How I wrote a novel and made #2 on an Amazon Bestseller List in 5 Weeks

Once upon a time I entered NANOWRIMO and wrote 50,000 words of a YA fantasy novel. It sat on my laptop (or successive laptops) for EIGHT LONG YEARS until August this year when I woke one sunny morning with the urge to finish it and get it published.

The only problem was it wasn't in any state to publish!

Reading it through, I was convinced I could do better than I had eight years before, I just needed to work to my strengths.

The following is the story of how I managed to get Ink, my debut novel written, published for pre-order on Amazon and to #2 on the UK YA Fantasy Time Travel Bestseller list by 6th September.

Week 1 - Call A Professional

I barely had to read it to know what was wrong with my NANOWRIMO project. The story idea was good but the plot was badly paced and muddled.

E.M. Forster is famously quoted as saying - “The king died and then the queen died” is a story. But '“the king died and then the queen died of grief” is a plot.

My story was sound but the way I was telling it, the pace, the characterisation, the action, the mixture of dialogue and narrative - small things like that - were letting me down.

What should I do? I needed help with the outline. So I called in the experts at The Authors Hand where Dustin read the initial draft, we scrapped it and spent Week 1 fine tuning the plot until it shone like the proverbial bright new penny.

At the end of the week I had an outline and had already written 10,000 words.

Week 2 - Write 20,000 words

Sound mad to write 20,000 words in a week? Well, it isn't mad if you have an amazing outline with detailed plot points, you have your characters chattering away in your sleep deprived mind and you have a mentor breathing down your neck.

Each time I completed 10,000 words I'd email them over the Dustin and we would to and fro until we were both happy that they made a reasonable beta draft.

Week 3 - Write 20,000 words

Rinse and repeat - write, email, discuss and write some more.

Week 4 - Write 20,000 words plus Cover Design

DO NOT design your own cover. When people are considering whether to buy your book they see the cover first, then they see how many and what ratings and reviews you have and finally they see your blurb.

So I posted a 99designs competition which ran for five days. I selected a shortlist of six designs from the thirty I received and two days later, Bob's your uncle, I had a final design.

In week four I also researched and work on the back cover blurb and began contacting reviewers.

Week 5 - Publishing Research

I wrote the final 10,000 words and then turned my attention to publishing the damned thing so I could get some sleep!

When it comes to publishing on Amazon, every hour you spend on research will be repaid in results. I focused on finding niche categories and key words that fit my novel. It is YA fantasy with time travel and superheros. On Amazon, those are surprisingly small categories, which is what you want. You will need to sell far fewer books to get a spot on the bestseller list of the YA time travel category than you will on a general fantasy one.

Toward the end of week five I uploaded a beta copy of my manuscript to KDP as well as the newly minted kindle cover I'd received from 99 designs. I set up a pre-order at 99p and added the blurb I'd written the week before. The book description and my social media posting made it clear the price would increase to £2.99 on launch day.

Within three days, after posting on my social media and having pre-sold less than one hundred copies, my novel was at #2 of the YA time travel bestseller list on Amazon.

I was looking for #1 but you can't win them all, and I did make #1 on the hot new releases list for the same subcategory.

If you enjoyed this blog, please pre-order Ink, and help me get it to #1. Here are the links to Amazon UK and Amazon US.

This is a brand new blog so I'd appeciate a steer from my readers. Let me know in the comments if this content is useful or if you'd like to see something else.

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