Margaret Atwood: Why Wattpad works (HT: @readinasitting)

The famed Margaret Atwood talks about WattPad for the Guardian site:

On www.wattpad.com – using your computer, tablet or phone – you can post your own writing. No one need know how old you are, what your social background is, or where you live. Your readers can be anywhere. And if you're worried about adverse reactions from your teachers, your grandmother, or others who might not like you writing about slavering zombies or your relatives, you can use a pseudonym. You can be FlamingLeprechaun and represent yourself with a picture of a bat or a spoon: the internet lends itself to surrealism. Then you can post stories about Pod People or affairs with smouldering hunks undead for 2,000 years, which beats "My Summer Holiday" every time. Not only that, you'll have readers who leave encouraging comments on your message board, thus boosting your morale.

I'm clearly still afflicted with an old-school aversion to simply posting my work up. I like to know I've polished it and that some kind of approved gatekeeper has decided it's good enough for publication. But consider the vast and varied world of gatekeepers, and how a story or manuscript that one gatekeeper wouldn't touch with a stick is snapped up by another; with that much variety in what is considered 'publishable', is it actually important anymore?

Wattpad was started in 2006, before the tsunami of ebooks. Everything on the site is free. Over six years, it built itself up under the radar of the traditional publishers, and it now has a membership of millions, in 25 languages, with 1.7bn minute views per month. Increasingly, publishers and music companies are looking at it as an aid to promotion. (For instance, the Wattpad One Direction launch has been viewed by 1 million, and has generated 12,000 pieces of fan fiction to date.) They're also talent-spotting on it, and some Wattpad writers have already moved over to other, more traditional, paid methods of publication.

Sounds interesting and worthwhile. Also, it extends beyond the often myopic 'Western World' of publishing:

Allen Lau, the co-founder of Wattpad, remembers getting a letter from an old man in a village in Africa. The village had no school, no library, no landline, and no books. But it had a mobile phone, and on that they could read and share the Wattpad stories. He was writing to say thank you.

The article is fairly short, so do have a look. WattPad could be right for you: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jul/06/margaret-atwood-wattpad-online-writing