What It “Really” Takes to Write and Publish a Novel

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Please give a big welcome to Kate. M Colby. This rad gal is an amazingly talented writer!  I am excited to be hosting one of her articles in honour of her newly released book, The Cogsmith’s Daughter. You need to go check this gal out ASAP and snap up a copy.

I had the privileged of Beta-reading The Cogsmith’s Daughter for Kate early in her process. Her world building is beautiful and her characters are dynamic. You can’t help getting sucked in.  I’m enjoying it just as much (ok, more!) the second time. It’s amazing to see how the work has changed from rough draft to a polished, professional, novel.

As an aspiring author myself I wanted some truth bombs straight from the horse’s mouth. Kate has graciously given us an inside look at what it really takes to publish a novel.

AP Fiction Book CoversKate M. Colby is an author of cross-genre fiction and creative nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk dystopian novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children. You can learn more about Kate and her books on her website: www.KateMColby.com.

Writing a novel goes something like this: you lock the door behind you, stay hidden away for hours, and then get to “The End.” As your fingers leave the keyboard, an envelope slips under your door. You hesitantly open it and confetti flutters out. You read the letter, which warmly welcomes you to “the club.” Elated, you call your agent or go online, and your book is published. Then, you rush to your closet, put on your snazziest outfit, and head to “the club.” There, you are greeted with corks popping and overflowing champagne bottles. Your favorite music blasts from the speakers and your favorite authors applaud you as you walk toward the stage. Once onstage, the ghost of Dickens descends and hands you a beautiful, hardback copy of your novel. He claps you on the back and says, “Good show, mate. You’re one of us now.”

Okay, okay. Where did I lose you? The ghost part, right?

Unfortunately, writing and publishing a novel is not that easy, nor that grand, but a lot of aspiring authors seem to think it is. Before I wrote my first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter, I know I did. I thought I could just sit down at the keyboard with nothing but an itch and emerge with a perfect specimen of American literature only a few hours later. And yes, I thought that magic would warrant something akin to a Hogwarts letter, finally letting me into “the club,” where I would receive the rest of the authorial secrets from the greats who wrote before me.

All aspiring authors are looking for that secret. And now that I’m in “the club,” I can share it with you. The secret, that one tiny, crucial ingredient that you need to finally write your novel?

It’s you.

You are the only thing stopping you from writing your novel and the only thing that will make it happen. All you have to do is A) decide you’re ready to write your novel and B) do everything required to write it.

Now, I know a lot of you are reading this and thinking, “Yeah, thanks, Kate. I already know that. It’s just so hard!”

And yeah, it is hard. Writing a novel actually kind of sucks. Don’t worry, I’m not getting all starving artist on you here, but it is a lot of work and requires a lot of sacrifice.

For those of you who are looking for something more concrete, the “facts and figures” folks out there, here is what it really took me to write a novel. For the record, I independently published. If you got the traditional route, you’ll be trading all the formatting/cover design/uploading time for querying agents and negotiating contracts.

Task — Total duration of stage (not including time waiting on others) | Actual working time

First draft — 30 days | 56 hours

Real cost: Heading straight to the keyboard after dinner, missing out on my favorite TV shows and time with my husband

Editing — 26 days | 11 hours

Real cost: Self-loathing and guilt over procrastination, facing the fact that my writing isn’t perfect

Revising — 1.5 months | 22 hours

Real cost: More guilt over procrastination, killing darling after darling in search of betterment

Content Editing — 30 days | 36 hours

Real cost: More late nights after my day job, knowing that a professional read my work and saw major room for improvement, and several dollar signs, too

Line Editing (Round 1) — 29 days | 18 hours

Real cost: Letting yet another professional pick at my brainchild, giving up my weekends for writing, realizing that I have only half the grasp on grammar I thought I did, more cash

Line Editing (Round 2) — 11 days | 9.5 hours

Real cost: Forcing myself to analyze and justify the existence of every single word in my novelThe Cogsmith's Daughter - Ebook Small

Proofreading (Round 1) — 1 day | 2 hours

Real cost: Having a third professional be as finicky as possible about my work, looking over the changes and realizing that I absolutely must be blind to have missed some of those errors after so many drafts

Proofreading (Round 2) — 2 days | 10 hours

Real cost: My sanity, the slow, creeping fear that there are dozens more errors lurking around every page, just waiting for a reader to discover them

Formatting — 1.5 months | 6 hours

Real cost: Grappling with technology, tedium

Cover design — 22 days | 1.75 hours

Real cost: Figuring out how to express my work in a new medium, trusting another person not to screw it up, more dollars

Proofreading (Round 3) — 13 days | 10 hours

Real cost: The horrible realization that there are still errors in my work, and the even more terrifying realization that there always will be, the necessary death of perfectionism

Uploading/Distribution — 30 days | 11 hours

Real cost: Knowing that others are about to read my work, wasting time obsessively checking that all the files are perfect and re-uploading them after the third proofread

Total Book Production Time — 11.5 months (from first draft to publication) | 133 hours

And I haven’t even calculated all the hours I’ve spent marketing, blogging, and researching how to make this all happen—but I guarantee I’ve spent just as much (if not more) time on those tasks.

All of this was a very detailed, long-winded way of saying: All it really takes to write and publish a novel is you. You just have to be willing to put in literally hundreds of hours to write, research, and produce your book. Make up your mind to do it, then actually do it, one step at a time.

There may not be a letter waiting for you at the end, or a huge party in a secret clubhouse. But there is accomplishment, pride, and joy from within—and from family and friends. There’s also 5-star reviews from readers who “get” your work and can’t wait to read more. Trust me, writing and publishing a novel is worth it—you’ve just got to work for it.

If you’d like to read the results of my labor, you can enter my Goodreads giveaway for your chance to win one of three signed copies of The Cogsmith’s Daughter HERE.

Don’t like leaving things to chance? Me either. You can purchase your copy of The Cogsmith’s Daughter at any of these online retailers:

Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, etc.

Barnes & Noble




The Cogsmith's Daughter - 3D


Two-hundred years ago, the steam-powered world experienced an apocalyptic flood. When the waters dried up, the survivors settled around their steamship in a wasteland they named Desertera. Believing the flood and drought were caused by a scorned goddess, the monarchs demanded execution for anyone who commits the unforgivable sin—adultery.


Today, King Archon entraps his wives in the crime of adultery, executing each boring bride to pursue his next infatuation. Most nobles overlook King Archon’s behavior, but when Lord Varick’s daughter falls victim to the king’s schemes, he vows revenge.


When Aya Cogsmith was a young girl, King Archon had her father executed for treason. Orphaned and forced to turn to prostitution for survival, Aya dreams of avenging her father’s death. When Lord Varick approaches Aya with plans for vengeance, she agrees to play the king’s seductress—even though it puts her at risk for execution.

Packed with high-society intrigue, dappled with seduction, and driven by revenge, The Cogsmith’s Daughter is a steampunk dystopian novel with the perfect mixture of conspiracy and romance.

21 thoughts on “What It “Really” Takes to Write and Publish a Novel

  1. I’ve recently self published and was so chuffed and pleased when I finally finished the writing after months of trying to cram in the time.. little did I know how much time would be spent editing/re-editing. Would strongly advise getting as many extra pairs of eyes as possible to read your book even if it means giving it away for free, because I personally reached that stage where I had read every word so many times that I was reading what I expected to see rather than what was actually there

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: What It “Really” Takes to Write and Publish a Novel | Welcome to Stan's world!

  3. Pingback: The Cogsmith’s Daughter Book Launch Blog Tour Recap | Kate M. Colby

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