By Nina Mandell, TODAY contributor
When Beth Reeks began writing her hit novel, "The Kissing Booth," she wasn’t expecting to be a record-setting author before her third year of high school. She just wanted to read something that didn’t involve vampires, werewolves, or fallen angels.
“I just wanted a plain simple teenage romance,” Reeks — who goes by the pen name Beth Reekles — told TODAY.com.
The now 17-year-old apparently wasn’t the only one. After she posted her novel on the self-publishing site Wattpad, it received a site-breaking record 40 million hits and caught the notice of a Random House UK editor who sent her an email through the site.
“I was sitting in my living room with my laptop and I was going through my emails and I saw I had a message...it started off more formal than the usual, 'are you making a sequel to '"The Kissing Booth"' and 'oh my God I love your book,'" she recalled. When she looked more closely at the message, she took off running.
“I grabbed my laptop and ran to my parents, making kind of inhuman noises because I couldn’t talk,” she said.
In October of 2012, Reeks signed a three-book deal with the publishing house, beginning with "The Kissing Booth" which is now available in e-book form. It’s slated to come out in paperback later this year.
She’s also gathered a legion of loyal fans who ask her for advice about writing their own novels and eagerly await her latest work.
Meanwhile, Reekles has already cranked out more novels, including one that she recently posted on Wattpad —all while doing the normal things teenagers do: hanging out with her friends, boyfriend and of course, getting into college, where she wants to study physics.
“I’ve always really enjoyed physics and I find it really fascinating,” she said. “A lot lot of my friends don’t like it at all, but there’s something about it I really like. I like knowing how things work.”
As for her career as a writer, Reeks said she’s just trying to navigate her success and enjoy the ride. “I think it’s a bit difficult for all of us, it's not the kind of thing you can just Google easily and find out how it all works,” she said. “I think we’ve all been taking it in stride.”