Bethany Myers was on vacation in P.E.I. with her sister when the pair, both registered nurses, started brainstorming ideas for other careers. They turned to the Twilight series and its most recent book. “That Stephanie Myers [no relation] must be so rich!” She recalls her sister saying. “Why don’t you try writing a book?”
That planted the seed. Her first project was a paranormal mystery series she would share with friends in chapters after late-night writing sessions. She hunted for a book deal, but after two years of rejections from publishers, Myers was discouraged.
But then she found Wattpad, a global online community of readers and writers. She started adding short stories. Organizers asked her to be a featured author, which garnered her millions of hits. “It brought me back to the reason I started writing in the first place,” she says. “It was that magical moment of sharing stories with people.”
Then Myers got her turn with traditional publishers. Fierce Ink Press released her novel Asp of Ascension in May. At the end of September, Nimbus released her young-adult novel, A Girl on the Run.
What is it you love about Wattpad?
You get instant feedback. As a writer there is always this long process of sending something out and then you’re waiting and waiting for
feedback. With Wattpad, that audience is already there.
How has it changed your writing?
It was essential in me getting published. If I hadn’t first posted those short stories and got that feedback and got that confidence and then been chosen as a featured author, I wouldn’t thought I could have gone on. I wouldn’t have been published now if I didn’t go online.
What do you think that says about traditional publishing?
It’s kind of like when people argue about Kobo and paperback. You’re always going to have both of them. But it’s a really exciting time in publishing because there is so much available for writers out there. You could publish a book today on Creative Space on Amazon. But it’s in your best interest to have an editor and a nice cover and things like that. But you do not to go through the big six [publishers]. And there are so many literary agents out there now. For me, I don’t think I will look for another literary agent but I want to look for someone in the top ones.
Do you think having an audience on Wattpad gives you access to those agents?
Absolutely, because there are a lot of agents on there. Wattpad is sort of their worldwide phenomenon. A lot of people know about it. A lot of New York Times bestselling authors are posting the first whole book in a series, or a first few chapters just because they realize their audience is already there. You have to get people to follow you, of course, but it’s this big arena of people.
It’s audience-driven, not publisher-driven?
Absolutely, because everything is free. That first series, which I really, really love, I put my heart into it… I’ve gone back and rewritten that series and put the first two books of that series up. I think I might self-publish those. Because that’s what people are asking: Where can I buy these? It’s a nice thing to hear.
You say that’s a confidence builder, too.
With writing, you need to have a proper critique because you need to grow as a writer. My first book that came out online, I will look back at that and say, “Oh, I should have written that better.” But that’s the whole point because it’s a process and you’re always learning.
What advice would you give a writer who is going to use Wattpad for the first time?
First of all, don’t be afraid. A lot of people are hesitant to use it because they think that if they put it up online, someone will steal their idea. I hear that all the time. But whatever you put online, that is yours. It’s automatic copyright. You can start a story and put it under a
certain heading so people can add to your story.
Are there any downsides to it?
Well, it’s free. I am not making any money off of it. There are a few people who I’ve had to block on it because it’s the Internet and you
do get those kinds of messages coming through and you shut them off. But the positives completely overshadow the negatives.
What have you learned about yourself from your writing, whether it was through Wattpad or traditional methods?
That is such a good question. I think it taught me I am a very observant person and very intuitive. I think I’ve always had that. When I go to a social event, I am not necessarily watching the main show, I am watching everyone else. They could be in my next book! I realize I am taking everything in.
What’s next for you?
I finished writing a story completely different from anything I wrote. I may do it under a different pen name, I’m not sure. I will continue writing on Wattpad. I love Wattpad!