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My Journey Of Writing And Publishing My First Novel, by Mandi Lynn (guest teenage novelist)

Mandi Lynn - teenage novelist

My journey of writing a novel started when I was 13. It took me a year of on and off writing to finish the first draft and I spent the next two years rewriting and submitting my novel to agents. After 39 rejections I finally looked into how self-publishing works and took things into my own hands. This was one of the hardest decisions for me because I had always dreamed of being traditionally published. I was greatly encouraged to self-publish after reading Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing by Catherine Ryan Howard. This book walks you through what you need to know and how to do it.

My first step was taking draft 7 of Essence and finding an editor that I could afford to pay while still getting good, quality work. I settled on a company called BubbleCow. I had two different editors through them: Gary Smailes, my structure editor, and Denise Barker, my copy editor. The structure edits were hard to make because there were entire paragraphs and even pages that my editor suggested I remove, and of course any writer knows how much that hurts. After doing the final structure edits I formatted the manuscript to be made into a paperback. From there the paperback was made into an ARC (advanced reader copy). ARCs are what go out for reviews. They may not be the final edit but the goal is to have reviews of the book done before or right after the book comes out so others will want to read it. I sent out 10 ARCs to people I had emailed who had agreed to read and review the book on their blog or YouTube channel.

The most fun part of the process was designing the cover for my book. I know the basics of Photoshop but in no way would I call myself an expert. I spent a good amount of time learning through tutorials and finding different tricks I could use to edit the cover. After visiting the White Mountains National Forest (the location that inspired my book) my parents and I did a photo shoot in freezing, snowy weather to get the photo for the book cover, and I must say it came out amazing!

As the release date for Essence came closer and closer I did things like format my novel for ebooks (which is such a hassle), film and edit a book trailer, go to local book stores to arrange signings, set up a blog tour, and also film my own videos about writing and self-publishing for my YouTube channel.

The result was a novel that had once been only a small part of my life but which has now become a big part of me. People at school stop me in the halls to ask if I was the girl who wrote a book, I wake up every morning to check my emails, and I stay up past midnight to make sure everything has been done for the day so I don’t miss any deadlines. It’s a stressful job but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.


You can discover more about Mandi Lynn, her writing and her blog tour for Essence at

You can follow Mandi’s journey of writing, editing and publishing Essence on her YouTube channel, where you can also watch the book trailer.

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Writing Teen Novels

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