Seguindo na liña do post anterior, reprodúzovos un interesante artigo do New York Times (23.03.2014), “Web Fiction, Serialized and Social” feito por :
TORONTO — Not since the heyday of Dickens, Dumas and Henry James has serialized fiction been this big.
In 1841, excited readers swarmed the New York docks to ask travelers from England whether Little Nell in “The Old Curiosity Shop” was dead.
In 2014, they are turning to their phones to keep up with the latest adventures of sweet Tessa and outrageous Harry, who meet on their first day of college and have a heartbreaking and inspiring relationship.
Every few days, Anna Todd uses Wattpad, a storytelling app, to post a new episode of this couple’s torrid tale. Chapter 278 of “After” came out last week, moments after Ms. Todd, a 25-year-old former college student in Austin, Tex., finished writing it.
The first comment appeared 13 seconds after the chapter was uploaded. By the next day, there were 10,000 comments: always brief, overwhelmingly positive, sometimes coherent. “After” has more than a million readers, Wattpad says.
The Internet long ago revamped publishing and bookselling. Now technology is transforming the writing of fiction, previously the most solitary and exacting of arts, into something nearly the opposite. It is social, informal and intimate, with the results not only consumed but often composed on the fly.
Wattpad is a leader in this new storytelling environment, with more than two million writers producing 100,000 pieces of material a day for 20 million readers on an intricate international social network.
When Jeff Bezos wonders if Amazon’s dominance of e-books might be outflanked, or Mark Zuckerberg ponders whether Facebook will be deserted by young people in search of something cooler, Wattpad is likely to come to mind.
“Now that everyone’s been given permission to be creative, new ways of telling stories, of being entertained, are being invented,” said Charles Melcher, a publishing consultant who hosts the annual Future of StoryTelling conference. “A lot of people are lamenting the end of the novel, but I think it’s simply evolving.”
Wattpad is not the sort of site where writers talk about suffering for their art or spend hours searching for the mot juste. Much of the most popular work is geared to young women and draws its energy from fan fiction. (Harry in “After” is inspired by Harry Styles, the teen heartthrob from the band One Direction.) Other popular categories are vampire fiction and mysteries.
The writers — who are not paid for their work, as on any social network — put up stories, recast them, abandon them and delete them on whims, in the process making more traditional e-books look as eternal as a Knopf hardcover.
This is writing reimagined for a mobile world, where attention is fragmentary.
“Almost all our writers serialize their content,” Allen Lau, Wattpad’s chief executive, said in an interview at the company’s offices here. “Two thousand words is roughly 10 minutes of reading. That makes the story more digestible, something you can do when standing in line.”
Before the Internet collapsed time and space, a vast gulf existed between writers and readers. J. D. Salinger was a little extreme in asking his agent to destroy any fan mail, but in general the more successful the writer, the greater the distance between the author and the reader. The writer was an imperial figure, an artist who dwelt on Mount Olympus. The reader was nowhere.
Wattpad eliminates any remaining distance between creator and consumer. The reader has been elevated to somewhere between the writer’s best friend and his ideal editor, one who offers only adoration. “This sentence literally broke my heart,” exclaimed one “After” reader. Enthused another: “What’s the point of life without ‘After’?”
Acquiring such fans is the most important job of a Wattpad writer. Then comes keeping them happy, not only by doling out new work on a regular basis — for a while Ms. Todd posted a chapter a day — but also by responding to their comments and questions.
“My first priority is my fans,” said Rebecca Sky, whose paranormal novel “The Love Curse” attracted an enthusiastic following on Wattpad in 2012. “Writing fiction is for weekends.”
The reason: “If you can go to a publisher and say, ‘I have 15,000 fans,’ that counts for more than someone who comes out of their basement with a perfect manuscript who knows no one,” Ms. Sky said.
Sometimes her fans help shape the story, like softening her presentation of one character’s speech impediment. “Everyone was so relieved when his stutter was presented in a less forceful way,” she said.
Well, not everyone. “A few people with stutters commented how they found that relief offensive,” she confessed.
Other readers simply say “awesome” and then ask Ms. Sky, a 32-year-old legal assistant, to check out their own work.
“I’ll admit that when I get ‘This is the best book ever,’ I can be a tad cynical,” Ms. Sky said. “But writers are so self-critical. To have a team of people cheering you on is nice. When I write full time, my goal will be to have a team of people help me respond to every comment.”
