How can one tell whether his/her novel will be popular or not before actually writing it? How does he/she make sure that people will like and read the novel they are about to start working on?

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As others have said, there are no guaranteed ways to know you have a hit before you put it out there. But one step I always use is to involve a group of beta-readers as I complete my manuscript. I usually find three to five people I know will read my work and give me honest and clear feedback on it. I make it clear to them they don’t need to worry about the usual ‘editing’ things, like grammar, spelling, etc., because that will be taken care of later. I want them to tell me if and when the story is confusing, or find themselves looking to see how many more pages are in a chapter, or anything else that relates to the experience of reading the thing. I then use their feedback to review and make any changes I think I need to make.

That might help a bit on the “liking” part. The “reading” part also gets into how you package, market, and promote the thing once you publish it. That’s an entirely different kettle of fish…

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