How long does it take to write a book

I’m often asked e question; how long does it take to write a book?  As a part time author, I’m not allowed the luxury of writing every day, and I have a busy life away from my keyboard so it’s a fair question.

For most authors, writing a book can take years or just a few hours, depending on the size of it, the complexity of the subject, and the intentions of the author.  But here’s a bit of an insight into how I write with some tips that might help other authors.

1)  I just DUMP the story out of my head as quickly and smoothly as possible, knowing that I’ll have to do a lot of refining and rewriting after that first draft.

2) Once I’ve got that first draft more or less completed, then I put it away for a few weeks, before bringing it out and reviewing the story with fresh eyes.  Then I’m ready to do any re-writing required.

3) Rewrites are harder because I’ve already got my own headspace around the story and know what’s going to happen, so my curiousity about the story is appeased.  The rewrite can feel like a big job, so I set time aside to seriously focus on the job – it may take a month, but I try to limit myself to that kind of time frame.

4) When it’s ready to share I’ll send it to an editor, and also ask a few friends to take a look so that I get some friendly feedback on the story.

5) The Editors recommendations (and then a formal paid for review) are considered and updates done again, then a proofing to ensure everything is as it should be in terms of errors identified and fixed up.

6) Then a final going over by me so that I can be sure I’ve written everything the way I want it, and all errors are indeed caught and remedied.  By this time, providing I’ve not just procrastinated over any of these steps, the project will take an average of six months, but then the publishing process has to be worked through.

If I write an average of 5,000 words a week (that is less than 1000 a day, but I usually do that in one or two sittings at a time rather than being one of those wonderful disciplined authors who gets up at 4am for two hours writing a day) then I can do the bulk of the writing for the first draft in about 3 months.

The acutal publishing process can take anything from 6 weeks to 6 months depending on a variety of things.   I think that one book a year completed is pretty good to aim for – but mine are usually only about 250-300 pages long.  And I usually have a good start on the next one by the time I’m working on the first one’s completion.  My aim is to write and publish two books every 18 months.


Five Four Three Two One… Ready!

I’m now only days away from launching my latest novel and I’m so nervous, excited, busy, and tense about it all at the same time.  But I’m also focused on seeing how well I can test a few theories about social media, Amazon, Ranking systems, and a host of other things.

As someone who’s been involved in publishing many other people’s books over the years too, it’s interesting to note how things are changing in the publishing world, and what additional tools authors now have.  So that brought me to thinking about how hard it must have been years before the internet to have written and produced a book, published it, and marketed it.

We are so lucky with many options for getting our material into the hands of our readers, and then also finding out what they thought of our efforts.  No longer do you have to hope the mailman brings a stack of fan mail to your door, you can read reviews as soon as they are posted.  But then of course so can everyone else. If they are bad reviews, that can be a real blow to any artists self esteem.

But the reviews are the best way anyone has of knowing what readers liked and how well an author did or didn’t live up to their readers’ expectations.   And because readers have so many easy ways to convey their feedback it’s worth encouraging this – yes even the negative stuff – so that we writers can take that information and use it to form our next work.

So – if you have read a book you really enjoyed recently, please be kind enough to jump onto Amazon and Goodreads and post a comment.  It will only take a minute, and will be worth a lot more to the author.

And – five, four, three, two, one… yes my novel is out in only three more days – just in time for Christmas holiday reading.   Please remember to share your reviews too wont you. The build up to the launch is one thing, and then I will be nervously biting my nails awaiting the first reviews.

Writing a book is only a small part of the journey – The launch and feedback are just as big a part of the project too.

Thanks, and happy holiday reading where ever you are next week,



Special Launch Offer for Beyond the Shadows

The countdown is on and it’s now only a matter of days until Beyond the Shadows is launched on Kindle.  That means it will be out in time for Christmas.

Ok – so why launch first on Kindle?  

I get asked a lot about whether to make any book available first on Kindle, or first in print.   I think it depends a lot on the reader, the book, and the time of year.  I’m going straight to Kindle with Beyond the Shadows, partly due to wanting it to be availalble for summer holiday reading in the southern hemisphere, but also because my research has shown that more readers of this type of book will opt for EBook version over a printed version anyway.

