How Long Does It Take To Write a Novel? – Seasoned Authors Series

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Today, we begin the Sunday Seasoned Author Series. Over the coming weeks, we’ll tackle the questions that haunt every new author, like How Do I Market My Book Baby? Is My Rank Okay? Should I Hire An Author Assistant? Oh-My-Sweet-Good-Golly, a Bad Review . . . What Now? Quit?

When the publication high wears off, new authors tend to come down—hard. In the months following my debut release, I longed for a how-to manual or at the very least, an experienced pal. I made plenty of mistakes, some expensive, some just plain stupid.

Thankfully, experienced authors are happy to help young’uns navigate the hot sands of the post-publication desert. I can’t think of any other profession where that is the case, and I am continually surprised by—and grateful for—the generosity of my peers. I decided to ask if any of them would answer a few common questions. Not surprisingly, the hands shot up.

Rather than keep their advice to myself, I decided to share it. Some of the participating authors are self-published. Others went the traditional route. All have taken more than one trip around the farm on the turnip truck. They are incredibly talented, and we are lucky to have their advice so freely given.

And here’s the lineup:

Collette Cameron is an Amazon bestselling (3 times Amazon Kindle top 100) and award-winning author of Regency and Scottish romance. If that’s not enough to convince you she knows what she’s doing, how about this? She won the 2013 Sneak Peek Contest, was a 2014 RONE Nominee, a double RONE Finalist in 2015, Aspen Gold Finalist 2015, and 2015 Wisconsin RWA Write Touch Reader’s Choice Winner.  At this time, she has nine books under her belt with contracts for four more. She self-published a series, has four group projects already published and two more coming out in early 2016.

Tema Merback ‘s first book was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist entitled “In the Face of Evil,” the story of her mother’s survival of the Holocaust. It took her four years to write, but it was worth it, as it continues to be one of the highest rated books on Amazon and Goodreads. With her hot romance and suspense, she went the self-publishing route. She also writes under a nom de plume, Belle Ami.

Tina Susedik writes romantic mysteries, children’s books, and history books using her real name and erotic romance as Anita Kidesu. Her novel, “Riding for Love” was a finalist in the 2014 BTS awards. She has eleven books and two short stories in print, with two more on the horizon.

Catherine Castle writes sweet and inspirational romance. She has published one novel under the pen name of Catherine Castle and three as a coauthor with her husband. Her books consistently win awards, including the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Inspirational Romance, and a RONE in 2014 for inspirational romance. She was a finalist in the 2014 EPIC awards for an action/adventure romance and was a 2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist.

Ryan Jo Summers writes romance she calls “a mishmash of inspirational, time travel, shape shifting, paranormal, mystery, any and all combinations of the above.” She has three novels out now and another three coming in 2016. She blogs at http://www.summersrye.wordpress.com

Stacy Hoff writes contemporary romance. She has two anthology stories and three full-length novels to her credit, along with a 2015 “Rising Star” nomination from BTS emag’s Red Carpet Awards.

Jessica Jefferson is a bestselling author of historical romance. Her fifth novel is about to hit the market.

Samanthya Wyatt is a Golden Rose finalist. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and has four books out at this time.

Petie McCarty is the author of five books, with the sixth coming in December. She writes contemporary paranormal romance for Desert Breeze and Soul Mate Publishing.


I mean, holy cow, right?

Today’s topic is writing speed. Do you produce books fast enough? Does speed even matter?

One of the first questions I asked myself after landing a contract was, How long should it take me to write my next novel? So, let’s find out. How long does it take a successful novelist to complete another manuscript?


Collette: It depends on the novel. My shorter novels, 50,000-70,000 words take about two months and my longer ones, around three months.

Tema: 6 months to 1 year

Tina: That’s a tough question as I don’t write full time. I also have other projects going on at the same time. I may be working on one book, then get edits from my editor for another and have to stop working on my WIP. Then I have to get my head back into the current WIP, only to be interrupted with more edits. It’s frustrating, but all part of the process.

Catherine: That depends on whether I keep at it or procrastinate and whether I write by the seat of my pants or fully plot. I’ve written a 10,000 word novella in less than a week, working only 2 hours a day, but it was fully plotted. The last full-length book I wrote with my husband took forty days of actual writing spread over about 8 months. If I’d write daily, ignoring the rest of my life, I could probably finish a 90,000 word book in about 2 months. Life, however, always interferes.

Ryan Jo: Depends. Shimmers of Stardust was written in four months. The original idea simmered in my brain for something upwards of 17 years. Usually a year though, roughly. Now, I have one I’ve been working on, my problem child, and it’s going on two years and I’m around half done with the rough draft.

Stacy: About six months from story concept to finished product. Researching my topic takes about two months, writing the novel itself takes roughly three months. Editing can last another month, depending on the extent of revisions needed.

Jessica: 3-4 months. I do have a day job, it’s more of consulting type role, so it varies how much time I can devote to writing week to week. I did reduce how often I worked the day job, but found I wasn’t able to manage my time as well and still wrote the same number of books – go figure. But I like 3 months to write and edit.

Samanthya: It took me fourteen years to write the first one. I’m retired now and thought I would have more time to write. But I spend time with my mom, babysit my grandchildren, go to ballgames, my hubby and I like to travel, so I have less time to write. I write, read, look-it-over until my eyes are crossed, then send it to my editor. Then I begin my next book or I take a vacation. But once I begin a book, I am anxious to finish it.

