If the truth be known, being a novelist is a secret ambition that many people share. However, it is remarkable how very few people do anything about their desire to pen a novel. Some find the process too scary and come up with many excuses to avoid fulfilling their dreams. Some give up the moment they run into severe problems very early on. To succeed at writing a novel, it is vital to prepare for the task ahead by having the right mental attitude, doing proper market research and cultivating good writing habits.
An Aspiring Novelist’s Mental Attitude
There are many stories of aspiring novelists who never go beyond the half-way mark of writing a novel. It is probably because they’ve realised just how big an undertaking writing a novel is. As such, the first point to note is that writing a novel is a long-term project – it can take six months, two years or even ten. In short, a novelist needs loads of self-discipline to become a success in the publishing industry.
Market Research Conducted By Aspiring Novelists
Like any other industry, the publishing industry is subject to market forces. Therefore, prudent aspiring novelists should understand that publishers tend to invest in books that they know fit the style they normally print and sell. Never assume that stories that were sold 20 years ago are going to sell today – recognising reading trends and fashionable stories are equally as important as good storytelling and gripping plots. Here are a few tips to ensure that any market research done is both fruitful and effective:
- Browse through a favourite bookshop and choose a few best-selling novels – the authors of these novels clearly understand the market better than anyone else.
- Buy a few of these best-selling novels and study them in detail.
- Take note of the length of these best-selling novels to give you an idea of how long your own novel should be.
- Invest in the latest edition of Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook as this resource gives details of many of the requirements of publishing houses all over the world. In addition, this resource will tell an aspiring novelist how long a manuscript should be, what font to use, how to present a manuscript to an agent or publisher, plot-lines to avoid, what kind of story is popular amongst publishers and even interviews with successful authors.
Writing Habits of an Aspiring Novelist
There are two writing habits that can help any aspiring novelist: firstly, writing a novel is much easier when an effective writing routine in in place. Some authors write well early in the morning and some write better late at night. An effective novelist is also one who usually writes a certain amount each day rather than writing a whole chunk in one go.
Secondly, as writing a novel is a long and detailed project, it is bound to create a huge amount of paperwork. An aspiring novelist must, therefore, find some way of organising all his notes, synopses, character profiles, drafts of the novel and scraps of paper so that they never get lost.
To avoid becoming discouraged when writing a novel, here are two precautions to take:
- Don’t go back and constantly tweak the first few chapters of a manuscript. Instead, aim to complete the whole manuscript and only then start reworking it.
- Do not show the manuscript to anyone until the first draft is completed. While the idea of getting feedback may seem appealing, more often than not, an aspiring novelist gets conflicting advice and ends up being thoroughly confused.
If the steps above are taken into account, an aspiring novelist will soon realise that, instead of the gloomy predictions often made about the chances of success in the publishing industry, all the preparations made will actually go a long way towards ensuring the publication success of the novel.
- Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, A&C Black publishers Ltd.
By Aneeta Sundararaj
This article was first published on Suite.101: http://suite101.com/article/vital-preparation-for-aspiring-novelists-a350130