In November, I’m going to start a new book for Nano, and I plan on continuing the work diary. That means I could find out how long it takes me to write a novel from beginning to end.
That’s kind of an exciting idea, but also scary. Maybe knowing will take a lot of the fun out of it.
If you could see how long it took to write your book, would you want to know? Or would you be afraid of comparing how much you put into it to how much you’re getting out of it and deciding it’s not worth it?
I want to do a fun but almost pointless math exercise:
I read in Writer’s Market that the average novelist makes $45,000 per book. This is probably the most subjective number imaginable – what does “average novelist” even mean? But that’s the only number I have, so let’s go with it.
This means you’d have to write a book a year, or at the very least a book every two years, to make a decent salary. From what I hear, publishers expect a book a year anyway.
I asked a smart person how many hours the average 8-5 person works (including vacation and sick days), and he said around 2,000. No author actually writes for 8 hours a day, though. I’ll bet when you actually get published and start marketing and whatnot, it becomes a full-time job, but I’m talking about the writing itself.
I personally try to write 2 hours a day (this includes editing and research), and the goal is to write a book a year. 2,000 hours for a full-time job divided by four… If I want to keep my current habits and goals, writing a novel needs to take me 500 hours a year.
Since Sacred Fire is my first novel, it took much longer to write than my future books will. I hope my next one won’t even take a third of the time. I wonder how many hours I’ve put into my book? A thousand? More?
This math activity was pretty silly, but it somewhat puts things in perspective.