I was updating my apps the other day when the description of the Wattpad update caught my eye. It listed three features I’d never heard of. A little digging at the WP help center unearthed the details I wanted. They all had one thing in common: they were features only available to a select number of authors. Obviously, I was not one of these authors. Not that I’m bitter or anything!
These are paid chapters of what otherwise would be free stories. According to the support website, they could be an epilogue, a prologue, plot extensions, or side character explorations. These exclusive chapters are available on the wattpad website and the iOS and Android apps and can only be unlocked using WP coins. It’s currently only available in English-language stories of the authors to whom this feature is available.
This is a feature that lets the author create alternate plotlines, subplots and side-character narratives. I’m not sure why they made this a separate feature from the exclusive chapters because it seems to me, you could do all story branching you need using the exclusive chapters feature. However, I still haven’t seen either story branching or any exclusive chapters — for some reason, you can’t find these stories using the regular search function — so what do I know.
This looks like a way for the author to share what goes on behind-the-scenes of writing a story. Again, this seems like it could also be done using the exclusive chapters feature. And again, I don’t know enough to be sure. Like the story branches and exclusive chapters features, writer reveals can only be accessed by paying coins and are separate from paid stories. They’re also also be read on wattpad on the browser and on the iOS and Android apps.
While these new features seem like an experiment by Wattpad whom I notice has always been looking for a way for authors to monetize their work on the platform (as they should!), I wonder if WP is limiting author access to them because they’re testing the software or if it’s planning to force authors to publish books for free in order to gain access to these features, the way they’ve done with the Watty Awards and the Paid Stories programs.
The truth is, there isn’t anything stopping authors from monetizing their stories outside of Wattpad. We can keep our stories on the platform in full while distributing them as ebooks and print books on other platforms like Gumroad and Google Play, using bonus chapters as an incentive for readers to pay for them. (This is subject to terms of the other platforms. For example, you can’t publish a non-free e-book on Amazon if it’s free elsewhere because then Amazon will price match— i.e., set your kindle price to $0.) I’m hoping that one day Wattpad will make monetization available to all authors without making them publish books for free on the platform. Although considering the site basically runs on authors providing free content, I doubt they’re likely to do that anytime soon.