So How Long Does It Take?

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One question that people ask me often is: “How long does it take to write a book?” This is actually not a very clear question to ask because there are many ways to answer it, depending on what a person means by their question. 

For example, I just finished the rough draft of book two in the Mantidom series. It is roughly one hundred and fifty thousand words, or in the ballpark of five hundred and fifty pages in print. It took one hundred and seventy hours of hands on keyboard to write. You might say it took roughly a week to write. 

But of course, you cannot write for a solid week without any breaks. So, it must have taken longer than that. If you assume a forty-hour work week, one hundred and seventy hours is a little more than a month. Stretch the work day a little every now and again and you could say it took a month. Okay, then it takes a month to write a book.

But that is not really true either. The vast majority of authors never make enough to write full time, so we have regular jobs to help pay the bills. This greatly cuts into writing time. Also, there is the problem that creative work does not follow a strict schedule. Some days you are hot, and words are flowing, and other days you are not. So looking at my records, I started writing book two on October twenty-third. Today is April nineteenth. That is just shy of six months. 

But that is not really true either. After all, I can not release the book today. I have to complete several editing passes, get it to my first pass proofreader still and then off to my pre-readers. Then when they are done with it, it will go through two more editors. At the same time as all that I need to get the various artworks completed. Then when all that is done there is formatting and publishing still. I know from experience that is at least a three-month-long process.

So now we are up to about nine months for one of my epic fantasies. I would say, for me and the kinds of stories I write, that is on the optimistic side of the scale. One book a year is likely closer to a sustainable pace for me assuming I continue to write books that are.

So there you have it. It takes anywhere between a week and a year to write a book, depending on what you mean by the question. Clear as mud, right?

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