Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Photo by Courtney White

How I Published a Novel at 16

When I was a freshman in high school, my honors English teacher had us participate in something called NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo stands for "National Novel Writing Month", which goes from November 1st to November 30th. You have the entire month of November to write a novel that’s 30,000 words. If you do the adult program (18+) it's an expected 50,000 words. It’s run through a website that tracks your daily word count and also sponsors daily info sessions from previous winners (anyone who makes it to the word count, whether the storyline is finished or not, is considered a winner). It’s a really awesome program that actually allows for some great networking opportunities.

When I did it in 2015, they offered anyone who won five free published copies of their books through an independent publishing agency called CreateSpace. This was super motivating for me.

I started writing stories when I was probably eight years old. This started as a couple of pieces of construction paper stapled together and I would write little stories. It grew from there to the point where I had 50-page stories when I was 12 and further when I finished writing my first book as a freshman in high school. 

When my teacher assigned this project, I fell in love with the idea. My classmates complained and some even cheated the 30,000-word requirement. But me? When I finished my novel it was closer to 35,000 words- nearly a hundred pages of a story I had created.

I was beyond excited. I also couldn't wait to publish it. I knew it needed to be edited and I knew I needed to let it sit before I could edit it. I gave it about two months before I even looked at the book again when I started to edit it.

When self-publishing, you do every aspect of it yourself. You edit it, you format the interior, and you design the cover. It's all on you. My favorite part is doing the cover. For this novel, I took a picture of myself, used my high school's photo lab to edit it on Photoshop and then plugged it into the preset cover template CreateSpace had to offer.

In mid-February of 2016, five copies of my novel came in the mail and I was beyond excited. I kept two for myself, gave one to my grandparents, gave one to my parents, and donated the last one to my high school. 

Since then, I’ve published three more novels (all of which were NaNoWriMo challenges so they were written and finished in 30 days), but I've written seven overall. In the middle of writing them, CreateSpace was bought by Amazon Direct Publishing. Now all of my novels are available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles website. To this day, it still makes me super excited to see them.  The last two I published, I went without the template designs and fell in love with graphic design so I created the covers from scratch. I love how they came out. 

I plan to publish some of my other stories and hope this is something I can do the rest of my life. There’s always time to write and I found my time on the bus, doctor office waiting rooms, while eating lunch, and whenever I had the chance. If it's something you truly love to do, you’ll find time for it.  

Courtney White

Montclair '22

Courtney is a senior at Montclair State University majoring in journalism and minoring in fashion. She is also working on a certificate for makeup artistry. Originally from a very small town in Northeast Pennsylvania, she plans to live in New York with career aspirations in the media or fashion industries
Similar Reads👯‍♀️