How Long Does It Take To Write A Book
How long should a book be?
Whenever that question comes up, the answer is usually “It depends” (or something to that effect), but we can get closer to a more helpful answer by getting more specific on the type of book we want to write.
Whether you’re writing a novel or a nonfiction book, though, the average length will depend on how your book compares to others of the same genre or subject matter.
So, before you can answer the question, “How long does it take to write a book?” you need to know some crucial details — and not just about the book itself:
- Genre or Subject
- Daily Writing Time
- Writing Speed and Skill Level
This article is all about helping you determine how long it will take you to write the book you want — and to help you write it.
Only then can you work on getting your words out to those who will most enjoy reading them.
Table of Contents
How to Make Time for Writing
The best way to ensure you make time for writing is to create a daily writing habit. You can use the following tools to help with this:
- Triggers — Attach the new habit to a habit you already have. And establish sensory triggers that tell your brain it’s time to write.
- Accountability — Find someone to whom you can be accountable for your progress. You’ll report to this person on a regular basis.
- Rewards — Set up meaningful rewards to enjoy when you reach each writing goal.
- Setting up a Writing Space — Create a writing-friendly workspace.
- Scheduling Your Writing Time — Commit to writing at a particular time every day.
- Choosing the Best Writing Music — Create a writing-friendly auditory environment for your writing time and space.
- Break the Project into Smaller Tasks — Make the whole project less daunting by tackling one task (or “sub-project”) at a time.
- Set Realistic Deadlines — Make them challenging but attainable. Keep your other important commitments in mind while setting these.
The best times to write are usually in the early morning or in the evening, depending on your personal preferences and sleep schedule. But you know better than anyone what time of day is best for creative thinking — at least where your brain and energy levels are concerned.
Once you have an idea of how long it will take you to write your book, you can schedule your writing times for the month and set reasonable deadlines for each task or milestone along the way.
Your writing time is sacred, so don’t let others treat it as open-door time. If you can’t close a door, use noise-canceling headphones (if it helps) to send the signal that you are “at work” and not to be disturbed.
Play music that signals to your brain that it’s writing time, and get those fingers on the keyboard. Atmospheric cues act as triggers for your new writing habits and get you into the right mindset for creative work.
Your writing space should be as clutter-free and distraction-free as possible, so your attention will be on your writing and not on social media, household chores, or the notifications that keep pinging on your phone.
There’s a reason many smartphones now come with a “Flip to Silence” feature. If yours doesn’t, consider turning it off, muting it, or keeping it in a different room.
How Long Does It Take to Write a Book?
How long it will take you to write a book depends not only on the type of book you’re writing and its estimated length but on the time you spend each day writing. Check out the following chart to get an idea of how long it will take you to complete a book if you keep to one of the suggested daily word count targets.
For a 30,000 word book,
- If you write 500 words a day — 5 days a week — it will take you 12 weeks.
- If you write 1,000 words a day — 5 days a week — it will take you 6 weeks.
- If you write 1,000 words a day — 6 days a week — it will take you 5 weeks.
- If you write 1,500 words a day — 5 days a week — it will take you 4 weeks.
- If you write 2,000 words a day — 5 days a week — it will take you 3 weeks.
Set your daily word count goal based on how much you can reasonably commit to writing each day and how quickly you’d like to finish writing your book.
How Long Is a Book?
How many words in a novel depends on its genre and complexity. Fantasy novels are typically the longest with epic fantasy reaching to 120,000 words and beyond.
Using the chart above, you can calculate roughly how long it would take you to write a novel of twice, three times, or four times the length of a 30,000 word book.
How many words in a nonfiction book depends on its subject matter and complexity, as well as whether you plan on writing one book with all the content from your research or a series of smaller books covering different branches of your material.
If you have a specific book in mind you’d like to emulate for its length and overall structure, look up its page count, how it’s divided into parts and chapters, and how many pages each chapter has. You can learn plenty just by revisiting books you’ve enjoyed and paying attention to these details — as well as anything that made those books enjoyable to read from the first page to the last.
How Many Words Per Page in a Book?
The number of words per page in a book depends on the following factors:
- Page size
- Font size and type
- Letter and paragraph spacing
- Margins and indentation
- Paragraph structure
- Images and other non-text features
To answer the question, “How many pages is 30,000 words?” with a reasonable guesstimate, we need to know the answers to at least questions one through four.
For a standard document page in Microsoft Word, using a font like Lato in 12 point, 500 words fill roughly one 8.5” by 11” page with single-spacing and a 10 point space between un-indented paragraphs. With spacing set at 1.15, a first line indent at 0.25, and no spaces between paragraphs, 500 words take up close to the same amount of space.
If you take those same pages and change the page size to 6” by 9” (without changing the margins), the number of pages per 500 words jumps to roughly one and three quarter pages (give or take a few lines).
So, if you’re planning to write a book with around 50,000 words, and you’ve chosen a 6” by 9” trim size, you’re looking at roughly 175 pages. How you set your margins and whether your book contains images or other visual aids (charts, graphs, etc.) will also affect your page count.
How Long Does It Take to Write 500 Words?
This is important to know if you’ve decided to write a minimum 500 words a day. You need to know roughly how long that will take you. If you don’t know, yet, give yourself an hour or half an hour and record your word count for that amount of time.
When you’re just starting out, don’t be hard on yourself if it takes longer than half an hour to write 500 words. The more you honor your commitment to your daily butt-in-chair time, the more freely the words will flow when you sit down to write.
