Scaling The Future: Allen Lau's Latest Contribution to INC

Wattpad Co-founder and CEO Allen Lau is one of the newest contributors to INC.com, a leading site for business news, ideas, and inspiration.

His Column, Scaling the Future, will examine the challenges startups face in the innovation economy. It will also outline advice for entrepreneurs rooted in real world experience. An excerpt of his first column is enjoyable below and in full here

At a fast-growing company, it's easy to find yourself thrust into a managerial role without a fully developed skill set. It's the reason so many new managers struggle to find their footing in leadership roles that frequently evolve.

4 Common Pitfalls For New Managers (and how to avoid them)

As a CEO with more than 20 years of managing people under my belt, I've made more than a few mistakes. I've also witnessed a multitude of new managers make some of their own. If you're new to managing a person or a team, you should avoid these four common mistakes.

1. You Think "Manager" Means Most Productive Individual Contributor

I first started managing people when I was 26. Before I turned 30, my team had grown to 30 developers. On paper, I was fantastically successful. In reality, I should have fired myself.

Why? I didn't realize that I had been given a new job, manager. To be an awesome manager I thought I had to produce more code than any other member of my team. This management style created more problems than it solved, but it wasn't until years later that I realized this.

These days I understand that a manager's focus should be to ensure a team works on the right things effectively. You'll avoid a lot of chaos when you adopt this focus.

Instead of trying to have all the answers or produce the most results, direct your team toward the result you're after with efficiency and care. In a way, you help (not teach or demand) others to fish while you steer the boat towards the richest waters. A strong manager leads a high-performance team in the right direction.

2. You Accept a Managerial Role For The Wrong Reasons

Facebook's VP of product design shared a great post that goes further into the unintuitive things you learn as a new manager. She points out that most companies position management as the only route for career advancement, thereby creating a chase towards the role for the wrong reasons.

If developing a team and genuinely caring about their performance doesn't sound appealing, you may want to focus on strengthening your skills as an individual contributor (IC).

That said, you can try management out before deciding. In my early career, I was a manager for a few years but switched back to an IC because I missed coding. With the pressure of leading a team off my shoulders, I could hone my technical skills (as well as develop my people skills).

Once you've tried both sides, think about what you want from your career. How can you find balance while you develop your hard and soft skills? Don't get caught taking on a role you're not passionate about. Too many people already take on this complex challenge for the wrong reasons.

Read Allen Lau's Full Post on INC
 

Wattpad Survey Reveals Wattpadders Love To Buy Books More than Average consumer

 On average, Wattpad users who buy books, purchase three books per month

Wattpad staff Tim Johnson, Ann Tsunakawa and Tim Gaweco set out to discover what the English-speaking members of Wattpad’s community think about purchasing books.

The survey of over 650 Wattpadders in English markets around the world revealed the following about book purchasing behavior:

  1. 68 percent of respondents buy one or more books per month

  2. When purchasing books, English-speaking Wattpadders are more likely to purchase a hardback or a paperback versus an ebook

  3. Respondents see themselves as curators and love to feel the paper, annotate their books, and financially support authors

  4. Physical books have an advantage: they don’t run out of battery or use data  

Why We Conducted This Survey

Our work through Wattpad Studios has show us that authors and publishers who foster meaningful and respectful relationships with the Wattpad commnuity have the opportunity to create a loyal and regular book buying audience.

We needed to investigate why this is and what motivates these passionate readers to purchase physical books. In these reports; Reading is Alive and Well in Britain and Slightly fewer Americans are reading print books the report found that 75 percent of Brits and 70 percent of Americans have read at least one book in 2016.

We also took ourselves as cases in point; we love browsing book shops, enjoy reading print books and still manage to be avid Wattpadders. There is a thrill knowing that you might be reading the early words of a great writer and the enjoyable social aspect of connecting with other readers around a story.

We also know that writers who share their works on Wattpad have gone on to have incredible commercial success. Isabelle Ronin, Lindsey Summers, and Anna Todd are all incredible examples of writers who’ve found success on Wattpad.

But the question remains - do Wattpadders actually buy books? And do if they do - how often and what kind?

Additional Findings:

68% of respondents bought books each month.  On average, Wattpad users who buy books, purchase three books per month. Which is 3x more than the national average.

  • Almost half of respondents bought one or two books a month

  • 17% bought between three and five 5 books per month

  • 8% bought more than six books per month

Out of curiosity, we had our users fill in their own responses of why they like to buy books. Of 200 responses received, some themes emerged.

