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Will NaNoWriMo Help You Publish A Novel? Why This Self-Published Author Thinks It Will

Will NaNoWriMo Help You Publish A Novel? Why This Self-Published Author Thinks It Will

Chele Cooke, author of Dead and BurydFantasty writer Chele Cooke makes a great case for aspiring self-published authors to use NaNoWriMo as a stepping-stone to publishing a novel – as she did for her  debut novel, Dead and Buryd.

What Is NaNoWriMo Anyway?

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is the challenge to complete a novel within the space of a single month. Due to the differing length of novels, not to mention the differing lengths of months, this has been clarified by the phrase “Fifty thousand words in thirty days.”

NaNoWriMo is held annually in November, which, luckily for male authors, coincides with Movember, the challenge not to shave for the entire month. Time spent shaving could be time spent writing, after all.

The challenge is simple: 50,000 words in 30 days. The NaNoWriMo rules state that it should be a new project, but as this is a mostly self-regulated challenge, some choose to work on an existing project and try to bring it to completion.

Cover of Dead and Buryd by Chele CookeHow NaNoWriMo Worked for Me

Beginning NaNoWriMo in 2012, I’d already attempted the challenge at least half a dozen times. I’d completed it once. Going in with these sorts of odds was scary, but I had a plan, and it was one that I was very excited about.

I began writing Dead and Buryd on 1st November 2012. With all the planning I had laid out and a good idea of the characters, writing the prose came easily. It was a very exciting game of connect the dots, and I had thirty days to get through as much of it as I could. Sure enough, by the evening of 3rd November, I had 21,000 words. To keep up with the NaNoWriMo target, you should be completing about 1,667 words per day. I was ahead of schedule by a long way.

NaNoWriMo As A Social Opportunity

One of the parts of NaNoWriMo that is most invigorating is the social aspect. Writing is commonly seen as being solitary, and yet during November you have writers meeting in every city, writing and discussing their work. Telling people about what you’re working on can really boost your morale, and hearing about other people's work can spark ideas that never occurred to you. Twitter, Facebook, and the NaNoWriMo forums are constantly awash with NaNo conversations, so even if you don’t have the time to go out, you can still connect with a lot of different people.

NaNoWriMo As A Jumpstarter

The main reason that I champion NaNoWriMo so enthusiastically is that once you’ve started, it becomes so much easier to keep going. Writing becomes like a car with the brakes off, you just gather momentum once you’ve been pushed off. By the end of November 2012, I had 60,000 of Dead and Buryd, and I had no intention of stopping. I finished the first draft of the novel at the beginning of January, and had a second draft by the middle of February. I’d got myself into such a rhythm of writing and working on this project that it became hard to stop. The more I wrote, the more ideas I had, not just for this novel, but for the series and for other stories.

NaNoWriMo As A Natural Partner for Self-Publishing Authors

The tight deadlines of NaNoWriMo are also great for self-publishing, when everything is on the deadlines you set. There is no one to answer to but yourself, and so you have to have that organisation drilled into you right out of the gate. Figuring out when you can write 500 words tomorrow can help when you need to write that blog post for a tour, and having to complete a set amount for a challenge is very similar to ensuring that you have everything ready to go for an editor.

NaNoWriMo As Fun

Lastly, it’s fun! With its social elements and the competitive nature of the challenge (even if really you’re only competing against yourself), NaNoWriMo is a whirlwind that has you excited to write. At least, that's what it is for me.

So, why not have a go at NaNoWriMo this year? If nothing else, you’ll at least fill your coffee quota for the rest of the year.

If you've done NaNoWriMo in previous years, how did you get on?

If you're taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, how are you doing so far?

Please share your views via the comment box below.

Find out more about NaNoWriMo at its official website: www.nanowrimo.org

Author: Chele Cooke

Chele Cooke is the debut author of "Dead and Buryd", a sci-fi novel, and several short stories. She lives and works in the UK, although her heart at least partly belongs in San Francisco. She is also an avid cross-stitcher, music-lover, and traveler. Her author website is www.chelecooke.com.


