How Long To Write Book? Answers, Part 1

In last Saturday's blog post, I posed the question: How long does it take a published author to write and edit a book to completion? The wonderful authors of the Published Authors Special Interest Chapter (PASIC) of Romance Writers of America responded with wit and wisdom. Here are three answers.

Alexis Morgan

Alexis is the author of Dark Warrior Unleashed and The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance, both available now, and Darkness Unknown coming from Pocket Star, Feb. 2009.

I usually allow four months for a book of 90K words. I write 35 pages per week, aiming for a 380 pg manuscript. That works out to about 12 weeks of actual writing time. Then I add on a month for editing, working on books in production, and the little surprises life hands us once in a while.

Kimberly Killion

Kimberly writes Sexy Medieval Romance and is the author of Her One Desire which is on sale now and Highland Dragon, coming in 2009 from Kensington.

I have had one wild experience that might apply to the infinite question: "How long does it take for the average published author to write and edit a book?"

The first book (my ‘University’ book) took 2 and a half years. I had a lot to learn and, sadly, it will never see the light of day. The second book I wrote, Highland Dragon, which comes out in October 2009, took me a year. So I was indeed getting faster.

The third book I wrote, Her One Desire, which actually came out before the second (long story), took me a meager three months. Why so short a time period, you ask. Well, that was the deadline I was given by my editor at Kensington. So, how long does it take to write a book? It depends on the given deadline.

Allison Brennan

Allison is the author of Playing Dead, coming September 30, 2008.

"It depends" is a great answer!

My books take 6-10 weeks to write and 2-4 weeks to revise. But that's sort of deceptive because I'm usually churning ideas and plot problems and scenes around in my head for months or years.

For example, in 2001 after the birth of my son, I wrote 300 pages on a book I was calling The Copycat Killer. I wasn't that serious and got bored with the story, though I loved the premise. I wasn't serious about my writing back then, just sort of fooling around while watching television over the summer.

Fast forward two years. I had become very serious about writing, wrote four complete manuscripts that didn't sell. I brought out The Copycat Killer and thought, hey, this isn't bad . . . until I got to chapter three and realized everything past chapter two had to go. 280 pages . . . delete.

I rewrote the book with the same characters and premise, just different, and it took me five months (while working full time.) That book became The Prey, my debut novel.

So did that book take five months? Eight months if I add in the three months I wrote the garbage? Or nearly three years between when I wrote the first chapter and the last?

My Seven Deadly Sins series I conceived in the summer of 2003, before I sold anything. I just (now) sold the series, and the first two books will be out in 2010. I had 100 pages of the first book, but I knew then I didn't have the experience or honed talent to write the story I wanted, not at that time. Now, I feel like I can do it. I suspect the first book will take me 10 weeks to write. But I've been thinking about the characters and conflict and story for five years. Does that mean it took me five years to write it . . . or 10 weeks?
Playing Dead, my latest release, I wrote in four weeks, and then it took me four weeks to revise it. I couldn't get started. I had no idea how to put what was in my head on paper and make it work. So I procrastinated and fretted (and had personal crises at the time, which didn't help!) and ultimately when it clicked in my head, I was able to write it very quickly. But that was about three months of writing and rewriting the same three chapters over and over . . . and then they didn't even stay!


  1. What I'm seeing is that practice makes you get better at writing and makes the process go faster?

    Good. My current WIP I wrote in 3 months but I've been editing and rewriting huge sections since March.

    A pot boiler I wrote in February start to finish seems cleaner and like it will take less time to edit and make presentable.

    Hmmm... that doesn't sound to far off, does it?

    Thank you, ladies, this was very helpful!

  2. Yep. Practice does make perfect or at least a heck of a lot better than in the beginning.

    I can't express my appreciation enough for the generosity of the authors who responded. This week is going to be awesome.

  3. There will be an entire week of answers! Tell your friends!

  4. I already have. I'll go nudge them and see if they'll stop lurking. We've been talking about you behind your blog.

    *is ashamed*

  5. i am sorry to bother you but i was wondering when you were going to put up chapter 9 of "moonlight on snow" i stumbled on to it last night and i'm. just. dying.
    thank you ma'am!

  6. Anonymous, hello! You're not bothering me at all. I love it when fans clamor for my writing. *g* You aren't the only one who has contacted me about the delayed chapter.

    Unfortunately, I just do the writing. The novella was contracted to the publisher. I send in the chapter the month prior to the publication date. It is up to the publisher to post it in a timely fashion.

    So the publisher has the chapter for Sept. Last night I sent her the October chapter. I also forwarded emails I've received on my website from other readers wanting to know the same as you.

    This morning the publisher responded with an email to me saying she was a little behind.

    I'm hoping she gets the Sept. chapter uploaded this week.

    Perhaps if you went to and used their contact form to request the same, the chapter might get posted immediately.

    Thanks for reading and thanks for loving it! I'm working on another serialization deal for a longer work and will announce it here and on my website if we can come to mutually agreeable terms.

    I hope you'll come back and visit again.