The fact that books don’t run out of batteries OR consume data was mentioned as a bonus for our tech-savvy audience. Respondents identified as being collectors of a genre or a specific author. They talked about the satisfaction of seeing the book on their bookshelf, being able to feel the pages in their fingers, and expressed a desire of wanting to physically own and connect with the book. They also talked about wanting to financially support the author and how book piracy was wrong.Lastly, they talked about quality and how that they liked reading finished stories with beautiful, professional covers.  

What kind of books do they purchased? On Wattpad we read electronically - so our initial thought was that they would buy ebooks right? Wrong.  

  • 79 percent of our users bought paperbacks

  • 73 percent bought hardcovers

  • 26 percent purchased e-books

How did they learn about new books?

Of course, the magic word of mouth was key here: with 64 percent people recommend book to friends.

  • 50 percent say they found new books through social media.

  • 48 percent say they found new books on Wattpad.

  • 30 percent say they found new books through advertising - which was exciting for us and the publishers who are advertising with us.

  • 14 percent say they found new books from bloggers.

We know our biggest genres are Romance, Fanfiction and Teen Fiction, but we were curious as to what genres of books they bought.

The results were:

  • 61 percent bought Teen Fiction

  • 60 percent bought YA

  • 58 percent bought Fantasy books

  • 52 percent bought Romance books

  • 40 percent bought Mystery or Thrillers

  • 34 percent bought Fanfiction.

  • 30 percent bought Science Fiction

  • 30% bought General Fiction

  • Cooking, non-fiction, history books and biographies were all under 20 percent.

Where do they purchase books?

Data pulled with a location partner showed that our users visited bookshops often. The survey results confirmed:

  • 69 percent of our users went to a large bookstore to buy their books

  • 45 percent used an online retailer

  • 37 percent checked out at the supermarket

  • 11 percent bought from their local independent bookstore.

In many major markets around the world, 1 in 3 females under 24 have a Wattpad account. To keep things in-line with Wattpad’s demographics, of the 650 respondents, 80 percent were female between the ages of 13 and 24.

We really enjoyed understanding the profile of our audience. These are young, intelligent thoughtful people that care about authenticity. In a world in which many entertainment options are free, our community see themselves as curators who purchase from authors they respect and admire. They want to display and own beautiful things and have an unique relationship with the authors they support and books they purchase.

We’re Celebrating The Release of Lindsey Summer’s Textrovert by Asking Millennials and Teens About Their Texting Habits

50% Admit They’ve Texted From Another Person’s Phone Pretending to be Them

A few years ago, Wattpad Star Lindsey Summers (@DoNotMicrowave) was out for a walk when she noticed a guy in front of her drop his phone. As she picked it up to return it to him, she was struck with an idea for a story about what happens when phones get swapped and text messages have to be relayed. This idea became The Cell Phone Swap, a mega-hit on Wattpad with 90 million reads.

Today, we’re very excited to share that Lindsey’s story is available in bookstores and online. Published as Textrovert by KCP Loft, an imprint of Kids Can Press, the novel is edited and expanded from the Wattpad version. “I never imagined writing The Cell Phone Swap on Wattpad would lead to a publishing deal!” Lindsey exclaims.

“Texting is something everyone can relate to,” she adds. In Textrovert, Lindsey explores the confusion and hilarity that ensues when phones get swapped. Funny, surprising, and full of heart, this romance offers something for every reader. “Texting gives the two main characters in Textrovert a chance to open up and say things they normally wouldn’t reveal. Of course, when they finally meet, they have to learn how to transition from text to IRL. Something I’m sure a lot of us struggle with!”

While serializing the story on Wattpad, Lindsey received a ton of comments and messages from fans sharing their own adventures in texting. In honor of the release of Textrovert, we asked Lindsey’s fans and other teens and millennials about their texting habits and the results are pretty interesting. We wonder what Textrovert characters Keeley and Talon would say!

We love to see Wattpadders realize their dreams - congratulations, Lindsey!

If you’re a fan of YA, grab your copy of Textrovert today!

Meet The Wattpad Stars: Gavin Hetherington

Today we introduce you to Gavin Hetherington, a pioneer who explores the chat story genre on our new app Tap by Wattpad.

Gavin joined Wattpad in 2014 after he came across a successful Wattpad writer on Twitter. He decided to upload the first story in his Abysmal Sanctuary series and watched as the accolades began to roll in. Everything changed when Gavin was discovered by Wattpad Star Kelly Anne Blount who invited him on stage at WattCon in New York in October 2016 to talk about his Wattpad writing experience.

