Wouldn’t it be wonderful to write a best-selling novel? Think of the acclaim and prestige. And, what a fabulous job: you get to stay in your pajamas all day long and do nothing but write.
Many Americans find this picture attractive. In fact, about 80 percent of people tell pollsters they’d like to be a novelist.
But is it really that easy? Writing is hard work, and getting your novel published takes both persistence and determination.
That being said, it can be done.
So you want to be a writer? Below we’ve got the ultimate guide both to writing your novel and getting it out there. Let’s go!
How to Become a Novelist: Writing Tips
You may have had the idea for your novel brewing in your head for a while now. That’s great!
But how do you craft it into a sell-able work of art? In this section, we’ll go over four writing tips to help you write your best book.
1. To Be a Writer You Have to Write
This sounds obvious, but to write your novel you have to sit down and write. Every day.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. People have all kinds of excuses (I don’t have any time!). And the idea of facing down a blank page each day is scary.
But that’s what writers do. They sit down and write every day, even when it’s hard (especially when it’s hard!).
Find the time of day that works best for you, and make a consistent writing schedule. Don’t worry about your word count. Sometimes removing superfluous words is a far more productive use of time. It can also lead to a better final product.
If you want to be a writer, the only rule is: write every day.
2. Aspiring Writers Write About What They Love
We’ve all heard the old adage: write about what you know. It’s true. You can’t write about something you know nothing about.
But be careful. Authors also need to look beyond themselves for material.
Otherwise, your book ends up being all about you. That’s not the best formula for success.
Life experiences, on the other hand, are a key component of successful writing. Keep a notebook with you, and write down observations as you go through your day. They will help propel your writing outward.
In addition, make sure you write about something you love. Don’t pick a subject because you think it’s trendy. After all, it may not be popular anymore by the time you finish your book.
And who knows? Maybe something you’re passionate about will be the next big thing.
In any case, good writing springs from something deep inside the author. You can’t fake it. So, don’t try.
3. Try to Keep Doubt From Creeping In
As you stare at the blank page, it’s easy to begin doubting yourself. Negative comments from friends and family members fill your mind, and you wonder if you’re cut out to be a writer.
Remind yourself, though, no famous author starts out writing masterpieces. Their first book (or first ten books) might not have been very good at all.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, either. And don’t let doubt get in your way.
Instead, think of writing as a process. Focus on learning and getting better. Energy used on self-doubt is better spent researching and perfecting your craft.
4. Above All, Aspiring Writers Need Persistence
As a writer, there are many things you can’t control. For example, what’s popular now is out of your hands. As are the reactions and feelings of agents and editors.
What you can control is your writing. You need to know your work is important, believe in yourself, and keep at it.
Some writers are successful at 17, while others see their first novel published after 40 years of age. Your situation will be unique to you.
Take your time. Do your research, and revise your work over and over again. If you believe in yourself and your writing, it’s likely someone else will eventually love it too.
I Want to Be a Writer: How to Get Your Work Published
Your novel is finally finished. Now what?
There are two ways to get your work out there, the traditional route and self-publishing. In the next two sections, let’s look at the pros and cons of each method. Read on!
Publishing Your Novel Using a Traditional Publishing House
This is another situation where you’ll need the persistence and determination discussed above. But don’t give up. Many famous authors have had their manuscripts rejected before becoming successful.
A major publishing company is unlikely to look at your novel unless you have a reputable literary agent. Networking is one way to find an agent.
You can also check out the acknowledgment sections of books similar to yours. Most authors thank their agents there. Finally, there are also websites that link authors to reputable agents.
Once you have your list of agents, it’s time to send a query. This is a short introductory letter. In it, you describe yourself and your book and ask the agent if they’d like to read a copy.
If someone says yes, you send them some pages. Provided they like your work, they will ask for the whole book.
Again, if they like it, they’ll agree to represent you. The agent submits your book to suitable publishing agencies, and you then hope an editor will like your novel. If so, you’ll get an offer!
Using a traditional publishing house still confers more prestige than self-publishing. But, you have less control over the final product. Even so, not having to publicize your book yourself is a big plus.
Now let’s contrast this process with the self-publishing route.
Self-Publishing Your Novel
Self-publishing used to be looked down upon, but not so much anymore. The great thing about self-publishing is anyone an upload their book. In fact, you can learn more about self-publishing your work here.
The major drawback, on the other hand, is that there are literally thousands of books out there. By self-publishing your novel, you alone are responsible for getting it noticed.
For many people, though, it’s worth it. When you self-publish, you retain complete control. This one fact balances out the negatives for many writers.
Conclusion: So You Want to Be a Writer
So you want to be a writer? You can do it! Write about something you love and keep at it. Believing in yourself and perfecting your craft are likely to bring the success you are looking for.