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Old 01-02-2021, 08:28 PM
Harron Peasley Harron Peasley is offline
 
Default How long does it take to write a book?

How long does it take to write a book?

One of our reading challenge prompts this year is to "Celebrate HARD-WORKING authors and read a book that took the author 10 or more years to write.". With that in mind, what do you think about the length of time it takes to write a book? Why do some authors release a new book or two a year, and others take more than ten years to complete one? Is it to do with the style, genre, subject of the book? What are some good things about books being written quickly, or those that take a long time?

Do you have any recommendations of books that took more than 10 years to write? Feel free to share them here, too!
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Old 01-03-2021, 04:37 PM   #2 (permalink)


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It definitely only takes 30 days to write a book, especially if you play by the Nanowrimo rules.

In all seriousness, I think part of what takes so long is the publishing process? Isn't it a bit like trying to *make it* in the recording industry? You have to successfully sell yourself/your work to someone who believes they can make a profit off it. I feel like it's hard to break into the publishing world without an agent or connections or what have you.

I don't have much insight into that industry, but even the best-selling books of the 20th century (read: HP) were rejected more than a few times before finally being published.
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Old 01-03-2021, 06:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by BanaBatGirl View Post
It definitely only takes 30 days to write a book, especially if you play by the Nanowrimo rules.

In all seriousness, I think part of what takes so long is the publishing process? Isn't it a bit like trying to *make it* in the recording industry? You have to successfully sell yourself/your work to someone who believes they can make a profit off it. I feel like it's hard to break into the publishing world without an agent or connections or what have you.

I don't have much insight into that industry, but even the best-selling books of the 20th century (read: HP) were rejected more than a few times before finally being published.
Definitely this. The WRITING part wasn't all that hard - I finished my current manuscript during NaNo. However, that was just a first draft. I have gone back and probably added at least 10k words of extra content and I'm still not done. I've been editing it for....8 years now I think? Granted I haven't spent ALL that time working on it but I've stopped to write other things, edit other projects, etc.

Once that's done I'll have to start the long process of finding an agent, writing up pitches for various companies, etc until I get published. It's a long long LONG road, but again that may have been a bit faster if I didn't have a full time job, school, AND a zillion other projects I want to work on at the same time

HOWEVER from what my research has shown me, SOMEONE out there is going to bite at your book - there are SO many agents and publishers out there these days that eventually someone is going to back your project. I have literally three different books of listings for agents and publishing companies and there are SO many niche companies out there. Will it be the next New York Times Best Seller? Prooooobably not. BUT if getting your novel actually published so you can buy it at Barnes and Noble is your goal, it's much easier than trying to break onto the scene in Hollywood, if we wanna compare it to that But yes, you will probably also get rejected a handful of times until you find the one that works.
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Old 01-04-2021, 01:22 AM   #4 (permalink)

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I also think it does depend on the genre, on resources available, and probably how 'practiced' you are. James Patterson publishes multiple books a year, but he's been doing it so long that I think he can take an idea to a book (it's up to you how good those books are, I'm just SAYING) in a few months. Plus he has researchers on payroll, and, perhaps like some authors, they do the bulk of the writing in his name. I know that doesn't answer your question, but just to put into perspective the really prolific authors.

Also, some authors will leave a book and come back to it later, so it isn't like 10 continuous years writing. When I was looking for books for this prompt, I saw a note that Michael Crichton took 20 years to finish Sphere because he couldn't figure out how it ended.

As an aside, anyone looking to read Lord of the Rings or Les Miserables can use those books for this prompt.
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Old 01-04-2021, 01:25 AM   #5 (permalink)


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As an aside, anyone looking to read Lord of the Rings or Les Miserables can use those books for this prompt.
The question is, can I finish Les Mis in less than a year of reading though and the answer is no I think I cannot.
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Old 01-04-2021, 01:33 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I'm going to come back with more thoughts for the discussion later but for noooooow, here's a list of books I found that took at least 10 years to write. This prompt is meant to be an extra challenging one but, if you're really struggling for whatever reason, PM one of the book club mods and I'm sure we can figure something out.
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Sphere by Michael Crichton
The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Cantos by Ezra Pound
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Exes by Max Winter
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Old 01-04-2021, 02:01 AM   #7 (permalink)

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The question is, can I finish Les Mis in less than a year of reading though and the answer is no I think I cannot.
Bro, this is me and Tolstoy ALL OVER AGAIN.
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Old 01-04-2021, 04:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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@ Nat: that's a great list I don't know that Addie LaRue also took >10 years so maybe I should give it a try? let's see if I could manage to get it from Libby (although I've put The Catcher in the Rye on queue too)

Wish I have brain power to read classics like Les Miserables but alas... *yikes*
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Old 01-04-2021, 11:02 AM   #9 (permalink)
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@ Nat: that's a great list I don't know that Addie LaRue also took >10 years so maybe I should give it a try? let's see if I could manage to get it from Libby (although I've put The Catcher in the Rye on queue too)

Wish I have brain power to read classics like Les Miserables but alas... *yikes*
Mmm. I attended an online Waterstones interview between V.E. Schwab and Sabaa and Tahir, and Schwab talked about how Addie LaRue took her 10 years to finish, from conception to publication. I think I'm leaning towards that one, The Lord of the Rings or The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao tbh.
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Old 01-05-2021, 01:49 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Is this the year I finish Return of the King and close out my literal decade long attempt of reading Lord of the Rings??

Actually it's definitely been longer than that LOL
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Old 03-20-2021, 03:21 AM   #11 (permalink)
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So I have written a few books and each one was different on length of time it took to write. My novels often I wrote during Nanowrimo like Ro mentioned, the 30 day thing. But my children's book I wrote a few years ago, that's SO short took 2 months or more to write.

It's harder I think for children's books because
- you want it to make sense
- be simple for a child to understand
- aiming for a particular age
- have a good plot
- not be too descriptive for the younger ones

I could keep going on. But both novel and children I found to have the same difficulty.

I just published the children's one! I think I'm prouder of that one than I am the full out novels.
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