How to write and publish a novel in 23 easy steps

by Julie Frayn on February 27, 2013 in  Writing

1. In a desperate bid to do something — anything — creative (since the day job is in a profession that not only frowns on creativity but may prosecute you for it), sign up for a creative writing course and write a short story.

2. Check the mailbox daily like a crazed loon to see if the instructor sent it back with his accolades. (That’s mailbox, the metal thing attached to the front of the house. What? It is 1998 after all).

3. Finally, after four or five interminable weeks, rip open the envelope to discover a slew of red pen marks, suggestions, and corrections.

4. Cry a little.

5. Take heart that said instructor thinks the dialogue is great and there is enough in there for a novel.

6. Let that idea stew for six years.

7. End an eighteen-year marriage, watch your children grow into pre-teens, become disillusioned with your career, sign up for a “how to write a novel” course — then pick up that short story and begin writing. I can turn that bus trip that took four words into a full page! Maybe two…

8. Check the mailbox daily like a crazed loon to see if the instructor sent it back with his accolades. (Yes, mailbox again. Only 2004. You can email the instructor for advice, but must entrust your sacred manuscript to the hands of Canada Post).

9. When the envelope arrives, rip it open and pore over the red marks slashing across the pages like open wounds after Jack the Ripper is done with your sorry ass.

10. Cry a little.

11. Quit your job. Be unemployed for five months while living off your line of credit. Dabble in writing but shove your manuscript in a box. It is still bleeding, after all.

12. Start a new job. Move into a ‘new’ old house unstained by failed relationships. Quit the crappy job and finally, three years later, find one you love. Settle into a comfortable, stable, freedom-filled existence and watch your children grow into adults, all the while dabbling in short stories and flash fiction and creative writing exercises.

13. Think about your dusty manuscript. Ask your daughter for the courage you need to resurrect your old dreams. When she bestows upon you her own strength to take that leap, sign up for another novel writing course and never, ever, look back.

14. Finish the novel. Send it to beta readers. Get their feedback — the good, the bad and the oh-my-dog.

15. Rejoice a little.

16. After far too long, hire a bad ass professional editor. Fall in love with his edits and suggestions and no-holds-barred critique style. And accolades. Yes. Finally. Accolades.

17. Cry a little.

18. Give up on the year-long pursuit of the elusive Sasquatch agent since you clearly suck big-time at writing query letters. Learn to format your manuscript as an eBook and for print on demand.

19. Hire a kickass cover artist. Open the PDF of the cover art for the first time.

20. Cry a little.

21. Upload your baby to Smashwords and Amazon and Kobo and Barnes & Noble and Createspace.

22. Get a proof of your first novel in print. An actual book with your name on the cover. Your words, your sweat, your dreams – your tears – in physical form.

23. Cry. A lot.

See? Easy!

Suicide City now available at Smashwords, Amazon (Kindle), (Kindle too), Kobo, Barnes & Noble (nook), and Createspace (paperback!)

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo VonBargen February 27, 2013 at 9:12 am

Absolutely spot on!! I even cried a little! Wonderful, wonderful post, my friend!!


Julie February 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Thanks Jo! That post was fifteen years in the making :)

Lisa February 27, 2013 at 10:08 am

Love this. One step at a time . . . I’m currently between 17 and 18 although I may have to backtrack a little.

The cover looks awesome. I will now add the book to my list.


Julie February 27, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Glad you like the cover. I love it… But I’m biased. Let me know what you think of the book when you have time to read it!

Carolyn February 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm
Julie March 2, 2013 at 12:45 pm


Ey Wade March 1, 2013 at 6:27 am

Too cute. Love that 22. Congrats, Ms. Author.


Julie March 1, 2013 at 8:04 am

Thanks Ey. 22 was my favourite part of the journey. Well, and maybe 16.

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