First of all, let me say that I know hardly any author who has not found that writing a book ends up taking a lot longer than was initially planned, but I also know that few things can leave a person with such a sense of accomplishment as writing a book. However long the writing and production take, it will be worth it if you spend the time being serious about the process, you allow yourself to be inspired, and you produce a quality product in the end.
To make what feels overwhelming seem more manageable, we can break down writing and producing a book into a series of steps that give an idea of the order and time needed for each step in the process.
Come Up with an Idea (a few minutes to a few years): Coming up with a good idea for a book is easier said than done. Usually good ideas just come to us rather than our going out looking for them. But even after you have the idea, you need to refine it. You’ll want to play around with it for several days, weeks, or even months. Look around for books that might have similar ideas. Read them so you can see whether your idea has been done before or you have something new you can say on the topic. Be sure not to steal ideas from other authors; you don’t want to plagiarize, but you can cite other sources in your book.
Research (one month to a few years): Even if you are going to write a novel, you will find aspects of research you will need to do. Sometimes the research is just simple fact-checking. For example, if your novel is set in Atlanta, it might just require double-checking the name of a restaurant or a street for accuracy in your book. If you’re writing a non-fiction book, it might require months of research to assemble your information. In my opinion, research is often the most exciting part of writing the book. It’s when you gather and discover new information, which can cause your idea to expand and change, become stronger and more refined. Let yourself go crazy with the research and read everything on the topic that you can. Take notes and make sure you write down the sources for all your notes-the authors, books, page numbers, etc. Look at some other nonfiction books to see how they are arranged with notes, footnotes, and bibliography pages. You will want to use “The Chicago Manual of Style” or some other style manual to make sure you incorporate your research properly into your book.