Author Topic: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?  (Read 993 times)  

Offline Piano Jenny

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How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« on: January 24, 2018, 06:01:02 PM »
I'm trying to come up with a schedule to successfully meet my next deadline, and it occurred to me to question how many hours it will take me. (Answer: I have no idea.)

Have you ever calculated or estimated how many actual hours it takes for you to write a book, from the time you start jotting down your first thoughts or outline to when you have something ready to send to an editor (or start formatting, if you don't use an outside editor)?

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Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2018, 06:16:54 PM »
For romance it's taken 40, 84, and 163 hours, respectively.
For SFF it's taken 216, 454, 156, and 125 hours, respectively.

That's hours spent writing and editing to a final, publishable product. The two highest numbers for each genre were the first ones I wrote for that genre and my first two novels.


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Offline BookMagic

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2018, 06:18:41 PM »
Id say about 70 to 75 hours for a 80K words book (first draft).

Offline Gabriella West

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2018, 06:20:19 PM »
Fascinating. I estimated 72. But that's just the writing, not the marketing!

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Offline Ryan W. Mueller

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2018, 06:45:14 PM »
I have absolutely no idea. I don't keep track of the time I spend writing. Maybe I should. It would certainly be an interesting thing to keep track of.

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Offline 3rotic

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2018, 06:50:37 PM »
It takes me about 10-12 hours to fully outline a novel. Maybe even 15 hours on tougher projects. I like a detailed outline.

After that, averaging roughly 2,000 words typed an hour, it takes me ~35 hours to write a 70,000 word novel.

My editing takes about 8-10 hours.

Total time is about 53-60 hours to produce a complete novel--complete as in ready for market. This doesn't include the time it takes me to pick out a cover/artist, scheduling ads, writing up newsletters, etc.

Offline Annie B

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2018, 07:23:57 PM »
I spend anywhere from months to years coming up with notes and nailing down my outlines, so I have no idea how to quantify that in hours. Once I have an outline and start writing I spend somewhere between 100 and 300 hours per book depending on the length, complexity, and genre.

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2018, 07:52:13 PM »
For me, about 400 hours, probably, for a 100-125k contemporary romance or romantic suspense novel.

It has taken me about the same amount of time to write all 25 books, from my first fiction to my latest. I put out a new book about every 2.5 to 3.5 months, but I work 7 days a week on it.

It has been well worth it to get everything right, or at least as good as I could get it. The difference between the books continuing to sell well over years and not, I believe, for me. My prose would be pretty forgettable otherwise.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2018, 07:58:07 PM by Usedtoposthere »

Offline Vishal Reddy

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2018, 11:00:24 PM »
Both of my mystery novels took me roughly 150 hours each. My investing book took about 50 hours total.


Offline jmb3

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2018, 12:33:36 AM »
For me, about 400 hours, probably, for a 100-125k contemporary romance

I'd estimate it also takes me 400 hours for 100-115k romance. I started publishing a year and a half ago and have three books out (another coming next month). Although that's impressive...for me... I'm hardly a productive writer. The first 3.5 months of a new story is spent farting around, but then as the deadline looms (to get a spot on my narrator's schedule without having to wait another four months), I'll spend 12 hours a day getting it done. I know there's a better way. I just haven't found it yet.

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Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2018, 02:21:44 AM »
I think this is probably a case of 'it takes as long as it takes'. There are so many variables -- how long is the book? did you outline in advance? how fast can you type? how fast can you compose the story as you type? are you consistent? and many more... -- that each person's answer will only really be useful for them.
     

Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2018, 03:41:18 AM »
Probably 500+ hours depending on length. Nope, I'm never ever going to publish 3+ novels a year.  :'(

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Offline dianapersaud

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2018, 05:38:48 AM »
There's a free iphone app called helios that you can use to track your writing time. The hardest thing is to remember to turn the timer on/off.

You can track actual writing time, time spent on marketing and time wasted on FB/online etc. I used this app for several months last year to get a feel for how long it takes me to write, and to see where I was wasting time. But you can also use a free timer or watch/clock to do the same thing. You just have to jot down start/stop times.

I'm trying to stick to daily WC goals as that's more significant and productive for me. No matter the length of my books, 6 weeks seems to be the average length of time for me. (This doesn't include erotica shorts).

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Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2018, 06:28:32 AM »
I kept track of one book years ago and clocked in at around 90 hours. Of course, this doesn't count the long walks I take every day to plot out the next day's chapter in my head --- it's only butt-in-chair time.

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Offline A J Sika

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2018, 06:45:15 AM »
Since I sprint through my first draft, I religiously record the number of hours (and word) I write in a day just so I can monitor my sprint speed. For my most recent book it took  about 37 hours to put down the first draft (spread out into 12 days). I'd say shaping it into a cohesive second draft takes about half of that time (i.e. 20 hours because it takes me a week to a week and a half).
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Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2018, 06:49:58 AM »
I'm trying to come up with a schedule to successfully meet my next deadline, and it occurred to me to question how many hours it will take me. (Answer: I have no idea.)

Have you ever calculated or estimated how many actual hours it takes for you to write a book, from the time you start jotting down your first thoughts or outline to when you have something ready to send to an editor (or start formatting, if you don't use an outside editor)?

I track all my writing time in 30 minute sprints, so I have a pretty good idea how long it takes me to write a book. I write about 2800 words an hour, and that's been consistent no matter the length of the final book or short story. So an 80k book takes about 29 hours to write. I consistently spend about half the time I write to edit and re-read the book to catch any typos or little weirdness, and then a few minutes to finalize the file and format in either Scrivener or Vellum.

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2018, 07:31:24 AM »
I'm trying to come up with a schedule to successfully meet my next deadline, and it occurred to me to question how many hours it will take me. (Answer: I have no idea.)