However, my publishers are also going to ensure it’s available for print on demand through Amazon, so for any die-hard paperback readers, that option is also there.

Now – the next big challenge with launching a book is to get the right amount of PR, and build up, and as many people as possible buying their book on the same day, so that the book ranks well in all it’s categories.    Having a ‘best seller’ is a very subjective term (outside of the reality for books like 50 Shades of Grey and Harry Potter of course) but a book that ranks in the top 1000 or even better, the top 100 on Amazon does help the promotional aspects of the book.   

So – tomorrow I’m going to announce how you might be able to help with the launching a new book experiment with regards to ranking …  so stay tuned!


Novel Number Two!

BtS coverI’ve just finished the final proofing novel number two – Beyond the Shadows – and I’m very excited about it being made available on Kindle in time for Christmas.  So all you holiday readers will be able to enjoy a slice of romantic drama.

The second book is a lot different to the first, and it’s a more modern day drama, where-as Margaret was set in the mid 20th Century.  But the differences don’t end there.   Beyond the Shadow’s is set in several exotic locations around the world, and features a dark mystery woman who threatens the two lovers in the story.    It’s also a tantalising look at how some relationships can be enduring and yet quite ‘different’ to the traditional happy ever after, and explores how geography and the use of technology such as Skype can play a role in that.

Most of all, now that I’m at launch time, I’m noticing my own attitudes about releasing a second book are very different than the first time I did this at the start of the year.  Back then, I thought I had a ‘pretty good story’ but really had no idea if anyone else would buy it, like it, or even love it, let alone write great reviews about not only the story, but also on my abilities as an author of fiction.

To my delight, and this is now helping in the confidence stakes, many people have raved about “Margaret – a Song Out of Time” and that has certainly inspired me to keep writing, with even greater expectations of my second and third novels.


Now on Kindle

Margaret is now on Kindle – which is exciting for me as an author, but also great for you the readers, as the affordability of books, as well as their easy portability is even greater with Kindle.    One of the things I personally love about Kindle is the ability to read at night, on my iPad, without the light on.   And being able to easily increase the font, not to mention bookmarking sections is a reader’s dream come true.

A lovely friend of mine is also such a big fan of books, and Kindle, that she’s created a wonderful website:  KD Forsman (Karen) has created this great site to share her love of books, and books she’s loved with everyone, and it’s really good. Please take a minute and check it out.  

As I’ve mentioned before, book reviews are an author’s very best friend – they help fuel the fires of inspiration when you are writing, and build confidence in the stories you wish to share.   Most of all, they are the applause that is otherwise reserved for performers on a stage.  The writer’s stage is in the pages between the covers of a book.   That is where we perform as we share our creative ability to inspire emotions, ideas, action.

So – if you haven’t already done so, please remember to review my book Margaret.

And if you are still deciding on reading it, then you’ll be delighted to find it’s on Kindle, and enjoying a Special Kindle Launch Price of only $3.71 (US) until the end of April.


The London Book Fair Means…

Exciting news for me, which means EXTRA options for you.

I was talking with my publishers at Panoma Press the other day, and was told my book will feature at the London Book Fair for the entire three busy days – this means that although they have hundreds of books to display there each year, and in order to fit these all in, they generally have to rotate many of them – Margaret will be ‘up front’ for the whole duration.

This is VERY exciting. 

And – because Margaret is starting to get great reviews already, and is off to a good start post launch only four weeks ago, we agreed that a good kick start along for it’s new KINDLE edition (launched last week)  will be really helpful for building buyer interest at the LBF (for foreign rights sales potential).

And so for the month of APRIL only,  you can download Margaret on KINDLE for the super price of $3.69 (USD)

No excuses – grab your copy now.  Here’s the easy link

AND in other news….

My GoodReads giveaway competition has ended, with more than 1000 people entering to win a signed hard copy of Margaret.     Winners were from Europe, Ireland, USA, Canada…  all over the world.   (Margaret is about to travel to all four corners of the globe).

