EXCLUSIVE: UTA has signed to represent screen rights for After, a serialized story by Anna Todd that has become the most followed literary property published by Wattpad, an online community in which writers tell stories chapter by chapter. According to Wattpad general manager Candice Faktor, the three-part series After has been clicked on by more than 500 million.
Factor described the site as “a writer and reader community to collaborate and share nonfiction, fiction and fan fiction. It is a mobile experience that is very social and where writers establish a personal connection with their audience.” The site launched seven years ago and has built to 22 million monthly users, 80% of whom access the site on mobile devices. The company recently raised $46 million in Series C funding.
Agencies usually rep works from traditional publishers, but the priority in Hollywood is to find rabid followings that warrant screen adaptations. For Wattpad, After is the closest thing the site has experienced to Fifty Shades Of Grey, which began in similar fashion as fan fiction before it became a massive global bestseller and an upcoming Universal/Focus feature for author E.L. James. The way Faktor describes it, After sounds like a close cousin, without the S&M. “A happy, optimistic young girl falls in love with a guy with a dark side that is addictive, and their relationship is a rollercoaster ride,” Faktor said.
Writers don’t get paid by Wattpad, but they retain copyright ownership of the chapters they publish. After author Todd writes and publishes the stories chapter by chapter, and then spends most of her day interacting with her huge audience through social media. Agency and Faktor feel that this rabid fan base makes After an enticing movie title. It’s the first time Wattpad has become involved in the attempt to set one of its contributors in a deal like this. It is likely UTA will steer future Wattpad titles into the marketplace.
“The fans are dying for the movie,” she said.