NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) poses a hefty challenge when it asks writers to write 50,000 words in just one month. As November kicks off, thousands of writers dive into projects, some new and some old, in hopes of carving away at their drafts. The word goal is intimidating for many and might even seem impossible to conquer. But there are hundreds of writers who have not only beat the word goal but also saw their NaNo projects reach publication! If you’re looking for motivation or are even just curious about what NaNoWriMo is all about, check out the books below. The authors on this list are guaranteed to surprise, amaze, and motivate you to succeed!
Elizabeth Acevedo – With the Fire on High
The Poet X was Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut novel, but she actually started what would be her sophomore novel, With the Fire on High, six years prior. She started the draft in 2013 for NaNoWriMo and hadn’t planned on getting it published. But Acevedo returned to Emoni’s story after The Poet X came out and eventually showed it to her editor. Turns out, the editor loved Emoni as much as Acevedo and encouraged Acevedo to get it ready for publication.
Camryn Garrett – Full Disclosure
Garett followed her passion for writing early, starting with fanfiction and other small writing projects. It wasn’t until she did NaNoWriMo when she was sixteen that she began the draft for Full Disclosure. Incidentally, she would also end up selling the book when she was sixteen, finishing the draft while she finished high school.
Hank Green – An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
John Green’s brother would follow in his footsteps by releasing a book of his own. Hank Green created the idea for An Absolutely Remarkable Thing in 2013. He originally planned it as a graphic novel but would later decide to make it a full-length novel. During NaNoWriMo in 2015, he drafted 40,000 words, nearly making it to the 50,000-word goal of the month.
Alexis Daria – You Had Me at Hola
Alexis Daria is a veteran participant of NaNoWriMo and even formally served as a former NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison. By 2016, Daria had been participating in NaNoWriMo for twelve years. Although her drafts from 2004 to 2015 have never been released, her 2016 NaNo project, You Had Me at Hola, was published in 2020 as Daria’s sophomore book.
C.L. Clark – The Unbroken
Clark has participated in multiple NaNoWriMos over the years, even becoming a NaNo in 2021 and joining one of the organization’s 2023 Write-Together-A-Thons last week. She started the draft of what would become The Unbroken during a NaNoWriMo, writing 60,000 words for the draft overall by the time the challenge ended.
L.L. McKinney – A Blade So Black
McKinney started working on A Blade So Black, the first book in the Nightmare-Verse trilogy, during NaNoWriMo. The series is a punk Alice in Wonderland retelling with hints of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is an excellent example of the unique stories that are born during the November writing challenge. You can read more about McKinney’s writing process and the Nightmare-Verse trilogy in our 2020 interview with her here.
Jasmine Guillory – The Wedding Date
In 2015, Guillory had an idea, an outline, and a case of writer’s block. When her friend told her about the challenge to write 50,000 words in one month, she eagerly took the chance to beat her creative rut and make progress on her draft. During NaNoWriMo, she would finish half a draft of what would become The Wedding Date and publish the book three years later.