Besides letting readers post a public comment, Wattpad allows them to send a private message to the author, vote for a work or become an official fan of a writer. Fans can also dedicate a chapter of their own novel to other writers, make covers for books and create YouTube and Pinterest tributes.
They can offer casting selections for a favorite story as if it were a movie. Starting a few months ago, they could insert comments directly into the text of a story through in-line commenting, which all readers can see. They can even sponsor a writer with real money.
The traditional publishing industry is watching Wattpad closely, not only as a source of new talent but also for techniques to increase reader engagement.
“As an industry, publishing does not have great ways of showing fan love,” said Dominque Raccah, the chief executive of Sourcebooks. “Wattpad lets readers add to the story and gives them so many more access points. It’s more visceral.”
If the work on Wattpad is public, the authors often are not. As many as half its writers are anonymous or pseudonymous, including Ms. Todd.
“It gives a sense of safety,” said Ms. Sky, who began writing as L. J. Michaels and then went through several other variations before ending up with Sky, which is the last syllable of her married name, Zellinsky. She is now legally changing her name to include Sky, in essence incorporating her Wattpad persona into her real life.
The readers are also anonymous, which could be asking for trouble on a site where people publish soul-baring poetry like this: “I’m broken/More than you could ever see/But you still insist/To love me.”
But instead of snark, such naked emotion often brings encouragement. “Would you mind,” one commenter asked the author of that verse, “if I turned this poem into a song?”
One major reason the community is supportive instead of critical: Wattpad writers have a delete key when it comes to comments on their work. There is not much point in being a troll if no one will know it.
Wattpad writers freely acknowledge that their manuscripts are often first drafts written as spontaneously as possible. “Just write what comes to you,” Ms. Todd advised in a self-interview on Wattpad. “I barely ever reread the chapter before posting because I overthink things and I feel like overediting or trying to use too many words can ruin the story.”
There are practical reasons for this. For much of Wattpad’s far-flung international audience, English is a second language. The more direct the prose, the better. But it also captures the site’s egalitarian approach.
“Some readers say, ‘I can teach these writers to be better writers,’ ” said Candice Faktor, Wattpad’s general manager. “But that’s not what the community wants. They love that it’s not edited by an editor.”
Not overthinking her words has certainly worked for Ms. Todd, whose Wattpad writings are in a class by themselves in terms of popularity.
“I have 14,000 unread messages in my Wattpad inbox,” she said. She knows she needs to catch up. “If you aren’t talking to readers and letting them know you’re just like them, they can lose interest.”
Wattpad might seem an overnight success, but it struggled for years to break through. Mr. Lau and Ivan Yuen were Canadian tech entrepreneurs interested in mobile reading. They released an app in 2006, but this was before the Kindle and the iPhone, and it struggled to gain momentum. Adding 17,000 public domain books did not do much. But then writers began to post original works, and the site caught the mobile wave.
The company, which has received more than $20 million in funding from Khosla Ventures and Union Square Ventures, among others, keeps outgrowing its space. The 70 employees, now mostly in one big room in a skyscraper north of downtown Toronto, are again moving to bigger accommodations.
Like many start-ups, Wattpad has big dreams but little revenue, mostly from advertising. “When we have a billion users, there will be a million ways to make money,” Mr. Lau said. One of them might be representing popular writers as, in essence, their agent. Wattpad is doing this with Ms. Todd as it explores book or movie deals for “After.”
At the moment, however, Wattpad is a means to an end for its most successful writers, not an end itself.
Ali Novak, a 22-year-old Wisconsin writer, has serialized four novels on Wattpad. She is so popular that she has been forced to limit her involvement with her fans. “I am no longer taking reading/interview/trailer/cover requests, so all related messages will be ignored,” she writes on her Wattpad page. “Sorry, but I just don’t have the time.”
Ms. Novak’s biggest hit, “My Life With the Walter Boys” — about a girl who moves in with a family of 12 sons — was published this month by Sourcebooks in revised and edited form as a paperback. For all the appeal and immediacy of writing online, the old ways still count for something.
“Since I was little, I’ve been obsessed with reading and collecting books,” Ms. Novak said. “I always dreamed of seeing my book in Barnes & Noble and picking it off the shelf and holding it in my hands. That’s one thing I could never do with Wattpad.”