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Wattpad Increases Its Offering To Paying Subscribers: Self-Publishing News Podcast With Dan Holloway

Wattpad Increases its Offering to Paying Subscribers: Self-Publishing News Podcast with Dan Holloway

Wattpad increases its offering to paying subscribers, and the Baillie Gifford Prize offers an insight into the real value of awards. Welcome to Self-Publishing News with ALLi News editor Dan Holloway, bringing you the latest in indie publishing news and commentary.

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About the Host

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet, and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, He competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available on Kindle.

Read the Transcripts to Self-Publishing News: Wattpad Increases its Offering

Dan Holloway: Hello and welcome to another edition of the Self-Publishing News from here in autumnal Oxford, where today I am recording before going out to one of those great literary events that happens once every five years, the inauguration of a new professor of poetry; always an exciting event, and one of the things that anyone who has ever been a student at Oxford is able to get involved in. Over the years, there have been many instances of fraught and fracas ridden election campaigns.

Fortunately, not this time around, where the winner of the latest competition, as it were, is Alicia Stallings, who is going to be giving a lecture on poetry as echolocation for us this evening. So, I can't wait for that. It feels like a piece of news from here in Oxford that is nonetheless globally newsworthy, so sharing it with you. You'll be able to listen to Alicia's lecture online probably by the time this podcast goes live.

Without further ado, so I can get there and get my seat early, this is one of those really difficult podcasts to record, because I'm genuinely not sure when to record it because the main news story this week, of course, focuses around OpenAI, and the story is moving at such a pace that every time I go to record, something new has happened.

Wattpad Announces New ‘Premium Picks’ Offering

So, I will at least give myself a few minutes more by starting with another story this week, which is possibly the one of absolutely most interest to most of you, and that's around Wattpad.

So, Wattpad, of course, is the huge self-publishing platform that attracts billions of reads every month, and Wattpad have just announced that Wattpad premium subscribers are going to be receiving access to five Wattpad original stories every month.

So, Wattpad originals, of course, is the way for Wattpad creators to monetize their content. It's curated by the team at Wattpad, and it combines all sorts of different Wattpad authors.

As I say, they will be giving people access to five Wattpad original stories per month. When that month is over the stories will run out. So, that's an interesting concept, and they will be replaced by five new stories.

As the TechCrunch article that I've just been reading has pointed out, though, that's not generally a problem for Wattpad readers who tend to be somewhat voracious, but if you do want more access, you can pay an extra $2.50 a month and subscribe to Premium Plus, and that will enable you to continue to have access to all of your Wattpad originals that you unlock over the course of a month.

I think what that means is, say you unlock five stories in December, come January you don't have to change those for another five stories, you can keep access to those five stories and choose another five stories, and then that will compound as time goes on. So, you can add five stories a month without losing access to any of the stories you've unlocked previously.

Again, really interesting to see how Wattpad are creating ways for their writers to make money, and I look forward to hearing from anyone who has achieved success through the Wattpad original scheme.

Non-Fiction Prize Shows 875% Increase in Book Sales for Prize Winners

So, talking of making money and making money through means other than direct sales and marketing, a really interesting study this month to coincide with the award of the Bailey Gifford prize.

Bailey Gifford is the UK's leading non-fiction prize. It has a huge £50,000 first prize, and Bailey Gifford have partnered with Nielsen BookScan to produce information on how winning the prize affects the long-term prospects of a book.

What they found is that for all books that have won the prize between 2016 and the present, with the exception of 2020's pandemic prize, as it were, there has been an average of, and let me just check that I'm getting this figure right, 857% in increased sales from the four weeks before winning the prize to the four weeks after winning the prize.

That's a colossal number. Just to contextualize it a little bit, we're talking about jumps from a few hundred to a few thousand at most. So, the most spectacular jump was from 696 to 7,028 sales. Another jump saw a book go from 117, I think to just over 700 copies.

So, it's not a huge amount in terms of absolute sales, but it's nonetheless a significant increase, and obviously it's really interesting for us as authors thinking about entering prizes to decide whether or not it's worth the effort and, let's face it, in a lot of cases, the cost of entering a prize.

Obviously, not all prizes are open to us as self-published writers, but even when prizes are open to us, it's interesting to have figures that will help us to make a choice about whether or not it's worth it, whether the return on these often highly hyped prizes is actually worth the investment.

