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I don't have a college degree.  How successful can you be as a novelist without it?

Hi Nichole:

A college degree is no more necessary to be a successful novelist as is a Rolls-Royce. Both are useful, yes, and if you get a chance for either, I would definitely recommend it. I wish I could list for you the famous authors who haven't had the benefit of a degree, but I can't. Even google didn't have one. But they are legion.

It is much cheaper, and easier, to educate yourself. It will take a long time - perhaps a year, maybe more (depending on how apt a pupil you are). There are many books on writing in your public library, or for sale on I put in a search for books about writing and came up with over 2,000,000 hits, so the information is out there.

One book you MUST have is THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE, by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White, author of CHARLOTTE'S WEB. You can get it for $3.75 at amazon. This little book is the writer's bible; it contains nearly everything you need to know about punctuation, usage, etc.

For any apprentice writer, I would recommend the Writer's Digest Book Club. I have bought an entire shelf of books from them, at least 15, and only one has been disappointing - DIALOGUE. Some of the best books have been in their catalog for some time and are quite inexpensive.
For every book you buy, you earn points toward another.

Another idea is to join some writers' forums online and ask a lot of questions. I have found these forums invaluable. You can find them at geocities, MSN and

I have since its inception been a member of, a group of writers struggling to keep their site alive. They're always looking for new members. You'll find writers there, plenty of good advice and support. Tell them Catty sent you.

I hope this has helped. If it has, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 260+ questions.

And good luck with your writing!

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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