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Wattpad Webtoon Studios: A Quantum Leap for Aspiring Storytellers

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at York U chapter.

If there is one thing that intensified my love for reading, it’s Wattpad. I was in middle school when a friend introduced me to it, and the next thing I knew, Wattpad was tagging along with me wherever I went like a companion. Soon, my eyes were glued to the screen like never before. I would finish a book in one go at times to avoid losing sleep in suspense, even if that meant actually sacrificing most hours of sleep. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one affected by this fever: reading the popular books – mostly romance – and then fangirling about it.

Speaking of romance, it was the most popular genre on Wattpad that made teenage girls’ hearts flutter through their cliche storylines: good girl meets the bad boy, enemies to friends, or a damsel in distress meets a rich boy, who continue to meet at different intervals of their lives and have a fairy-tale love story, like they were always meant to be together. But hey, hasn’t romance been thriving on these cliches?

Wattpad was relatively new and groundbreaking when it became a trend: a portal that allowes anyone to become a writer and a reader, on the go, anytime. On top of that, it eliminates having to go through the whole book publishing process: the writer themselves are their own literary agent, editor, publisher, and marketer/publicist. 

Since then, Wattpad has been unstoppable. So, let me tell you a story, of how a social-storytelling app came about and skyrocketed, and continues to do so.

Starting with the historical nitty-gritty, the idea of the Toronto-based firm was conceived by Lau and Yuen in late 2006, with the intention that this app could introduce digital reading and help connect fiction lovers who were writers – professional and aspiring. In five years, Wattpad reached one million users before winning the Best Overall Canadian Startup Award the following year in 2012. 

Little was it known that these stories were going to come alive……

It began with the After series by Anna Todd, released in 2014 under the fanfiction genre. After narrates the account of Tessa Young, a conservative college student who embarks on a journey of love with a rebellious Hardin Scott (based on and initially Harry Styles). The book was a huge success in readership on Wattpad, and later got published as a physical book, selling 10 million copies and appearing on The New York Times bestseller. What more? It got made into a movie that came out in 2019. It then became a book series, followed by their films: After We Collided, After We Fell, and After Ever Happy. The last film of the After movie series After Everything is the only one that doesn’t have its book.

In between this, Wattpad has had more of their stories being transformed into films and tv series, such as The Kissing Booth trilogy movies, and the recent Netflix series My Life With The Walter Boys – if you haven’t watched, I recommend! – and Float starring Robbie Amell (The DUFF) and Andrea Bang (Kim’s Convenience) slated for release late this year, amongst others. Until 2021, Wattpad had around 1,500 of its stories on the road to being published into books or adapted on-screen.

With that Hollywood relationship flourishing, Wattpad extended its bond overseas. In 2021, Wattpad was acquired for more than $600 million by a Korean company Naver Webtoon, while retaining their base in Toronto under the same leadership by its co-founders. Naver Webtoon – a branch of the South Korean conglomerate Naver Company who are known for the country’s first web portal Naver – are on the same boat as Wattpad, with many of their webtoons produced by aspiring comic writers being adapted into K-Dramas: Sweet Home, Our Beloved Summer, All of Us Are Dead, Doona!, the currently ongoing Marry My Husband, and more. Hence, this merge opens up increased opportunities for diverse storytelling in various mediums of media for the newly Wattpad Webtoon Studios, who currently has more than 100 film and television projects at works across five continents.

Thanks to such platforms, we have reached a point where stories and voices can easily reach a larger than thought audience and connect readers and users globally. There is space for content, there is space for one to unleash their creativity to any extent, and there will be someone to listen to them.

So, if you have a story to tell, go for it!

Sarah Nasir is a writer for Her Campus at York U. She is doing her undergraduate in Communication and Media Studies at York University. She was previously a writer for the International Blind Sports Federation under the United Nations Online Volunteer Program, where she covered the sport of blind football through her stories of players from international teams, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. Sarah spends her free time playing badminton and reading romance and thrillers. She also loves watching movies and TV shows, particularly K-dramas and C-dramas.