I'm a beginner so naturally I'm a little bit curious towards the whole procedure on writing. Outline, plotting, drafting, editing, and then publishing (minus marketing).

So my question is, how long does it take for a writer to fully publish their book? If possible, tell me the whole procedure (Personal experience required).

  • It might be helpful to be more specific. There are differences in process owing to where you live, what sort of thing you're trying to publish, and how that is. Finding an agent (assuming not going down self publishing) is a task in itself. Aug 10, 2016 at 17:23

3 Answers 3


I think it really varies from writer to writer. I'm an editor and have one client who went from idea to publication on a 70,000 word genre novel in about 3 months, but I have another who has been writing and revising and writing and revising a literary fiction novel for over 9 months now.

In terms of publishing, timelines vary hugely between traditional and self-publishing. Traditional publishers can take a year or more from accepted draft to published book, while self-publishing can take a matter of weeks.


  • This. There is no "right" answer. Everyone works differently. Barbara Cartland churned out books like grocery lists; we hope GRRMartin finishes Winds of Winter before his health claims him. Aug 10, 2016 at 2:36
  1. Concept/research + Chapter 1 = 2 months

I always send my Chapter 1s through various beta readers to give some time to simmer and plot. These numbers I'm giving are gross generalizations, by the way, and have varied on projects and through experience.

  1. Bulk of the story = 4 months per 70,000 words

  2. Beta reading and rewriting = 2 months

You should have a workable manuscript in under a year.

  1. Query phase 1 (finding an agent) = 1 month.

This is the rate-limiting step for traditional publishing. Most books go to die here--or you can self publish. But for kicks let's keep going.

  1. Revisions at the behest of the agent = 2 months

  2. Query phase 2 (finding a publisher) = 1 month

  3. Revisions at the behest of the publisher = 3 months

  4. Professional reviews and marketing = 6 months. These are the reviews going on the cover and retailer websites.

  5. Final revisions after legal has a look and the publisher sets a printing date = 3 months

2 years is typical of the process. Most of the second year, and even much of the first year, the novelist is free to work at a different phase of Book B and Book C. I recommend looking at Jane Friedman's blog/website on publishing.


The real answer is the uninformative, "it depends".

A friend of mine wrote a book that went from initial concept to publication in one month. I've heard of writers taking decades to write a book.

I've self-published three books, all non-fiction. In my case, for each book I spent 2 or 3 months doing research and getting notes together, than about a year turning those notes into a book, perhaps a month getting someone to proofread it and making updates, and then a few weeks going through the mechanics of getting it published.

Self-publishing will almost always be faster than traditional publishing, because you don't have to spend time finding a publisher who is interested in your book, and go through additional cycles of their edits and requested changes. I've written free-lance magazine articles where I spent considerable time sending them off to various potential markets and then having to just sit around and wait for their replies.

Getting words on paper and going through editing cycles is normally the long pole in the tent, and how long you spend on that is mostly up to you. If you have a full time job and kids to take care of, finding time to work on your book may be a big challenge, and it could take you years. If you have nothing else to do but sit and write, and you have the discipline to do it, then like my friend you may get a book together in a month. (She had a job, but she was president of the organization and the book was related to her job, so she basically just made it her priority for a month.)

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