Monday, July 15, 2013

How long does it take to write a book?

I've been asked how long it takes me to write a book. It's hard to answer in an hour amount. I've never tracked the total time. Below are my best guesses. I haven't included plotting time, but before I start typing a book, I have usually done a fair amount of thinking about it and have discussed it several times with my husband. I also don't know how much time I spend on research. I read a lot about the Middle East before writing Protecting His Princess, but Hiding His Witness didn't require as much research.

Draft: I can write a rough draft in a month (70,000 words). I write 6 days a week for 1-4 hours each day. That means it takes me between 24 and 96 hours for a first draft.

1st revisions: The number of pages I revise in a day varies depending on how much work the pages need. I'm thinking in the range of 10 pages an hour. My manuscripts are around 250 pages, so I can estimate another 25 hours to revise.

Additional revisions: My critique partner and my husband read my work at this point. Depending on their feedback, I can add another 25-30 hours for these revisions.

Final read through: I read the entire manuscript before sending it to my editor. 6 hours if it reads smoothly, but 24 hours if it's a mess.

Query letter and synopsis: I need to submit this to my editor so she get the idea of what the book is about. 6 - 10 hours.

Editorial content edits (feedback from my editor): This can take me as long as writing the draft, so somewhere between 24 and 96 hours.

Editorial line edits: I've never timed this, but I think it takes about 2 weeks of my writing time, so 12-48 hours.

Author alterations: After the copy editor at my publisher takes a pass at the book, I review the book again. This takes about a week of writing time, 6-24 hours.

Art Fact sheet: inputting some information about the book into my publisher's computer system so that a good cover can be created takes me 4-8 hours.

Dedication: 1-3 hours.

Summary: The short answer is that is takes me between 133-364 hours to write a book. I recently discovered that Microsoft Word has a feature that tracks the total editing time on a document. I don't know if the timer is running the entire time the document is open or only if it's the active application. For the proposal I turned in yesterday to my editor, for the first 100 pages of a new book, I spent 9776 minutes working on it, or about 163 hours. Those pages were revised several times and I am not always working on a document when it is open on my laptop.

Authors: how long does it take you to write a novel? How long do you spend each week writing versus promoting a book (book tours, social media)? Any other big time expenditures I've forgotten in regards to writing?

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