In October 2023, Netflix released the film that would become one of its most watched Brazilian productions in the country and the world. The Good Side of Being Betrayed, a feature film starring Giovanna Lancellotti and Leandro Lima, entered the Top 10 on the platform in 87 countries, totaling 14.7 million views and 24.3 million hours consumed by subscribers around the globe.
The successful work, however, was not born into stardom: Sue Hecker, author of the book of the same name, had her plot recognized after a long career as an independent writer, bringing her many stories of empowered women to readers and other authors on self-publishing platforms.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, which increased reading consumption around the world, independent publishing platforms also began to stand out as an opportunity to share new stories for free.
The Authors Club, for example, had around 18% more books published in 2020 compared to 2019, according to a Forbes survey. The platform, launched in 2019, is not the only one that stands out: Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP); Bookrama; Wattpad; Writings; and others, are also the gateway to the dream of stardom.
“I don’t live from literature, I live from literature. I really hope that [o sucesso de O Lado Bom de ser Traída] open doors not just for me, because just one person can’t make it happen. I hope it opens doors for the entire national scene”, said Débora Gimenez Gastaldo, Sue Hecker, in a chat with the Metropolises.
And it wasn’t just The Good Side of Being Betrayed that gained enough attention to become a successful film. At a time where BookTok, the core of TikTok aimed at book fans, commands what is successful in the publishing market, other authors and their works were also noticed by streaming platforms and film producers. Colleen Hoover says so!
Holding first place for two consecutive years as best-selling author on Amazon, the North American launched the book Métrica on KDP, an independent Amazon platform. Now, It’s How It Ends, the author’s most successful work, will get a film with Blake Lively, Justin Baldoni and Brandon Sklenar in the cast, by Warner Bros.
Real life and TikTok: the success behind Colleen Hoover’s books
Writer Hugh Howey follows the same path: his science fiction work Silo, also an independent author from KDP, gained prominence when AppleTV+ invested in a series of the saga created by the writer. Hugh even refused offers from publishers to continue selling his books online, seeking freedom of publication and easy distribution.
Hobby that turns into work
“My Life with the Walter Boys became a hit as soon as I posted it online. His popularity attracted a publisher and, once I had a book deal, it attracted literary agents. I didn’t have a real writing career before signing with my publisher, because I was writing as a hobby”, says author Ali Novak, to Metrópoles.
Using writing and Wattpad as a hobby, Ali Novak also became popular with Netflix with My Life with the Walter Family, a series released on December 7th on the streaming platform and with a large audience at the red rental store.
The work, which already has more than 150 million readings online, did not make Novak feel like an independent author, as she only had writing as a hobby, but the writer believes that releasing works on self-publishing platforms approaches the reader:
“Writing a book for traditional publication is a lonely experience. Aside from the editor, you don’t get much feedback on your story until after it’s published, and that’s a process that takes about a year. But on Wattpad, you can receive instant feedback. As soon as you post a chapter online, readers can leave comments.”
“Instead of publishing your entire story at once, like in traditional publishing, you release your story one chapter at a time. It’s episodic, much like TV. At the end of each chapter, something interesting needs to happen to entice readers to come back for more,” he adds.
In addition to My Life with the Walter Family, starring Nikki Rodriguez, Ali Novak also has another successful series on Wattpad in production. The Heartbreak Chronicles, still without a title in Portuguese, should debut on television, according to the writer.
Owner of you!
In a highly competitive environment like the publishing market, with new stories, plots and characters emerging every day, independent platforms shine in the eyes of dreamers who want to see their stories read by other people.
On KDP, for example, you simply upload your manuscript and, from there, your e-book will be distributed in Kindle stores around the world. It is still possible to bring works to life with printed books, in paperback and hardcover. The platform itself will print your story on demand and send it to customers around the world.
No publisher, no money? No! At KDP, for every page read on Kindle Unlimited, the writer earns royalties. Wattpad follows the same logic: the writer writes from anywhere via the app, as does the reader, who can pay coins to a favorite author.
“The Brazilian publishing market is extremely competitive. And, even if the digital publication is free and widely distributed, there is no guarantee of sales. Therefore, the author needs to master his own publicity, that is, be his own entrepreneur”, says the CEO of Clube de Autores, Ricardo Almeida, for Forbes.
“This has always been the reality of writers for centuries and those who conducted their work in literature as companies were successful. Today, with the internet, authors can know the affinities of their readers and, thus, publish and promote their books more easily”, he adds.
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