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Education & Resources

The Roundabout Blog

Ditch the Stopwatch

J.K. Rowling said it took five years to write the first Harry Potter book; Sara Gruen wrote her first of Water for Elephants in roughly five months, and Anthony Burgess wrote A Clockwork Orange in three weeks. Writers often ask us how long it takes to write a book. The answer is simple: It varies.

Before the editing, design, production, distribution and marketing of your book, the first step is to work up an outline and manuscript.

Business author Nicholas Carlson says his book, Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!, was written in six weeks at a pace of over 2,400 words a day. Carlson recommends writers start their day writing by revising yesterday’s work. He also quit drinking and worked out outdoors in order to feel more energized. (Feeling inspired? Check out more of his tips for intense focusing.)

Stephen King publishes about a novel a year. In his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, he notes that he begins each day with a quota of 2,000 words. Similarly, Dean Koontz works for 10 to 11 hours a day in order to finish a book in between six months and a year. On a good day, Koontz says he writes five or six pages.

Not all authors write so quickly. At the Newburyport Literary Conference in April 2014, an author panel revealed that writing their novels took between four and 10 years. Even if writing not your forte, many business authors work with professional ghostwriters to develop their manuscript.

Wherever your speed falls on the spectrum, know that you’re not alone. And when you’ve finished your first draft, Redbrush offers a professional editorial appraisal to help authors confidently publish the best book they can. Call us to request a free 30-minute editorial consultation at 855-379-6218.