a companion to THE BFF BUCKET LIST. We are honored that Dee took a break from the book birthday celebrations to talk about writing timelines.
One of the questions I’m often asked is how long it takes me to write a book. The thing is, it’s not a simple answer.
My first manuscript took a year to write, and I’ve always thought of it like working on a Master’s Project. I was learning how to write a book with that manuscript. My next one took six months. The next, four months. During that time, I was also exchanging with critique partners. Which means those time frames include waiting for feedback.
Being able to complete a project in less time was definitely good practice for when I’d have actual deadlines. And while you may or may not write faster as you grow as a writer, remember that becoming a stronger writer is really about practicing and continuing to learn your craft.
Most of my books have sold on proposal, which means I wrote sample chapters and a synopsis and was then asked to write the rest. In those cases, I had between 4-7 months to turn in a somewhat polished draft to my editor. And for me, that means leaving time to have my trusted critique partners give me feedback, and then revise based on their notes.
However, my new release, POSTCARDS FROM VENICE, took longer. Maybe … eight months for that first draft? And it took much longer in revisions too.
This book was different. For one thing, I was still at various stages in the process with two other books, so I was essentially working on three books at the same time. It was like a revolving door of stories that I had to keep track of. I couldn’t devote all my writing time to any one project. Not to mention the time I spent working on promotion for the other books.
There was also a lot I needed to learn for this book. It takes place in Venice, where I’ve never been. There’s some Italian in the book, but I took Spanish in school. And there’s an Australian boy, who I wanted to be sure was authentic. And did I mention I’ve never been to Venice?
So it took time. It took Google Earth and Pinterest and Tripadvisor.com’s reviews of tourist sites and travel blogs. It took critique partners and reaching out to friends of friends who had been to or lived in Venice. It took lots of questions and lots of videos of Italy. It took listening and reading and researching. And with all of that to think about, sometimes I needed to step away from the project and work on something else.
So how long does it take to write a book? The real answer is that it depends. Which means it’s up to you to answer that question on your own, without a preconceived notion of how long it should take.
I asked a few published middle grade author friends, and the responses to “How long does it take you to write a book?” ranged from a month to two years.
It takes what it takes, and many factors come into play—the category, the genre, the word count, how complex the project is, if you plot extensively or spend more time in revisions, if there are deadlines, if critique partners or agents need time to read, if you have other books to work on or have other life-related things going on, how fast you can write, etc. The time it takes you to write a book could be years or it could be months. And how fast you write does not determine how good the book will be.
Having a general idea of ranges when it comes to the publishing world is helpful. But always know that you will have your own challenges and goals, and your own path. Finishing a book is one thing, but starting one … Well, now that’s something you can accomplish right now. 😊
Dee Romito is a former elementary teacher and is the author of THE BFF BUCKET LIST, NO PLACE LIKE HOME and co-authored BEST. NIGHT. EVER. Always a traveler at heart, she's sent postcards of Big Ben from London, of snow-capped mountains from Switzerland, and of majestic castles from Ireland. Although she's only been to Italy once for a quick plate of pasta, sending a post card from Venice just might be on her bucket list. You can visit her website at DeeRomito.com
Dee is also the Scrivener Queen. For Scrivener advice, writers can head over to her blog