You’ve never written a book before, but you have an idea for a great romantic comedy novel. You pitch it to Simon and Schuster, and against all odds - THEY SIGN YOU! The twist? You have five months to write it - to make the publishing date. This was us at the start of last year. We were deers in the headlights when it came to the wonderful world of publishing. We had no idea what we were doing or how we were going to tackle this deadline. The only thing we did know? We just had to get this quirky love story out of our brain and onto paper.

Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus co-authored The Book Ninja - out now!

Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus co-authored The Book Ninja - out now!

Get a best friend to write with

We co-authored The Book Ninja (we’re also co-authoring this article together as we speak). This meant, not only could we cut the word count in half (45,000 words is so much more achievable than 90,000), but we could also step in when the other one was busy or suffering from ‘writer’s block’. In the period that we wrote our book, Ali got married (and Michelle’s bridesmaid duty was to write, write and write). Michelle is also a primary school teacher - and during her report writing, Ali helped out with big chunks of writing.

Be extra-organised

Did somebody say Excel Spreadsheet? Yep, you’re going to need to keep yourself accountable. The first thing we did was map out how many words we would need to write a week to make the 90,000 word count. This also meant bumping up certain weeks to allow for ample editing time. Most of the time, we were writing approximately 2,000 words each a week. There were, however, some weeks where we would need to write 3-4,000 words to keep up. There are also bound to be life and editing interruptions, so giving yourself a bit of leeway at the end, helps take the risk out of things.

Get advice

Showing your writing to people can be all kinds of daunting. Writing is so very personal and us authors tend to be very critical of ourselves. But, finding two or three different heads to look over your writing is beyond helpful. At just over the halfway mark, we asked our dear friends and talented authors Sharon Krum and Davina Bell for their insights. Their advice on plot and characterisation was a key part of refining our first draft.

Don't take it personally

Writing with another person requires regular compromise and editing of each other’s work. We are both big ‘people pleasers’. We hate confrontation, saying no, risking taking offence or stepping on anybody’s toes. So, it took a little time to get comfortable with the co-authored creative process. Developing trust in and respect for your co-author is crucial. Supporting each other, nutting out ideas and dishing / taking on feedback in a safe, open way are big parts of it. And, most importantly, have fun while doing it! Don’t take yourself too seriously and give into the joy of building a world with somebody with whom you love and can laugh. It certainly makes it such a hilarious and enjoyable process.

Take breaks

Creating is draining! Throw planning a wedding, moving house, starting a business, and dealing with a class of very, ahem, vivacious seven year-olds and, not to mention, making time for friends and family into the mix and you end up burning out. Quickly. Switching off is often just as important as the actual writing part.


The Book Ninja: Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person. It’s not that she hasn’t tried – Frankie is the queen of online dating. But she has had enough. With the help of her best friend and colleague Cat, Frankie decides to embark on the ultimate dating experiment. Inspired by her surroundings at The Little BrunswickBookshop where she works, Frankie places her hope in her favouritebooks to find her the perfect man. Secretly planting copies on trains, trams and buses, Frankie hopes to find the man of her dreams through a mutual love of good books. The only flaw to the plan? That she may never get her books back!

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