New authors have a distinct advantage over established authors under deadline: no deadline.
As a new author, you may have fiddled with your novel for years. Perhaps you’ve entered contests and incorporated feedback. Maybe you’ve read books about writing and attended conferences. After all this effort, you landed a contract. Congratulations!
Now you may have another happy problem: estimating how much time you need to budget to write your next book. Here are some tips:
- Don’t be overeager. You’re rightfully excited to be entering a partnership with a publisher and you’re eager to please. Traditional publishers are aware of this propensity and they have an idea of how to pace you. Listen to them. Don’t try to set your deadlines too close together.
- Allow for edits. You won’t know how long it takes you to address edits until you’ve been through the process a few times. Your manuscript may hardly be touched, but it’s more likely you’ll be looking at rewrites. Changing a detail on page five will mean being sure the story keeps the change for the next 300 pages. This work will take time. As a new author, you won’t want to be writing another book under a tight deadline as well.
- Remember your family. Now that you’ve gotten a contract, your family will see you as a working writer rather than a hobbyist. However, family demands won’t dissolve. True, you may decide to hire help with housekeeping and take other shortcuts to free up time. Or you may not. Either way, you will not want to omit vacations and making family memories. Budget time for life.
- Set aside time for emergencies. We all hope you’ll never have an emergency. But if you do, you’ll be grateful for those free days. And if you don’t use that time for an emergency, you can take afternoon naps!
- Don’t work seven days a week. Flush with the excitement of a new contract, you may think you’ll easily write 3,000 words or so seven days a week. Please don’t. Your mind and body need a rest.
- Be realistic about the number of words you write a day. When I wrote books for publication, my top number was 8,000 words in one day. Many authors fly by me with 15,000 words a day. I thought I would die writing 8,000. You may think you’ll collapse after 500. There is no correct number. Just be honest with yourself about your actual output on average. If you write 1,000 words a day, five days a week, you will have a book of 80,000 words in four months.
- Allow time for your personal edits. Don’t forget that once you write the novel, you’ll want to go back and read it again and make your own edits before turning it in to the editor. You want to avoid turning in what is close to a first draft. The authors who can turn in amazing first drafts are rare.
Again, congratulations on your contract! Enjoy the journey.
What tips can you offer new writers on how long it takes to write a book?
How much time do you budget to write a book?
How do you manage a work/life balance as an author?