I’ve come close to giving up many times because making it as a writer isn’t easy, but persistence is key. If I gave up when things got hard or when it was getting harder and harder to find new readers, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Mandi Lynn started writing her first novel at thirteen, and at the young age of seventeen, Essence, hit the press. Since publishing her debut novel, Lynn has taught writing workshops, appeared on television, newspapers, and most importantly, graduated high school. We chat to her about beginning writing at a young age, finding your writer tribe on social media and perseverance.
Please give us a brief overview of yourself and your work.
I’m an author, YouTuber and dreamer. I started writing my first novel, Essence, when I was thirteen and after ten drafts, I decided to self-publish it. It was after a lot of hard work that I finally released Essence to the world shortly after I turned seventeen. Fast-forward a few years and I’m now twenty-one, published a second novel, I am Mercy, with a third novel on the way.
What made you want to be a writer? How did you begin writing?
I used to hate reading, so it wasn’t until I discovered the YA genre that I fell in love with books. Then I couldn’t read books fast enough! Eventually, reading wasn’t enough and I wanted to tell my own stories and that’s how Essence came to be.
What inspires you to write?
Nature has always inspired me to write. My first novel was based off a location. There was a basin in New Hampshire that I had seen on vacation and I wanted to tell a story about it. Though my current work-in-progress doesn’t have much nature, going outside and getting some fresh air always helps my creative juices.
Is there any particular incident that has happened along your writing journey that you’d like to share?
When I was high school, my teachers knew I had a published novel, so when New York Times Bestselling author Neal Shusterman came to visit my school, my teachers were kind enough to allow me to eat lunch with him. This was a huge deal to me because Neal Shusterman was an author that helped inspire my writing when I first started. He signed copies of his books for me and I ended up giving him a copy of my book as well!
The day before he came to my school I was called to the dean’s office and when I got there I found a reporter there to greet me. It turned out the dean and principal of the school had set-up an interview for me to discuss my novel. The interview later ended up on the front page of about five local newspapers and to this day it is still my favorite newspaper feature I’ve had.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Above all, just keep writing. I’ve come close to giving up many times because making it as a writer isn’t easy, but persistence is key. If I gave up when things got hard or when it was getting harder and harder to find new readers, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Every day I continue to write I get closer to making writing my full-time career.
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
The hardest part of marketing, especially social media marketing, is starting. Everyone feels like they shouldn’t post things on social media or do things unless they have a following already. It can feel like you’re talking to yourself and that you’ll never find readers, but if you’re genuine and don’t give up, your book will find its way into the hands of readers.
What methods of book marketing do you find the most effective?
I work full-time in social/digital media marketing, so that’s always been my go-to for book marketing. I very rarely use ads because I haven’t found results with it, but building a following on YouTube and other social media sites have proven to be very effective. Not only that, having my followers rooting for me to keep writing is what motivates me to keep going when I feel like giving up. Even if it weren’t for the marketing side of YouTube or social media, I would still continue to make videos and posts because I love being a part of the community.
How do you make time for your book marketing?
I usually have a hard time making time for writing because I really love the marketing side. Marketing is fun to me, so I’m always eager to jump into it. Writing, while rewarding, is extremely hard. With that said I find I usually have to find time in the day to write because without a structured time where I need to sit down and write I don’t always get it done.
Any advice for approaching publishers?
Always approach anyone professionally, not just publishers, with class. The biggest mistake I see new writers doing is being too pushy. You need to pitch your novel to sell it, not push it onto someone. And be sure to have a well-rehearsed pitch ready for whenever you meet anyone who asks, “What’s your book about?” That question is always a potential sale.
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
The best way to handle rejection is to realize that everyone goes through it. Not everyone is going to love every book, so you as a writer have to come to terms with the fact that you’re going to get haters, trolls or maybe just an agent that says, “No thanks.”
How do you deal with isolation, as writing is an inherently private exercise?
Get on social media and meet as many writers as you can. It’s hard to find writers near you, but on social media they’re everywhere. Make friends with people. It doesn’t matter if they live on the other side of the world because technology can connect everyone with a push of the button. Once you find writers like yourself, you’ll never feel alone again.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
Dream big and don’t let hopelessness cloud your vision. If you say you can’t do it, you won’t. But if you tell yourself you can do it, you’ll get there no matter how long it takes.
You can find out more about Mandi Lynn via her website and social media channels: YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest. Essence and I am Mercy are available for purchase on Amazon.