Step 1. Let your mind carry you away with a crazy idea for cooking up a brilliant story. Stay up half the night writing it down.
Step 2. Add main ingredients: setting, plot ideas and a few main characters.
Step 3. Stir in some conflict, minor characters and a couple of subplots.
Step 4. Spice everything up with up with an original title. Change your mind 5 or 10 times. Return to your first title.
Step 5. Outline the story into individual chapters. Blend in help from a writing coach or editor (if you’re a novice).
Step 6. Turn up the heat: Write, write, write. When you’re not eating or sleeping, write. Ideas in the middle of the night? – Write!
Step 7. Lower the heat: Edit, edit, edit. Turn up the heat: More editing.
Step 8. Mash up what you’ve created by writing a second draft.
Step 9. Repeat steps 6. And 7.
Step 10. Submit manuscript to publishers. Allow it to simmer a while. Get rejections.
Step 11. Consider adding a huge dollop of self-publishing, read all about it. Forget that idea. Submit to literary agents.
Step 12. More rejections. Reduce heat: Edit some more. Receive standard rejections from literary agents. Stir in some more publisher submissions.
Step 14. Novel rises: Gain some interest from a couple of major publishers. Get all excited…only to get rejected. Author deflates.
Step 15. Feel dejected, throw in the towel and ditch the idea altogether. Feel like a fool. Pursue other projects and forget about the whole thing.
Step 16. Just as you’re getting on with your life and other interests, receive an unexpected email from a publisher offering a contract.
Step 17. Stir up some major panic. This is really happening! More final edits, proofreading, self doubt and thoughts of disbelief.
Step 17. Frantically create more than 20 different possible blurbs for the back cover. Eventually select the final version you write.
Step 18. Add the finishing touches: Liaise with the publisher. Manage to whisk away a few more minor errors or typos. Finalise proof. Breathe a sigh of relief.
Step 19. Bake at 180 degrees: Leave it in the hands of the publisher and printer.
Step 20. Remove from oven: See the finished product on Amazon and the publisher’s website. Inhale and admire the finished product. Congratulations, you just baked yourself a novel! Maybe it took three years, but hey – who said this was an easy recipe?!
(UK readers, find my novel here)
Note: Someone just pointed out that there are two Step 17s! Which proves again the importance of Step 7. I never said that I was any good with numbers 😉 …