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How Long Will It Take Me To Write My First Book?

Set Goals:

I will write ________ words per day/week.

I will have my manuscript completed by: (date)_________.

I will have my book published by: (date)________________.

The answer to the above question is based on the amount of time you have to commit to the process and your deadline to complete the process. Some people have an end goal in mind before they even start writing. They may say, "I want my book completed by ______." Not exactly sure if they mean, having the manuscript completed by this date or having it published by that date. Those are two totally separate goals. My advice is to start with when you desire to have the book published in hand and then work backwards. Or realistically start with when you hope to have the writing done. Both are important and should be considered. However, with limited information, it is best that you begin with the writing.

Writing Fiction

"Put interesting characters in difficult situations and write to find out what happens."

- Stephen King

Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, planning and organization will need to be a part of the overall timeline. Don't just sit down and write with no direction. But you are luck because I have provided you with tips and strategies to make the process less daunting.

How to Organize Your Plot into a Story in 3 Steps:

Step 1 - Focus on Your Story - Create your characters and define the conflict that exist. Make sure to make it interesting, unique and challenging, and relevant to your characters. Tip: Use a Brainstorming or Mind Map graphic organizer to play with potential conflict scenarios.

Step 2 - Create a character or characters that will meet the challenge of facing this big problem (conflict)

Step 3 - Write. You can structure out the entire storyline as a "plotter" or you can be a "pantser" or develop as you go.

  • Plotters outline their stories before writing them. They plan out all of the details (characters, plot, subplot, climax and resolution) before writing anything down.

  • Pantsers do just that and write by the seat of their pants. They do not plan out anything and allow their imagination to run wild.


Writing the Non-Fiction Manuscript

It is important to map out your plan for the nonfiction manuscript. Some nonfiction examples include: memoir, history, social sciences and philosophy. After you determine your specific genre, then you will need to plan out your structure and content.

  • What topics are missing in the genre?

  • What do readers care about?

  • How is your perspective or writing different from the rest?

  • What can you offer readers that is different?

  • What struggles or problems can you help solve?

  • What lessons have you learned that you can pass on to others?

1. Choose a Writing Process

You do not have to be a professional writer to publish a book. It is highly important, however, that you have great content. If you are a little concerned about your writing, you have a few options to consider:

  • Hire a ghostwriter

  • Write with a partner (co-author)

  • You can use an audio recording software to record yourself and have it transcribed

  • Get all your thoughts on paper and hire a professional editor to flush it all out

  • Hire a writing coach

  • Compile works from multiple authors

2. Select a Working Title - This may change several times throughout the writing process. Consider the following:

  • Something that will quickly describe the scope of the book in a catchy and clear way

  • Add a subtitle

  • Incorporate keywords that potential readers would use to find your book

  • Include the life-changing benefit

  • Appeal to your ideal target audience

  • Describe what the book is about

  • Prompt curiosity

You want to make sure to research the title you would like to use to ensure that it does not already exist. Nothing worse than a book title that is hard to find because hundreds of books under the same title are saturating the market. You want your book to stand out and not drown in the sea of familiar titles. Tip: Write out the Back of the Book Blurb to help focus the main ideas for your manuscript. This will force you to be as concise as possible.

  • Focus on the benefits

  • End with a call to action

3. Write Your Author Bio - This is a short explanation about who you are as it pertains to the subject of your manuscript. Share your accomplishments, awards, expertise and credentials. If you have any certifications or proven results within your industry, this would be the place to share it.

4. Organize Your Research - Incorporate research and site your sources. Develop a system to track the sources you use to reference later if necessary. Once you have your research, you will need to develop an outline, create the table of contents (Tip: Save as a separate file in order to easily make changes as you write), and use any content you already have from previous projects. All previous and new content is fair game.

5. Begin the Writing Process - Make time to write, set writing goals, make revisions, write out the dedication and/or acknowledgments section.

6. End the Writing Process - Finalize your book title, get feedback, complete your last draft, and prepare the manuscript for editing. Ending the manuscript can seem difficult, but it has to end. If you have so much more to say, save it for a part 2 or second edition.

Check out this great resource: Stephanie Chandler and Karl W. Palachuk, The Nonfiction Book Publishing Plan: The Professional Guide to Profitable Self-Publishing, (Gold River, Authority Publishing, 2018)

Now that you are organized, you will need to refer back to the beginning of the article and set those goals. You will now have realistic goals. Leave enough time for setbacks and errors. Much of what we learned from the pandemic is as much as we hope to control, there are things that we can't change. However, with knowledge we can set ourselves up for the best chance at success.

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Revision Publishing LLC is an indie publishing consulting firm, dedicated to guiding and educating authors through the self-publishing process. Equipping aspiring authors with the knowledge and information necessary to get it right the first time! Contact us, to find out how we can support you on your publishing journey


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