Thanks to everyone who entered – I’m delighted to have attracted so many interested contenders for the free copies.  However – as mentioned above, APRIL is definitely the time to grab your copy on Kindle.

happy reading everyone, 



Reviews can be an author’s best friend

After waiting with  baited breath, chewing my nails down to nearly my elbows, finally a handful of reviews are starting to roll in from people who have read my new book – Margaret – a song out of time.   WHEW – it’s always a relief to hear that people have really enjoyed what you have written, but exciting when they say they ‘loved it’.

Check this out – and if you are currently reading this book  or any other, please remember to take a minute and post a review as it’s SOOOOO very helpful to authors.  And not just when a book first launches, but anytime.   Keep them coming!  Thanks.
Margaret - A Song Out of TimeMargaret – A Song Out of Time by Dixie Carlton

View all my reviews

A great start…

Off to a flying start with the new book launch last week.   My Publicist advised me yesterday that a major publication in the UK are interested in an exclusive story about me/the book… I should find out in a few days about this.

But while sales have been steady and the initial interest from reviewers is great, the real fact is that you just have to hurry up and wait to get momentum gathering with any book.  The first weeks especially can be nail biting times, as you worry about what the reviewers will say, and how readers will react.   Then you worry about whether you should be worried at all, as the smart side of your brain constantly battles with the fluffy side about the timing, and reminders that this is not a quick process.

So – to quell the nerves I started writing a new book on Wednesday night.   It’s meant putting the other one I’d started on hold for now, but this one feels more compelling to write just now.  The working title is “Leftovers” and it’s about being single in your 40s and 50s.    While I have lots of friends and am myself a case study in single-itis, I am also going to post some polls for extra information about this one.   But first, let me get the first 5000 words flowing and then I’ll start sharing ahead of the first research poll.

My fingers are quite literally itching to get writing today – so enough procrastinating over what to write by blogging and now I’ll get into the flow.   Ooh  I just love starting a new story.



Launching to Coincide with a Global Event

One of the things I loved about working with Panoma Press was that they thought about publishing with a marketing mindset.  They could see the value in having my book launch to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8th March.   The link? Margaret – the character in my book, who was also a real person – was a woman who simply lived ahead of her time.

We live in an age where wanting to opt out of marriage and domesticity in favour of a career on the stage, or having children when unmarried and expecting to keep and raise your own babies is nothing more than simply a woman’s choice, only a few years ago it was very different.  Once it was a matter for secrecy, lies, and subterfuge.  We’ve come a long way since then.

In terms of marketing a book, picking the launch date is important.  There are many events throughout the year which can make it ideal, or perfect timing.    Working with a publisher who ‘gets’ the connections and works hard to make those connections work for the author and the book is wonderful – and not something to be  taken for granted.

Here’s a quick bit of advice for any author, with any type of book:  List all the themes your book aligns with and, consider the angles to increase that alliance so that your marketing efforts are able to be doubled around that theme.   Then find dates that correspond with those themes. Some examples might also include events that celebrate Amnesty, Thanksgiving, or even a saint’s birthday.   There’s a lot you can do with this line of thinking and working with your publicist and publisher to get the right flavour could do wonderful things for your book.

The Dreams of a Writer at Launch Time

As we near the time for my book launch, I’ve been struck with technical challenges; my website crashed last week and it was mission to get it back up and running, only to find that it still wasn’t quite right until today; then nerves – will my book sell, will it get good reviews, what if it doesn’t; and the biggest questions keep running through my head like ‘Can I make a living from being a writer?’ and ‘what if I die half way through writing a book – what happens to the story then?’

Ok – so it’s all just madness in my head as crunch day comes, but the excitement clearly outweighs the worry.  I’ve written other books in the fiction genre but this is very different. This feels like my youngest child is about to leave home and head off to college and I’m not sure if he’s packed enough warm clothes.

Well – I know my book is in the hands of professionals, who will also do their best to promote this book, and I have been busy doing all I can to assist that promotional activity, so in a few weeks from now, I’ll know the answer to the question about whether I should give up my day job.

For the next few days I’ll nervously wait the passing of dates on the calendar and hope that as the big day dawns, it heralds in the start of a wonderful new era for me as a writer.