How long does it take to write a book?


One of the most common questions people ask me is ‘How long will it take me to write a book?’


The short answer is ‘How long is a piece of string?’, but that’s not going to help you make a decision about whether to invest your time.


The truth is that how long it takes to write a book varies from person to person. But there are a few factors that will influence your writing speed, and considering each of them in turn will help you work out whether it’s a commitment you can make.


The length of the book

It goes without saying that the longer your book, the longer it will take you to write. But many authors start to write without setting a target, leaving them an open-ended goal and no end date in sight. Let’s consider how long your book needs to be.


When I work with a new author, we spend time at the beginning to think about the reader. How long does your reader want your book to be? How much time do they have to read it? Writing for child-free millennials with plenty of leisure time isn’t the same as writing for high-pressured sales teams who are constantly on the road.


One method I use to discover more about what readers want is to research other books in the genre. How long are they? What do the reviews say about them? If Amazon customers criticise a 300-page book for being too long, that’s a clue that there’s a gap in the market for a shorter book on the same subject.


In fact, you probably don’t have to write a long book at all. Most business books are between 30 and 40,000 words—and many authors on my coaching programme write that in just 4 months. Think about what you have to say and what your reader really needs to hear. Chances are you can write a lot less than you think.


Your other commitments

Before I make a writing schedule with my authors, I always ask them about their other commitments. How many days a week do they work and what hours? What do they do on weekends? What’s coming up in their life and business?


If you’re wondering if you’ve got time to write a book, ask yourself this: could you write one page a day? One page in a Word document is around 500 words. That’s an average blog post. Could you do that 5 days a week? If so, you could be writing 2,500 words a week. After 4 months, that could turn into a 40,000-word book.


Of course, some days 500 words will take an hour and some days it’ll take 3. Your frame of mind and the subject you’re tackling all play a part. Try timing how long it takes you to write a blog piece. Could you write that 5 days a week? If you can, you’ve got what it takes to finish a book.


How much research you need to do

Research can kill books.


I know many authors who’ve never even started their book because they’re stuck in the research phase. So work out how long this will take before you start.


One way is to split the content you need to write into three groups: topics you need to research, topics you know so well you can just write, and topics you can re-purpose from material you’ve already written. This ‘Research/Write/Re-purpose’ method will show you how much new material you need to source. And that will give you an idea of how long your book will take you.


How long it takes to write a book varies. But by taking into account all the factors above, you’ll get a good idea of whether you can commit some of your time to creating something meaningful. If you’d like help to create a writing schedule, need some accountability, or just want to share your ideas, contact me here.