Webtoon, the company behind the story platform Wattpad and its eponymous online comic portalThursday launched a new app of serialized fiction that readers can buy and read one chapter at a time.
the app, over there, will launch with more than 700 titles across genres including romance, mystery, science fiction and fantasy, and the company plans to spend a minimum of $2 million a year to acquire content. unlike Wattpad and web showInviting everyone to contribute to their own stories and comics, Yonder is focused on providing premium titles to readers.
“We are very well put together,” said Sue Johnson, Chief Content Officer of Yonder. “Every thing that appears on Yonder is hand-selected for us.”
Serialized fiction itself is nothing new: Celebrated authors from Charles Dickens to F. Scott Fitzgerald famously published their novels in magazine installments, and the approach has even seen a resurgence in the era of premium newsletters. Yonder isn’t even the first online serialized fiction platform – Amazon, for example, has a similar offering called Kindle Vella— but the creators of the upstart bet its well-curated exclusivity and easy-to-use interface will make it a hit with readers.
“Historic romance, billionaire romance, werewolf romance — that’s going to be fine, that’s really the low-hanging fruit for us,” Johnson says.
Novelist Ivy Smoak, whose books have sold more than three million copies, will make her first foray into paranormal fiction on the platform, with the vampire tale Bitten by desire. “I actually had this idea in my head for years for a paranormal romantic story about vampires,” says Smoak. “There contacted me, and that’s what they were looking for, so it just felt like perfect timing.” Smoak, who started telling series in series, says the format reminds her of her childhood, waiting for the latest episodes of TV favorites like friends.
The platform will also feature plenty of science fiction, including the internet-favorite sub-genre known as LitRPG, featuring characters immersed (or trapped) in virtual role-playing games. In particular, Yonder will offer: Darkness itselfSean Platt and David Wright’s sequel to their hit sci-fi horror novel Available darkness.
The Yonder app, available for iOS and Android, allows readers to scroll through a view of available titles, organized by genre, and in promotion categories such as ‘trending’ and ‘editor’s choice’. Readers buy packs of virtual coins to spend on titles, similar to some video games, where coins purchased in bulk are priced slightly less. (A chapter of a typical book costs about 25 cents.)
Several promotions offer rewards for frequent visitors to the app, such as titles that allow readers to unlock a free chapter per day, or content that is made available outside the paywall for a limited time.
“One of the things the team is really good at is building an engaging experience that keeps people on the platform and them reading,” said Annie Stone, Yonder’s head of content acquisition.
The Yonder team expects certain genres to perform particularly well, based on what was popular on other platforms. The platform will focus exclusively on serialized fiction, Johnson says, so readers shouldn’t expect to find nonfiction, comics, poetry, or any other literary format. But the company expects that to be more than enough for an audience seeking fast, quality reads.
“This is really the next chapter in storytelling,” Stone says.