Write a bookMany people ask me how long it takes to write a book. The answer: it depends. There are a lot of factors that go into writing then publishing a book. I’ll give you some guidelines, but the real variable is you. As with any project, make a deadline and work backward to find what you need to do and write each week. Before you do, it is important to know what lies ahead of you beyond just writing the book. I’ve excluded the marketing aspect of publishing a book for the sake of simplicity, although it is an important part of the publishing process if you intend to sell your book to an audience wider than your immediate family and friends.

First draft

Creating a schedule for your first draft is perhaps the easiest and hardest part of planning for publication. If you are consistent, focused, and productive each time you sit down to write, you are ahead of most of us. Nonetheless, this is the place to start. First, decide your approximate word count. Is it a 50,000 word novel (~175 pages) or a 10,000 how-to ebook? Can you dedicate your time to 2,000 words a day or a week? The former is not for the faint of heart. That is a super intense pace. If you have never written before, try writing for a few weeks and see how many words you write in a session before getting tired or brain dead. From that point, set a schedule in motion to get a realistic number of words written each week to complete your first draft.


For most writers, editing easily takes as much time as writing, if not more. For as long as you took to write it, schedule at least that much time to edit it yourself. If you are unsure of how to edit your work, take a look at How to Ruthlessly Edit Your Manuscript.

Professional editing

Professional editing can take anywhere from two to six weeks depending on the depth of editing that is needed and how busy your editor may be. To speed up the process, thoroughly edit your manuscript before submitting to an editor and schedule time with an editor in advance. If you don’t think you need professional editing, look at books with one or two star reviews. Most negative reviews could have been avoided with a quality editor.

Using editor feedback and resubmission to editor

Depending on the level and amount of edits, you may need one to four weeks (or more) to re-write and edit your manuscript. Whenever possible, resubmit your work to an editor to ensure that your new writing seamlessly blends with the original manuscript. Allow at least another two weeks for a final edit.


If you format a book yourself, you can accomplish that task in a matter of hours. If you hire someone to do it for you, you may wait up to a week for completion.

Cover creation

If you design your own cover using Photoshop or another graphic design program, you can create it in a matter of hours, as well. However, when working with a designer, expect at least a several week lead time before the project is complete. You should wait for the final page count before creating the cover, but the front cover concept can be worked on as you are still writing.

Upload files

The rest of the timing is based on publishing through Amazon’s CreateSpace. Once your manuscript and cover are complete, upload both files. If everything is formatted correctly, you will be given the OK to order a proof within 24 hours. If not, it may take some time to fix the errors and resubmit. Each time you resubmit, it takes up to 24 hours for approval.

Ordering a proof

If your book has met specifications, it is advisable to order a proof. Printing and shipping may take 10 days, although expedited shipping is possible.

Order physical books

Once you receive your proof and approve it, you can order copies of your book which will take an additional 10 days, or so. From the day of approval, it takes 3-5 days for your book to appear on Amazon.

There is always expedited shipping and other short-run printers (like 48 Hour Books) that can speed up the process if necessary. But, if you can include these buffers in your plan, your schedule can run more smoothly and stress-free.

It is true that you can write a book on a weekend and have an ebook by the time you get to work on Monday. It is not a route I recommend. Take the time to make your book worthy of the name at the bottom.

More questions? Another experience? I would love to hear from you!

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