Working out how long it will take to write your book

A question I am often asked is how long will it take to write a book. The answer depends on what effort you are prepared to put in – of course. And looking at other variables.

  • How long is the book?
  • How fast can you type?
  • What time will you put in?
  • What other resources do you have helping you?

How long should my book be?

If you are writing an e-book then you are looking at 50 -100 (A4) pages, where each page is approximately 350-400 words, which makes it roughly 20,000 to 30,000 words. If you are writing a traditional self-published book anything over 40,000 words. The number of words per page in a print book will differ, as you will be creating a book to a specific page size, e.g. 6×9 rather than A4.

  • Imagine your book is 20,000 words.
  • How many words can you write in an hour? 500 or 1000?
  • How many words can you write per day? 1000, 2000 or 3000?
  • Will you write every day, or will you set a weekly target?

This is clearly not an exact science, but it will focus your mind on your writing outcomes. If you are the kind of person who goes into overwhelm when you see big numbers, focus on the small numbers, i.e. the number of words per hour or per day.

What is the writing and editing process?

The process is:-

  • First draft (write, don’t edit)
  • First edit
  • Second and third edit
  • First print proof (I always do this step, even for a digital book)
  • Final edit
  • Proof-reader
  • Second print proof (just to make sure)

I find reading as a ‘real’ book helps me to see it in another light. Once I have done my final edit, which I call my final proof, I will send it to the proof-reader, which normally takes about 2 weeks.

You may additionally send your proof books to beta-readers before the proof-reader gets it. Beta-readers are trusted friends and colleagues who will not only review it for you, but they will also point out any errors.

Other ways to get an idea of  how long

Timed tests

These tests are designed to help you find out how you work and how long, given the right ingredients, it will take you to write.

Test 1

Start by timing yourself for 30 minutes. Pick something that you are an expert in and just write. How many words can you type or write long hand?

Test 2

This time you are going to write 500 words on one of the following:-

  • The role of water in weight loss.
  • Why does hair turn grey?
  • Top ten foods to help you sleep.
  • A topic of your choice.

Write down your start time; carry on writing until the article is polished and ready for publication.

  • How long did it take you?
  • Now add 20% on for interruptions, procrastination and other stuff
  • Did you remember to factor in planning, research and editing?
  • How much knowledge did you have before you started?
  • What process did you go through to undertake your research?

Once you know how long it takes you to write you can calculate your anticipated first draft date. Take at least a week off for reflection. Work out how long it takes you to edit the first chapter and apply that to the rest of the book. It’s always a case of work it out and apply to the rest.

Now factor in ‘stuff’ that gets in the way – does that help?

Of course you may just set a deadline, forgo normal life and just get it done. However, you do it, do it well, take time off and enjoy your process.

PS: Remember that you wont to writing it all, you should have some content to re-purpose…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *