As I’ve started helping aspiring authors, I get asked a lot of questions about the process, but three questions keep popping up:
- how long does it take to write a book?
- how do you know if the book is any good?
- what do I do once I’ve published my book?
So, let’s look at each question in turn.
1. How long should it take to write my book?
The answer is quite simply, how long is a piece of string?
Personally, I’ve published one book in a day whilst another took nearly a year to write.
The book that took a day to write was a journal where the structure was very simple and it was what is considered low-content.
The book that took a year to write involved a lot of research, was much longer and I was writing whenever I could, which wasn’t as often as I would like, because I had a variety of other priorities.
So realistically, what it comes down to is the type of book and how much work you do each day.
A low-content book like a journal doesn’t take very long to put together, but a book of fiction where you write 1000 words a day will probably take around 3 months to write, (if the book is around 70,000 to 100,00 words long). However, once the book is written, it will still need to be proof-read and edited, and your first draft isn’t likely to be the one that you publish.
2. How will I know if my book is any good?
Personally, I’ve thought all my books were good, until I looked at them 6 months later, and realised that they weren’t!
Like your children, it’s hard to judge them constructively, so it’s important to get outside feedback. My better books have been through a review process, proof-read and edited.
When you look at other authors, good books don’t necessarily sell well, and some books that are considered badly written are best sellers! If you don’t think that’s true, then compare what happened to J.K.Rowlings book when she published it under a pseudonym. The Cormorant Strike books only sold well when someone at the publishing house let slip who the author actually was.
Alternatively, the 50 Shades books sold millions and were made into movies, and yet I couldn’t actually get past the first couple of chapters. Personally, I prefer a good murder mystery!
3. What do I do once I’ve published my book?
When you’ve published your book you have two tasks to do:
- start marketing your book and get the word out. People won’t buy your book if they don’t know it exists.
- start writing your next book!
I only heard about the Harry Potter books after the third book came out, and guess what? I started the series from the beginning.
The same thing happened with a number of authors that I follow. If they write a series of books then I’ll buy each book in the series.
Some authors even offer their first book for free, knowing that they have several other books published and that if the reader liked the story, they’ll buy the next books in the series. Amazon even allows you to follow authors and notifies you if a new book is being published.
Some of my favourite authors like Damian Boyd, LJ Ross, Barbara Freethy and JR Ellis will set up their book several months in advance, allowing people to pre-order their book and create a buzz.
If you want to become a published author then treat it like any other job. It can be full-time or part-time depending on your commitments, but it’s very fulfilling. Being able to help others is an amazing feeling, however, when you stick your head up, you may well get it shot down. Don’t take it personally. If your book could be better, then make it better. No-one is perfect.
If you want success as an author, then you’ll need to develop a thick skin and an awful lot of tenacity.
You’ll need to practice your art, listen to feedback and keep trying.
And don’t forget, even the very best authors took time to get there.
Either way, I’d love to hear from you.