Updated: Sep 17, 2019
Some friends and I laughed about someone hashtagging themselves and I thought, "Why not? I should be trending. I'm totally trendable."
But seriously, I've struggled with insecurity my entire life. Insecure about my looks, the way I appear to others, and in my talents. Fear, doubt, and insecurity can completely consume me if I'm not careful. As much as I wish I was a strong person, I'm just not. Not all the time. I do try. Try to be strong. One bad review on amazon and I spiral. I question my gifts, my talent, my abilities. One bad picture and I start hating the way I look. One mean comment and I'm unhappy with myself.
Ya'll, it shouldn't be this way.
Lemme tell you a little about my journey. My writing journey. My journey to becoming me.
Ten years ago, I published my first book. I found a small publishing company that wanted me. I signed a contract. I felt famous. Little did I know about the disappointment that would follow. I had to PAY for an editor that told me it was amazing and he didn't change, but a few grammar mistakes. They had someone create a cover that I didn't love, but I was young and excited about having a "book" published so I let it go. I got my first hardback copy in the mail and was in love.
What they didn't tell me...
I would be responsible for my own marketing, I would have to find a way to get my book in bookstores, and I would have to pay if I wanted them to market for me. I had a little local fame for like ten seconds and then it all went away. I was teaching full time in a private school and didn't have the money to pay for marketing.
I gave up.
I didn't want to talk about it. People would say, "Hey, didn't you write a book?" and I would just nod and move on. I didn't become famous. I didn't sell many copies. And I thought I was a failure. Nine years later, I had pushed it out of my mind and just forgot about my sweet little novel with characters that I loved. And I didn't think about it until the summer of 2018. I got a facebook message from someone that I didn't know. She had married one of my very good friends from high school and read my book that was on his shelf. She wanted to know where book 2 was.
Where was book 2? Shoved in a fox hole in my cute little brain. That's where. I laughed it off. Told her I haven't written yet. And then a couple of weeks later, I was approached again by someone else about book 2. And then again from someone. It was like God was telling me that it was time. Time to write the rest of the story.
I wrote book 2 in less than a month. Someone mentioned that I should just self-publish them on amazon. I made sure I wasn't violating my previous contract and then I did just that. I self-published Party Central with a new kindle created cover and then released From New York to L.A. on my birthday, October 12. I was excited. I was back to writing again.
Self-publishing is hard. And I'm a newbie. I know nothing about this business. I threw my books into the deep end without swim lessons. My covers were mediocre and I edited the books myself. There are mistakes. There are places in the story that could be better. There is a difference in my writing from book 1 to book 2. I matured, I became a better writer, and well...it shows. Party Central was written ten years ago. There is a nine year gap between the two books. They could be better. But at the same time, I had to learn to navigate social media, branding, etc. This world is new to me, but my books...those are my straight from my heart. I knew I couldn't give up this time. No matter how hard it got.
And it got hard.
Sales were...slow. Very slow to nonexistent. How am I going to do this? I had a facebook author page that I tried to post things from and then Instagram. And then there are ads and hashtags and whatever. What have I got myself into? I don't know how to do this?! I got so frustrated. No one was liking my posts and I became very irritated at my friends. Funny thing about the data...it will tell you how many people see your posts. And yet, family and friends wouldn't like, comment, or share them. What a bummer! I have a few loyal cheerleaders in my life. BLESS YOU FOR BEING MY FANS! But then I thought about Twitter.
My poor neglected Twitter. What was my username? What was my password? Oh, that email? What's that password for that one? Finally, I opened it and laughed. Look at you, sweet cute Mandy from 2009. Where did you come from? LOL
I researched and read article after article. A few hashtags later, I had some followers. What's this? Followers that aren't my friends?! Who are these people in the #WritingCommunity? Oh, what's that? Another follower? Cool. This continued. I played fun games, interacted with people, and BAM! I hit 1,000 followers. Oh, this is fun! I'd advertise my books and interact with others. And one night, I had a hilarious conversation with a group about going to Vegas to a writing conference. We probably blew everyone's notifications up. We decided to take things to a group message. We wanted to be polite. LOL And the Chaos Crew was born. Which pretty much sums us up when we take over a thread. I'd apologize, but I'm not sorry. We bring the party when we arrive and I love each and every one of them.
