Book Beat: Wattpad Publishing, Costa Books, and the Rainbow List

Hello all! Christa, your Bookmarked editor, is back again for another week of bookish news and announcements.

Wattpad Launches Publishing Division

The storytelling application, Wattpad, announced some new changes this week. Currently, the site (home to millions of users) is a place for writers to upload and readers to consume original fiction (and fanfiction). But going forward they will be adding a publishing division, Wattpad Books, to their business model.

The company already has some experience in this arena, as they’ve been working with other media companies to adapt stories into published books or movies — like The Kissing Booth on Netflix — but this change will bring part of that effort in house.

The Kissing Booth, Beth Reekles, Corgi Childrens, 2018

Wattpad will be choosing the stories for publication using “Story DNA Machine Learning” technology. This technology will scan and analyze the stories on the sit to help find themes or elements that might determine its commercial success. Their argument is that this method avoids any initial editorial biases and will hopefully correct the lack of representation in the publishing industry, as stories that may be missed by traditional publishing can succeed with an enthusiastic community behind them.

I’m a little skeptical of using technology to choose which books to publish, but if it does help improve representation in the industry that would be a welcome benefit. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on what’s coming out of Wattpad Books in the next few years.

Costa Book Awards

The winners of the Costa Book Awards were announced this week. There was some stiff competition, including the critically acclaimed Normal People by Sally Rooney and popular mystery novel The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. The £30,000 prize ultimately went to Bart van Es’ The Cut Out Girl. 

The Cut Out Girl, Bart van Es, Penguin, 2018

The book tells the true story of a Jewish girl who was hidden and raised by a foster family in Holland during WWII. Upon hearing her story, Bart van Es tracked down the girl (now woman in her 80s) down to find out more and this book is the result. I have to admit this book was not on my radar before it won this week but I will definitely be picking it up now.

2019 Rainbow Book List Announced

The 2019 Rainbow Book List was also announced this week. The list pulls together books from the previous year with significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer/questioning content, aimed at children ages 0-18.

I always look forward to this list, because even though I try to read as much LGBTQ books as possible, I inevitably miss some quality titles. Thankfully, we have the Rainbow Book List Committee to wade through over 400 titles for us readers and pull out the best of the best. Highlights include: Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love, In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan and DeadEndia : The Watcher’s Test by Hamish Steele (a personal favourite).

You can find the full list of 107 titles here.

Out this Week

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig

Death Prefers Blondes, Caleb Roehrig, Macmillan, 2019

Christa Seeley

Christa Seeley

Books Editor. Maple Flavoured Darth Vader Fangirl.