The Internet: Good for Debut Writers Since Forever

I received an email from the lovely Sam Eades (@SamEades) this week about Julia Crouch (@thatjuliacrouch), one of Headline's debut authors for Spring, who is proving that the internet really is opening up different routes to publishing.

Julia completed her debut Cuckoo, a psychological thriller, during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) the annual creative writing challenge which sees participants try and write 50,000 words between 12:00:01 on November 1st and 11:59:59, November 30.

So, whilst that might sound like some authors' worst nightmare, Crouch loved writing under pressure (with an online community behind her) so much that she will write her second novel during NaNoWriMo as well. As she says: “There is nothing like the focussed, online community of NaNoWriMo during November. If you have a question - for my first novel, I wanted to know a good restaurant in New York, where a very rich couple might dine on a regular evening meal - you can just ask a local group for the answer. Local meet ups were good, too - we were an odd assortment of strange obsessives, but we all had this one thing in common, and we understood.”

The internet and novel writing love-in didn't end there however- as draft in hand Crouch was then helped out by two publishing bloggers/gurus Nicola Morgan (@nicolamorgan) and Jane Smith (@hprw) who both offer offer advice to first time novelists on how to get published on their respective blogs: and

Crouch was subsequently picked up by Headline, who will publish Cuckoo on 3rd March, and I bet you can guess where Crouch tuned to get some friendly blurbs for her debut...that's right, Twitter. Striking up a twitter-ship with Erin Kelly (@mserinkelly), who's debut novel The Poison Tree was published by Hodder & Stoughton in July of last year, the pair swapped books and Kelly is now reading Cuckoo.

Definitely one story that goes against the myth that all online writer's community roads end in self-publishing.



Thank you for such a lovely article.

I should add – just in case anyone is worried that Headline bought a book that was written in a month – that I did spend the subsequent year editing it before I felt able to let anyone have a peek! I also got help with this – via the internet again – from the marvellous Jacqui Lofthouse (

At the beginning of 2009 I had a raft of first-draft projects (as well as Cuckoo there is another, earlier, Nanovel, not to mention reams of short stories, some children's books, etc.). There was so much unfinished work that I had no idea which way to turn. So, on the advice of a friend, I got monthly telephone coaching from Jacqui to help me focus on what was important. That's what gave me the confidence to give the whole of the year to moving Cuckoo into a submittable form.

And, of course, on Nicola and Jane's advice, I spent many hours online looking for the perfect agent for my work. I set my sights on Simon Trewin and, reader, he signed me.

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