There is always a little uncertainty when it comes to being an author, especially when starting.

You’re trying to find publishers that will take your work, but you’re also trying to make sure that you have plenty of work that you can offer to prospective publishers, or even for yourself if you choose to go down the self-publishing route.

One of the questions that many writers will have when starting, at least, is whether they need a backlog of books to start publishing their work.

Fortunately for you, we have just the guide that you can use to help you figure that out!

Here, we will discuss not just the number of books that you should write before publishing your work, but also some important advice that you should consider when trying to become a professional author.

We’ll also be going over some interesting statistics that you may find interesting when it comes to how long it takes to write a book, or even the creative purpose as a whole.

How Many Books?

Before we get any further into this topic, we should probably first discuss the main question that we posed in the title: How many books should you write before trying to get your work published?

Now, in theory, nothing is stopping you from writing your first book, and being ready to go to publishing it in one go. Some authors have done so in the past.

However, much like trying to bake your first pie or cake, writing your first novel doesn’t always end up with results that you are personally satisfied with.

Quite often, many writer and authors will consider their first larger work to be not up to a standard that they are comfortable publishing to.

So, at what point do many authors decide to start to publish their work?

Well, based on anecdotes and statistics that authors of all levels of experience have reported, many authors seem to have written at least 2 books before they decide they can start trying to publish their work.

This is to say, that many authors will have finished their very first novel, and then will publish their second.

It seems that many people do find that their first book, while maybe not up to their standards, is instrumental in helping them learn their style, and what their target audience might be.

How Much Is A Book?

So, we have answered the main question of this piece. But that still might not be all there is to the question. After all, writing at least 2 books sounds easy and simple on paper, but how long exactly is a book in words?

Well, that also depends, though the best way to divide it up is often by genre, which has a broad range that many of their published works exist in.

  • Romance novels are anywhere between 50,000 and 90,000, depending on the setting and subgenre.
  • Fantasy novels can be anywhere from 50,000 to 150,000.
  • Sci-fi novels are a very similar in length to fantasy books on average, between 50,000 to 150,000
  • Horror novels tend to be 40,000 to 80,000.
  • Mystery Novels can be anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 too.
  • Self-Help novels tend to be slightly shorter, around 30,000 to 70,000 on average.

Writer’s Timeline

So, having covered the previous point, and understanding just the sheer amount of work a writer has to do to get a novel or book finished, it might be worth breaking down how a noble is written into a rough timeline.

A Misleading Title?

The term ‘timeline’ might be a little misleading. After all, pretty much every author will be working on a different scale of time when it comes to how quickly they can finish a book.

How Many Books Should You Write Before Publishing?

As just a few examples of how different these can be between authors, let’s just go over some of our favorite examples

  • Agatha Christie, the author of some of the most celebrated detective fiction of the 20th century, took between three and four months to write a novel on average.
  • A Clockwork Orange, written by Anthony Burgess, took 18 months to be completed (contrary to the popular myth that it took 3 weeks).
  • Frank Herbert, the author of the acclaimed sci-fi epic Dune, took 6 years to complete the first book in the series.
  • The Lord of the Rings, the seminal fantasy work by J.R.R. Tolkien, took over 12 years to finally be completed.

Needless to say, the overall amount of time spent on a novel varies from person to person, so it might be best to break it down into stages.

Steps Of Writing

These are some of the rules that we follow when it comes to planning out a noble by stages.

  1. Have a draft of the plot written up, with some of the twists and turns you want to include.
  2. Once the plot is created, you can start to craft your characters that might best live through this story.
  3. Decide on a point of view? Is your novel going to have an omniscient 3rd personal perspective? A 1st person protagonist view? Or something else?
  4. Break down your story into different sections and acts that you can work on, spreading the workload into smaller, more manageable pieces, rather than one giant word block.
  5. Once most of the story has been written, you can then give it a satisfying ending.

Writer’s Advice

When it comes to becoming a published author, there is some important advice that you should probably try and follow for your work.

Realistic Expectations

You must set yourself realistic goals when it comes to your success as a writer, especially early on in your writing career.

While the dream of being an overnight success can seem tantalizing, even blinding for some writers, the fact of the matter is that great authors take time to be made.

You’ll need to put in the work over time, not just to writing the book, but to finding a publishing company, getting the work published, and even promoting and publicizing the book. 

Nor is success guaranteed to come on the first attempt. Your first novel may not sell too well on its own. But that’s okay.

Take that moment as a learning opportunity to move forward, trying something new with the next novel, and the next, and so on.

No Millionaire Writers

Several well-known and world-famous writers have become millionaires thanks to their published work. Stephen King and J.K. Rowling come to mind here.

However, the vast majority of authors, the other 99.9%, will likely not achieve this fame and prestige. Certainly not early in their career.

However, that being said, it is still totally possible to make a living by being a writer and author. What it will take is a lot of hard work, good planning, and a good backlog of work to achieve.

Can Your First Published Book Become A Bestselling Novel?

It’s not unheard of for first-published works to become bestsellers. Just look at Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind. It is unlikely, however.

Final Thoughts

So, from what we’ve discussed, the result should be at least a little clearer. It’s probably best to try and publish after you’ve finished your second work, at least.

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