My interview with Honestly, I’m Totally Faking It author Amanda Gambill
If you haven’t heard of Amanda Gambill yet, you’re in for a real treat! At first, I thought it was her delectable book covers that drew me in. Then, upon closer inspection I thought maybe it was her rom-com-style books with relatable characters and swoon-worth love stories. But, it didn’t take me long to realize that what I like best about Amanda is her gumption. I’m serious!
She tells it like it is when someone makes a shady move in her DM. She candidly shares insider tips on self-publishing. She is real, is what I’m trying to say! Amanda Gambill says what we need to hear. For example, when someone who isn’t following you and wants a free book slides into your DM, what do you do? Ask Amanda and she might say, Call them out publicly!
Amanda has published 3 books, plus a novella, and has plenty more stories in her from the sounds of it! She has a marketing background, which is pretty obvious based on her brilliant merchandise, annotated copies of her books, and the entire way she runs her social media accounts. We can all learn a lot from Amanda’s journey, but let’s start with 9 takeaways from my recent interview with her.
9 Totally Usable, Totally Attainable Writing Tips
from Best-Sellling Rom-Com Author Amanda Gambill
1. START HUMBLY
“Before I published my first book, I only had one goal: To have one person who I didn’t know read it and love it. Just one.”
Amanda’s intention wasn’t to get famous or make millions. She merely wanted to know that her work was read and appreciated by ONE person! Through hard work, dedication, and maybe most of all, perseverance (since many of us quit before we ever get off the ground), guess what she got instead of one reader?
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of people who have DM’d me that they see themselves in my characters, who haven’t been able to articulate how they’ve felt until they saw it on the pages.”
2. SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES ALONG THE WAY
“It’s easy to think publishing is some sort of darkly veiled sort of beast. I’m not interested in gatekeeping information — highs and lows — so other people can better understand 1) what it’s like being an indie author and 2) to decide if it’s right for them given realistic information.”
Many of us can relate to that bit about publishing being a mystery. We all know it’s notoriously difficult to break into traditional publishing, but self-publishing is cloaked in secrecy, too. Where does that leave us? Well, according to Amanda, it’s going to take the successful self-published writers to open up a little, something she has no problem doing!
“I like to share the actual DMs I receive (e.g., random people asking for free books and how that’s worked out) and the actual money I make.”
I’ve followed Amanda’s Instagram and it’s helpful (and at times humorous) the way she lifts the veil. It could be reposting a DM where someone who doesn’t even follow her is asking for a free book, or a shady marketing ploy, but let me tell you, I’m there for it! Amanda isn’t afraid to stand up for herself, something inspiring to some of us introverted newbies!
3. DITCH THE RIGID WRITING SCHEDULE
“I wrote one in one month, and I wrote another over the course of a year. My process has had to be not about publishing ‘X’ books a year, or hitting a daily word count goal, but writing the best story when I’m in the best headspace.”
Too often, new writers can get caught up in a piece of advice we’ve read about setting a strict writing schedule or having a minimum daily word count. The truth is, writers, by definition, are creatives. That means we may not be all that great about adhering to rigid schedules. That’s even why many of us left “day jobs” to write in the first place!
4. IGNORE THE STIGMA SURROUNDING SELF-PUBLISHING
Amanda (and I have to agree!) says it’s a limiting opinion to say that self-published authors/books are less credible or successful or even “good” than traditionally-published.
“There are so many good indie books out there! They aren’t beholden by what’s “marketable” or “mainstream.” They get to be more creative and push more boundaries. They don’t have to go through the gatekeepers of the “Big 5” (whose leadership is predominately white men in New York). Some of the best books I’ve read that reflect actual reality are indie.”
Another stigma surrounding self-published authors is that they couldn’t make it in the traditional publishing venue. While it’s true that after periods of unsuccessful querying, some authors take matters into their own hands, others know from the start that they want full control over their writing career.
