An interview with Wattpad Superstar Rebecca Sky.
Wattpad: an online writing and sharing platform for writers and readers. Through Wattpad, established and novice authors alike can connect with a worldwide audience, collaborate with well-known companies, and build a career in the industry.
Rebecca Sky is one of Wattpad’s breakout stars. Since posting her novels on the website in 2010, she has garnered over 20 million reads. She credits Wattpad to helping her create her stories and understand her audience on a deeper level.
Q: How has Wattpad changed your life? Also — does Wattpad continue to have a significant impact on your life?
A: Oh man, so many ways. For starters, I learned how to write on Wattpad. I always loved writing, I was the kid who got excited when we had class essays, etc. But I was also the kid that nearly failed high school English. In my defense, I never paid attention in class, I was too busy daydreaming. Also, I don’t typically learn best in a classroom setting. I’m more of a hands-on, trial and error kind of learner (I never use instructions when I buy furniture from IKEA either). But through posting on Wattpad, I was able to learn how to write by making mistakes. Readers pointed out what they liked, and sometimes where I needed improvement (mostly grammar).
When I started to listen to that feedback, I started to grow. I realized it was a tool to learn, not only what readers like to read and how they respond to things — which I utilize in my storytelling — but also what doesn’t work, or what pulls them out of the story.
From the moment I posted my work on Wattpad, it was all I wanted to do. In my free time, you could find me plunking away at the keys and reading and replying to reader comments. Writing consumed me, it made me start to understand myself and my limitations and gifts. For the first time in my life, I unleashed the inner daydreamer.
A few years into my writing on Wattpad, I started to get offers from small presses and literary agents, and I realized that this thing that I loved so much, that I spent every spare moment doing, was what I wanted to do for a living. And Wattpad gave me that opportunity too, with the Wattpad Stars program, where they provide writers with paid writing opportunities and more.
So for me, Wattpad has been a place where dreams are born, cultivated and given wings. Because of that, it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Q: Give three reasons why a novice writer – or any writer – should join the Wattpad community.
- Community: It’s pretty awesome getting to talk to people who love reading and writing as much as you do! It’s normally such an isolating endeavor.
- Growth: You have tangible evidence how your work sits with readers, and can begin to learn how to improve that. Also, you can learn how to communicate and market your materials so that they stand out from the masses.
- Opportunity: Wattpad is always on the lookout for new talent to offer writing or promotional opportunities to. Not to mention many agents/presses/production companies are also scanning Wattpad to find the next big thing.
Q: Could you talk about some of the brands you’ve collaborated with on Wattpad, and the opportunities you were able to explore there?
A: One of my favorite ones was Athenos feta cheese from Kraft Foods. The company wanted a story about a woman experiencing life to the fullest, and they wanted recipes with their feta included. It was important to me to not compromise my art for the sake of the brand. So I wanted to write something that inspired me as well as met the brand’s needs. I came up with the idea of a cute love story about a girl who travels to Greece to meet her relatives for the first time — it has a quirky best friend, the hunkiest leading male, and one of my favorite main characters I ever wrote. Each chapter has a recipe integrated into it, which was challenging but super fun. My husband and I even tested a lot of them as I wrote the piece—yum! Athenos even sent me a giant box filled with their products, which was so unexpected. I literally came home one day to a refrigerated box sitting at my doorstep. I was on a major “Dexter” kick at the time and my first thought was, “it’s a severed head!”
Q: Have you had any negative experiences with Wattpad?
With Wattpad, the company and employees, no. But I have been victim to some internet trolls. The kind that spout such foul things you feel the need to bleach your brain after reading them. It’s never easy having such vulgarity directed at you, but normally that type of person does it to everyone so it’s easier not to take personally. In my five years with Wattpad, it’s happened such a small amount. I can count it on one hand. My experience with Wattpad is that it’s overall a positive site. I have had some negative things said about my work too, and to be honest that often hurts more than the troll’s attacks, because I put so much of my heart into my work. But, I try to see that subjectively and learn and grow from it, so I don’t necessarily consider that negative, more like, just a tough pill to swallow.
Q: Any tips for aspiring writers who don’t know where to start?
A: Read. Then read some more, in your genre and in others. And write, for fun, to learn and grow, and with whatever ambitions fuel you. It’s easy to get trapped in the need for perfection, especially if you want to publish your book. But the need for perfection stifles creativity and growth. Allow yourself the grace to make mistakes and the grace to take the time needed to get to the place where your work is publishable. Some of us take longer than others and that’s okay!
Q: In your opinion, can writing become a sustainable career? How could a writer work towards making this a reality?
A: Yes! Of course. Though I believe everything is possible with the right amount of heart and work and luck! First off, it’s important to know your goals and set attainable markers toward it. It’s also important to follow what’s happening in the industry, to learn about any changes that may impact your goal and make sure your talent/product is relevant for the market. Find areas you excel in and have fun doing, then utilize them to advance your career. Read every best seller in your genre and spend time thinking about why that particular novel stood apart from the others. Never stop trying to be a better writer, and never give up after a no. There are more no’s than yes’s in this industry. If you give it all your heart no matter what the outcome, you have not failed.