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How Long Does It Take To Write A Book? For First-Time Authors

Written by

Scott Allan

https://selfpublishing.com/author/scott-allan/

Published on

2020-08-18

How long does it take to write a book, you ask? If you’re a first-time author, you probably think it takes a LONG time.

Thankfully, we have some good news for you…

Writing a book can take far less time than you might imagine!

Do you dream of writing a book, but worry about the time it will take to make your dream come true?

If so, you’re not alone.

Before you commit to making your book idea a reality, you need to know how long it will take.

If you’re looking to write a brilliant book in a short amount of time that fits your lifestyle, we’ve got you covered. 

This guide contains the information, tools, and techniques you need to become a successful author as soon as possible

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Here’s what you should know to determine how long it takes to write a book:

  1. How to schedule a deadline for writing your book
  2. What is the average time to write a book?
  3. How many pages does it take to write a book?
  4. How to write a book in less time
  5. Tools to boost your book writing speed
  6. A step by step book writing schedule

How to schedule a deadline for writing your book

Even though writing the content for your book is only one part of the self-publishing process, it’s the most important part!

You can create the most beautiful book cover in the world and come up with a persuasive marketing plan. However, if the writing itself is anything less than stellar, your readers will feel disappointed. 

Of course, it’s not enough to write well. You also need to write according to a realistic timeframe.

Why, exactly? 

As a self-published author, shouldn’t you have the luxury of taking as long as you please?

While you have the liberty to write according to any schedule you want, you should take the time to establish an optimal one.

Some of the main benefits of setting a book writing deadline include:

  • Momentum. For many authors, enthusiasm for writing their book tapers off over time. If you take too long to get it done, you run the risk of losing your momentum and abandoning the project altogether. Setting an achievable book writing deadline keeps you motivated to see it through.
  • Project planning. If you’re self-publishing properly, you have a long checklist of tasks to carry out aside from writing. To launch and market your book, you need to know when it will be complete.
  • Author wellness. Failing to set a deadline is a fast way to feel overwhelmed and unfocused. A book writing deadline allows you to set manageable targets and to remain in control at all times. 

But what should your writing deadline be?

If you’ve written a book in the past, you’ll have a realistic idea of how long the process takes. Even then, it’s worth keeping in mind that different books take different amounts of time to write. 

How about if you’ve never written a book before?

If you’re working on your first book, you can still set a realistic deadline. Here are some techniques.

  • Establish your speed. Every writer has a different rate of output, and that’s OK. It’s not about comparing yourself to others. Instead, it’s about finding the right pace for you. Try writing 500 words or so in conditions similar to those you will be writing your book in. How long does it take you to get content worthy of a first draft? Do this on a few different occasions to avoid any outlier results. Average out the different times. Once you know how long 500 satisfactory words take you on average, you can multiply that time upwards to set a deadline for your book’s final word count.
  • Ask around. Even if you haven’t written a book before, you probably know authors that have. Getting a range of different opinions on how long others take to write a book similar to yours will give you a rough estimate to work with. 
  • Check your calendar. It’s natural to get too excited about writing a book and not take into account what your schedule will look like. Do you have vacations on the horizon? Family commitments? Anything else that might eat into your planned writing time? Be sure to keep these in mind when determining your book writing deadline.

When setting your deadline, try and find the golden mean between being overly optimistic and excessively cautious. 

Setting a deadline you can’t keep not only runs the risk of hurting your confidence but also can lead to other parts of the publishing process being delayed or skipped entirely, so choose wisely!

How long does it take to write a book on average?

The average time to write a book for most authors is 180 days, or 6 months, more or less. Usually, it takes authors anywhere from 4-8 months to complete a book. However, you can definitely write a book faster than that!

Now that you have some effective ways to determine what your book’s deadline should be, let’s consider how long books take individual authors on average. 

Please keep in mind this advice is only intended as a guideline. Many variables influence how long a book might take.

The average time to write a book is affected by:

  • The genre of the book being written
  • The author’s typing speed
  • How many writing sessions the author has scheduled
  • How much editing and revision is required

To put it another way, while it may be useful to have an idea of the average time needed, your mileage may well vary!

The next section of this guide looks at page counts for different books in more detail, but for now, we’ll use 50,000 words as a benchmark.

Many writers are capable of producing 500 words of good content per session, while others prefer to hit at least 1000.

So how many writing sessions will you need to produce a full book?

  • If you aim to output 500 words per session, you would need 100 sessions to hit your 50,000-word count target
  • If you aim to output 1000 words per session, you would need 50 writing sessions to hit the word count needed for your book

So how do these writing sessions translate to time on the calendar?

  • 500 words per session writers. If you schedule three writing sessions per week, you would need a little over eight months to hit your book’s word count. If you manage five sessions per week, you would have a complete book in five months
  • 1000 words per session writers. Hitting three sessions per week at this rate of output would result in a full book in four months. Achieving five sessions each week would give you a full book in only two and a half months

These guidelines will help you have a ballpark completion date for your book, allowing you to plan ahead of publication and promotion.

How many pages does it take to write a book?

Perhaps you prefer to think in terms of page count rather than word count.

