Entertainment

Wattpad opens submissions for 2021 Watty Awards

On Wednesday, Toronto-based storytelling platform Wattpad announced submissions for its 12th annual Watty Awards have opened — and that the eventual grand prize winner will receive a book deal with the company’s publisher, Wattpad Books.

Storytelling platform's film and television influence continues to grow in YA sphere

On Wednesday, Wattpad announced the opening of submissions for its 2021 Watty Awards. The Toronto-based company and its Watty Award winners have had an increasingly significant influence on young adult fiction developed for the screen. (Wattpad)

On Wednesday, Toronto-based storytelling platform Wattpad announced submissions for its 12th annual Watty Awards have opened — and that the eventual grand prize winner will receive a book deal with the company's publisher, Wattpad Books.

The winning entry will be published in 2023, while other prizes include consideration for Wattpad's "paid stories" program — a premium service where readers pay to read specific stories — or for TV and film development with its Wattpad Webtoon Studios. 

The contest accepts submissions in 10 languages and 14 different categories, including fantasy, romance, science fiction and historical fiction. Submissions are open until Sept. 30, with winners announced Dec. 3. 

Founded in 2006, the self-publishing app has in recent years taken a more prominent role in TV and film development — weighted heavily in the world of young adult (YA) fiction. 

The 2011 "teen fiction" winner The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles, then-15, was read more than 19 million times before being acquired by Netflix, and was later released to commercial success in 2018. The movie saw a sequel in 2020, while a third instalment is currently in post-production and scheduled to release in August of this year. 

The Kissing Booth is one of the most popular movies on Netflix. The original story was written by a 15-year-old on the Canadian story-sharing platform Wattpad. (Komixx Entertainment/Netflix)

Meanwhile, Katarina E. Tonks's 2014 winner — Death Is My BFF — is currently in development for TV with Sony Pictures. Tonks began writing the novel in 2011, when she was just 14. 

And Ontario's Loridee De Villa,18, won the Watty Award's grand prize last year for her novel How To Be The Best Third Wheel, scheduled to publish in summer 2022. 

De Villa's story The Infinite Worlds of Ella Jane is also being developed as a 10-episode narrative podcast through the Shaw Rocket Fund Accelerator Writing Contest, a partnership between Shaw Rocket Fund, production company Shaftesbury and Wattpad. 

Wattpad has entered into numerous other partnerships to develop its content for the screen, from Munich-based entertainment company Bavaria Fiction, to Amsterdam production house NL Film, to Entertainment One (eOne) and NBCUniversal-owned production company Universal Cable Productions. 

Earlier this year, Wattpad and CBC extended a content partnership with the stated goal of discovering "emerging Canadian Wattpad writers and stories," to develop for the streaming platform CBC Gem. 

CBC is developing two original series as part of that deal — YA thriller The Last Place to Hide and YA drama Near or Far

In May, South Korean internet conglomerate Naver completed its acquisition of Wattpad for a reported $600 million US. Despite the sale, the company intends to keep its headquarters in Toronto.

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