top of page

Hard Knock Write: Lessons Learned From A #1 Amazon Bestselling Author by Andrew Brandt

Today I would like to welcome guest writer, Andrew Brandt. Enjoy!


Sitting down to write a novel is an incredibly solitary experience.

First, you hole yourself away. Either truly, by going to an empty room and shutting the door or in public by drowning out the din of the outside world with a pair of headphones pumping through some music and you sit there with your thoughts and make things up as you write it down. There’s no one else there to collaborate with; it’s the images and situations in your imagination that become real as you type it out.

Then, months later, you come out of whatever cave you’ve been living in and present this thing to the world. All of sudden, it’s no longer a solitary experience. Suddenly, it’s a very open experience. People can see this thing that you created, to see how your brain works. That can be scary. It is scary.

It’s something I’ve done four times now, and each time it scares and excites me. My first book The Treehouse, which went on to become a #1 young adult bestseller on Amazon, was as much a science experiment as it was a book. I had always wanted to write, always felt like I had a book in me. With a dozen start-stop stories on my laptop, I never finished one, until I finished The Treehouse. Now with four books under my belt, I’ve learned a few things along the way:

It’s never complete.

You write a first draft, you read it, fix some errors, maybe change characters, scenes or entire chapters. Some things get disregarded completely, thrown into the trash heap of editing. Then, you send it off for editing. And it comes back to you, and you make more changes. Then, you send it off to beta readers, and they make suggestions and you edit again. You can do this ad infinitum, but the point is — you will always find something that could have been different or find little things you’d like to change. Even now, I still think about The Treehouse and some things I could have done differently. But you know what? It still sold, and readers still love it, as is. Understand that it’s never done, but you’ve got to release it eventually.

Focus on characters and situation

There are a multitude of books out there that claim to be “the only book writing tool you need” and most of them — such as Save the Cat! Writes a Novel — focus on plot and story structure. but I’m here to squash that bug. You need a lot of tools and the most important of those tools are these: character and situation. Plot is a tool best reserved for bad writers. Your characters, the situation they are placed in, and how you write them out of that situation should be what drives your story, not a paint-by-numbers plot.

It’s hard

Writing a book is hard, but it’s also a lot of fun. I love the idea that something that once resided only in your head can make its way out and into the heads of other people. One of the things that I’ve started doing to help alleviate some of the stress is to write by hand. Using a fountain pen and a Leuchtturm1917 notebook, I love seeing the pages fill up. It’s this real, tangible thing that isn’t reflected when you’re just typing on a screen. You can grab a chunk of pages and say, “wow, I really accomplished something.” Give it a try as well.



I grew up in a library. My grandmother was a librarian and I spent an inordinate amount of time among books as a child. I graduated from West Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s degree in General Studies (history and english). My first book The Treehouse was released in 2018 and became a #1 bestseller on Amazon.



bottom of page