“I’ve never tried to be traditionally published. It’s not my focus right now. Right now, I get to connect with my readers directly, write what I want, not compromise my work in the name of marketability, and come up with amazing covers … if that means I also have to do all the other work, too, I’ll take it. That’s the fun part.”
5. LEARN TO HANDLE NEGATIVE REVIEWS
Some authors separate negative reviews into two categories: ones that are helpful in improving their craft, and ones that can only keep you up nights eating pints of Ben and Jerry’s and questioning your self-worth. Amanda admits she’s not immune to hurt feelings, and even says she has “the thinnest skin in the world.” I commend her for admitting this since very few people do (despite it being true for most of us!).
Instead of spiraling into despair over bad reviews, Amanda has made it a rule to avoid them altogether. She does not read reviews of her books.
“It’s not fair to yourself to think you’ve written the first book in the whole world that everyone will love. If your goal is for everyone to love your book, you will fail. And that’s not fun. Why set yourself up for failure immediately?!”
For those who can’t resist reading the reviews, she offers this advice:
“The reality is, you’re going to get negative reviews. It sucks. No one likes it. You aren’t alone in that. You can’t control it, either. But you can control how you handle it. Quit or prove your worth to yourself again and again. And to that, I say … Congrats, I think that means you’re a writer!”
6. HAVE FUN EVERY STEP OF THE WAY
I love Amanda’s approach to the writing process. Rather than trudging through, looking at it as an ache you have to rid yourself of in order to sleep at night, she dives in and has fun along the way! It’s not just about book sales and cover designs. Amanda luxuriates in every single step of the journey.
“Each book is created with its own mood board and the colors always match the vibe of the story. Creating anything with my books feels like an immersive process — I have playlists, colors, fonts, symbols, I even only use certain colored heart emojis when discussing them online.”
7. GIVE YOUR READERS REASONS TO COME BACK FOR MORE
Amanda offers fantastic merchandise on her website! There are stickers, t-shirts, bookmarks, mugs, and my favorite: the annotated copy of For the Record, I Hate You!
I don’t know about you, but when I buy a book I almost never get any “extras,” and who doesn’t feel they’ve scored when they can get something besides the standard in any type of purchase?
“Annotating my own words has been such an interesting process. I’ve had the chance to do every one of my books (more than once), and each time has been significant. I started with For the Record, I Hate You, which might be my favorite to annotate. There are so many double-meanings with lyrics from the songs mentioned in the book and several flashbacks. So, it’s been really cool to point out little things readers might have missed the first time and add a deeper layer to the overall story.”
8. WRITE FOR YOURSELF FIRST
When Amanda wrote her first book, A Guy Like Him, she didn’t have a lot of experience in marketing herself. She also didn’t have any big expectations. She just wanted to take some life experience, some drive, and some creativity, and see what she could come up with. The result? A Guy Like Him became an Amazon top 40 book!
“It was written with no agenda, no outline, no goal of publishing … it was just an idea. It was the start of the best choice I could have made for myself. It was finally proof that I could make something out of nothing with no one’s help and succeed.”
9. ALWAYS BE PLANNING FRESH WAYS TO ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE
Aside from working on a follow-up book to Honestly, I’m Totally Faking It, Amanda has just released a bonus epilogue for A Guy Like Him.
“It’s called Holiday Blend, and it’s a 119-page, holiday-stuffed novella that picks up on about a year after we left Dean and Skylar. It’s been so fun seeing everyone dive back into my first couple’s life.”
She is excited and coming at the new year with plans to get her readers more engaged than ever, which, for Amanda, is saying something. I know from experience that her Instagram fans are always having a blast with the merch, her candid content, the delicious book covers, and all of the “extras” that almost put Amanda in a category all her own!
“I hope 2023 brings lots of bonus content, a new store/newsletter, and new characters.”
I had a blast with this interview, and I hope you’ll check out Amanda’s work (and get to know her personally, too) on Instagram, Twitter, and on her website.
Can’t wait to read this book. Thanks for the chance!
What a great interview! I want to pick up her book because I love how you’ve made me feel about Amanda. You’ve turned the author into a real person.