This Post Has 13 Comments
  1. Dear Chele, your article is inspiring. I did NaNo about seven years ago and it did propel me to write but it was extremely taxing and if I recall correctly it is a fund raiser.

    1. Hi Marta,
      NaNoWriMo can certainly be taxing, I find it taxing myself, but I can find this is often a motivator. NaNoWriMo does raise funds throughout the year, but this is not a requirement, which is great for new authors who do not feel it is possible for them to contribute.
      I’m really glad that you found the article helping.

  2. What’s great about NaNoWriMo is that it gives authors a specific goal to reach on a deadline. Without this goal, writers are more likely to procrastinate. The initiative also forms a great community and participants are given advice and encouragement from well known authors throughout the process.

    1. The community aspect of NaNoWriMo is one of my favourite parts. Every year for the last three years, I’ve gone to an overnight write in at a local independent bookstore. It’s like a sleepover with laptops and insomnia. It’s so much fun, and you meet some great people. I’d recommend to anyone doing NaNoWriMo for the first time that if there is a meetup in your area, go to it and meet some amazing people.

  3. I agree with you, Chele, that NaNoWriMo can be the impetus to get you writing. I’ve been signed up for four years now, but publishing and working on novels all along. I’ve never actually submitted a novel through the NaNo website.

    I had novel already in the works, and once NaNo started, I’ve pushed it now to 30K, and kickstarted another that had been sitting on the back burner. So it can be a goal–albeit a personal one.

    Sometimes that is all you need.

    1. Absolutely, Penelope, I completely agree. Personally, I usually start a new project for NaNo, but that’s just because it happens to be when I’m ready to start a new story. I have quite a few friends who use the competition of NaNoWriMo to push themselves further on existing projects. One friend, for example, is pushing herself to write 500 words per day. Now, this won’t win NaNoWriMo for her, but it’s a great time for her to push herself with the support of other writers all over the world.

  4. This will be my tenth year participating in NaNoWriMo. Yet this is the first year I go into November with the intention of publishing. I’ve spent all year on my notes, and like you said, it feels like a matter of connecting the dots. I haven’t quite reached 20k by day two, but I am a bit ahead. We’ll see how the month progressed, but I’m very excited about this one.

    Best wishes to you all!

    1. Miranda, I’m really happy for you that you are confident in taking this project further. It is a wonderful feeling when you know that this one is the one to push. I was exactly the same with Dead and Buryd. Work before that had been good enough, but not something I felt could go the distance.
      Admittedly, I haven’t reached 20k by day 3 this time either, but it is going very well so far.
      I wish you all the best with this project, and feel free to add me as a buddy on nanowrimo.org if you’d like. My username is CheleCooke.

  5. Hi Chele: I commend you. I believe in NaNoRiMo. Especially for the debute writers. It is a wonderful exercise and focuses attention onto the creative process in writing. However, starting from scratch is not practical. Writing what you know is critical. Fictionalizing a personal event is not the same as developing an authentic Si-Fi world that requires much research. Organizing time is vital. I spend about 20 hours a week writing my novels. I aim for 5-pages per day including the small tweaks that occur to me while writing. That’s an average of 1,250 words a day, 5,000 per week.It’s a lot of creative effort and can be tiring. A story map, a plot outline, a scenes beat sheet, structure, and plotting should come first. The most important, as we know, ares the 1st few pages… and the ending. I work on the ending before entering the 2nd act mid-story. Often the ending ditates the content of the mid-story. Best of luck and success. .

    1. Warren, I must admit I am a little confused as to why you think that NaNoWriMo cannot be as planned and thought out as a novel written at any other time. The challenge does not specify that planning can not be done before November. In fact, it is suggested in multiple areas that many members spend September and October planning for NaNoWriMo, so that once November 1st hits, they are ready to write. I myself have about 10,000 of planning for my current project being completed through NaNoWriMo, and Dead and Buryd had the same.
      Thank you for the comment. Chele.

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