How Long To Write Book? Answers, Part 5

Today brings the last part of this series. I hope you've enjoyed it. I know I have.

Our last answer is provided by Paula Roe

Paula is the author of Boardrooms and a Billionaire Heir, a Silhouette Desire released in May 2008. Paula invites you to visit her website and Down Under Desirabelles.

Hmmm.... There are many variables that go into writing a book.

What you're writing. To build author brand, category authors are encouraged to have at least two books out a year, whereas single title authors are on the shelves longer and so get longer to write.

How you're writing. Are you are a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid? Do you even know your process? If you're gradually learning about how you write (and for each book, that may be different) then this will impact on your time. If you take a day to plot your story prior to writing it, you may be a faster writer than one who's a pantser, someone who discovers the story as
she writes.

Your home life. Authors are single, divorced, married, with a dozen kids, with none, retired, empty nesters... the list goes on. Some can get up at 4am each morning and write until lunch. Some have to fit it into school hours, around first and/or second jobs, or at night when the kids/husband are asleep.
Your creative self. Sometimes life happens (death, divorce, tragedy, job) and you can't write. A multi-published author once told me when she's thinking of a deadline, she always adds one extra week for each of the kids, one for the dog and one for her mother.

What your publisher wants.
There are only a set amount of slots per year that have to be filled and some authors are so prolific (like Nora Roberts and her alter ego JD Robb) that they have to cross genres to get their stories published. Some (like Presents/Medical Harlequin author Melanie Milburne) cross category lines to find the slots.

What I'm getting at is there's no such thing as an average author any more than there's an average person. For me, my editor wants two books a year, which is pretty scary since my first published book took around six years to write, on and off! And suddenly I'm required to write two a year?

After much internal angst can I do this?!! I slayed those doubt demons and proved I could write under contract and deliver on time. My second book was contracted on synopsis in December 2006, and I handed in the complete at the end of July 2007. As I don't writing during school holidays nor after 2.30pm, I calculated that this book was written in about 18 weeks, a story written from scratch, mind you, not one I had as backup under my bed.

I recently handed in my 3rd book. After taking about 6 weeks to get the first three chapters and synopsis right, I gave myself two months for the other 40,000 words, which I handed in on time. Now I've taken to pre-preparing as much as I can - mainly GMC charts and plot sketching, which is drafting stuff up on a whiteboard chapter by chapter, using cause and effect.

This has taken me about three days, which has saved me about three weeks in floundering with "what happens next?" Then I take about a month to polish the synopsis and 3 chaps before I submit it. And, wow, this process feels so right that I'm hoping to have it complete by Christmas.

Takeaway Truth

More often than not, I've found generosity to be a hallmark of successful people. I hope you'll visit these authors who took the time to share their respective work ethics with you. Buy their books or request your local library to stock the books. If you're uncertain as to how to get your library to do that, visit my website. On the Reading page, there's an article describing the process.


  1. "A multi-published author once told me when she's thinking of a deadline, she always adds one extra week for each of the kids, one for the dog and one for her mother."

    I love that quote. I could see it fitting my life.

    Thank you, Joan, and all contributing authors. I'll make a list and make sure the library has you stocked. Although... I think I recall some of those titles already being on my shelf. :o)

    Joan- dodge Ike and be careful!

  2. Thanks, Just Me. I'll be posting pictures and text on both blogs as long as I have power. We're all getting ready to duke it out with Ike.