If 500 words is too much to commit to at first, try 300. Or just focus on writing for one or more 25-minute “Pomodoro” sessions a day (with short breaks between them).
Once you know how long it takes you to write 500 words, you’re closer to determining how long it will take you to write each chapter of your book — once you have an idea of each chapter’s approximate (or target) word count.
How many words should a chapter be? At the risk of sounding unhelpful, it depends. There’s no law saying a chapter has to be at least 500 words. Neither is there a fixed limit to chapter size.
If you’re writing a nonfiction book, and you want your readers to be able to finish a chapter in twenty minutes or less, keep in mind that the average reading speed is 200 words per minute. At that rate, you’ll want to keep your chapter length to no more than 4,000 words.
How Long Does It Take to Write a Nonfiction Book?
If you want your readers to be able to get through your whole book in two hours or less, you’re looking at a target word count of 24,000 words. If three hours sounds about right, shoot for 36,000 words.
How long each book takes to write depends on the type of nonfiction book and how long you want it to be. How many words in a self-help book, for example, depends on how many topics you’re covering and how thoroughly you want to cover each one.
Check out your favorite self-help books and list their word counts and number of chapters to get an idea of how long to make your book. Once you know how many words you can comfortably and consistently write every day (five or more days a week), you can calculate how long it should take to write the entire book.
How Long Does It Take to Write a Novel?
Three are two reasons why novels generally take longer to write than nonfiction books:
- They’re usually longer (depending on genre).
- They’re more complex.
As a rule, it takes longer to craft a compelling story than to write factual information. Creative nonfiction combines story with fact and may take longer than nonfiction that doesn’t involve narrative.
Because most novel are longer and more complex, writing, rewriting, and editing are going to take longer — at least if you want the finished product to earn five-star reviews from your ideal readers.
The answer to the question, “How long is a novel?” depends largely on its genre, though there’s room for some variability. Check out the following average word counts for each genre:
- Science Fiction / Fantasy — 90,000 to 120,000 (sometimes 150,000 or more)
- Mainstream Women’s Fiction — 90,000 to 100,000
- Crime / Mystery / Thriller / Horror — 70,000 to 90,000
- Cozy Mystery — 70,000 to 80,000
- Young Adult (YA) — 70,000 to 80,000
- Middle Grade (MG) — 40,000 to 50,000
- Novellas — 30,000 to 50,000
By contrast, here are some typical word counts for non-fiction book genres:
- Standard Nonfiction (Business, Health, History, etc.) — 25,000 to 80,000
- How-to / Self-Help — 40,000 to 50,000 words
- Memoir — 80,000 to 100,000
How long it will take you to write your novel also depends on how hard it is to write. When you’re writing your first draft, hopefully you can turn off your inner editor and just get your words onto the page.
At the end of each daily writing session, stop when you have some idea of where you want to go from there. Don’t write until you hit a wall, or the wall will be there to greet you the next time you sit down to write.
Leave yourself a note about what comes next to help get you started the next day. Once you do, the momentum will build and the ideas will flow more freely. And it doesn’t all have to be gold the first time you write it, anyway.
When it comes time to revise and rewrite your novel (a different kind of fun), set yourself a different daily target if you’re not rewriting your novel word for word.
For example, if you find you can revise ten pages in a half-hour period, and your novel is 245 pages long, you can plan each day’s editing time and calculate how long it should take you to finish revising your novel.
If you revise for a full hour and get through twenty pages a day, it’ll take you 12.25 days — or roughly two and a half weeks — to get to the end.
After that comes editing, which can also take a couple weeks, depending on your editor and whether you’re paying for structural editing or just copy-editing and proofreading.
How Long Does It Take To Publish A Book?
Once you’ve written, revised, and edited your book, it’s time to get it formatted. If you want it published as both an e-book and a print paperback, you’ll need formatting for both of those. And depending on whom you contract with (or whether you learn to do this yourself), you can expect to devote a week (maybe two) for professional-quality formatting.
Then comes the cover design, which can take another week or two, depending on the artist you choose and how many edits you request.
After that, getting your book set up on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) as a Kindle e-book and as a print paperback shouldn’t take more than a few hours at the most — and most of that time will be spent on crafting and formatting your book’s description and choosing the best keywords and book categories.
If you need help with your book description, check out this helpful podcast on Authority.Pub.
This online html editoris a huge help with formatting your book description. When you get it looking just right, copy and past the html copy right from the right-hand pane into the “Book Description” field in your book’s KDP set-up page.
And by far the best tool for finding those keywords and categories is Publisher Rocket (formerly KDP Rocket).
Once your book is set up as both an e-book and a print book and you’ve hit “Publish” for both, Amazon’s KDP will take up to 72 hours to check out your book and either publish it or tell you (by email) why they can’t.
Now that you know how long it takes to write a book, how soon will you get started on your first (or next) one? Do you know where and when you’ll be writing when you sit down to sketch out the idea for your book?
Whether you prefer to type it out or write it in a notebook, why not start now by telling yourself the first book idea that comes to mind — as if you were telling your ideal reader about the book while riding together in an elevator.
Don’t overthink it. Just get the ideas out of your head and onto the page.
And if that idea loses its shine mid-sentence, try another one. Or blend a couple ideas into something new. Think of the kind of book you wish had existed at one point in your life, when you felt lost, frustrated, or confused. What would you want to see in that book’s description?
Then figure out what you need to learn in order to make that book all that it could be.
And may your passion, curiosity, and creative energy influence everything you do today.