This is my new hobby. I ask my furless mommy to put the cold thing on my eye because it hurts, and then we sit quietly for ten minutes until it stops hurting. My furless mommy isn’t the brightest, because the first time I asked for the cold thing, she gave me food of the treat variety. I accepted her offering before trying again.
I’m feeling better today, and I’m pleased I’m capable of training the human to properly care for me. Now that I have confirmed we are being properly cared for, here is the human.
Life has been fun in the Blain household. And yes, she literally DID ask for the cold compress. She came up, pawed, and after a few minutes of what the fuckery, I had the spouse go get ice and a paper towel. She had a minute of regrets, but then she settled down to have her cold relief applied to her eye. She never fails to amaze me how smart and how dumb this cat can be sometimes…
It took two or three times (and battles) with the cold compress for her to associate it with relief, but she’s now super easy to work with when it comes to the cold compress, and if she’s feeling particularly bad, she’ll lean into it and sit perfectly still. (She’s such an excellent kitty.)
So, as those many words had absolutely nothing to do with the process of writing a book, I’ll get to it. As I’ve ranted about before, books take a long damned time to write. They’re a huge amount of work. This post is going to illustrate just how long it takes for a book to go from concept to publication, with an estimate of how many hours it takes, on average, to go through the process.
You can do the math yourself across all my titles to see how many hours I’ve spent on my books. The answer will surely depress me.
Conception of the Novel
Time needed: Average of 1-10 hours, with 3.5 hours being most commonplace. Longest time to concept to date: 30 hours.
Conception is the initial creation process for a novel. This is when I get an idea, usually some form of brief summary or synopsis, and I start chewing on it. Depending on how the concept comes to life, I can get away with a page or two of notes on major events. If it’s a new world/series, like Outfoxed, I often write a mini novel about the novel.
Outfoxed took about 20-3o hours to conceptualize, as I had to build the entire world from scratch and figure out how the world played into the general ideas I had in mind for said world.
Outlining / Story Boarding / Advanced Planning or Correcting due to Pantsing
Time needed: between 10-50 hours, with 15-20 hours being most commonplace when I’m doing a serious outline. If I’m pantsing the novel, this time is instead used to ‘fix what is broken.’ At the end of the day, it costs me the same amount of time. So, I’ll cram these two together, and we’ll call this 18 hours of time, as a rough average, on this phase of the writing process.
Time needed: between 10-50 hours, with 25 hours being fairly consistent for a novel project. Longest research time: please don’t ask me this. Please. I’ll beg.
Research time is spread across a lot of things. Sometimes, I will need to spend 1-2 hours researching a medical element of a book. Sometimes, I need to read an entire book on a subject. Sometimes, I’m poring through Google and Wikipedia in search of a rare gem of information. Sometimes, I’m talking to someone who is already an expert in the field. This all adds up. So, yes. I do spend a lot of time researching each and every book I’ve written.
The longest research I’ve done on a book would be for the Seeking the Zodiacs series. I get to count three entire years of schooling in trade school for the background engineering that formed a major foundation for this series. Then I’ve watched probably a hundred fucking hours of World War II documentaries because of my spouse. There’s also at least thirty hours of folklore and mythology research done when building the creatures, some lingual studying to see how people (like Americans) will alter the spelling of things they don’t really understand. (Koppa Oni is spelled incorrectly in the series on purpose. The species is actually called the kappa, and when the magic swept into the world, somebody misheard the name, and it stuck as Koppa oni rather than Kappa oni. Oni just means a type of demon or troll, sometimes something more along the lines of an ogre. Oni are a type of yōkai, which is the catch all for the supernatural. There ARE differences!
In the Seeking the Zodiacs world, the Americans got it wrong after the nuking, and so the kappa, which are very common in Japanese folklore, got a new and incorrect name.
It was on purpose, because that’s the sort of mistake humans make. And it stuck, because once people do it in large numbers, good luck getting them to change.
So, little details like that can consume a great deal of time. It’s amazing the difference an a or an o makes, isn’t it?
Research. It makes or breaks a book… and even with so many hours, I get it wrong, I make mistakes, or sometimes, my brain just doesn’t work and I type the wrong damned word even though I just spent three hours making sure I got it right. Oops.
What’s in a Name?