While measuring progress by the number of pages written was more common in the days of the typewriter, as it was a lot easier to track pages than words, it’s still a metric that’s easy to visualize. It’s also how we measure our progress as readers.

To plan your book writing time from a page count perspective, you need to work with the understanding that 500 words typically equals about a page and a half. This is affected by your typesetting and the visual content of your book, but it’s a good guideline.

Using the 500 words per page and a half metric, different books have the following average page counts.

Example fiction book page counts

  • An 80,000-word mainstream romance novel has around 240 pages
  • A 90,000-word historical fiction book has around 270 pages
  • A 100,000-word sci-fi or fantasy book has around 300 pages

Example non-fiction book page counts

  • A 40,000-word self-help book has around 120 pages
  • A 70,000-word business book has around 210 pages
  • A 150,000-word biography has around 450 pages

Of course, you don’t have to be constrained by these page counts when writing your book, but it’s good to be aware of what readers might expect.

But what about if your book isn’t one of the above genres?

Here’s a method to find the average page count for any type of book:

  1. Go to Amazon‘s online bookstore
  2. Search for the genre of book you are writing
  3. Open up the Kindle Edition book pages of the top 10 current bestsellers within your chosen category
  4. Scroll down until you see the Print Length information for each book
  5. Average out the number of pages
  6. Calculate how many words you will need to reach that page count

By following the above steps you give yourself the peace of mind of knowing how long similar books to yours are, so your readers’ expectations are met. 

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How to speed up the book writing process

Taking longer to write doesn’t necessarily result in a better book. 

In fact, it’s often the opposite. By taking too long, your initial idea loses its luster, your enthusiasm wanes, and your content becomes dull and dated. 

If you want to write a book faster, here are some quick tips to hasten your process:

  1. Schedule out more writing time. How much time do you waste on social media? On Netflix? On anything that isn’t aligned with your goals? Many authors can find extra time to write when they take a look at their schedule.
  2. Improve your planning process. Regardless of whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, you’ll do it a lot faster if you plan properly. Consider whether improving your research or outlining process could help you reach your deadline sooner. 
  3. Leverage the power of community. If you’re the only person who knows about your book writing deadline, it’s easy to let it slip. Partnering with a fellow author to motivate each other, or even letting a loved one know about your goal, can be an invaluable way to stay on track.
  4. Apply external pressure. Sometimes setting consequences can help you write a book in less time. A service like Stickk might be worth checking out, or you could pre-pay for marketing or publication services that require your book to be ready by a certain time. Only use this technique if you have the type of personality that wouldn’t be panicked or overwhelmed by external pressure!
  5. Optimize your writing conditions. Writing a book in the shortest time possible isn’t an act of magic or luck. We can influence various factors to speed up our output. When you find your favorite place to write, tool to write with, and most productive time of day, you are likely to finish your book faster. 

While it’s a great idea to finish your book as soon as you can, you shouldn’t sacrifice its quality. 

Striking a balance between speed and excellence is an important part of your growth as a writer. 

Writing as fast as possible might seem tempting, but be aware that rushing your work will require more time for editing and improvement further down the line, increasing the overall time taken.

Tools to boost your writing speed

As contemporary writers, we’re blessed with a range of tools and technology to help us speed up our book writing process.

If you’re looking for an extra edge to help you finish your book faster, consider using a tool!

Here are some tools to write your book faster:

  1. Specialist writing software. Have you ever considered that your choice of writing software might be slowing you down? Selecting a specialist option suited to books in general, or novels in particular, might give you extra features that boost your output.
  2. A second screen. Do you lose time by switching back and forth between your word processor and your research or notes? If so, consider investing in a second monitor so you can have both on display at all times.
  3. Dictation apps and tools. Some people prefer to speak their book than to type it. You might also get physically tired of typing but be able to carry on through dictation. Experiment with dictation to see if it gives you a productivity boost.
  4. A new keyboard. If you’ve written on several different computers, you’ll know that your choice of keyboard can impact your writing speed. 
  5. White noise or music. What you listen to while writing, if anything at all, is very much personal preference. Try experimenting with different types of white noise and music to see if you notice a difference in your rate of output. 

If you’re struggling to write at the speed you want, give some of the above tools a try.

They might just cut down on the time you need to make your book a reality.

A step by step book writing schedule 

Now that you’ve taken a thorough look at how long it takes to write a book, let’s summarize the process as a series of simple steps.

  1. Determine the genre or category of your next book
  2. Calculate a target word count
  3. Figure out how many words you can produce in an average writing session
  4. Translate your target word count into a total number of writing sessions
  5. Schedule out your writing sessions on a calendar, allowing for other commitments
  6. Track your progress as you go, making adjustments as needed

Hopefully, you now see that you are more than capable of writing a superb book in less time than you imagined. 

So, what’s stopping you?

Please don’t even think about closing this article without taking action!

Take a few minutes to brainstorm some book ideas.

What will you write? How long will it take you?

There’s someone out there whose life will be changed for the better by reading your next book.

Why not let them enjoy it as soon as possible?

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Scott Allan

Scott Allan is a bestselling author who has a passion for teaching, building life skills, and inspiring others to take charge of their lives. Scott’s mission is to give people the strategies needed to design the life they want through choice.