Do you ever find yourself wondering how long it actually takes to write (and finish) a book?
Some authors adhere to strict timelines of only 2-3 months, while others take years to complete their manuscripts.
You want to write a book, but you don’t want to slave over it indefinitely.
And does the timeline change depending on your specific category?
What about your page count?
The answer to both is yes: these kinds of details will help you discover what kind of timeline is realistic for your book.
We’ll explore each one in-depth, and discuss a guaranteed way to cut the timeline of your book by nearly 90%.
Let’s get started.
How Long Does It Take to Write a Book? A General Rule of Thumb
On average, it can take first-time authors anywhere between 6-12 months to finish their first book. More seasoned authors can anticipate a finished book in around 4-8 months.
But this is just a rough estimate—timelines may change depending on your book’s genre and page target.
How Long It Takes to Write a Book Based on Page Targets and Category
Your individual writing timeline may differ depending on the category of your book and the page targets you set.
Generally speaking, the average page counts for nonfiction books by category are:
- Self-help book—120 pages
- Business book—210 pages
- Biography—450 pages
- History—400 pages
- Big idea—320 pages
Note: We don’t recommend writing a book that exceeds 300+ pages—any genre listed here that goes beyond that word count is simply for the frame of reference.
An author writing a self-help book (around 30,000 words), would likely finish their book faster than an author writing a memoir (roughly 50,000 words).
A word of advice: know what kind of time frame you’re looking at before you sit down to write your book.
Too many authors pick their category on a whim—thinking they’ll breeze through their deadlines on passion alone—only to give up halfway through because it’s taken months longer than expected.
Don’t worry—I have a few tips to help you avoid waving a white flag.
Namely, a process called enhanced ghostwriting (not your run-of-the-mill, traditional ghostwriting service). We’ll touch more on that later.
For now, let’s break down what a realistic timeline may look like for your book based on page targets and categories.
Let me issue a disclaimer before we dive in: what’s realistic for one author to write in a week may be completely out of the question for another. Most authors can’t dedicate themselves to writing a book full-time—some authors can’t even dedicate themselves part-time. That’s life.
Take the estimations I’m about to give you lightly. Focus on what you can do in a week and change the example timelines accordingly.
1. Page Target: 100
Let’s say you can effectively crank out eight pages per week (around 2,000 words).
A 100-page book is around 25,000 words, so you could expect to finish in 3-4 months if you kept up this weekly schedule.
A less experienced writer might expect to finish in 4-6 months.
2. Page Target: 200
Eight pages per week with a target of 200 pages (or roughly 50,000 words) will produce a book in 6-8 months.
A timeline of 8-10 months might look more realistic for an inexperienced writer.
3. Page Target: 300
You could produce a 300-page book (75,000 words) in roughly 9-12 months with our weekly writing goal.
Less experienced writers could expect to finish in a little over a year.
4. Page Target: 400
Eight pages a week with a target of 400 pages would produce a 100,000-word book in 12-14 months, give or take.
And this translates to 14-16 months.
5. Page Target: 500
Finally, for our ambitious authors, a 500-page book (125,000 words) could be completed in 15-17 months—or about a year and a half.
(About 75% of a year for new writers).
I already gave you a rough estimate of page count for popular nonfiction book categories, but writing a book is more than just the anticipated length.
You have to factor in outside elements like research, interviews, prior knowledge on the subject, and the fact that some book categories just take longer to write than others.
Let’s explore how long it takes to write a book in each category.
A self-help book can range anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 words or 100 to 200 pages. It’s typically the shortest book category for nonfiction books.
Based on our calculations from earlier, you could expect to finish a self-help book in roughly 4-6 months.
But it could take some time to gather the resources you’ll need to write a good one.
A business book typically ranges from 50,000 to 75,000 words (or around 210 pages). A good ballpark is 60,000 to 80,000 words for those looking to get traditionally published.
On average, you’re looking at a timeline of 6-12 months depending on your business sub-category.
Popular sub-categories for business are marketing, management, social media, sales, motivational books, technology, etc.
A technology book, for instance, is a very broad and changeable industry that may take more time to finish than a motivational book.
But timelines will always vary from author to author.
Biographies have the longest average page count at 450 words (or 100,000 to 125,000 words).
The length of your biography will vary depending on the subject’s life and accomplishments, but this category could take one or two years to complete.
4. Big Idea
A “big idea” book is a book with an overarching idea that is presented to the reader as an argument/cognitive dissonance. Take Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point, for example.
Big idea books can range anywhere from 300-400 pages (75,000 to 100,000 words). Though these books are not the longest on the list, they do take a fair amount of consideration and research to convince the reader of a new way of thinking/life.
You could expect to finish a big idea book in roughly a year to a year-and-a-half.
A history book is another example of a category that may take longer to complete due to research and fact-checking.
History books average around 400 pages (or 125,000 words) and could take anywhere from one to two years to write, depending on available resources.
Clearly, factors like research, outlining, and resource-gathering can heavily influence writing timelines for authors.
But what if I told you there was an easier way? A faster way?
I know, it sounds too good to be true. But it’s not a cheat code.
It’s 100% authentic and proven to be successful.
What if I told you that…
I’ve Found a Way to Cut Writing Time By Nearly 90%
I’m sure by now you’re familiar with the process of ghostwriting: hiring someone else to write your book for you.
If that term leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you’re not alone.
I’ve been burned many times by “trustworthy” ghostwriting services with big promises and no follow-through. It was devastating.
I had to do something about it.
I created Best Seller Publishing’s Enhanced Ghostwriting service to help authors take their books from idea to publication without the risk of getting a book that sounds nothing like them back from the ghostwriter.
And it worked! Over the past eight years, we’ve been able to cut book timelines by nearly 90% and guarantee results for our clients (now bestselling authors).
Let me give you an example.
Most of the timelines we’ve talked about today are between 6-12 months (maybe longer).
That’s thousands of hours spent researching, drafting a manuscript, and writing your book—and that doesn’t even cover the promotion/marketing process.
Our Enhanced Ghostwriting process cuts that time by nearly 90% and only requires about an hour of work a week.
That’s just a few months of writing and 10s of hours on your part (during which we’ll consult with you to craft customized, winning content).
Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
And that’s just the beginning.
We’ll also take your book through the promotion and media processes to guarantee a bestseller.
Shorten Your Book Writing Timeline Today
No author wants to mull over an unfinished draft for years without hope.
If that sounds like you (and you’re looking for a light at the end of the tunnel), check out my New York Times bestseller: Publish. Promote. Profit. (completely free for you with the cost of shipping!)
I’ll take you through the strategies and industry insights we use to turn our clients into bestselling authors.