One thing that I rarely see touched upon is the subject of how long it should take to write a book. Of course, there is no “should” when it comes to writing a novel. Each book comes with its own timeline and demands, and no two are ever alike. What I can give you are a few samples from my own work in progress, Tapper.
I completed my first draft around the end of July, 2014. I thought I was finished with it sometime in 2016—that’s when I started going through the “query” process of trying to find an agent to represent my book to publishing houses. Needless to say, I got no bites on my query. Around that same time, I got a proposal from Gearbox Software to write the soundtrack to the 20th Anniversary World Tour edition of Duke Nukem 3D. I put Tapper on the shelf and went back to writing music.
The hiatus on Tapper ran out in February of this year, when I pulled the book out and resumed writing. I’m passing it through Scribophile, where I’m getting some very useful, yet frustrating advice. Why is it frustrating? There’s that timeline again. My first “real” chapter (spoilers!) is on its 54th revision, and some of the comments I’ve been getting are first-time comments. Why couldn’t someone have raised these same points back on my 5th revision, eh?
If it sounds like I’m revising my book to death, let me come to its defense. I have done a major rewrite of the first few chapters, in order to make them more appealing to readers (and to agents). That also explains why some of the comments I’m getting are first-time ones. It doesn’t explain all of them, mind you—I’m still getting some of the “why did no one mention this earlier?” kind of remarks in later chapters.
The point I’m trying to make here is that if you’re writing your first book, you can go ahead and smash your clock for what it’s worth. Don’t expect to knock out a novel in a year, or two years, or even four for that matter—although, if you do get signed with an agent within four years, count your lucky stars. Be patient, and be ready to spend a lot of time working on your novel … and even more time re-working it.