Many writers jumping into the literary world, ask themselves this. Perhaps they even search online for the answer. Writers’ magazines, when spotlighting new authors list how long it took them to complete their book. The answers, wherever you find them, range from seven weeks to seven years. Not helpful. It’s like saying your next payday is going to be somewhere between $2 and $20,000.

The common answer is “as long as it takes.” But that doesn’t fully satisfy the questioning writer.

The truth is that infinity isn’t long enough to finish your book if you don’t sit down and write. Set a goal, set a timer, set anything to ensure you write. Do this regularly – whether it’s once a day or once a week – and eventually the pages will fill. And just remember, we don’t believe in writer’s block here so get your butt in the chair and write!

But the work doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve filled the pages, ignore your book. Use this time to look into publishing options for both print and electronic books and learn how to format both. Learn what goes into a gripping cover and then design it. If you’re hoping to go the traditional publishing route, start cruising for an agent or publisher and get a hefty list of the best matches. Oh, yeah and you need to start promoting, like yesterday (see below for one option).

Once your book is no longer fresh in your mind, slowly edit it. Go over each chapter, each paragraph, each sentence, each word with a heavy dose of scrutiny. Even if you can afford a freelance editor, you still need to do your own revising to tighten story lines, check facts and tie up loose ends.

It’s hard, you’re done, you’re excited and you’re in a rush to gift the public with your creative genius. Don’t be in rush. With my first self-published book, I made that mistake. The e-book was poorly edited, terribly formatted and the cover was awful. It was a disaster and I feel terrible for anyone who bought that first edition. Hold on, let me hang my head in shame for a moment…

So how long does it take to finish a book? Well, as long as it takes and then some. And then probably some more.


This week while cruising my LinkedIn groups I noticed someone asking about promoting their work. They seemed to have no idea where to start other than making a few press releases. Which actually, now that I think about it, sending out press releases created my biggest boost in sales, so maybe I should just stop here and say, “Yeah, stick with press releases.”

Unfortunately, what works for one person doesn’t work for another and in the modern fancy pants world of computers and interwebs, you need to get your book (and your writer self) out there as much as possible. One of these possibles is Goodreads.

So what can you do on Goodreads?

Well, if you’re a writer

  • You can set up an Author Page and become a Goodreads Author. On your profile page you can have links to your website, a blog feed and tell people all sorts of fascinating things about yourself (otherwise known as a bio).
  • When your book is ready, you can upload your book’s info such as cover and blurb. If you have an e-book version, you can include a sample for people to read. Goodreads automatically lists where the book is being sold.
  • If you have a print book, you can set up a giveaway to drum up interest in your book. Free is a great marketing ploy.
  • You can create ads for your book that will show up on targeted pages. This is pretty good for people with low marketing budgets because you can raise or lower the price of the ad based on how much money you have to toss into the Goodreads’ wallet. Personally, I haven’t seen a sales boost from these ads, but it might work for you.
  • Like other social media thingies, you can accumulate friends and base your self worth on how many invisible buddies you have.

As a reader, Goodreads is great for…

  • Giveaways! Those giveaways I mentioned above, well, you can enter other authors’ giveaways and get FREE books. I am completely addicted to this and have, so far, won seven books.
  • Reviewing books. As part of your interaction on Goodreads, you list what books you’re currently reading. When done, it’s a simple click to say “I’m done” and then rate the book. Personally, I never remember to review books on Amazon, but I always do on Goodreads.
  • Seeing what to read next. Goodreads sends out a great newsletter (you can opt out) and gives recommendations based on what you’ve read. Typically they are spot on with things I might like…unfortunately there isn’t enough time in the world fo rme to read ALL of them. Sigh…
  • You can also join in on groups and discussions.

Okay, I know Goodreads has gotten some flack for selling out to Amazon, but you know what, you have no control over it. Get over it. Eventually everything will be owned by one company anyway. And, if Idiocracy has taught me anything, that company will be Costco.

Now, go get some electrolytes.