According to Forbes Magazine, Ken Follet is one of the world’s ten most highly-paid novelists, with an annual income of $20 million.
Follett wrote several not-so-great novels before Eye of the Needle made him rich and famous in 1978. Since then, every novel he publishes becomes a best seller. Many have been made into movies.
You may have seen these film versions:
1981 – Eye of the Needle (Donald Sutherland)
1985 – The Key to Rebecca (Cliff Robertson)
1986 – On the Wings of Eagles (Burt Lancaster)
1994 – Lie Down With Lions (Timothy Dalton)
Follett’s historical novel about the building of a cathedral, The Pillars of the Earth (1989), has been translated into 30 languages and has sold 14 million copies worldwide. It didn’t hurt that Oprah chose Pillars as her 60th Book Club selection in 2007. If your ambition is to write a sprawling historical novel, this is a good one to study.
The sequel to Pillars, World without End (2007) spent 26 weeks on the NY Times Best Seller List.
Follett has a generous spirit that makes him willing to share what he’s learned about writing successful novels with other writers.
You can examine Follett’s changing outlines for The Man From Saint Petersburg in Albert Zuckerman’s Writing the Blockbuster Novel (1994).
Online, you can take advantage of Follett’s Master Class. Here you’ll find practical suggestions for:
Putting pen to paper
The first draft
Completing the novel
Finding a Publisher