How to Write and Self-Publish a Fiction Novel

How to Write and Self-Publish a Fiction Novel

Some people – a small but very important part of this audience – read this blog for one specific reason: they want advice on how to write and publish a fiction novel.

I know plenty about great writing, and I definitely know about writing a great book, and while I sometimes post advice on better fiction writing right here on the blog, I haven’t yet created a Damn Fine Fiction writing course and likely never will. 

Writing fiction? Crafting a novel? Self-publishing? There are plenty of resources on how to write great fiction out there already, and they do a good job of it.

Today, I’d like to tell you about one of the best I’ve seen yet.

Write. Publish. Repeat.: The No-Luck Guide to Self-Publishing Success

Johnny B. Truant is a good friend of mine, and he knows writing inside and out. I know him from business circles, but a few years back, he began sliding away from his business ventures, because he wanted to write fiction.

In fact, Johnny had been wanting to write fiction for a long time – and he took time to do just that.

Johnny wrote fiction, applied all his savvy marketing to self-publishing, and delved into the inner workings of making self-publishing work. He’s been talking about self-publishing with his fellow self-publisher Sean Platt on the aptly-titled Self-Publishing Podcast for about a year now. (That’s a lot of self-publishing knowledge right there.)

Johnny’s made a fair amount of money self-publishing the several novels he churned out, and he’s been teaching others how to do the same on the podcast with Sean. They decided to compile everything they know about writing a fiction novel and self-publishing it in a giant 300+ page tome.

It’s called Write. Publish. Repeat., and it’s on sale for the next three days at $2.99. If you’ve been on this list wishing for my advice on writing a fiction novel, then this is it: I think this book is well worth it, and I’ll tell you why.

  • It’s smart. Johnny’s a bright guy. He gives straightforward advice with absolutely no messing around. He’s smart, and he thinks you’re smart, and he treats you like a capable adult with an interest in self-publishing. I like that, and I think you will too.
  • It doesn’t over-promise. You’re not going to become J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, and Johnny doesn’t pretend you will. He’s a big fan people making money for their hard work and wants to help teach you how, but he isn’t promising the moon and the stars. He’s promising what he can deliver.
  • It’s thorough. In the 300 pages, Johnny covers the current state of self-publishing, your place in it, how to get your work taken seriously, where to publish, what to charge, and how to market effectively. There’s no filler and lots of examples, and you’ll feel completely in control of your self-publishing career when you’re through.

Are there parts of it I didn’t like? Well, the intro part where everyone involved tells you who they are and what this book is about is a little long for my tastes, and since I knew Johnny and Sean, I skipped it completely. You might not, if you’ve never heard of either fellow, and that intro’s a good place to learn more about both of them.

But that’s about it. I read the book looking to measure whether it was useful, practical, applicable and helpful, and that it certainly was. The how-tos and advice are solid and plentiful, and most of it is the same advice I’d probably share if I’d written this book.

So if your dream is to write and publish your own fiction novel, and you’re not too sure how to go about it, you should probably grab this book and do what it tells you to do.

It’s on sale for $2.99 for the next three days, and you can get your copy here:

Write. Publish. Repeat.: The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success

That’s a digital version, though, so here’s the (more expensive) paperback version if you like the traditional way of reading a book best:

Write. Publish. Repeat.: The No-Luck Guide to Self-Publishing Success (paperback version)

If you do put this book to good use, publish your fiction novel, and see awesome results, let me know. I’d love to hear from you! And if you know of any other great fiction writing or self-publishing resources, let me know in the comments.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. Perfect timing James! Very glad you posted about this–it’s bound to be good. I haven’t been following Johnny and pals so much lately, which is a good thing because it means I’m busy writing. So I didn’t know about this. And I’ve finally got something seriously worthwhile from the recent 30-day month of writing madness aka NaNoWriMo, so this is something I need to look into. It’s sure to be super practical with all bases covered, knowing how Johnny is.

    Thanks! Off to buy…

    • Good to hear from you, Leah! You know, if you’re writing a lot, you really might dig our Self Publishing Podcast too. Although we have been told that we are “blokish.” 🙂

      • That’s funny as hell, and I’m sniggering, because where I come from, the French use “bloke” as an insult. I’m assuming that whomever told you that you were blokish meant… something else, eh?

      • Hey Johnny, just sneaking around in stealth mode, hovering on the edges. I subscribed to the podcast when you first started–it’s hilarious. I thought the blokish parts were the main point 😀 Just have to set aside some time to listen. Book looks good so far! I’m sure it’s going to be helpful.

    • Leah! You did NaNoWriMo? That’s awesome! Fiction? Or business book?

      • Hey James! Yep, did Nano–4th time I think. Got something very promising out of it though it needs a lot of work. Ship date is June ’14 or sooner; that’s why I got all excited when I saw this in my inbox–yay publishing ideas/help from Johnny. Fiction–that’s my background more than anything. Poetry, believe it or not 😀

  2. “Fiction novel”? Are you kidding me? That’s like saying “automobile car.”

    • Not really, Michael. Fiction is a literary genre that includes novels, and it also includes other forms such as short stories. So “fiction novel” specifies that we’re not referring to a short story, here.

