Do you have a great idea for a novel?

What does being a novelist mean to you?

FAME - FORTUNE - TRAVEL - NEW YORK TIMES' BESTSELLER LIST - AWARDS - FANS

Woman working on laptop all day and night as the sun rises and sets behind her in the window.Even wildly successful novelists spend endless hours writing.

Did you know that writers often spend a year or more writing their first novel?

What A Novelist Does

Writing novels involves a wide range of time-consuming activities.

Before the typing starts, the writer spends time plotting, adding conflict, outlining and developing goals and motivation for each character.

Once the great idea and plot is fully formed, a writer spends months putting their idea into words.

After countless hours of telling the story, the novelist triumphantly types "The End" on the first draft.

Laptop with

And then...

the real work...

begins...

Dog sitting in chair with tongue hanging out and then turning to the camera, saying .

After The First Draft...

...the revision cycle begins!

Cycle of edit, proofread, get feedback, revise, submit.

A critique group of other writers, beta readers, agents, or editors will provide feedback.

An author may not make all the suggested changes, but many of the suggestions will improve the manuscript.

More changes?!

Woman takes a sip of coffee and drops head to desk as if falling asleep.

Quiz

Kim has submitted her novel to five agents, and today, the fifth rejection arrived in the mail. She has worked with a critique group of writers to polish her manuscript. What should Kim do?

Send it out to more agents

Consider any feedback they provide

Edit as needed

All of these

You Sold The Book, Now What?

  • You will probably be asked to make more revisions.

  • After you sell the book, you may receive an "advance," money that is an advance on your share of sales.

  • The publication date may be 12 to 18 months in the future.

  • Your job isn't finished.

You are expected to start writing the next book.

David from Schitt's Creek clutching his face with a Don't worry. You won't be spending all your time writing the next book. You'll be working to promote the first book too.

Quiz

Publishing houses do not invest significantly in book promotion for most of their authors. Authors spend their own time and money. Morgan is planning their promotion strategy. What approaches could Morgan take?

Promote themselves on social media

Network with other novelists

Ask reviewers to review their book

All of these

You'll Love Being A Novelist if...

  1. You want to share your stories with the world and are willing to work hard to make your dreams come true.

  1. You have a growth mindset and can keep putting your work out there despite rejection.

  1. You enjoy the solitude of writing, and the chaos of deadlines.

  1. You are creative but can overcome shyness to sell yourself and your ideas.

  1. You couldn't stop writing your stories if you tried.

And the number one reason is...

  1. The characters are already there, living in your head, and you want to bring them out for everyone to meet.

Girl with thought balloons showing three different characters, a bee, a cat with a suitcase, and an alien.

Don't Quit Your Day Job

The vast majority of novelists rely on income from other sources, including working other jobs while writing.

Unless you are a superstar, you will need to write quickly and publish often to keep your readers and make money.

The industry is changing rapidly with the rise of ebooks and self-publishing platforms. Many novelists now have hybrid careers, publishing some books with traditional publishing houses and self-publishing other work.

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How much money does a novelist make?

Earnings from writing novels are unpredictable and there are no guarantees. Writing income depends on many factors, including the strength of the market.

Average yearly income for novelists (including advances and royalties):

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Canada: just over $50,000.

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US: just under $50,000.

Does that mean the average novelist makes $50,000 per year? No.

While these numbers suggest that a novelist can earn a living, they are misleading. The reality is that novelists earn anywhere from $0 per year to millions, with the vast majority earning well under the $50,000 reported average.

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Ask any novelist and they will tell you NOT to quit your day job until you have built a strong career as a novelist. Writers who have quit their day job often return to work after they cannot pay their bills with their writing income.

Quiz

David works forty hours per week in telemarketing. He dreams of being a novelist. What steps should he take?

Join writers' groups

Write a short time each day

Study plot and characterization

All of these

Being A Novelist May Not Be A Good Fit if...

  • You want a steady income without working more than one job.

  • You aren't open to feedback or criticism.

  • Rejection gets you down.

  • You need to know exactly how much money you will make.

  • You like writing, but you don't LOVE writing.

  • You can read this Byte and just walk away from the idea of a career as a novelist.

Man saying,

Take Action

Do you love the thought of readers escaping into a world you created?

Woman walking and enjoying her favorite book.

Start your career as a novelist with realistic expectations, and then see where your dreams can take you and your readers!

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This Byte has been authored by

JH

Juli Heaton

Attorney and Learning Designer