Interview: Meet the Co-founder of Now Novel, a Platform Making it Easy for Anyone to Become a Writer

Brendan McNulty of Now Novel

The idea of being an author is a big dream for a lot of people.

Having to get people to read your thoughts, get your name printed on a book that will stay alive and keep your memory alive forever is definitely something to desire.

But for a good number of wannabe authors, it remains just a dream as they don’t have an idea of how to begin or stay through to the end till the dream comes to life.

This dream is what Now Novel is making a reality for people across the world through its innovative approach.

In this interview with Brendan McNulty, co-founder of Now Novel he shared more insights into how they are making it easy for anyone to write a book.

Now Novel

Tell us a little about yourself

I have a focus on consumer based internet applications, mostly on the marketing side. I worked in games in South Africa and the Netherlands and online dieting in Ireland and the UK.

I’ve done a lot of consulting on conversion rate optimization (mostly for eCommerce companies) which gives me a customer research and testing focus.

Understanding visitor motivation is the most interesting part of working online for me. That and trying to create a product which fulfills their requirements and testing and validating whether it works. I’m currently working on 2 major startups; Now Novel and DIYLegal (diylegal.co.za) which gives well priced legal services.

Tell us about Now Novel and the solutions you provide

Now Novel is an online novel writing course. The main challenges we help writers with are starting their novels, developing them further and learning the craft of writing.

The Now Novel process is a question and answer process to help people develop the outline of their novel.

They can get a coach to help them with their writing, someone to hold them accountable to their goals, be a sounding board and get help from someone who has been there before (our coaches have all written books or teach writing or a combination of the two)

What inspired the idea for it?

My sister published books in South Africa and the US, and people kept on asking her how she did it. I did some further research into potential customers and found there was a demand and few solutions that aided. This was the beginning of Now Novel.

How does the platform work?

It’s a freemium service so you can create your core idea and a character for free. From there its a subscription-based service for access to the platform.

Video courses are paid for individually (or are part of our highest coaching package). There are groups to partner with other writers and a critique section to get feedback on your writing. We publish articles about the art and craft of novel writing twice a week.

What makes Now Novel different from other online writing aids?

Our customers say that it’s easy and motivational. We agree with them 🙂

How has the response been from writers and aspiring writers since launch?

Pretty good. Google hasn’t offered to buy us (yet), but we have 400k unique users a month visiting our blog, and we continue to add more paying customers each day.

Most of our visitors come from the US and UK so our seasonality tends to be opposite to the southern hemisphere. COVID-19 has been helpful as people are stuck inside and so its a good time to finally write your book.

What has been your most exciting moment since you started running Now Novel?

The first person who wrote and published a book through us: we helped them start, finish, edit, design a cover and prepare the book.

That was a great accomplishment helping someone see their dream from beginning to end.

What’s the one writing tip every writer should remember when working on a novel?

Your first draft is going to be rubbish. Don’t be tempted to go and edit whilst you’re writing as you’ll be stuck in an infinite loop. 

Anne Lamotte (who wrote “Bird by Bird”) has this theory of “shitty first drafts”. You need to write your first draft and be embarrassed by it, and then you can polish it to something better.

From your experience as an entrepreneur, what advice would you give young African entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

Three major things:

The more you focus on your customer the better you can create something that will work for them

Be a cockroach, it’s a long game and by surviving you’ll stand in better stead of succeeding

Content marketing (and SEO) helps to create an audience that continues to interact over time. Invest in it.

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