Wattpad’s new Fan Funding pilot program hopes to revive struggling publishing industry

The publishing industry is currently experiencing turmoil it hasn’t seen since the invention of the printing press, but one Toronto-based startup has found a 21st solution to funding literature.

Wattpad, the world’s largest community for reading and sharing stories, announced today a new initiative that allows readers to support their favorite authors through a crowd-funding program.

In the last few years the publishing industry has been hit hard by the rise of eBooks, and the fall of many independent bookstores, major chains, publishers, and other distributors following the economic crises of 2008.

The experiment hopes to bring revenue back to writing through a new fan funding pilot project that will allow readers to help fund stories, eBooks, or other work from six initial writers, in return for a range of novel rewards. The first cohort of fan funded authors includes Brittany Geragotelis, author of Life’s a Witch, and Tara Sampson (aka MercyRose).

The fan-funding project will allow anyone to pledge money towards their favorite writer’s projects in return for rewards such as naming a character in a story or receiving a signed copy of a book.

“The real goal for us is creating new options for writers to connect with their existing fan base on Wattpad,” said Wattpad CEO Allen Lau in a press release. “We have built a social graph between readers and writers and these connections can lead to new ways for people to monetize their work at different points in the creation process. Fan funding is one experiment in providing an outlet for this.”

With more than 16 million users spending 4 billion minutes on Wattpad each month, the company hopes to be able to expand the fan-funding project in the future. Often considered the ‘YouTube of books,” the online community allows users to share creative writing spanning mystery, romance, sci-fi, poetry, fan fiction and more.

Jared Lindzon

Jared Lindzon

Jared Lindzon is a freelance journalist and public speaker based in Toronto. Lindzon's reporting focuses on the future of work, technology, entrepreneurship and innovation. Beyond his regular columns in Fast Company's WorkLife section and The Globe & Mail's Careers section, Lindzon has also been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, The BBC, TIME Magazine, Rolling Stone, Fortune Magazine and many more. As a public speaker, interviewer and moderator Lindzon frequently shares the insights he's gathered through his reporting at conferences and events around the world. Lindzon received an MA in Journalism and an Honours BA in Media Studies from Western University.

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