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A novelist is an author or writer of novels, while many novelists also write in other genres, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as in other languages. Some novelists are professional novelists, earning a livelihood by writing novels and other works of fiction, whilst others desire to do so or write as a hobby for personal fulfilment. Most authors struggle to have their first book published, but once they do, they often continue to be published, albeit only a small number of them become literary superstars, so acquiring not just recognition but also a significant income from their work.

Novelists come from a diverse range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, and this often influences the subject of their writings. Due to the public reception of a novelist's work, the literary criticism that is penned in response to it, and the authors' inclusion of their own experiences into their works and characters, the author's personal life and identity may become identified with the fictitious material of the book. The environment in which a novelist works and the reception of their novels by both readers and publishers can therefore be influenced by their demographics or identity; important among these culturally constructed identities are gender, sexuality identity, social class, race or ethnicity. nationality. religion. and a connection to a particular location. The concentration on diverse kinds of literature, such as criminal fiction, romantic fiction, or historical fiction, has also helped certain authors develop their own unique personalities.

While many novelists create fiction to suit their own wants, authors and pundits often believe that novelists have a special societal obligation or function to play in society. So-called moral imperatives are often used by writers to support a variety of methods to novel writing, including activism and various ways to "truthfully" depicting reality.