Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     



Jonathon Franzen, Carl Hiaasen and Anne Tyler are amongst a few well-known American literary figures who have written and produced wonderful novels. Novelists create stories and tales for a variety of readers and only a certain, talented few get lucky enough to become published. In fact, most novelists toil for many years trying to find a publisher for their work. Novelists are known for their persistence, self-discipline and tenacity. They have the ability to express ideas and stories clearly and logically and create characters that we grow to know so well.

Novelists write original prose material for publication. They select subject matter based on personal interest or receive a specific assignments from a publisher, and develop factors such as theme, plot, order, characterization, and storyline. Novelists put in years of hard work just to produce one work. Yet if you stop to consider the number of pages in a novel, it is understandable why they take so long to create just one text. Every novelist has his or her own method and style of creation. Some work with intricate and sophisticated outlines whereas others work off the top of their head. Most novelists develop character sketches and get to know their characters like their own friends or family members. For example, a novelist should know what a character looks like, what they like to eat, what color pyjamas they wear and what kind of car they drive. On top of knowing their characters inside-out, they work on making important connections within the storyline that finely weaves the plot together.

Novelists are very familiar with rewriting and revising their material. Those lucky enough to have an editor get blue pencil marks all over their works and suggestions on how and where to take the story. They also cut out so much work in the process. Novelists often base their work on personal experiences, although their work often includes some form of research. Struggling novelists must do a considerable amount of public relations and sales work such as book tours and readings of their work. If they do not have a publisher, they must convince one why they should publish their work. Since the only way to earn money from fiction is through royalties from sales writers have to help publishers get their work into the hands of readers.

In order to supplement their income, most novelists work part-time in other jobs or occupations. Unless one is independently wealthy, it is hard to live as a novelist. When novelists become established and successful, they may begin writing full-time since they earn enough money from published works -- the dream of every true writer. Again, novelists must learn to accept rejection and not take it personally. The majority of novelists work for years before they get noticed. For any novelist to be taken seriously, they must produce a portfolio of their best published work. A good way to build a portfolio is to write non-paying assignments for a while (sort of like volunteering) and make a name for oneself. This is an industry in which novelists must be willing to put in long work before any positive results are visible. The more one writes, the better confidence, skill and ability one will attain. This shows clearly in one's work.

In keeping up with technology, writers should know how to use electronic publishing programs and computers. Successful novelists learn to develop effective work habits, including what hours and which places they work best in. Finally, if you ask a novelist how to become a good writer, they will basically tell you to start writing. Those who write are writers.
         Related Careers
arrow Acting Teacher
arrow Actor
arrow Aerial Photographer
arrow [ view all related careers ]

Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad
Full Sail University - Online
Push Your Creativity To The Next Level
Programs Offered:
  • Creative Writing, Master of Fine Arts (Online)
  • Creative Writing Bachelors - Online



  Interests and Skills  
Good novelists know how to express ideas clearly in writing. They create characters that readers grow to love, hate and know. They are usually knowledgeable in a particular area of interest, which is usually evident in their work. They are good researchers and organized individuals. Novelists require self-discipline to work on their own to meet deadlines. Novelists should enjoy entertaining an audience through their writing. Finally, novelists must be able to withstand rejection and have confidence in their abilities as a writer.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Conceive of and write novels and other material for publication
  • Research similar literature to establish factual content and to obtain other necessary information
  • Organize ideas and facts for an outline
  • May choose and develop a theme or subject about which to write
  • Write novels for publication to inform, educate and entertain
  • Write and rewrite work until editors, producers and writers are satisfied with it
  • Revise after reviewing project, or getting views from an editor
  • Initiate and maintain contact with appropriate publishers or producers
  • Market their work and seek out publishers
  • Negotiate fees and royalties for book-length manuscripts
  • Work with graphic artists and illustrators for book covers and other graphics
  • Use a computer or typewriter to write novels
  • There is no such thing as a typical day for a novelist. Since there are so many kinds of novelists, each works on their own schedule, setting their own hours. They spend much of their time working alone, researching in libraries and writing at home. However, they are in regular contact with agents and publishers, and may spend some time interviewing people. The pressure of deadlines, long solitary hours, rejections, unwilling publishers and sporadic work can be stressful. Successful novelists spend many hours each day writing.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Novelists generally work for themselves or for a specific publishing house. A novel often takes months or years to complete therefore they generally work in the freelance capacity until a manuscript has been completed. They may publish and market their work themselves, or submit their work to publishers.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Advancement opportunities for novelists, particularly freelancers, are limited and based on the amount of work and effort one is willing to personally put in. However, a novelist working consistently for one publication house may eventually get pre-signed contracts to write novels. Also, novelists can themselves become editors and publishers. Many novelists teach English or creative writing at the secondary or postsecondary level, especially as a form of supplementing their income. Some novelists may become literary critics for newspapers and magazines.

  Educational Paths  
There is no required educational path for becoming a novelist. Nevertheless, many novelists have university degrees in English, creative writing or journalism. Talent and ability, as demonstrated by a portfolio of work or a manuscript, are important publishing criterion.

Since a postsecondary education does not ensure success as a writer, experience is the best teacher in this field. University or college training can be useful in developing research skills, organizational skills and professional contacts. Novelists can also attend writing conferences and workshops or take creative writing correspondence courses. Again, the best training a novelist can gain is by writing and writing as much as they can, including school assignments. Find websites that publish writer's works for free and volunteer for school papers. Also, keeping a journal and constantly jotting down thoughts and ideas will help novelists develop their own voice, characters and ideas.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Full Sail University - Online
Push Your Creativity To The Next Level
Programs Offered:
  • Creative Writing, Master of Fine Arts (Online)
  • Creative Writing Bachelors - Online

Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs Offered:
  • BS: English and Writing: Creative Writing

Regent University
Regent University prepares students with the knowledge to excel and the faith to live with purpose.
Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor of Arts in English - Writing

Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Ottawa
York University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Privacy Notice | Site Map | Cities Site Map | California - Do Not Sell My Info

Copyright 2003- 2020 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.