The Unanswerable Question for Writers

Yesterday's question got several good answers, and one I'd never thought of: changing the font. I'll add that to my repetoire!

Today's question is one I have trouble answering, probably because before publication, a writer has all the time in the world to write. It seems I always get "How long did/does it take you to write the book?" With or without stops and starts? The first draft, the polished draft, or the final, ready-to-be published version? There are lots of variables, so here's a specific question.

If you had an idea for a story in your head and your publisher asked how long it would take to get it ready for submission to their publishing process, what would you tell them?

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Comment by Peg Herring on February 5, 2009 at 7:36am
Yes, but what a great feeling to have a backlog!
Comment by I. J. Parker on February 5, 2009 at 4:19am
The seven deadly sins make life worth living.
The reason I don't have to meet annual deadlines is that I'm ahead of the publisher. At one time I was four novels ahead. This is not an entirely desirable situation. They've got you where they want you. Meanwhile you grow as a writer and find yourself rewriting those early books instead of moving forward.
Comment by Peg Herring on February 5, 2009 at 3:43am
Beware the seven deadly sins!
Comment by Dana King on February 5, 2009 at 1:14am
I always aim for a year, but the real time frame usually comes out to about fifteen months, once I work around my day job and allow time for the book to sit untouched for several weeks before the last couple of drafts. I'm sure I could do one in a year if I had to, even with work. Like Ingrid, I have no deadlines, so I can afford to be leisurely. Unlike Ingrid, I have no contracts, so I can afford to be really leisurely. Sloth-like, if I'm so inclined.
Comment by I. J. Parker on February 5, 2009 at 12:59am
I dread the day when I have to write to a deadline. So far, I've allowed myself a year per novel, with some taking a bit less, and some longer. I suspect that I would fight a short deadline, and then work to beat it. At least that's the way it's worked with revision deadlines.

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