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How to (maybe) make millions writing a novel on your phone

A quick n’ easy guide to bashing out books on your phone or tablet, from downloading the right software to publishing them on Amazon’s Kindle Store.

It’s no real surprise that E.L. James smashed out large chunks of Fifty Shades of Grey on her humble Blackberry phone on the daily commute (which must’ve caused a few raised eyebrows for over-the-shoulder nosy parkers). It’s a great way to make use of this wasted time. And everyone knows that knocking out a novel is easy to do – after all, James had only been writing for a couple of years when the Fifty Shades series rocketed up the charts.

So, why shouldn’t the rest of us harvest a fortune by smashing out books on the go? Here’s how to get started on your road to authordom with just your phone or tablet.

Step One: Apps!

All you need to start churning out your best-seller is a word processing app. If you want to go old-school, check out Tom Hanks’ brilliant Hanx Writer, which mimics a typewriter complete with satisfying clacking sounds (although thankfully you can delete characters if you make a mistake).

On iOS and Windows you can also get busy with Microsoft Word, while Android has Microsoft Office Mobile.

Step Two: Idea!

Easy one, this. If you include at least two or three things from the following list, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a winner on your hands.

  • Slutty werewolves
  • Naked sweaty torsos
  • Bondage
  • A troubled, alcoholic detective
  • Someone who’s gone missing
  • A posh, well-off protagonist who has never apparently worked a day in their lives and yet still spends all of his/her time pondering how unfair and bleak existence is.

For bonus fan love, try combining some of the items. For instance, if your main character is a bondage-loving slutty werewolf who also happens to be a troubled, alcoholic detective, then you’re quids in.

A good way of structuring your story is with an app such as A Novel Idea (Free, iOS), which allows you to track all of your characters and the different sub-plots. And if you’re still struggling for a plot, you can download apps such as Story Plot Generator (Free, Android) which can do the hard job for you.


Step Three: Write!

Every time you’ve got a spare five minutes, whip out your phone – but instead of playing Candy Crush, open your word processor and tap out a paragraph or two. If your writing speed isn’t as nippy as you’d like, try downloading a different keyboard for your mobile. Swype takes some getting used to, but it’s one of the best around after you condition yourself to not lift your finger from the screen.

Step Four: Publish!

The easiest way to get published is to sign up for Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, which is completely free and surprisingly straight-forward to use.

Just sign into with your Amazon ID and you’ll be presented with your own dashboard, which allows you to publish a book, set its price in individual countries and keep tabs on how well it’s selling. Your book should pop up on Amazon’s Kindle Store just a few hours after you hit the ‘publish’ button, so your new adoring fans can buy it.

Check out Amazon’s KDP ‘How to Publish’ guide for more info on the process, and best of luck to you. Sadly, very few of us ever attain E.L. James levels of popularity, and a study by Digital Book World this year revealed that almost a third of published authors make less than £350 a year from their work. So maybe don’t quit the day job just yet.


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