Someone just wrote in recently about this, which both amused me and made me smile. (Thank you, super nice person who sent in your note re: the naming and the indigenous references. It is appreciated!)
I do minimal research on the actual names of modern characters. Bailey? Five whole seconds to pick. Gardener? Random selection from a list of common family names from the New York region. I name based on region more often than most, and I give characters dirt common names, as that makes life easier for me. Unfortunately, I also tend to forget if I named a character something before. I’m looking at you, Sebastian, who keeps showing up everywhere.
Adam and Adam were intentional. Alex and Alex… probably intentional? I think? I hope? If not, I did a damned good job of covering it…
Justin and Justin were unintentional, and we may as well say I fucked it good that time, because Shane’s parents make me giggle, and they’d be fun to write a story about if I ever got the idea, but because Tulip’s toy is named Justin… in the same series… there are issues. Oops.
It’s a safe assumption that I will spend 2-3 hours on names for a novel, but we’ll round up to 3 for those times I fall in various rabbit holes.
Average time: 5-10 hours.
If I’m writing LGBT characters for the first time, I do cultural research on them, including their various challenges, so I have a better idea of what I’m getting into. If I’m writing a religion for the first time, I do cultural research on them, too. If I’m writing someone of a new-to-me ethnicity, I’m going to be doing cultural research on them.
If I’m writing about a goddess from an indigenous tribe, I’m going to be doing cultural research on the tribe worshipping her and how the goddess came to be, what her role in their society was, and so on.
Characters are more than slapping a color on and going, “This character is this.” I’m going to be grabbing the most commonplace challenges I spot while researching, the stereotypes that actually seem to be founded on the truth, and anything that can help give this character some life and depth.
If I have access to someone of the cultural group I’m working with, I will interview them, and I will take the commonalities from the interviews and use that to become the foundation.
Olivia’s parents came to life because I noticed a trend in all of the interviews I’d done of American-Chinese men and women; their household dynamics were completely unexpected for me, and often in fun ways. And it changed depending on if the Chinese parent was male or female.
I did walk away with one interesting eye-opener.
Chinese moms seem to be really, really badass.
Time Spent Before Writing a Word…
So, essentially, it can take me over a week of hard work to plan a novel… or a little less if I’m pantsing it and fixing everything I broke while I write the book. For the sake of discussion and sanity, we’re going to assume I’m outlining the book rather than complicate things further.
Writing the Book
My average word count per hour is 500 words. Sometimes, I can write 1,200 in an hour. (Rarely more than that. VERY rarely more than that. 1,000 in an hour is GOOD for me. Once, I did 2,000 in an hour, but I spent four hours fixing it, so it was just a waste of time and I had regrets.)
My average length of novel is 100,000 words. I wish it was closer to 80,000. But we’re going to call it 100,000 words, because that’s where I’ve been hitting close to lately.
As such, it is 200 hours, roughly, for me to write the book. That does include a lot of editing, as I edit as I write the book.
Editing the Book
Between implementing edits, correcting things my editor has called me out on, proofreading, and so on, I spend at least another 50 hours on edits. I say at least, but realistically, I’ll just say 50. That’s a fair estimate.
Producing the Book
Producing is the formatting and all the little things that turn the edited book into a final product. Call it five hours, and it’s close enough.
Uploading the Book
Call it two hours across all vendors assuming nothing goes wrong. Four hours if something goes wrong. Something usually goes a little wrong, so we’ll meet in the middle with three hours for all uploads, revisions, and so on, including time to set the book up for preorders if that’s the case.
Everything else associated with writing a book, getting cover, writing description, marketing, etc, usually takes me at least 20 hours per book. I’ll call it 20 so I don’t cry myself to sleep tonight.
Total number of hours, on average: 335.5.
Number of times I’ve crammed 300+ hours of work into a month and a half: too many.
And now you know why I moved my preorders and I’m done trying to keep people happy with my production speed.
For the record, 14 hours a day for 30 days a month is 420 hours, and now you know how I was writing a book a month.
Starting now, I am going to be doing my absolute best to never work longer than eight hours five days a week, for a grand total of forty hours a week. And I don’t get paid an hour for lunch. No more working weekends most weekends. No more 14 hour grinds. No more trying to make everybody happy.
I hope you all have a great day, and happy reading.