What's really interesting about these figures again is, as I say, the 2020 winner which was Craig Brown's One, Two, Three, Four, which is a book about the Beatles. So, that's excluded, and one of the reasons it's excluded from the figures is it would have been considered unrepresentative, and that's because for these high-profile prizes, a lot of sales come not from online, but from in-store promotions.

So again, when we're thinking about entering prizes, a lot of the ways that these books make money are ways that traditionally don't necessarily apply to us as self-published writers. Thoroughly recommend you go and have a look at the full article, which is in Publishing Perspectives, who have a great long exclusive piece on this. Fascinating reading and, as I say, really something to consider if you're thinking about entering a high value prize or any prize.

OpenAI Replaces CEO

That brings, let's see, I've been on air for about 7 minutes, I'm sure our headline story has changed radically in that time. Let me refresh the BBC website just to check that.

No! No, it seems I can actually bring you something that hasn't outdated itself.

As you will be aware, if you haven't been living in a vacuum, OpenAI, the parent company of the biggest AI platform, ChatGPT, in the literary sphere, and one of the biggest in the art sphere, DALL-E and DALL-E 2, they have sacked their CEO, Sam Altman.

Obviously, it's a bad time, as I put it in the news column, to be a CEO of a tech company if your name is Sam. Obviously, recently just earlier this month Sam Bankman Freed was found guilty of cancer fraud in his running of FTX and its sister company, Alameda Research, and now Sam Altman CEO of OpenAI has been booted out by the board.

It's not 100 percent clear why he's been booted out by the board. TechCrunch have some interesting theories, one of which is really interesting to us, which is that he may have been seen as being slightly too cavalier in his position towards copyright.

It's clear that the landscape over copyright and AI is changing. Governments are realizing that there is a need to tackle copyright issues and companies are following on from that. They're seeing regulation coming down the line, and they are clearly realizing that at some point there will be, as I put it in my column, a day of reckoning on copyright.

I advise there that as authors, you really think about what is going to happen when that day of reckoning comes. My guess is that what will happen at some point in the next one to two years, there will be a moment when big language learning model AIs and likewise, image generating AIs, decide that they need to do something to draw a line under the copyright thing, the whole issue, there will be a massive pay-out, and there will be a brief window of time in which you will have to show that you can meet the parameters to benefit from a part of that pay-out. I highly suggest that you start thinking already about keeping an eye out for that.

Obviously, I will report on it when it happens, and I will tell you what to do when it happens. That's just my guess, looking into a crystal ball. I'm very happy to be proven wrong. I don't think I will be. I think this is what's going to happen, and I think there'll be a very, I'll say a narrow window of time in which you are able to take what will be a very small piece of what looks like a very large pie, and turns out, in fact, to be a few crumbs. If you don't jump on the boat at that point, the issue will be over and that will be your chance gone.

So anyway, Altman was seen possibly as being too cavalier about copyright, although we have no confirmation yet. What we do have confirmation of is that he's now been snaffled up by Microsoft to be a key part of their AI program, and he has been replaced, interestingly, at OpenAI by the guy who was formerly head of Twitch, Emmett Shear.

Twitch, of course, is the streaming gaming platform. What's really interesting about that is that Twitch has successfully enabled content creators to monetize their streams through various means, including tips.

A really interesting quotation from Shear, in which he says, “I'm not crazy enough to take this job without board support for commercializing our awesome models.”

So, that's a really interesting insight into one of the things that might be coming down the line. Commercializing might mean that you have to pay for using the AI tools that are now free. It might mean that advertising is going to be involved. It might mean that there is some kind of relation between people who use them to generate AI and people whose copyright is being used to generate those end results.

So, that will be a really interesting space to watch. It's a fascinating appointment, and it is happening. It's one of those really fast breaking stories in a sphere that is going to affect us all. So, I expect to be reporting further on this next week, and probably over the months to come, and certainly by next month's podcast.

If I were looking into my crystal ball once more, when I come to do my end of year podcast for you all and my end of year stories, I would have a fair bet that this might just feature on the list.

So, I am off to listen to a lecture on poetry as echolocation, or as the punchier version of the title goes, The Poet as Bat; what a fabulous way to spend an evening.

I will leave you with the rest of your week. In the meanwhile, the very best wishes from me, and happy self-publishing.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an independent author, developmental editor, and journalist who specializes in Jewish issues. He is also the news and podcast producer for the Alliance of Independent Authors.

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