Have you ever calculated or estimated how many actual hours it takes for you to write a book, from the time you start jotting down your first thoughts or outline to when you have something ready to send to an editor (or start formatting, if you don't use an outside editor)?

I never time, or plot. I have an idea & then aim for at least 1000 words per day, sometimes that works out, sometimes not.
My WIP was going well until I needed to get a new (used) computer, it didn't have Word 2010 which I was used to, only Libre Office which I wasn't used to or keen on, that & life getting in the way, killed my writing get up & go for a while, it got up & went, after a few months off, I finally managed to get Word 2007 so it was time to get back to it, I edited & proofed the 27,000 words written previously, partly to get at least something done on it until I was ready to write again but mostly to remind myself of the story so far. :)
Being a total pantser meant I needed to 'feel' where the story was going.
I've now been writing for about 10 days & reached 40,000 words.
At a guess, I'd say it takes about an hour to write 1000 words, depending on whether they hurtle out of my one typing finger or whether I stop now & again for inspiration to take me a bit further.
So, in answer to your question, it depends on so many things how long it takes.
How quickly you write, whether the story is flowing nicely, whether outside life gets in the way etc but that only takes care of the actual first draft, then the editing & proofing can be straighforward or take many edits until you're happy with it.
I tend to edit as I go along, then spend longer doing a more thorough look through once it's done.
I'm aiming to have my WIP ready for next month. :)

Offline Kessie Carroll

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2018, 07:44:35 AM »
I can write a 50-70k book in 2 months, or about 35k a month. I guess that comes out to a little more than an hour a day. Which is pretty rad, considering I homeschool our five kids. And I'm one-finger typing on an ipod screen whenever I can grab a moment. Editing takes about another month, first for the editor to get through it, then for me to work through the edits. Add another month for beta readers. This is why I usually have multiple books in drafting/revisions/editing.
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Offline ameliasmith

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2018, 07:46:25 AM »
I estimate 250 - 300 hours for a 90-100k novel, depending on how complex it is. This includes some planning and research, an estimate of 1000 wph for the draft, and about that long again to edit (several rounds -- sometimes the editing and revision takes longer than the draft), format, do the cover & book description and some pre-release marketing stuff (looking for book reviewers etc.).

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2018, 08:01:33 AM »
I'd estimate it also takes me 400 hours for 100-115k romance. I started publishing a year and a half ago and have three books out (another coming next month). Although that's impressive...for me... I'm hardly a productive writer. The first 3.5 months of a new story is spent farting around, but then as the deadline looms (to get a spot on my narrator's schedule without having to wait another four months), I'll spend 12 hours a day getting it done. I know there's a better way. I just haven't found it yet.
It aint broke, Jill. You do not need to fix it. (IMHO) 😀 My fallow time between books for ex is part of the process.

The less productive early phases for me are figuring out the characters and going deeper. I write as little as 1500 words a day in the beginning (which takes hours), but my second to last day of latest book was 7k (which took about 12 hours). Writing, editing, polishing. I type over 100 wpm. My writing speed has nothing to do with typing speed.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 08:18:38 AM by Usedtoposthere »

Offline Azalea Ellis

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2018, 09:09:52 AM »
I keep track of my time pretty religiously, on a super-complicated spreadsheet (with colored graphs and cells that change color depending on how much I write, etc) that I created for myself. I count the initial plotting as well as the launch and post-launch marketing as part of the book production, because I'm a publisher, not just a writer.

However, the majority of my time is spent plotting, writing, and revising. I want my stories to be stellar. They come out to about 140k words, and are science fiction, with a dash of litRPG from before it was cool. Also I do my own illustration/cover art.

My first book took me 1028.56 hours. I had to almost completely re-write it from first draft.
My second book took me 713.59 hours. I got better.
I'm hoping to complete book 3 in 674 hours or less, and I think it's my best book yet.

I have detailed breakdowns of how long each phase of writing will probably take, but I won't get into that unless someone is specifically interested.

With production times like that, I can't publish books very quickly, but I'm hoping to get faster as I become a better writer. However, I don't feel that I spent a second too long on those books. Right now, it's been 5 months since my last release, and they are still pulling in steady money, because people read them and then recommend them to the people they know. It's not enough to live on, but I believe it will be, by the end of the year.

Offline kw3000

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2018, 12:32:08 PM »
That's kinda neat to track hours, I've never done that. I suppose with that data you could attempt to streamline your process and whittle it down and down until you're at peak efficiency.

Reminds me of Howard Hughes portrayed in 'The Aviator' where he continually sanded down the rivets along the sides of an airplane to gain that extra little bit of efficiency by minimizing drag. If I knew my books were taking 500 hours each, I could start whittling that down and who knows how low I could get that number while still maintaining quality of output? Interesting thought experiment...well, for nerds like me anyway.  8)

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Offline Flay Otters

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2018, 03:03:41 PM »
How do I keep track of hours spent in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, running plots through my head?

Offline thevoiceofone

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2018, 03:05:46 PM »
I'm trying to come up with a schedule to successfully meet my next deadline, and it occurred to me to question how many hours it will take me. (Answer: I have no idea.)

Have you ever calculated or estimated how many actual hours it takes for you to write a book, from the time you start jotting down your first thoughts or outline to when you have something ready to send to an editor (or start formatting, if you don't use an outside editor)?

Depends on genre.

Depends on speed of writer

Depends on how long the book is

Depends on a whole bunch of stuff.

How long is a piece of string?

Offline kw3000

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Re: How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2018, 03:08:06 PM »
How do I keep track of hours spent in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, running plots through my head?

There's gotta be an app for that.

Ken Ward