Every year, thousands descend on Austin, Texas, for South by SouthWest (SXSW). It’s a festival and conference that celebrates the convergence of the tech, music, and entertainment industries.
To reach this interesting mix of creatives, the Consulate General of Canada and Deep Vellum Books are producing an offsite session with horror writer extraordinaire and Wattpad Star Sandra Grayson. Her session, When community-driven stories become bestselling books, is focused on introducing storytellers to the power of writers rooted in community engagement.
We caught up with Sandra to give you an exclusive sneakpeek into the boutique series.
When community-driven stories become bestselling books will take place on Monday Morning, March 13, 2017 at The Austin Club. You Can RSVP here.
Tell us a bit about your Wattpad experience
I joined Wattpad after I had just returned to the US. I had been living in Korea and I couldn’t seem to change my sleeping patterns. I thought I would read something to help me get to bed so I looked for a free book app on my phone. Wattpad came up and one of the first books I read was The Bad Boy Stole My Bra. I was devastated because it wasn’t finished at the time. It was my first experience reading a serialized story. I soon began binge reading all sorts of books from different genres. I became addicted!
The first story I wrote was Bones of the Demon King. The only reason I started writing was because I wanted to make a book cover. I didn’t think anyone was going to read it and Wattpad ended up putting it on a Friday the 13th reading list and then it got featured. That same year I won a Watty for my story Unhinged and the following year I did a promotional campaign for Paramount Pictures and was invited into the Stars Program. It’s incredible how things have progressed. I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished and grateful for all the opportunities Wattpad has given me. A few months ago, I was asked to speak at the Canadian Salon Series. I cannot tell you how excited I am to represent Wattpad and hopefully I’ll do a good job and spread the love I have for Wattpad.
Where were you when you found out that you were selected for the Wattpad Stars program? What did it feel like? Have you participated in any brand campaigns since then?
I know exactly where I was at. Is it weird that I remember? I was in my office. LOL. I always have my phone with me or within reach and I typically see my e-mail notifications right away. At first I honestly thought [Wattpad] had invited me by mistake. I was so excited and at the same time I couldn’t believe it. It was a surreal moment.
I have participated in a few brand campaigns. I wrote Phantom Lens for Paramount Pictures to help promote their film Paranormal Activity. I also wrote some bonus chapters for my story Consumed to help promote The Exorcist for Fox Television. More recently, I wrote Pure. It was a short story inspired by the film, A Cure For Wellness, for 20th Century Fox. I even got a mention in an online Variety article because of that story (I’m still amazed by that). Being able to work with these brands has been INCREDIBLE! If you had told me a few years ago that I’d be writing stories to help promote major films, I would’ve laughed at you. I’ve always been a voracious reader and if I can’t physically read, I listen to audio books. I never thought I’d be on the other end writing stories that people all over the world would be reading. I can definitely say that my writing confidence has increased and I owe that to Wattpad.
What can attendees of your session expect?
I really hope that anyone that attends my session can learn how to use Wattpad to their advantage. Yes, Wattpad is an online library…but it’s also so much more than that. I want attendees to understand the power Wattpad has behind it and how they can use that power to help gain visibility in their writing. Among other things, we’ll also go over establishing yourself as a digital writer and serializing your story effectively.
What’s your advice for new writers? What’s your advice for reaching people on Wattpad?
New writers that join this site might feel overwhelmed and frustrated when it comes to attracting an audience. My number one bit of advice is not to compare yourself to other writers. It will drive you bonkers! Never let that discouraging voice in the back of your head convince you that your writing isn’t good enough or that you’ll never have a high amount of reads. Be patient and eventually, readers will find you. Tag your stories, have an eye-catching cover, write a good synopsis, and most importantly write the story you want to read. It sounds cheesy but it’s true.
Also, remember that Wattpad is a social platform. INTERACT! Visit the forums. Read and comment. Make friends. Then, just like me, you too will become addicted to Wattpad.
This is going to sound totally weird but I enjoy writing mystery/thrillers because I love surprising my readers. My stories are generally a good mix of everything. They usually have a little bit of horror, some romance, and the mystery/thriller aspect to them. Serializing stories is the best because readers will tell you who they think the baddie is in their comments and I absolutely love it when they’re wrong!
If they’re too close to being right, I can add a red herring or two. It’s like a game between me and them. Can I outsmart them? I have learned that readers automatically peg certain types of characters as the antagonist depending on how much importance I place on them in my stories. My repeat readers even look for clues in my cast lists! Sometimes I tell myself that I want to write a romance or a fantasy (I have major outlines for both) but I always go back to writing mystery/thrillers.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’d just like to say thank you to Wattpad, my readers, and my writer friends. Being able to have a creative outlet that I can share with other people is something I’m really appreciative of and I cannot express to you how grateful I am to have stumbled upon Wattpad.
PS: I know it’s SXSW and Spring Break but if you live in the Austin, Texas area, do come to the Canadian Salon session at the Austin Club! It’ll be a lot of fun and I’d love to meet some fellow Wattpadders!