How Long Does it Take to Ghostwrite a Book?

This is a huge question, and it’s one that has a lot of answers. I’ll break everything down for you as much as I can, with one caveat: different ghostwriters will probably give you different answers. I’ll answer for myself, and you can go from there.

There are a lot of factors that go into the timeline for writing a book as a co-author or ghostwriter. These include:

  • The number of interviews required to get the story out
  • Whether it’s a fiction or non-fiction book
  • How much information is already available from the client in a written, audio, or video format (such as recordings of prior workshops and talks the book may be based on)
  • The level of availability the client has – i.e. can we meet once a week, once a month, or less often
  • The skill and writing speed of the writer
  • The number of decision-makers involved in the process: do the editing rounds need to pass through more than one person before they can be signed off?
  • The length and complexity of the book itself

As you can see, a lot goes into a book timeline.

General Timelines

While I can’t necessarily guarantee the same timelines for every book, I can give some general ideas of the timelines I usually stick to.

Any book under about 70,000 words will usually take around 6 months to complete. If it is not a complicated book, I don’t need more than 6 interviews with the client, and they are available on a weekly basis for those interviews, I can get it done in three months – though this would require a rush fee, due to the fact that I will have to work overtime and forego any other projects to get it done.

Any book over 70,000 words will usually be done in a year or less. I have never yet encountered a book that would require more than a year on my side, though I suppose it could theoretically be possible – perhaps an epic saga or a series of multiple volumes designed to be released all at once.

I am considered a ‘fast’ ghostwriter within our industry – many writers will tell you that they need a year at the minimum to work on a book of any length. This is one of my selling points.

I will point out, however, that if you are wanting a book by a certain deadline, it’s always a good idea to reach out as soon as possible. I may have a full schedule on my calendar already, or I may be about to take on another client who would take your slot – so the quicker we start to plan your project, the easier it will be to guarantee you a finished date.

And one more caveat: I can only work as fast as my clients allow. This means that if you work with me but miss a deadline to give me edit notes, or consistently push meetings back, then I won’t be able to work at my normal speed.

If you’re ready to get started and you can give me at least an hour a month over the course of six months, we should be able to keep to our schedule. Get in touch now if you’d like to see about my availability and consider locking some dates in.

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