One thing Irish people are known for is the ability to tell a yarn. Think James Joyce, Anne Enright, and of course the LOL-a-minute Marian Keyes, to name just a few.

The publishing landscape is changing by the day – not too long ago the only way to go was a book deal from a traditional publisher, but now thanks to technology, self-publishing your own novel is becoming a viable alternative.

Need some tips to get that bestseller in the bag? We went along to the recent How to Publish Independently with Amazon conference and picked up some awesome tips:


1. Pick a subject you’re genuinely interested in

First things first: choose a subject you actually feel passionate about. Picking something because you think there’s a gap in the market for it, or because it’s ‘hot topic’ means it might not read as authentic as it should, and the odds are it’ll feel more like homework than a labour of love.

2. Plot your story arc

One of the most important considerations in writing a novel is your story arc. Simply put, it’s the story you tell from the beginning (the trigger or event) to the rising action, to the climax, to the resolution. And you don’t necessarily have to plot it scene-by-scene – according to author Hazel Gaynor, some writers have a skeleton of a story before they begin, and others want to see where it takes them naturally.

3. Download Scrivener

Scrivener is a pretty genius tool that lets you outline and structure your story with ease. Part word processor, part project management tool, it lets you drag and drop scenes and ideas, take notes, and view your research as you write. 

4. Start with a bang

People often decide to read a book based on the first few pages, so make your opening scene interesting enough to pull people in. Ask yourself the question: is this something that would grab ME?

5. Make mistakes in your first draft

You should be under zero pressure or restrictions when your write your first draft. This is the most free and creative part of the process, so just write away with wild abandon and focus on getting your story down. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar and tying up loose ends – that’s what your second, third and maybe even fourth drafts are for.

6. Consider hiring a professional editor

In the second and third drafts you’ll work on structure, inconsistencies and spelling and grammar. However, getting a professional editor on board to go over story, plot, characterisation, dialogue and point of view is definitely something to consider. “Don’t worry about ‘meddling’,” says author and editor Alison Walsh. “It’s about making it the best it can be. We don’t want to rewrite it. It’s about your work, your voice, we just help get the story across.”

7. Build an author platform

If you decide to go down the self-publishing route, you will be author, marketer, publicist and businessperson, so it’s important to get yourself out there. Remember, Fifty Shades started out as a blog! So start an author blog (there are heaps of fab free themes on WordPress and Wix), get yourself on social media, and engage with fellow writers. “Do up a press release, contact people in newspapers and don’t go for the hard sell – engage people with your genuine passion,” advises author LG Ross.

8. Upload your finished novel

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing – or KDP – is a portal to set your novel live to a paying audience. The big differences between KDP and traditional publishing are that you get to keep all the rights to your novel, and you can also update the document if there are any typos. Uploading your work using the tool is actually pretty easy; there’s a handy step-by-step guide you can follow on getting started here.

Go forth and conquer!