Webfiction Statistics: Wattpad

This is part of a series of posts sharing some of the research material I collected while researching my book How to Write Light Novels and Webnovels. There was a lot I found that I couldn’t fit into the book, so I thought I’d share it here.The categories listed are translations of the ones the sites use, not my own categories.

Toronto-based Wattpad.com is the largest English language webfiction site in the world, with over 80 million users. Those users are primarily female, with 70% of Wattpad users identifying as female, about 15% male, and 15% preferring not to say. Most of Wattpad’s users are also young,

Here is the breakdown for Wattpad’s 7.04 million genre tags collected on December, 2017 using Wattpad’s search function and searching for broad genre categories and recording the numbers. Wattpad claims to have had more than 400 million story uploads, but many of those will be fragments, and that counts each part or chapter as a separate story uploads.

Thus the data below is incomplete since it’s based on genre tags and stories can have more than one tag, although it does tend to match the data for other webfiction sites in terms of percentages. Wattpad has since changed their search display numbers to only show the top stories in each category, so it’s hard to get more current data. Also, I omitted Fanfiction and Unsorted, which would be the largest categories at the time, and didn’t record the data for them.

Romance naturally rules the roost on a female dominated site, and likely a lot of the Teen stories are also romance as well. Action being so high seems a bit odd, and might be a statistical anomaly created by stories having more than one genre tag. Some writers might classify any story which has action elements in it as action.

Fantasy is smaller than you might expect, being a pretty universally popular genre, but I strongly suspect that Action and Adventure could be grouped together into a single group with Fantasy. Not that there won’t be pure adventure and action stories on a female-dominated site, since girls like those too, but it would make Wattpad match most of the other sites out there.

Mystery is an interesting one, since Wattpad seems to have the highest percentage of mystery stories out there of any site I looked at. Then again, women do seem drawn to mystery stories more than men, so that might make sense. Humor and Horror are also higher on Wattpad than most of the other sites I looked at, but that depends on the readership.

Thriller falling closely behind horror is not a surprise, and Science Fiction is about where it is on many sites. Historical, Middle Grade and Post-Apocalyptic round out the chart. Smaller genres on most sites as well.

Here are the actual numbers:

GenreNumbers
Romance2100000
Teen1000000
Action910000
Fantasy653000
Adventure633000
Mystery502000
Humor389000
Horror368000
Thriller297000
Science Fiction154000
Historical30700
Middle Grade9100
Post Apocalyptic6900
7052700

Now, Wattpad also had clubs (they’ve replaced these since) at the time which had membership numbers for how many people were a member of each club available. Being curious, I grabbed those as well, and they chart out as below.

These are a bit different from the tag stats, but they show where the interest in the Wattpad readership was. People who joined a club were dedicated fans of those genres, and may have been readers more than writers.

GenreNumberPercent
Romance11414816.69%
Teen Fiction9491513.87%
Fanfiction9099613.30%
Fantasy599438.76%
Werewolf356545.21%
Humor345915.06%
Vampire330644.83%
Short Story305564.47%
Poetry256713.75%
Science Fiction219263.20%
Mystery/Thriller216393.16%
Horror211833.10%
General Fiction193022.82%
Adventure192082.81%
Paranormal169902.48%
Historical Fiction129091.89%
Action93971.37%
Classics77551.13%
Spiritual76491.12%
Non-Fiction66370.97%
684133100.00%

Since I took these, Wattpad has reorganized it’s categories and revamped the site in many ways. They’ve now put a big emphasis on diversity and LGBTQ+ inclusion, and in fact those are major story categories on the site. Unfortunately, I can’t say how major because they’ve buried their real numbers too deep for me to find and don’t seem to want to share.

2015’s Top Chinese Web Novel Authors

It’s very easy to forget that about a third of the planet reads only in Chinese, and that doesn’t mean they’re reading translated works from English sources. (As might be egocentrically assumed by a Western audience!) In China, (and Asia in general) Web Novels (serialized web fiction) are extremely popular, and their authors can not only have tens of millions of readers, but also become extremely rich due to profit-sharing with the web-novel hosting sites. (Something that Wattpad has yet to do in English, but probably should.)

So, whose works are these Chinese readers reading? Well, a list was recently published on the Chinese webportal Baidu.com and you can find the translated version here. According to the article:

The rankings were chosen through 15 days, 200 top internet authors, 19 media and novel sites, and 33 editors with a long history of experience. The “King of Web Novels” is a ranking produced by China Mobile Reading, with the help of Zhejiang Writer Association, Youth Times, Dragon-sky and many other media websites.

It should be noted that this is a list of writers who are writing primarily in the Xianxia genres, which are high fantasy novels that combine pseudo-old-China Wuxia settings with high magic and MMORPG elements. (I plan to write a post about them sometime in the future, but if you’re curious you can find English translated examples of them on Wuxiaworld.com, including works mentioned in the article linked above.) I can’t imagine that Romance, Mystery and other standard genres aren’t also selling like hotcakes, so I’ll assume this list is only of the top “action/fantasy” writers, although I have no way to confirm this with my limited Chinese.

In any case, check the list out, as a number of the author’s works have free English (semi-official fan) translations online and while I’ve just stared to dip my toe into this new realm, it’s turned out to be a fascinating subject to explore.

Rob