What should you write about in your novel?
In a Daily Mail article about a new contest for first-time writers, best-selling author Lisa Jewell shared this advice:
"Don’t write for the publishers and don’t try to second guess the market; it’s elusive and impossible to pin down.
Just write what’s in your head and what’s in your heart and give the reader a reason to keep turning the pages, whether it’s love for your characters or a need to find out what happened ten years ago or what happens next."
The importance of support when you write
Jewell doesn't mention support explicitly but it's obvious from her account of her own writing history that it played an important role. When she sent out the first chapters of her book, she had nine rejections but the tenth agent wanted to read the whole book. That motivated her to finish it, although it took another year.
She says, "A friend in Australia read my daily output and cheered me on."
That book was Ralph's Party, which got her a six-figure advance for two novels and eventually sold more than 250,000 copies the first year it was out. Her newest novel is The Girls. It will be available from May 6, 2016.
What if it feels impossible?
Jewell says, "Don't worry if it feels impossible. It's supposed to feel that way."
The contest for first-time novelists
The contest has a first prize of £20,000 and guaranteed publication, and is free to enter. Details are here. Entries must be received by April 16, 2016, and if your novel isn't finished you must be able to complete it by October 30, 2016.