Since then, Gavin has had some great moments working with Wattpad. One of his strongest memories though, came during a train ride home after being invited to be a Wattpad Star:

“It took a while for me to believe it, but as soon as I did, I was overjoyed...the first moment I got to sit down by myself and really think about what happened, I cried a little because grown men cry too when they realise one of their dreams just came true.”

Now Gavin is tackling a new challenge, chat style storytelling: “The best way to rejuvenate your creativity is through doing something totally out there...a writer needs a challenge to ensure that our imaginations are still in check.”

His first story, The Riddling of Rhiannon, showcases the tension and pacing that makes these chat stories “a 5-minute adrenalin boosts [that] gets you excited and scared and hungry for more.”

 

Gavin’s Tips for Chat Style Writers:

  • Open Big: Tap requires that immediate rush that you don’t get on Wattpad because the stories are longer, so you usually have to wait for that big bang.

  • Have Fun: Write a conversation you would find yourself having in real life, or recreate scenes from your own life just to get started and to really nail the authenticity of voice

  • Brainstorm: When I get asked to write a story, I have a complete idea of what it will be about. For example, for ‘The Babysitter,’ I just imagined what a mother’s worst nightmare would be and that would be the realization that you’ve left your kids under the care of a psychopath. Having a scenario will help you immensely and it will get you really excited to write it.

Gavin has this to say about the appeal of horror-focused chat stories: “Tap is immediate and helps us impatient folk who devour scary stories in one go. That’s probably why the Horror genre is popular on Tap; they’re exhilarating to read, and I have read quite a few [stories] on Tap now.”

In the future, he plans to experiment with mystery and romance themed chat stories. He’s also interested in using Tap to promote the same positive messages of female and LGBT empowerment that can be found in his Wattpad stories.

“It’s remarkable how revolutionary Tap feels already, and it hasn’t even been two months since it launched!...Not only can it stand alone and provide entertaining stories, but I’m imagining how complimentary it will be to my own, longer works on Wattpad. I’m even planning on doing a full-length retelling of my ghost story, Fen of Stagnant Waters, on Tap in the form of messages.”

 

Scaling The Future: Allen Lau Contributes Insights to INC

Wattpad Co-founder and CEO Allen Lau is one of the newest contributors to INC.com, a leading site for business news, ideas, and inspiration.

His Column, Scaling the Future, will examine the challenges startups face in the innovation economy. It will also outline advice for entrepreneurs rooted in real world experience. An excerpt of his first column is enjoyable below and in full here

Clone Wars: What Facebook and Snapchat Can Teach You About Disruption

The media is obsessed with Facebook’s rollout of Snapchat-like features, and what they mean for the two companies. It’s easy to see why - competition creates drama, and drama commands attention.

Facebook Vs. Google+. Periscope Vs. Meerkat. Foursquare Vs. Gowalla. Each major advancement in technology brings a wave of disruption that can level any playing field.

Every business is a target for disruption. Right now, someone’s coding a product or service that may fundamentally change the way you do business.

In my decades of experience in the tech industry, I’ve come away with a better understanding of why businesses go after each other, and what it takes to survive as either the champion or contender.

Underdog Contenders Steal The Title With:  

Belief

In the early years of Wattpad, my co-founder Ivan Yuen and I only made enough ad revenue a month to buy a single cup of coffee. Most entrepreneurs might have cut their losses and walked away, but a deeply-rooted belief in our company vision kept us in the game.

We believed our product would revolutionize how people discover, share, and connect through stories. Meaningful companies are built upon a strong, timeless vision.

Speed

If a problem exists in the market that your product or service can solve, don’t expect it to exist forever. Competition in business is time sensitive. In almost all cases, there is an extremely small window of opportunity to win.

Google solved the problem of search and became the portal to the internet. Snapchat pioneered ephemeral visual communication, then moved quickly to capture the market. Speed is one of the best assets for a growing company. Make decisions quickly and execute with purpose.

Ambition

In 1993, I left an unexciting job at IBM to join a startup called Delrina. When I joined the company, it had just over 100 employees. Two years later, the company employed over 700 people and was acquired by Symantec.

Riding that rocket-ship was a life changing experience. There I learned to be ambitious enough to aim for global scale and fearless enough to take on the toughest competitors. If you build an amazing product for a global market, the sky's the limit. Aim high and find excitement in the prospect of building a world-class company.

Read Allen Lau's Full Post on INC