12 Honest Truths About Being An Unpublished Novelist

This is a lot harder than you thought it would be.

1. You want to share your stories with the world, you’re just not there yet. So there’s this long and often frustrating waiting period where you have to keep working silently in a corner, and that’s hard.

2. It’s normal to start writing a book you’ll never finish, but a lot of guilt comes with that, and friends and family who have never experienced this just won’t understand it even when you try to explain it to them.

3. You want to be a published author more than anything you’ve ever wanted before. But wanting something isn’t enough, and sometimes the work is just exhausting and instant gratification is non-existent.

4. The “are you writing a book” question gets really old really fast — sometimes because the answer is “yes.” Sometimes because the answer is “no.”

5. Every time someone asks “When are you going to publish a book?” the pressure builds.

6. It gets lonely. Even hanging out with an entire cast of characters, it gets lonely.

7. You’re trying. You’re not sure if you’re trying hard enough, but you’re still trying.

8. Sometimes reading someone else’s published book is the only thing that inspires you to keep working on yours.

9. Not everyone is ready to talk about their work in progress but we still kind of want to be asked about it anyway.

10. This is a lot harder than it looks.

11. The only way to learn how to write a good novel is to write a bunch of novels. Most of them will never get published. That’s kind of disappointing, but to do all that just to publish one … that has to mean something.

12. It’s not going to be easy. But you’re going to keep writing. Somewhere deep down you just know it’s going to be worth it someday.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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One thought on “12 Honest Truths About Being An Unpublished Novelist

  1. Oh, I feel this list deeply. Great (and heartbreaking) post. My last novel (still unpublished) is historical, and plot-heavy, and didn’t really allow me to easily pull out chapters or sections to serve as stand-alone stories. (But I probably need to try harder at this.) This time around, about a third into my second WIP, a multi-generational novel, I’m writing it in such a way that I’ve already been able to pull out a couple chapters that work as stories. This gives me something to feel excited about–and hopefully get others excited about (when I, fingers crossed, get them published)–while I’m slogging along on the tome. Great post. Thank you!

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