Monday, 10 October 2011

How I Published My Novel by Rachel Tsoumbakos

(Image source: volusion ecommerce)

Three years ago, I came across a book in my local library: ‘No Plot? No Problem.’ Little did I know it, but my NaNoWriMo journey had started.

That first year I signed up to the National Novel Writing website with excitement - after all, I was about to write a best seller. In a month’s time people would be banging down the door to publish it. I picked a username and a profile picture and then I got scared. I had a novel idea plotted out. What I was worried about, however, was the finish line. Not the thirty day deadline, but the end of my novel.

You see, I am pretty good at starting novels, but had never finished one. Ever.

So that first year came and went without a word being written. Every day I checked in and read about everyone else’s progress. Each day I became more disgusted with myself. Next year would be different, I told myself.

A whole year went by. I didn’t really think about NaNoWriMo until the following October when I borrowed that same book from the same library for a second time. I tried a slightly different approach this year though - I jumped blindly over the edge of October and hit the ground of November 1st running.

I had no plot. I also had a major dancing competition in December. There was little time to spare. Having just finished reading ‘Twilight,’ I decided vampires would be my genre; after all, everyone was writing about them. I announced on Facebook that I was writing a novel in a month. And guess what? There was no choice but to finish it now.

With the threat of public humiliation, I actually finished the novel three days early. I also came second in Australia for my dancing level.

The second year was easier. I had a plan for the storyline growing. It had been blossoming in my head for several months. I wanted to see what would happen when I had both a plot and motivation (read: public humiliation again via Facebook).

What happened was magic.

The first day I sat down and poured my heart out onto my keyboard. I wrote for twenty five days straight. Some days only amassing 500 words, and others over 3,000. On the twenty sixth day, I started to wonder if this story would ever get finished. I had hit 50,000 words early and there was no finish line in sight. Worry set in. Not only do I believe you should reach the word count quota, but the story should also have a beginning, middle, and end.

What did I do? I set up a song list on my media player filled with both inspiring (think Amazing by George Michael) as well as scary (Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nail singing Like a Virgin) and wrote over 5,000 words in one sitting.

So, my story got finished - then what?

I gave myself a month off before editing. Along the way I started to send out feelers on Facebook. Other authors were doing the same thing. I entered my manuscript in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards (ABNA). More discussion ensued there. Along the way, I got dropped from ABNA on the first round, but made a random comment on a Facebook friend’s page about how I was interested in self-publishing. That comment received another from a woman called Alison De Luca who was signed with Fantasy Island Book Publishing. She suggested that I submit my manuscript to her publishing house.

Fantasy Island Book Publishing is a new form of publishing. You could call it co-operative publishing. Each author can involve themselves as little or as much in the whole publishing process. If you have no idea how to design a cover, then someone else will step in and help out. If you want to give book trailer videos a go, then great. It is an individual process. Personally, it has given me a greater satisfaction than if I had just handed over my manuscript to a bigger publisher and therefore ending my creative input there.

The rest, as they so often say in the movies, is history!

Now tell me your stories! Ever published your NaNo novel? Ever tried to? What are your plans after the finish line? If I can do this, you can too!!!

Rachel was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1974. She has worked in several different areas including hairdressing and banking. Currently she is a stay home mother of two. Besides writing, she enjoys living a sustainable lifestyle by growing edible plants and raising chickens in her suburban backyard. Emeline and the Mutants is her first novel, and she is currently editing her new work, Indiana Meets A Vampire.

Rachel is active on Twitter (@mrszoomby), and you can find her on Facebook. Her main character, Emeline Hart also has a Facebook following. Rachel can also be found on Google+. Her NaNoWriMo username is barefootgardener. 


  1. Great story, Rachel! Very inspirational. I haven't published any of my Nanowrimo novels, if only because the first two were a huge mess and the next two needed a lot of TLC to be ready. I can toss aside my perfectionism during Nanowrimo, but afterward is a different story.

  2. I hear that Water for Elephants was a NaNo novel.

    Thanks for sharing your story. :)

  3. I'm actually still working on editing my NaNo from last year, but I really want to get it published and would love to talk more about it!! Are you competing again this year?

  4. You can? I can never toss mine aside. Usually I'm the one being tossed. :P

  5. Only for 30 days at a time. The rest of the year it's in full effect.

  6. Yeap, that's the most well-known example. I just found one called The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. I image that would be a hoot to write for NaNo! In any case, I'm sure Sara Gruen's work is better than the movie...

  7. So inspiring! Good luck with this year's challenge. I hope one day I can have the same success!

  8. I haven't seen the movie version, but the book was very well written. A great story.

  9. I'm glad you found a publishing route that was satisfying for you. :3 As for myself, I will not publish unless it's traditionally. That's just how I've always envisioned it happening; it's the right route for me.

  10. Yes, I am competing this year, feel free to buddy me at NaNoWriMo, my username is 'barefootgardener'

  11. My very first NaNoWriMo is still patiently waiting to have its guts ripped out:-/ It was a good idea, but it STILL needs so much work :-(

  12. I had always thought that too Lauren, but I find I am having so much fun dabbling in all aspects of the publishing game :-D

  13. Are you competing this year Angie? Let me know, and we can buddy up :-D