How to write a book

Doha author Johanna Handley shares her tips for getting published

How to write a book

Summer is the perfect time to get cracking on that novel you always meant to finish. Doha-based author Johanna Handley shares her top five tips for getting it published.

Have you written or are you thinking about writing a novel? Has writing always been a dream, something you know you’ll do someday? For me, living in Qatar allowed me to follow my writing dream. But publishing a novel is a difficult and slow process that can be confusing in the beginning. If you aren’t sure where to start, try these five tips.

Write something amazing
Hook your reader from the first page, the very first line if you can. Shower your characters with conflict, give them unsurmountable problems, make them struggle to achieve their goals. You want your reader to root for them and keep turning the pages to see if they succeed or fail.

This is the most important thing any writer can do to learn how to write. I always read books twice: once for pleasure and once to see how the author structured their story and drew their characters. Every book you read should teach you something.

Decide how you want to publish
Self-publishing (such as Amazon’s ‘Kindle Direct Publishing’) can be a great option. I always had my heart set on a traditional publisher. For me, there’s something fulfilling about a professional deciding your work is good enough to take on.

Find an agent
If you decide to publish traditionally, you need an agent. Look up literary agents in the country you want to publish in and check their submission guidelines. Usually they like to receive the first three chapters. If they like what they see, they’ll ask for the full manuscript. If they like that, congratulations, you’ve landed an agent!

Never give up
There isn’t a magic formula for writing a best-seller. I had eighteen rejections before getting the publishing deal I’d always wanted. If you’re passionate about writing, and you know this is what you want to do, then the most important thing is to never, ever give up on your dream.

Johanna Handley’s debut novel The Burning of Juniper Slaide is available now from

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