Having worked in traditional publishing for fourteen years and serving as editor, writer, and employer of freelancers that perform similar services, I have calculated the following ranges of time for how long it may take to ghostwrite or edit a standard 40,000- to 60,000-word book.

  • 150+ hours to write it
  • 50-60+ hours to edit it
  • 25-40 hours to copyedit it
  • 15-20 hours to proofread it

Regarding Time Frame

A freelancer may request

  • 3-12+ months to write your book
  • 8-12 weeks to edit your book
  • 2-4 weeks to proofread your book

The working hours and time frames depend on the quality of the content provided by the author, the author's availability to engage the process (answering the freelancer's emails and content queries), and the freelancer's current workload.

You can use the working hours above and multiply them by the Editorial Freelancers Associations list of common rates to gauge how much it may cost to have professional editing or writing support for your next book project. Or, you can see my post Costs to Consider When Preparing to Publish Your Book.

If you have a project that you want out in a hurry, ask your writer or editor if they have room in their schedule to rush your project through. This is definitely not recommended. You want to build in time for service providers to give you their best work. But, things happen. Some books are tied to a current event and must be published at a certain time for them to be relevant. Perhaps you miscalculated your publishing timeline and that conference or speaking engagement is coming up sooner than you expected. Some publishing professionals can help you meet those crazy deadlines, but be ready to pay a little bit more for their having to squeeze you in ahead of other longer-term projects.

This is just a general list, and each project is unique. As you decide who will be on your publishing dream team, ask them how long they think it will take them to complete your project. Then build your editorial and production schedule around the longest end of time frame they give you. Give yourself padding for upsets in the schedule, more extensive changes than expected, or any other issues that may arise. This is real life, you know.

If you have any thoughts or questions about what I have provided here, connect with me in the comments or reach out to me on my Contact page.