A ‘viral story’ is often thought of as an overnight sensation.
Many assume that after the first five chapters of their work in progress are uploaded, an influx of reads and comments will follow in a matter of days. And while this may be the case for some, it isn’t my experience at all.
My journey to success on Wattpad has been challenging, but it has been honed from hard work, perseverance, and determination.
Ten years ago, I was a sixteen-year-old fangirl for Justin Bieber when I discovered Wattpad. At first, I was primarily a fan fiction reader. As a kid, I grew up writing stories that I never finished, and in high school, I had English teachers telling me my essays were well-written and imaginative. But becoming an author never crossed my mind. Writing wasn’t even in the realm of possibilities for me.
My plans changed when I uploaded my first fan fiction to Wattpad.
As I’m sure anyone could guess, my first story was far from perfect. The plot was all over the place, and there was virtually no character development, but that didn’t stop me from falling in love with writing. It didn’t matter that my grammar wasn’t correct or that all my chapters were unedited. What mattered was that I loved it.
But when I migrated away from fan fiction and tried to write an actual romance novel, I faced countless rejections from literary agents and major publishing houses. Rejection is something you’ll commonly face in the creative world, but at the end of the day, I’m human, and it started to feel like I wasn’t good enough.
I went on a hiatus for a year or two when I got my first big-girl job working in a retail store as a twenty-something-year-old trying to make a living.
But the thing about having a passion is that I couldn’t quit writing for long. I returned to Wattpad to write a story that was nothing but fun for me. It wasn’t work, and I didn’t stress about deadlines.
I created a story that I was obsessed with, not realizing that it would become the best decision of my life.
That story was My Brother’s Best Friend.
Behind the success of My Brother's Best Friend
Inspiration for any novel I write often stems from music. I’ll hear a song on the radio and wonder why the artist chose to write it, and that seems to be all it takes to get the juices flowing.
For My Brother’s Best Friend, the song was “For Tonight” by Giveon. When I heard this for the first time, I started thinking of a backstory. Why would he need to keep a relationship hidden? What would keep them behind closed doors if he was so in love with her?
As the title of my novel references, Maddie being in love with Cameron, her brother’s best friend, was always the plan before I began writing the story itself. However, I knew I wanted the story to be real rather than the cliche where the romantic interest is a perfect gentleman with no flaws.
The series begins with Maddie and Cameron as teenagers, and, as I’m sure most of us are aware, teenagers tend to make reckless decisions. Boys typically don’t see what they have when it’s right in front of them, and from the get-go, I knew Cameron’s character development was going to be so beautiful to portray throughout the series.
Relationships aren’t always picture-perfect. Partners mess up. They make mistakes. Forgiveness is an imperative part of making any relationship work, and I believe that’s why readers fall in love with these characters.
Cameron starts as a hormone-crazed teenager, and by the end of the series, he’s a grown man who has learned from his previous mistakes. His character is relatable.
That’s just one of the reasons why this story became so popular. After the initial upload of the first twenty chapters, when the story was halfway finished, I noticed the reads and comments were beginning to increase.
And that was when my life changed completely.
Valuable tips for emerging writers
Following the success of My Brother’s Best Friend, I was invited to participate in Wattpad’s Creators Program, where I began to flourish as an author. They provided me with the resources I needed to become more confident in my work.
I learned Grammarly existed, and I got hooked up with the best editor there ever was (Rawles, you’re an absolute genius. How else would I know the difference between snake and serpentine?).
From there, my career seemed to reach new heights. I exploded in a matter of months, and after ten years of submitting to the Watty’s, I won a Watty Award. This year, I took home the Wattpad WEBTOON Book Group Publishing prize.
All of my dreams came true in a year. I went from taking a hiatus from writing because I was scared I wasn’t good enough, to betting on myself by returning to the platform, where I currently earn a living as a full-time author.
I didn’t go to college for writing, so everything I learned before opportunities started coming my way had been self-taught. From staying up late into the wee hours of the morning, to writing on my phone during breaks while working at my retail job, I practiced.
To all the emerging authors out there, I want to tell you that success doesn’t happen overnight. Writing is a journey, and we all have to start somewhere. Write what you love, and don’t worry about the opinions of others. Keep going, and your hard work will pay off. If you’re passionate, I promise it will be evident in your writing, and that’s what everything boils down to in the end.
Your love of the craft.
Making your dreams come true doesn’t always happen overnight. Becoming successful may involve nights of no sleep, doors closing to opportunities you thought you had, and years of blood, sweat, and tears. However, when dreams finally become a reality, it makes the taste of victory that much sweeter.
One last piece of advice before I go?
Don’t ever let rejection break you. Instead, use it to propel you forward.