NaNoWriMo Projects Turned Bestsellers

November 28, 2022

Note: NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the general goal is for participants to write 50,000 words or more in the span of the 30 days of November.


When the story you’re trying to write as a fully fleshed-out novel is still just pages and pages of a Word Document hiding in your personal laptop, writing forward can seem discouraging. Will anyone ever read this? Will I actually finish this project? Will I ever get this published? All valid questions to ask while endeavoring to accomplish a lofty goal. Looking to people who successfully made it through NaNoWriMo, went on to publish their manuscripts, and received critical acclaim could be a major motivator for remembering: it’s possible for you to be a success story as well. Take heart in these examples of writers who persevered and believe that you have the capability for success!



The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern


I’ve had the pleasure of reading this novel as it fits right up my alley of fantasy fiction. This was Morgenstern’s first novel, but it took her not one, not two, but three NaNoWriMo’s to complete what would eventually become her huge bestseller. If that’s not a prime case of perseverance, I don’t know what is. Since The Night Circus’s publication in 2011, Morgenstern has gone on to publish several more books, among them the popular The Starless Sea.



Water for Elephants 

by Sarah Gruen


This book proved wildly popular after its release in 2006; its blockbuster film adaptation was released in 2011. I read this book quite some time ago but still remember its well crafted and intentional imagery to this day. From the struggles of NaNoWriMo to bestseller lists and silver screens – Gruen’s is certainly a success story to be told.




by Marissa Meyer


This title is currently on my “to be read” list because I seriously cannot resist a unique fairy tale retelling. Meyer (I’m still shocked by this even as I write) managed to whip up three novels in the span of one NaNoWriMo. She went on to write more of her The Lunar Chronicles series after this fever dream of a November. But if you take anything away from this success story, don’t let it be discouragement. No one’s asking you to write three novels in a single month, though major kudos to Meyer for pulling off such a stunt. Just focus on the project directly in front of you.




by Rainbow Rowell


This is the kind of book middle school me would have obsessed over, but I’m somehow only just now hearing about it! Centered on the idea of writing fanfiction, this story seems highly appealing to all sorts of audiences who have ever experienced being a major fan of anything. This original book eventually led the author to write two full-length manuscripts of the fanfiction her characters write – how fun and creative!

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