Why does writing a book take so long?
You’ve likely seen the pitches: “Write your book in a month!...In a weekend!...In your sleep!” I’m having a little fun here, but I’m not knocking these types of book writing programs. They have their place in the world. The participants get a book written and the purveyors make money in the process.
The same thing happens when a client hires a ghostwriter. We have our place in the world, too. Our clients get their book written and we make money in the process. But our process takes longer. And I believe it’s worth every minute.
To provide some context, let’s consider your favorite books. You know, the ones you fell in love with, that transformed your thinking, the ones you read again and again. I can pretty much guarantee they took more than a weekend to produce. A few of my favorites in random order:
These are outstanding authors with expert level knowledge of their concept and purpose, their audience, and the craft of writing. And it still took them months to create the books we enjoy.
So what’s the deal?
The reasons for the long book writing road are many. Depending on the genre and topic, fiction and nonfiction books can require research, interviews, and collaboration, along with outlining, story arc and character development. Authors need to spend time on logistical aspects, like defining the target audience, and the length and depth of topic exploration. And let’s not overlook the critical element; gobs of mental heavy lifting by the author. And I’m only talking about the development and writing stages of the book writing journey. Independent publishers currently have upwards of a year's wait time and traditional publishers are 2-3 years out getting books into the marketplace. Yes, the writing stage can be condensed, but good work still needs to be done to create a book worth reading.
I believe the bottom line factor in how long it will take you to write your book is your why.
Your why might be to create a book to bolster your business, or to inspire others through your life lessons, or disrupt an industry or dogma. Or maybe you want to blast out a short, sweet, to-the-point little number about an aspect of your work to establish your subject expertise. For the women who hire me, it’s worth the longer timeline to produce a quality book like these that meets their deeper why of helping people and having an impact.
Can you write a must-read impactful book in a month or a weekend? Perhaps. But I believe books that make a difference in the world require and deserve a bit more refining. A book will far outlive its author, so why not give it the time it deserves?
“The first draft of anything is shit.”
― Ernest Hemingway