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Hidden Helper
05-08-2005, 05:41 PM
I've been looking for a statistic for a few weeks now, with no luck. Does anyone know how long (either as a unit of time, or percentage of complete project) it takes, on average, to research a book? I want to use the figure in a presentation I'm doing on research for the Coastal Carolina Writers Retreat. (Part of my presentation includes asking for help when you can't find the answer, lol).

If you don't know of a statistic, would you be willing to share how long it took you to research your book, how long your book was, etc.?

Thanks in advance for your help!
Lauren Hidden
The Hidden Helper

mommie4a
05-08-2005, 05:51 PM
I'm sorry that I can't answer that question personally.

HOWEVER!! Three books about nonfiction book proposals might help you. The authors of these books all have websites. The first is Elizabeth Lyon who wrote Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write. The second is Michael Larsen's How to Write a Book Proposal. And the third is by Jeff Herman, How to Write a Book Proposal.

I hope that helps you and good luck with your research!

TashaGoddard
05-08-2005, 08:50 PM
I honestly don't think there could be a specific figure. It would depend on the type of book it is and the type of research you have to do - e.g. primary, secondary - and how widely available the information is. Some people need to do very little research because they know their subject inside-out (e.g. a basic How to use Microsoft Word book would need very little research for an author who works a lot with the program or who regularly trains people in it; whereas an academic text about the second World War would need a lot of research, potentially both primary and secondary).

cattywampus
05-08-2005, 09:48 PM
Hidden Helper, are you sure you didn't just ask me that question on allexperts.com? Well, somebody did, but on second thought, I think her name was Fred.

Not that she needs me to confirm it, but Tasha's quite right. It is an impossible question to answer. Too much depends on the subject, the availability of information and how deep the author is prepared to go in search of details. The same holds for articles: it takes me about 40 minutes to research one, and about the same time to write it.

Don't believe everything you read on the net!

Catty :tongue

Hidden Helper
05-09-2005, 06:04 PM
Yes, Catty, It was me. Didn't know you were on here too, lol. And thanks to everyone for responding, your answers make sense.

Guess I'll have to think of another attention-grabber. :) Thanks again.

Lauren

Tish Davidson
05-12-2005, 07:31 PM
I don't know if this helps, but I write non-fiction, and I spend roughly (very roughly) 1/3 of my time on writing and editing, 1/3 of my time on research and 1/3 of my time on marketing and bookeeping. However, this distribution varies greatly from project to project and from month to month. Bbookeeping goes way up in tax season, marketing goes way down in August when lots of editors are on vacation or when I get a long-term project, writing time increases or decreases depending on the nearness of the deadline and how much time I am spending marketing, and research time varies with all the factor listed above.

ResearchGuy
05-13-2005, 02:36 AM
...how long (either as a unit of time, or percentage of complete project) it takes, on average, to research a book?...If you don't know of a statistic, would you be willing to share how long it took you to research your book, how long your book was, etc.?...
I used to research and write policy reports for a government policy shop. Some were book length, and some more like articles. For the full-scale projects, it could take several months to do the research, and longer if the time were available. Often, it was necessary to start from the due date and work backwards, fitting in all activities with a view to being done on time.

My style was to (1) lay out a Word document for the new project, title page, section to accommodate table of contents, place holders for front matter, and a couple of section breaks to accommodate the body of the work and possible other needs; (2) set up styles for paragraphs and headings; (3) assure that the endnotes would appear where they were supposed to go (that is a matter of properly using section breaks and properly defining the setup for endnotes); (4) as I did the research, also create the working draft, plugging in full, properly formatted endnotes (and footnotes where appropriate, for information that did not belong in the text OR in endnotes) AND creating the bibliography, with each entry complete and properly formatted; (5) when draft completed, revise, revise, revise. That way, when the paper was done, it was DONE. No need to scramble for documentation or clean up bibliography and notes. That sort of approach makes it difficult to separate research from writing from editing, as it is an integrated process, and further research might be needed even well along in a project.

There are some other tricks to keep everything straight during the process, with the understanding that some mechanics need to be tidied up as part of the final revision and editing process. The same approach can work for books per se. I have one such project underway right now.

--Ken

Jamesaritchie
05-13-2005, 04:59 AM
I've been looking for a statistic for a few weeks now, with no luck. Does anyone know how long (either as a unit of time, or percentage of complete project) it takes, on average, to research a book? I want to use the figure in a presentation I'm doing on research for the Coastal Carolina Writers Retreat. (Part of my presentation includes asking for help when you can't find the answer, lol).

If you don't know of a statistic, would you be willing to share how long it took you to research your book, how long your book was, etc.?

Thanks in advance for your help!
Lauren Hidden
The Hidden Helper

You can probably talk to enough people to get some sort of average, but I doubt it will have any meaning. No two books are alike, and no two writers are alike. I've written exactly one nonfiction book. It ran about 80,000 words, and reasearch time in total was just about half an hour.

Jamesaritchie
05-13-2005, 05:01 AM
I've been looking for a statistic for a few weeks now, with no luck. Does anyone know how long (either as a unit of time, or percentage of complete project) it takes, on average, to research a book? I want to use the figure in a presentation I'm doing on research for the Coastal Carolina Writers Retreat. (Part of my presentation includes asking for help when you can't find the answer, lol).

If you don't know of a statistic, would you be willing to share how long it took you to research your book, how long your book was, etc.?

Thanks in advance for your help!
Lauren Hidden
The Hidden Helper

You can probably talk to enough people to get some sort of average, but I doubt it will have any meaning. No two books are alike, and no two writers are alike. I've written exactly one nonfiction book. It ran about 80,000 words, and reasearch time in total was just about half an hour.

I already knew all the technical info that went into the book, and needed to research only a couple of small points.

On the other hand, I know a guy who wrote a book only a bit longer than mine, and research time for him was almost eight years.

robeiae
05-14-2005, 07:51 PM
I have a manuscript I completed in about 1 year; the research took about 12 years...

Rob

Hidden Helper
05-19-2005, 05:21 AM
Thank you to everyone who answered. I didn't get any concrete clean-cut statistics or figures to add to my presentation, but I think it's clear that with almost any non-fiction or fiction book, at least some research is necessary!

Good luck with all your projects!