- Write fictional stories for publication as print or audiobooks
- This is a highly competitive field and it takes talent, hard work and perseverance to get started
- Many novelists start out working on their writing part time, then gradually work towards full-time writing
As a novelist you'll write fictional stories for publication as a book and/or an audiobook.
- Planning a story
- Researching the background to your book
- Writing a draft
- Editing your work
- Liaising with agents, editors, and publishers to get your work ready for publication
- Attending launches and book signings
- Promoting your book online and in person
Depending on if you work for yourself, work for a company, or work part-time, your hours can vary, and you may work either at home or in an office.
There are no specialist qualifications required to become a successful writer, but you'll need to have excellent writing and communication skills, a strong, innovative imagination, self-discipline, and the ability to plan out complex storylines. You'll also need the perseverance it takes to break into the industry as this can take many years for some writers.
You could complete a Creative Writing or English Literature degree at a university but this is not always necessary to succeed. It can be just as important to simply write as much as you can and find readers who are willing to give you constructive feedback. There are also courses available that are run by publishing houses and professional novelists that you may find more flexible than studying for a degree - some of these are designed to fit in around a job or can be studied online from home.
Practice and feedback are the crucial elements in becoming a writer, so joining a writing group is an excellent way to help you focus your efforts and gain useful feedback.
Once you have written a novel and you're ready to seek publication it's normal practice to find an agent to represent you as the first step. You can find a list of UK agents in the Writers' & Artists Yearbook, which is published every year and is an invaluable resource for aspiring writers. Each agent will have a different submission process, but you'll normally need to include the first few chapters and a synopsis of your work.
Agents received hundreds of submissions every week so it's important to make sure you follow their instructions and that your work is as good as it can possibly be before you send it. If you are lucky enough to catch an agent's eye then they will normally ask to see your full manuscript, so you need to make sure you have completed it before you send anything to prospective agents.
If they like the full novel they may then ask to meet you and may make you an offer of representation. It's then the agent's job to approach publishers to find a buyer for your work, and they will normally take a percentage of the sale amount as their fee (15-20%).
Becoming a novelist is highly competitive and it can be very difficult to break in to the industry without any connections or experience. Most writers start out while they have another job and gradually work towards a point where they can go full time as a novelist.