In 2008, more than 53,000 works of fiction were published in the United States according to Bowker, which analyzes data for the book business. Most of them were novels, and together they comprised more than one sixth of all the books published that year (including traditional print as well as on-demand titles but excluding audio and e-book titles).
That's more than a hundred novels published each day! And while there's no easy way to figure out how many of them were debut novels, it's safe to say that thousands of first novels are published in the course of the year.
Are novels big business? Take the #1 bestselling novel of 2009, Dan Brown's thriller The Lost Symbol. It sold 5.5 million copies. The #3 bestseller, Kathryn Stockett's mainstream fiction The Help, was a first novel by a previously unknown writer. Its sales broke the one million mark.
The profits publishers earn from books by brand-name authors like Dan Brown help to underwrite the risk of bringing to market novels by unpublished writers. Publishers and agents alike are looking for the next Dan Brown (thriller), the next Janet Evanovich (mystery), the next Danielle Steele (romance), or the next Barbara Kingsolver (mainstream). It can't be you if you never write that novel that you've got bottled up inside of you.
This book is designed to help you get that novel written.
No, there are no shortcuts or magic formulas, and it can't be done in a week. But writing a novel is not rocket science, nor is it some mysterious art form that only the most brilliant among us can master. It's challenging, but what is there in life worth doing that isn't?
The Everything® Guide to Writing Your First Novel will explain main-stream and genre fiction categories of novels, and take you through the process of coming up with an idea for a novel and transforming it into a premise. It will guide you through the process of conjuring your novel's main plot and subplots, its cast of characters, setting, context, and time frame.
No planning method is a one-size-fits-all. Because each writer has different strengths, a range of different planning methods is presented so you can choose the ones that suit your temperament and work style.
This book discusses research, how to learn what you need in order to write page one, and that additional ongoing research that you may need to do to nourish your story. Then it provides guidance for writing the novel, from the first scene to the final one. The basics of writing dialogue, writing action, and writing conflict are discussed with tips and insights for getting it right, and pitfalls to be avoided.
With guidance and diligence, and by using the material provided in this book, you should be able to complete a first draft, from writing the first scene to typing “The End,” in six months. From there, you will be ready to revise and polish your novel until it is just as good as you can make it, and formatted so that literary agents and editors will take you seriously.
Then, maybe the next breakout bestselling novel will have your name on its cover.