Review: How to Write a Novel Course by Joanna Penn

want to finally write that novel?

Do you dream of one day writing a novel, and maybe even seeing it published? 

We’ve been following the best-selling author and writing expert, Joanna Penn, for over a year now and listening to her fantastic podcasts.

Not only does she know what she’s talking about with 12 best-selling novels generating a six-figure income, but her natural enthusiasm also helps you to believe that YOU can do this too.

And she has created an online course to show you how.

In her How to Write a Novel course, Joanna takes you step-by-step through everything she’s learned along the way so you can shortcut the process and write your first book. 

We were delighted to be given the opportunity to access her How to Write a Novel course so that we could review it for you.

In this review, we’re going to take an in-depth look at her course including the module contents, the format, and the teaching style, so that you can see if it’s the catalyst you’ve been waiting for.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

copyright: joanna penn

who is joanna penn?

Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers as J. F. Penn, as well as bestselling non-fiction for authors.

She’s also an entrepreneur who earns a six-figure income from her writing through book sales in an incredible 74 countries and five languages.

As an independent (indie) author, Joanna believes that you don’t need a publisher in this digital age to sell your books to a global market – you just need the right information to learn how to do it yourself.

That’s why she’s created the How to Write a Novel course.


what is the course about?

A few years ago, Joanna Penn dreamed of writing a novel. Fast forward to now and she’s written 12 bestselling novels, so it’s clear that Joanna is the right person to teach us her ways.

How to Write a Novel gives you a step-by-step guide to understanding story structure and the elements of a novel, writing and editing your manuscript, and the various publication options.

Joanna explains that one of the fundamental principles of this course is that the craft of writing is like an iceberg: when you start learning about writing, there’s so much information under the surface, but you don’t need to know everything there is to know to write a great novel.

Even the greats say that they’re still learning and still discovering, so you don’t need to wait until you’re an expert before you get started.

This course cuts through the noise and gives you what you need to know in order to get that novel written.

who is this course for?

According to a survey conducted by The Association of American Publishers, 82% of people want to write a book, but only a tiny fraction of them go on to actually write one.

By the end of this course, you’ll be one of those people who actually gets their work out into the world.

This course is for you if…

  • You dream of writing a novel but don’t know where to start.
  • You’ve started writing, but you’re stuck and frustrated with progress.
  • You’re overwhelmed and want a step-by-step path to follow.
  • You have the first draft and you want to make it better before submitting it to agents or self-publishing.
  • You’ve published a novel already but it’s not selling and you want to revisit the basics.
  • You want to write a novel that readers love and that could earn you an income.

what will you learn?

There are so many writing courses out there, so what makes this one different?

Here’s the thing: you could spend ages writing a book that you feel is ready to give to an agent or self-publish, only for it to be rejected because it’s just a pile of words that don’t form a coherent story.

How to Write a Novel is unique in that it doesn’t start with getting words on the page. Instead, you learn about genre, story structure, building characters, researching, and all the important stuff that comes before you start putting actual words on the page.

By the end of the course, you’ll have a solid foundation of how to write a good story and the options you have when it comes to publishing your work.

Here’s a quick overview of what each module of the course focuses on:

  1. First Principles: Story structure, genre, and understanding what you’re actually writing as well as the mindset you’ll need to make it to the end of your novel.
  2. Ideas, Research and Planning: How to find and gather ideas for your story as well as how to research what you need to make it come alive.
  3. Aspects of a Novel: The essentials of what you need to know in order to write your novel, including character, plot, setting, dialogue, point of view, theme and more.
  4. Writing and Editing: Outlining, plotting and discovery writing. How to write that first draft and get the words on the page as fast as possible, plus how to use Scrivener software. Self-editing, finding and working with a professional editor.
  5. Next Steps: An overview of your publishing options and your plan to finish your novel.

what is the format of this course?

The course is split into the five themed modules mentioned above, which contain several easy-to-digest lessons.

The lessons can be watched straight through the Teachable platform on your computer, tablet or smartphone, or you can download the PDF slides, audio, and transcripts, making it accessible for everyone to learn at your own pace.

As well as being full of information, the course is packaged well. It’s hosted on the Teachable platform, which means it’s attractive, nice and easy to navigate and track your progress, and you also get lifetime enrollment.

With lifetime enrollment, you’re free to return at any time and pick up where you left off. Plus you’ll have access to all future updates of the course.

One of the BEST things about this course is Joanna’s clear, concise, and engaging teaching style.

Often, a course can be hard to finish if the teacher repetitive or monotone, so it’s lovely to hear such a happy, enthusiastic voice. It really helps you get stuck into each lesson.

Each lesson is made even more engaging with diagrams, images, charts, and quotes by well-known novelists, editors, and writing experts, which Joanna often uses to back up her points.

There are also occasional writing exercises so instead of listening to a series of lectures, you’re encouraged to participate and interact. By the end, you’ve got a whole library of useful checklists, resources, and worksheets to use as many times as you like.

Finally, Joanna packs so much information into each lesson, but it never feels overwhelming or bogged down with too much information.

The amount covered in each module is digestible and easy to remember, and the pace is perfect for taking down notes as you go.

As a great bonus, there’s also a 30-day guarantee.

what success have students had?

In six months this course has taken my writing further than six years of self-teaching. Joanna’s positive attitude and teaching style make learning how to write a novel enjoyable and feasible.

Today I finished my first ever 70,000 words. Thank you for all the support I’ve found in your course. I always thought that the mindset stuff was less important, but through the course, I recognized my self-doubt and could take action. From a happy student.”

I have a full draft and of my novel in process now and I could not have done it without you. Your class gave me a road map and resources that would have taken me years to find, plus you also earned my trust along the way.

what else is included?

As well as full access to the course, you’ll get access to other great resources that will help you on your way to writing a novel.

  • Access to a members-only Facebook group
  • Downloadable audio and PDF slides so you can learn at your own pace and in your preferred format
  • Downloadable resources including worksheets, checklists and ebooks
  • Extra Q&A videos in which Joanna answers commonly asked questions by people who have taken the course in the past
  • Bonus interviews with industry experts (in video, audio and text formats) about banishing writer’s block, writing emotion, finding your voice, writing great dialogue, and more

Make sure you also check out the excellent Creative Penn Podcast. New podcast episodes are posted every Monday and include interviews, inspiration, and information on writing and creativity, publishing options, book marketing, and creative entrepreneurship. 

There are currently over 440 episodes to enjoy, so on top of the content in this course, you’ll have hours and hours of content and you’ll be able to learn absolutely everything you need to know!

want to get started?

If writing a novel is on your bucket list of big dreams, it won’t happen unless you make the commitment and get started. Joanna’s How to Write a Novel course is comprehensive and gives you the information and tools you need to write a great story, edit it, and then get it ready to be published. You could make this happen this year! How to Write a Novel is available to purchase for a one-time fee of $297, or you can break it down into six monthly payments of $50.

It’s excellent, and 100% worth every penny.

*Note: This is an affiliate link, which means if you make a purchase, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our free brainsparker app!

“Stop asking permission. You don’t need it. Stop waiting to be chosen. Choose yourself.”

Scroll to Top