What it’s like being a debut novelist at Pan Macmillan / Harper Collins / Momentum Books / Indie Publishing. Part 2…

Welcome to Part 2 of my blog series asking: what’s it like being a debut novelist? I love writing, publishing, and winning competitions with all my short stories… Still when I go to sleep at night, I dream about the day my novels will be read by, you know, readers – and not just sat on my computer! But will the reality of becoming a debut novelist actually live up to my expectations?

To find out I asked five authors – all with debut novels releasing either this year or early next year. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring their answers here. So if you want to know what it’s really like to be a debut author these days too, read on!

In my first post, I interviewed Nina D’Aleo about her experiences with Momentum Books. Read her answers here. Now it’s Susanna Freymark’s turn…

Part Two: Susanna Freymark

Susanna’s novel Losing February will be released next February. Yay – congratulations Susanna!

Susanna Freymark

Novel: Losing February

Release date: February 2013

Published through: Pan Macmillan

One-sentence description: A story about love, loss and bad sex.

Hi Susanna, and thanks for taking part in this series… Now let’s get stuck in!

1.    Most of the debut authors I know always look tired. What’s been the hardest part of getting your novel ready for its release?

The hardest part? Believing in yourself and ignoring the insecure but persistent voice in your head that keeps saying you’re no good. I’m a big believer of fake it until you make it. Keep writing no matter what.

 2.    When I hear debut authors talking about their publishing experience, they often sound relieved. Maybe you could share your timeline with us?

a.     When did you first conceive the concept for your novel?

In 2008 on a ferry trip across Sydney Harbour. The opening scene flashed before me like a movie and wouldn’t go away. So I wrote it down.

b.    How long did it take you to learn the craft of novel writing?

Learning the craft of novel writing is ongoing. Doing a Masters in Writing at UTS helped because I had support from some wonderful writers including Debra Adelaide, Rosie Scott and Jean Bedford.

c.     How long from final polish to publication?

5 years.

3.    How many other publishing options did you explore before embarking on this particular one?

I had entered the story in a Varuna scholarship and was short listed. Then on a whim really, I submitted the first chapter into Pan’s Manuscript Mondays and got a call back for more chapters.

4.    What’s been the easiest part of the process for you?

Sitting at my desk, music blaring and losing myself in writing. I love it. It is my ‘me’ time.

5.    Apart from editing your manuscript until your eyes bleed, what else have you needed to do towards publishing your novel? Read and sign legal contracts? Write and approve marketing materials?

I am about to embark on the blue line edit which writer friends have warned me about, the publisher’s editor puts a blue line through anything they want changed. I’m doing this now. Fortunately, as a journalist, I like editing.

Best thing I ever did to take away the stress was to get an agent. She took care of everything while I wrote.

6.    What promotional activities do you have planned to help launch your novel?

Blogging, sending books to reviewers who blog around the world, setting up a website, visiting book groups, libraries, putting my name down for writers festivals, etc.

7.    What aspects have you found most difficult this time around, which you don’t anticipate will be so tricky next time you publish a novel?

I’ll know the process next time and I’ll be building on what I have rather than starting new. This is my first-born and everything is new.

8.    Which leads me to ask what’s next? What will be your next writing project and how long will it be before its ready for the world?

I have half a manuscript of a first under-the-bed novel I’d like to revisit called Drowning On The Way Home. And my third novel Forgiving Hitler is in my head knocking at the door. Basically it is very busy inside my mind.

9.    Finally, if you had just one piece of advice for those of us still out here waiting to have our brilliant debut novels published, what would it be?

Never, never, never give up.

Thank you, Susanna!

Next time, I’ll be asking Kylie Scott, a soon-to-be-debut novelist with Momentum Books, about her experiences. Will her answers be similar or different to fellow Momentum novelist Nina D’Aleo, who I interviewed in Part 1? And what about when I ask a self-published novelist about their debut experience? If you don’t want to miss out, either subscribe using the ‘More Please’ widget above, or just keep your eye on Facebook or Twitter 🙂

In the meantime, what did you find most surprising about Susanna’s answers, and which answers were exactly as you expected? Let me know in the comments below!

Zena Shapter

I write from a castle in a flying city hidden by a thundercloud. #Ditmar Award-winning author. Movie buff. Traveller. Wine lover. Story nerd. Book Creator & Mentor. Founder & leader of the award-winning Northern Beaches Writers' Group / ZF Kingbolt.


  1. I think what Susanna said made a lot of sense. Just kidding, I make no sense at all, even to myself. Thank you Zena for thinking of me in your new author profiles. I am sure I will know a lot more AFTER Losing February is published.

    • You’re welcome, Susanna! And you make plenty of sense 🙂

      It’s just so fascinating to compare the different answers I’m getting to the same questions – as well as the similarities. Did you notice that you and Nina gave the exact same answer for one of the questions…

  2. Congratulations, Susanna! I was so pleased to see that you were next in line in this series, and I look forward to reading the book next year.


  3. Great answers – interesting to see how another first-timer is feeling! Congrats Susanna!

  4. Pingback: What it’s like being a debut novelist at Pan Macmillan / Harper Collins / Momentum Books / Indie Publishing. Part 3… | Zena Shapter

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