Wattpad says it is breaking new ground in literary representation and creating a safe space online for marginalized voices and their stories as the site has seen growing support for social engagement and diversity during 2018.
In a review of the trends seen by Wattpad during the year, Ashleigh Gardner, Deputy General Manager, Wattpad Studios, Publishing, says, ‘This year’s trends show how Wattpadders are engaging with real-world struggles in creative ways, building stories and worlds in which everyone can belong.
‘People come to Wattpad to connect over stories. We are incredibly proud to see how people are not only connecting and creating communities on Wattpad, but also building empathy and understanding for the struggles people face every day.”
Some of Wattpad’s top trends of 2018 include:
Romance for everyone
Movements to bring more diversity to romance include #MuslimLoveStory, one of the most exciting trends of 2018.
Each month of the year, readers spent an average of 1.7 million minutes reading stories tagged #MuslimRomance, #MuslimLoveStory, and #IslamicLoveStory. This trend represents a 51 percent increase in reading time from 2017.
But while reading time in these categories have grown into the millions, uploads are still relatively small, indicating a huge demand for diversity in romance that can’t be found anywhere else.
Diversity and representation
Wattpad also says 2018 has seen growing community support for characters and writers of color across a wide variety of genres, including fantasy, sci-fi, werewolf, and mystery.
Readers spent close to 116 million minutes reading stories tagged #POC, #Diversity, and #DiverseLit, up by 41% from 2017 while uploads also increased by 40%. Diversity and representation for people of colour grew across a wide variety of genres: Wattpad users spent millions of minutes each month with stories that feature diverse characters in genres like fantasy, sci-fi, werewolf, and mystery.
A spectrum of identities
Reading times increased for stories tagged as #Transgender, #Agender, #Genderfluid, and #Nonbinary. Reading time for stories with these tags saw an 18% rise to 32 million minutes for the year. Uploads grew by 56% in 2018, with a total of 15,000 new uploads this year.
Women’s story power
Women ruled 2018 on Wattpad! While women around the world fought for more rights, recognition, and equality, women on Wattpad turned those struggles into stories.
People spent more than 107 million minutes reading stories tagged #Feminism, #Girlpower, #Feminist, and #Feminismo, up 43% from 2017. Story uploads also grew by nearly 40%, with 10,000 new uploads added in 2018.
Destigmatizing mental illness
Reading and writing to highlight mental health issues were also important trends in 2018.
Stories tagged #Depression, #Anxiety, #MentalHealth, or #FreeMentalIllness grew by 4% in 2018, averaging 32.6 million reading minutes each month of the year and uploads rose by 53%. One of the most notable examples of this trend was Teenagexnightmare’s Saving Everest, which has 16.9 million reads so far.
Wattpad says its global community is more than 70% female and 90% Millennials or Gen Z. In the US, Wattpad’s community of users is more diverse than the country overall with more than half (58%) of Wattpad’s Gen Z users identifying as people of color — well above the 48.5% that makes up the general US population.
Wattpad is a community of more than 70 million people who spend over 22 billion minutes a month engaged in original stories. Wattpad’s Story DNA machine learning technology allows the company to understand and discover stories among the more than 565 million uploads on the platform.