There used to be one clear route for all writers wishing to publish. It involved a synopsis, query letters, endless paper submissions of lovingly created manuscripts, first to an agent, and then they to a publisher, and more often than not, rejection. It could take years for a writer to earn the coveted title author. But that was before the digital age: the internet, e-books and social networking.
I want to make one thing clear: I have never written a query letter in my life. I’m only eighteen, so I suppose there’s an argument that I have time left yet, but I sincerely hope I never have to attempt one, because I would have no idea where to start. Nevertheless, I am going to see my novel, The Dark Heroine: Dinner With A Vampire, published (this autumn by HarperCollins, if you’re interested). That leads me onto my argument: the digital age transformed the route I took to publication, and I would go so far as to say, made it smoother. And for me, the digital age was Wattpad.
In a nutshell, my writing journey began three years ago, when I stumbled across a writing website, Wattpad.com, which merged e-books with social networking. At the time I was fifteen, and any worries about giving my work away for free simply didn’t exist – so I posted the first chapter of a new story I had started, then called Dinner With A Vampire. Did I Mention I’m Vegetarian? under the username Canse12. Overnight, it gained three fans and ninety-five reads. It was a revelation: people liked the voices in my head on a page. Ecstatic, I posted the next chapter, and the next, all the time receiving comments that helped me to build my story.
(Profile Picture: © Felix Clay)
One year later. Word spread. Dinner With A Vampire had hit two million reads, won an internal Wattpad competition and was the most popular story on the site. Wattpad readers, by choosing to read and talk about my story, catapulted it into the limelight: I appeared on local TV, in newspapers and on blogs across the web, and then something extraordinary – and little known to many of my fans – started to happen. Agents and publishers began to approach me, some on a scale that a sixteen year-old simply couldn’t deal with. I turned them down. I wasn’t ready for the pressure, and there was also the small matter of school.
One year later again. Now I was ready. I was approached by and signed with my awesome agent, Scott, who has amazing negotiating skills and a wicked sense of humour. I then spent several months finishing Dinner With A Vampire and effectively rewriting it so there was no discrepancy in quality, which varied vastly between what I had written at fifteen, and what I finished at seventeen. Sadly, that meant I was no longer able to post on Wattpad, though this was good timing, as for personal and educational reasons, I was ready for a little writer’s holiday.
That holiday came to an end this summer just a few weeks after my last exam, when news came through of a six-figure, two-book deal with HarperCollins, who had plans to release my book within two months – but that is an entirely new crazy story – one that would not have been possible without Wattpad.
The Dark Heroine: Dinner With A Vampire
Kindle UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Dark-Heroine-Vampire-ebook/dp/B008ZU6B3C (from 13th Sept).
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dark-heroine-abigail-gibbs/1112757135?ean=9780062248749 (from the 18th Sept).
Paperback: available in the UK on the 25th October 2012 (later in the US, Canada and Australia. Will keep this updated as and when there is news).