What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Beth Reekles: I’ve always liked writing, and a few years ago I started posting a young adult romance I was writing online to a platform called Wattpad. It had over 19 million reads online, and last year I was given a three-book contract by Random House publishers. I’ve gotten two books published already in the last year, The Kissing Booth and Rolling Dice, and I’m currently working on my third. It’s a bit of a whirlwind job; some days I’m swamped with the press contacting me for interviews, and sometimes I’ll have a quiet few weeks without any media coverage. There’s definitely no typical day for me!
What is the best part of your job?
BR: I loved going to the Random House Christmas party last year and meeting other well-known children’s authors. The TV interviews are really fun as well; I’ve been on NBC News, as well as Channel 4 News here in the UK, and I even went to a BBC studio at midnight once to do a live video feed interview to Sunrise, an Australian breakfast news program!
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
BR: I think aside from self-publishing my novels online, my first paid writing work was with a Canadian production company, Smokebomb. They found me on Wattpad and hired me to write a short story about a character in an app they were creating called Totally Amp’d.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
BR: It’s definitely not as intimidating as it first appears. I’d looked into traditional publishing a few years ago and was pretty intimidated by the lengthy and tough process. First you have to get an agent, and then they’ll work to get you a publisher. It seemed like such a scary process, but now that I’m a published author, I think it’s a wonderful industry to be involved in!
As a university student, how do you balance your schoolwork and college life with being a successful author?
BR: I think I’ve gotten used to running on seven hours of sleep at most, instead of eight or nine! My schoolwork includes a lot of hours in lectures and labs, and it’s a lot of independent study too. I don’t actually have as much time to write as I’d like to, but writing is still very much something I find relaxing, so it’s great to be able to work on my books when I’m taking a break from studying for a while and feel relaxed!
You were listed as one of TIME’s most influential teens of 2013 alongside inspirational young adults like Malia Obama and Malala Yousafzai. Wow! What is it like being awarded that honor?
BR: It’s absolutely incredible! I think my jaw actually dropped when I saw that I was on the same list as Malala. I ran around my flat waking people up to tell them! I’m really humbled to be part of the list, and it still seems unbelievable that I’ve achieved such an honor when this time last year, I’d only just been signed up by Random House!
Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
BR: Definitely my editor, Lauren Buckland. She’s the one who contacted me first about publishing my book, and she’s been so incredibly supportive and very accommodating of my studying alongside asking me for new books!
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
BR: I really like part of a quote from vlogger and scientist Hank Green: “Enjoy the ever-present game of not knowing.” It’s particularly applicable to me, because, as I said, little more than a year ago I was still just writing for a hobby, and yet in the last 12 months, I’ve had two books published, been on several national TV news channels as well as in many national newspapers and now I’m a TIME‘influential teen’! I never know what’s going to happen next, but I’m making sure that I really enjoy it all as I go and make the most of these experiences.
What’s next for you professionally?
BR: I’m currently working on my third book for Random House called Out of Tune. It’s another YA romance, and it’s due out sometime next summer. Aside from that, I’m determined to finish my degree; I want to keep my career options for the future open.
What advice would you give to a 20-something (or someone younger!) with similar aspirations?
BR: I’d say that anyone interested in writing should definitely try posting their work to platforms like Wattpad; the community on there is so brilliant and supportive of writers, however young and however new to writing! It’s a great confidence boost to see people enjoying what you write, and it’s a great opportunity to get feedback on your work. I’d advise aspiring writers to think about posting their books online if they’re still too intimidated by the publishing world. And I’d advise them to write, write, write! After all, they say practice makes perfect!