response tool, which allows editors to ask questions of the company’s internal editorial team. Editors will also have access to new tools and resources to help them grow, as well as live editorial coaching and office hours. Additionally, writers will have access to quarterly meetings where the company shares information about building a career on Wattpad.
“Not everyone has the time, resources, and privilege to attend writing workshops and retreats, so we bring that same kind of community, support, and insight to the Wattpad Creators program,” Uskoski said. “We don’t just want to be where writers start their careers, we want them to grow and flourish on Wattpad and beyond.”
The new program will feature time-limited writing initiatives to encourage new content in the genres we want to see more of on the platform. The first of these is a year-long intensive writing style project, which will pay a stipend for publishing new chapters on a regular weekly schedule.