Petie: My novel completion times vary. Research has a decided effect on the length of time it takes me to complete a manuscript. I’ve written one as fast as seven months and taken as long as a year and a half, but all were written while holding down a full-time “day” job. I took early retirement last year and now work full-time writing. I completed my last manuscript in five months. My goal is to complete three manuscripts a year.


It seems the answer is: it depends, and it varies. But I’m guessing you’re wondering how long is too long between books. And if you rush it, won’t it affect the quality of your writing? Let’s ask!


Collette: I think it depends on the author. More well-known authors have a solid following who anticipate upcoming releases, but newer authors have to keep a more constant public profile.

I also think there are authors who can write quickly and produce quality products, though I have read books that have shallow plots, and the authors produce large numbers of books.

Tema: I don’t know if there is an expiration date on how long between books, but I definitely can read the difference in quality when an author rushes to produce a book. Too often, particularly in the Romance Genre, the books lack the polish that would set them apart. They begin to sound too much the same. I’m not a fling it against the wall and hope that it will stick kind of person. I like to polish and hone.

Tina: Because I write for two publishers under two names, it seems as if it’s a long time between books, but with the books and short stories in anthologies, I’ve had something published every year (sometimes two a year) for the past three years. I wish I could write simultaneously for both publishers, but I’d need two heads, four hands, etc. I do believe the pressure to publish more books does affect quality. I’ve read authors I’ve really like, then all of a sudden, they’re putting out two or three books a year. I don’t care as much for their writing. You can tell they’re rushing. Also, there are authors whom I wonder how they produce so much. Then I realize their books are novella—only 75-80 pages. Mine are 275-300 pages. Makes a difference in how long it takes to write one.

Catherine: Most publishers like their authors to produce something every 6 months or so because it keeps you in front of the readers, but because life always interferes, I’d say a year is probably the longest an author should go between books. Now I should take my own advice.

Ryan Jo: My first book came out November 2013. My second novel September 2014 and third novel in November 2014. The pressure to promote, especially the last two only two months apart made me feel like I was having twins. It took time away from writing the current WIP and when I did write, I felt I needed to be promoting ‘the twins’. I couldn’t win! Sometimes it still feels that way. Like a treadmill I can’t get off of. Ideally, I’d love one full length book and one novella to release a year. That to me sounds like the perfect balance. Maybe I’ll try it out. I would never want to just crank something out because a self-imposed ‘deadline’ is approaching. Spread it over into two years between releases if the next one will be better.

Stacy: I write continuously, sometimes juggling several manuscripts at once. Trading off between stories allows me to gain a fresh perspective on each of them. I don’t feel the pressure to produce the next story for my publisher. But I do feel driven by my need to write. Too much down time makes me antsy. If I don’t have an idea for another story I let out my creative side in other ways, such as art classes.

Jessica: Ideally, I’d love to have a book out every quarter, but it just doesn’t happen. I run about two a year since I like to make sure I have enough time to promote between releases. It’s worked for me, but I think I probably would have gained more momentum if I’d released more, sooner. However, I tried that once and the quality of my release did suffer, so now I try to do what I feel comfortable with.

Samanthya: I set no time line. Except for my Christmas story. I wanted it out by this Christmas. As far as pressure, I do that to myself. I get so involved with my characters I hate to say goodbye, although it is wonderful typing The End. So I find I can’t wait to start a new book and create a new set of characters.

Petie: If you have more than year between releases, you lose the momentum built from the last release. If you have a “day” job, it’s difficult to do more than one per year, especially if you have family considerations. Yes, I absolutely think that pushing books out too quickly can affect quality, because the editing often gets shortchanged in an effort to speed things along.


So, newbie authors, did you find any answers to the questions rattling about in your noggins? Did you learn that you’re pretty normal in terms of pace? Let us know. How fast do you write?

Join us next week when we tackle—ta da!—REVIEWS!

Fiction That's Plaid to the Bone

Posted in Author Interviews, Seasoned Authors Series, Writing Tagged with: , ,
19 comments on “How Long Does It Take To Write a Novel? – Seasoned Authors Series
  1. This has been very interesting reading what the other authors have to say. I like this seris.

  2. summersrye says:

    Thank you, Julie, for creating this series and inviting us to weigh in with our humble views. I hope it helps the newbies. Like Tina, it’s interesting to hear what other experienced writers think. Looking forward to the next installment!

  3. Marlow says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us newbies.

  4. What fun, & what a great idea! Thanks Julie for allowing me to weigh in. It’s an honor to be included among such an amazing group of women authors!

  5. What a good article. It’s fascinating to see how–and how fast–different authors work. Thanks for this, Julie!

  6. Julie, nice series! Thanks for being so willing to share it forward.

    • Thank you for participating. That time period following a debut release can be fraught with self-doubt. I think this series will help. I’m eternally grateful to you and the other sage authors for sharing your wisdom and experience.

  7. nellcastle says:

    Very reassuring to read that it’s better not to rush a novel due to a self-imposed deadline. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

  8. Nicci says:

    Great article. I’m so glad there was a range! Thanks!! I found myself in those answers, and it’s great to know I’m not doing it wrong. 😀

  9. L.D. Rose says:

    Love this post, ladies. As a newbie author, this series will be very valuable to me!

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