Creativity, curiosity, self-motivation and perseverance are the hallmarks
of a good novelist. They have to express ideas clearly and logically, and
they should live to write. Novelists conceive and write material for publication
or presentation and do research for the factual content in their work.
Being a novelist is a lot of hard work. First, they must build an outline
for the story. Then the characters must be developed. What does the character
like? What do they eat? What do they hate? Then the story is fleshed out,
page by page, chapter by chapter. Several revisions later, the writer has
a make-believe story anywhere from 150 to over 1,000 pages long.
Novel writers work mostly from their homes. Sonia Craddock, author of several
successful children's novels, says she spends a lot of time hanging around
on the couch when she's thinking things out. During the writing stage, she
spends about four to five hours a day in front of a keyboard, typing away,
staring at the screen for a while, then typing away some more.
Novelists also have to be part salesperson. When they've finished writing
a book, they must convince a publisher to take a look at it. If the book is
good enough, or if it needs minor changes, the publisher will buy the rights
to publish it.
According to the Romance Writers of America, romance novels make up 53
percent of all mass market paperback books sold in the U.S. More than 41 million
Americans read them.
Once a novel is published and distributed to stores, the novelist starts
to receive royalties. That means they get a percentage of the profits from
every copy sold (usually around 10 percent). A novelist's income depends on
how many books they are able to produce and, of course, how popular their
work is with publishers and readers.
In addition to the print medium, many budding novelists are using the Internet
as a way to get their work published, hassle-free. Novelist Douglas Cooper
published his book, Delirium, on the Internet months before the paper version
hit bookstores. By publishing on the web, Cooper was able to get feedback
from readers and make changes before a publishing company and booksellers
got their hands on it.
If you're interested in a life of writing, you should start now. Many published
authors say it's always a good idea to write a lot, if it's what you want
to do for a living. Start to write things down, such as your thoughts, events,
conversations, stories or whatever is in your head. Keeping a journal will
help you develop your own voice and, as Michael Turner puts it, will provide
a "landscape" into which you can venture for characters and ideas. Keeping
a portfolio of work is also a good idea.