      It’s more like saying “a race car” or “a luxury car”. Makes perfect sense!

      • Actually, you’re wrong on this one. Why? Because you can’t have a non-fiction novel. They don’t exist.

        The very definition of the word “novel” requires that the work be fiction. Also, a novel must be book length. So, the definition of the word novel rests combining three different definitions: story, book length, and fiction. Without all three of those, you don’t have a novel. You have something else.

        I.e. You’re back asswards on how novel relates to fiction. You can have fiction that isn’t a novel, but you can’t have novels that aren’t fiction.

        Why, yes, this is semantics. If you’re putting out advice about writing, you’d better be all about the semantics because guess what? Writers use semantics all the time. If you’re making such an amateur mistake as “fiction novel” and then trying to fob off the mistake with such lousy reasoning, then why should ANYONE listen to you? You’ve undermined your credibility with both the mistake and the complete misunderstanding of how semantics works.

        Wow, talk about double red flags…

        • Nylter, thanks so much for taking time out of your day just to come share your personal opinion with us, especially considering my entire life’s credibility hangs in the balance. Very kind of you to watch out for me like that! It’s truly people like you who strive to spread sunshine and joy to make the world a happier place.

          I’m pleased to report my credibility holds up just fine (thanks ever so much for checking). Unfortunately, it seems yours might be in question, though, and I thought I should return the kindness you’ve shown me and point out the error of your ways.

          You see, a novel can indeed be fiction, but not all novels are fiction. Some novels, for instance, are based on true stories.

          I agree with you on one thing: it’s worth being precise about such crucially important points – wouldn’t want to get tripped up in the semantics of it all (as some people so quickly do when they get excited about taking someone down a peg and get it all back-asswards.)

          Thanks for stopping by, and have a nice day!

          • No, novels are *by definition* fiction. It doesn’t matter if they are based on real events. This is important if you are querying agents, for instance, because many agents will immediately discard any query that says, “Here is my fiction novel for your consideration.” Ask one if you don’t believe me.

            And short stories are *short stories* so they don’t need to be differentiated from novels.

            This is important if you want to be taken seriously. If you use “fiction novel” you will not, at least in professional circles. A novel is a novel, period.

        • Nonfiction novels do exist, actually. 🙂

          • If you are writing a book like Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD, then you can specifically point out that it is creative non-fiction, or maybe get away with calling it a nonfiction novel (though saying it is a novel based on a true story does the same thing). But that is the rare exception. But using “fiction novel” will make you sound like a dolt. I don’t know why some people are getting so defensive about this, as I (and Nylter) are just trying to be helpful.

            • Doesn’t matter much to me. I don’t use either term, myself. But the fact remains that many people do. Google it. Second thing that comes up is an article in the NY Times. Then a shelf in Goodreads: Genres >
              Nonfiction Novel I’m just looking at facts.

            • In all honesty, had someone nicely said, “Hey James, I think you made a mistake. In the industry, we don’t say ‘fiction novel’,” then I likely would’ve said, “Ah, cool – thanks for letting me know. I’ve corrected that!” (I’m not – and have never professed to be – any kind of fiction/novel expert.)

              That wasn’t the case. The comments were condescending and rude, and implied I wasn’t a credible expert or serious about what I do. I took the time to look into whether I was using the term ‘fiction novel’ correctly or not, and there’s honestly too much conflicting into to say whether it’s right or wrong conclusively.

              Nor does this really matter, in the grand scheme of things. I wrote this post as a nice gesture to those interested in writing fiction as a “Hey, you might like this. Good stuff!”, and I chose the title based on what people are searching for on Google.

              Buy the book if you’d like. If you’re not interested, then don’t. I’m moving on from this discussing, because this is truly a waste of time.

              • Apologies if my initial reply came across as rude. I didn’t mean it to be, but I was surprised by the use of “fiction novel” on a blog about writing.

                And again, while you may find “fiction novel” via google, in the professional world of publishing, you would be best advised to not use that term or you will appear foolish. That was my point. It was what struck me even before I read the article (which I enjoyed). Best wishes, and apologies.

    • Congratulations, MIchael. Your never-ending quest to correct people has finally resulted in you being universally beloved. You can rest now.

  3. Thanks for sharing this James,

    I’ll add it to my must read list for 2014 I would assume the process is the same for non fiction right?

    • That’s a good question.

      I believe there are differences to writing fiction and non-fiction, but most of them are fairly subtle or complex to explain. There are a LOT of similarities, though – fiction writers create plots; non-fiction writers create outlines.

      The actual self-publication and marketing process are pretty much identical, and I think that’s likely where many people get tripped up. “Okay, I wrote a novel. NOW what?”

    • What James said. Kind of like, “The same, but not the same.” For nonfiction, it’s outline versus rough story beats if you plan; the order of presenting information matters more; it’s more objective and hence can be marketed and advertised differently; the title does more of the heavy lifting in positioning, etc. We do cover nonfiction in WPR, too.

  4. This looks promising! I’ve been writing a lot the last few months and self publishing is something I’m definitely considering, so… I’ll be clicking that link 😉

  5. What the hell on the “fiction novel” thing? I can understand spirited debate but there’s some seriously rude stuff here.


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