While I have fun, I also have to promote my books. No one is going to do that for me. I have to do it myself and the Writing Community is such a positive place to share my gifts with. They are supportive. Until they aren't. One night, I was added to a list. I thought it as a cutie follow list, but after closer inspection, I see that I've been added to a list called "Hucksters." What is that? I saw a few names of people that I loved on this list too. We were curious about it and then after looking it up, I realized we were called Hucksters because we promoted ourselves on Twitter. I was like, "And that's bad?" So...David Gane and I joked about it. After MUCH silliness, we co-created the hashtag #Hucksters4Life and he and I became Huckster royalty. King and Queen.
It blew up.
It became a "thing" and we loved it. And then I got asked to be on Writer's Row with David Gane and DC Wright-Hammer AKA my Twitter bestie. It was the most fun ever. And I adore them both.
And now...I have almost 13K followers and I love every minute of it.
Twitter led me to a group of amazing writers. We call our little group The From Bunch. This bunch and I have a spooky anthology coming out October 1. It hit #1 New Release on Amazon for Horror Anthologies and Best Sellers List. Autumn Nights: 13 Spooky Fall Reads has 14 short stories that are perfect for Halloween. I'm so thankful to be a part of this group and cannot wait to see how successful our anthology will be.
Twitter has become one of my favorite places and I have found some amazing friends. I could never list every single person that I have come to love, but a few that really stick out are Sean Frazier along with the whole Chaos Crew. I really wish I could list every person that I love, but I would forget someone and feel bad. And also...you probably don't want to read a list of a hundred people. But I swear...I have found my tribe. There are many, but they are amazingly special to me.
But Twitter is a social media platform for me to use as marketing as well. I'm self-published. I have to market where I can. And after some sad sad sale weeks, I got to talk to Jillian Dodd. The Jillian Dodd. She helped me so much and gave me the best advice. And after that advice, Party Central and From New York to L.A. got CUTE new covers that I designed myself. I did some promos and sales picked up. Thank you, Jillian. You have no idea what you mean to me. I adore you.
And I'm on fire!
My Lora Kate London series isn't done. Book 3, Just a Little Frosting, is coming over November 5. And you want to know a secret? Books 4-7 are completed. They need editing, but they are finished. Lora Kate's story was on my heart and I needed to see it through. Just a Little Frosting got a developmental edit by the lovely Kimberly Hunt and it's almost ready for Beta Readers. I'm learning. Am I perfect? No. But I'm getting better. I've been given a couple of sad reviews on my books. When I read them, I want to cry. Lora Kate is basically me so I take the negative comments right to my heart. But I have remember that I have a ton of other great reviews. And I know...Party Central is my weaker book. It was my first one. My first book that didn't have a fancy editor or beta readers or anything. But it's mine. And for me, it's like a reminder of where I started. Should I go back and rewrite it? Maybe. I don't know. But I do know that I'm in love with writing. I'm in love with Lora Kate's story. And I'm not giving up.
My writing style is very different. I write in first person and in present tense. My books are heavy laden with dialogue and they are super cute. When you read my books, it's like a Hallmark movie. You know where the story is going, but you keep reading because it's adorable.
Ten years ago, I would not have called my writing adorable. I loathed myself and my book. Today, I have embraced my talents and I cannot be insecure. I must be confident. Confidence is what is fueling me. Do the bad reviews hurt? Yes. Do I dwell on them? No. I lift my chin instead of the middle finger and keep going. God gave me a talent and I'm going to use it. This is where I'm supposed to be. I'm supposed to write. I feel it in my soul. I still get discouraged at times. Being a writer is hard, but learning to be confident in my talents and in my self, is crucial.
Yes, #mandylawson should be a thing and it should be trending
Because I am F A B U L O U S!
P.S. Who would I be if I didn't huckster? So...Go buy my books, ya goof!