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How to write your first novel – top tips from author Josie Goodbody

Josie Goodbody is author of a series of three books chronicling the trials and tribulations of Jemima Fox; a jewellery PR turned jewellery detective. She is currently writing her fourth novel in the series – set in Paris.

Josie has a vast knowledge of the jewellery industry from her time as PR Director of Graff and compiling the De Beers Group online Diamond Foundation Course and working for many other jewellery brands.

Her books are edge of your seat thrillers interwoven with historically accurate stories of the most famous jewels in the world, and the women who wore them.

See Josie on our IGTV channel where you can tune in and listen to her talk about how her writing journey has developed and be inspired for your writing aspirations.

Below are her top tips for anyone considering writing that first novel…

1. Love reading; learn to love story telling

2. Be really passionate about what you write about. Start with a subject that you know inside out. You need to be the expert about your content. It’s quite lonely writing a book, so your need to love your content, as it is this that will get you through writer’s block.

3. In the same vein write from the heart, your book may be autobiographic – at the beginning set it in locations that you know really well; it’s easier to imagine your chapter if you have actually been to where it takes place.

4. Have confidence and perseverance in equal measure.

5. Write as though you are reading an ‘unput’-downable book! Try not to take time out from writing (as in a week or so), as it will take you time and a lot of energy to get back into the flow, just like it can do when you have a break from a particular book – no matter how good it is. The best is to try to do a bit everyday.

6. Don’t be shy to self-publish, it’s not a sign of failure, Charles Dickens self-published first of all; BUT you have to be professional. Even if you are self-publishing, make sure that it is properly edited and looks like something you’d buy off the shelves. I self-published because I was so worried that agents wouldn’t like my hard work – now I have an amazing agent.

7. There are people all over the world who can help you with this, but make sure that you find the right fit for you.

8. Get a fantastic cover designed: this will be your calling card when it is up on Amazon. For example, I got the gouache of the sapphire earring on the cover of my latest novel designed by a girl in Korea for $100. And the whole book proofread for $250. We’re going to be saving a ton of money now that we can’t go out for cocktails – spend the time and money you’d spend on that, on your first book.

9. Even with self-publishing your book becomes a group effort, and this gives you the confidence to go to the next level. But you MUST listen to advice – don’t be so arrogant that you won’t follow what your editor suggests.

10. If you are struggling to get going, write a short story using all of your characters. Bring them to life on paper and for yourself,; but make it brief and manageable.

11. For longer novels, planning is everything. Have a framework, you don’t need to stick to it, but better to have a plan that changes than no plan at all and then you’re stuck after 40k words!

12. Have a self-imposed routine, this isolation period is a great time for us to reassess our lifestyle and motivations. Even if you only allocate the time that you might usually have used for your commute. Perhaps you write between 8am and 9am and then 6pm and 7pm.