Wattpad launching new generation of rock star authors

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Toronto-based social publishing site Wattpad is introducing a new generation of literary stars and success stories, CBC's Deana Sumanac-Johnson reported on The National recently.

Since launching in 2006, the online writing community has garnered more than 39 million subscribers. Users can share works of writing, get feedback, and build an online fan base. The site doesn't just attract aspiring writers anymore - no less a legend than Queen of CanLit Margaret Atwood has used Wattpad to write and collaborate on new fiction.

Indeed, major publishers are scouring the site in search of the next E.L. James-type publishing phenomenon. Sumanac-Johnson spoke with 25-year-old Anna Todd, who recently scored a six-figure publishing deal from Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books after writing fan-fiction inspired by popular boy band One Direction member Harry Styles. Todd, from Texas, was a Wattpad reader first before trying her hand at writing. She penned one chapter at a time, often looking at the feedback and encouragement she received from the online community. Todd astoundingly racked up nearly one billion story views, which led to a bidding war from publishers. Now, she's greeted like a rock star at book store appearances and has a movie deal with Paramount.

Other authors are aware of Wattpad, but prefer a more traditional process of publishing books. Bestselling author Jodi Picoult (My Sister's Keeper) said she likes building relationships with editors and trusting them with sharpening her work.

"I love my editors because when you are in a book, you are so in your head and so completely immersed in a story that you sometimes do not have the objectivity of distance," she said.

However, if it wasn't for Wattpad, Todd said, she may not have been able to write books.

"I could never sit by myself and write and entire book," Todd said. "I'm not the best writer, [but] I can tell a story. And so that's why writing socially was really great for me."