How Long Does It Take to Write a Book?Feb 17, 2022
How Long Does It Take to Write a Book?
"How Long Does It Take to Write a Book?"
This is one of the most common questions I hear when people first start working with me. The true and honest answer is that it depends. In general, the average first-time writer doing it alone takes about 12 months to write their first book.
A better question to ask would be, “How long should it take to write a book?” In my experience, it should only take you about 8-12 weeks, tops.
The time it takes to write a book from start to finish is based on two main factors:
- How long your book is going to be
- How efficient your writing system is
Writing a mediocre book and writing a bestseller are two very different things, and how you approach these two factors is what determines which your book will be.
So, how long should your book be?
Most nonfiction books in the self-help genre fall between 20,000 to 50,000 words in length. Fiction books tend to be a little longer, averaging around 80,000 words in length.
Depending on page and font size, you’ll get about 50 pages for every 10,000 words.
Keep in mind that the page size, font, spacing, and formatting you choose can all impact page count in your final book.
Your writing system
The difference between writing an average book and writing a bestselling book can often be traced back to how efficient your writing system is. Becoming a bestselling author does not mean that you have to take years to finish your book. In fact, writing a great book with a superior writing system often takes significantly less time because you already have a working system in place.
Writing a book is made up of 3 main stages:
- Planning: 1–2 weeks
The planning stage is where you decide what and how you are going to write. You come up with your big idea. You brainstorm titles and subtitles, think about characters and what’s going to happen in your book. In nonfiction, you’ll decide how you are going to convey the information. What topics do you need to write about in order to cover your main idea fully? What order should you put your chapters in? Will you include exercises or worksheets?
The planning stage also includes creating a detailed outline. One of the biggest contributors to writer’s block (and taking forever to finish your book) is feeling uncertain about what you should write next or doubting what you have already written. A well-thought-out outline can make the difference between a project you finish in 8 weeks versus one that gets abandoned for months.
Feeling confident about your idea and outline is crucial for sticking with it. If you speed through the planning process, you are much more likely to second guess yourself later on when you start writing, which can stall your progress.
- Writing: 4–6 weeks
This is the stage where you put actual words on the page. Ideally, this should be the easiest part. You already have your outline. All you have to do is sit down and write what you’re supposed to write that day. However, this is also the part where people tend to have the most trouble. Showing up, every day, to churn out the words is an act of self-discipline that many people struggle to accomplish.
The writing stage is where resources like a planned writing schedule, writing groups, and even a great coach can make the difference between a finished book and no book.
If you write 1,000 words per day (about 4 pages), you can finish a 30,000-word book in 30 days. If you write 1,000 words per week, it will take you 30 weeks. And even if you write 10,000 words per day, if you give up, quit, second-guess yourself, or totally change your mind about your topic/outline, you will finish your book… never.
- Finalizing: 4 weeks
The last stage is what happens after your book has been written. This final part of the book publishing process is what often makes the difference between a bestseller and a book that stays in obscurity forever.
After you finish writing, you need to have your book edited. Even the best writers in the world have their books edited, usually multiple times. The first round of editing should be a developmental/structural edit which includes feedback on your book as a whole: organization of chapters, if the content makes sense, if there’s information missing, which parts are boring, etc. The second round of editing will be a check for errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax.
Once your book has been edited, it will need to be formatted for publication. Depending on where you are submitting your book (or if you are self-publishing), there will be varying requirements for how the file should be formatted. These guidelines include things such as page size, margins, fonts, chapter titles, quotations, images, and so on.
Then it’s time to click ‘Submit’ and start marketing. These last few pieces of the publication puzzle can be very expensive and take months, especially if you don’t know how to do them yourself (or how to hire people to help you). Well-written content, beautiful formatting, and successful marketing are absolutely make-or-break factors when it comes to being a #1 bestseller.
Some writers choose to fast-track their way to number one bestselling author status by enrolling in the Rockstar Academy, which provides coaching through every phase of the process, plus in-house editing, formatting, publishing, and marketing experts to bump your book to the top of the bestseller list.