Completing 50,000 words in 30 days is a major achievement, one that hundreds of thousands of NaNoWriMo participants have set as their November goal for the past seventeen years. While the end result will be part unreadable, part unfinished, and more than likely, error-ridden, the process often continues well beyond November. Many published books–including some very successful ones–started off as NaNoWriMo projects.
Here are four spectacular success stories:
Sara Gruen devoted two separate NaNos to writing Water for Elephants and then sold her work to Algonquin Publishers for $55,000. In 2007, the book topped the New York Times Best Seller list and hit the big screen with Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson in 2011.
Erin Morgenstern began writing The Night Circus in November of 2004. That first year, Erin ended up with 50,000 words of unconnected scenes and imagery. She then spent the next two NaNos adding to the story. In 2008, she took the 100,000+ words and formed them into an actual plot. She didn’t have a workable draft until 2009. In 2011, she received a six-figure deal from Knopf Doubleday Publishers. The movie rights were snapped up by the producers of the Harry Potter films.
Rainbow Rowell had already published two novels when she sat down to write Fangirl during NaNo 2011. While writing, she moved away from her usual pattern of rewriting the previous day’s work and kept moving forward. She considers the book her “bravest writing”…New York Times agreed and designated Fangirl a 2013 Notable Children’s Book.
Hugh Howey wrote three of the novellas that later made up Wool in November 2011. When he self-published the book, he sold 1000 copies the first month. After selling tens of thousands of ebooks directly to readers, he signed a six-figure deal with a major publisher. The movie rights have been purchased by 20th Century Fox.
ONWARD ♦ AVANTI ♦ EN AVANT ♦ WEITER ♦ ADELANTE ♦ AVANTE