Ed Wilson: I think I would like to write a book…

As someone who has written or contributed to 16 book projects, people often seek me out to solicit advice on writing a book. More often than not, the conversation begins “I think I would like to write a book about … (fill in your own obscure technology) because I really know a lot about it…” They then begin to describe how much they know about their obscure technology.

The problem is that people have never written a book have no idea of the timeline that is involved. Here is an example from my most recent book, Windows PowerShell 2.0 Best Practices:

  • First draft of proposal was dated Jan. 31, 2008

  • First chapter on Aug. 25, 2008

  • Last chapter on Aug. 28, 2009

  • Cover approval Nov. 13, 2009

This does not account for the fact that while in the writing phase, I generally have a deadline of some kind every week. This means I have to work every night, every weekend … for a year. Once I begin to explain this to people they generally change their mind. Over the last decade I have counseled more than two dozen prospective writers … to date … they are still prospective writers.

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Comments (5)
  1. gorillalovesac says:

    Writing a book is indeed requires a lot of time. But I didn’t realize that it takes a year or so to finish one book.

    If I were to write a book, I don’t think I will ever finish it because I have a little patience.

    For a person like you Mr Ed Wilson, writing a book is indeed your passion and so with other wonderful writers. I am so amazed on those kind of persons because they can collate their ideas and not just mere ideas but outstanding ideas.

  2. Paul says:

    Thats how long some big, complex books take.  Of course some other books, even tech/non-fiction can be turned out in just a few months.  It depends on how much time the writer is willing to pour into it, how much editing/review etc is going on.

    Obviously something as complex as PS 2.0, requiring lots of close edits to ensure accuracy, is going to take a long time.

  3. As someone who has written lots and lots of books ;-), just want to add that calendar time can be deceptive. Completing a book in a few months, doesn’t mean the writer hasn’t put forth their best effort. Typically, I work 80+ hours a week at the craft of writing. That’s 12 hours most days and I do it 7 days a week. The most important ingredient for success: passion. You really have to love it!

  4. Orin Thomas says:

    Have to agree with Will – every writer takes a different amount of time depending on the amount of hours they can throw at the writing process.

  5. Arun says:

    Thanks for the Information Ed, but can ask you how much do you get paid for writing a book which takes one year.

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