One of my coworkers asked me this question today and I got distracted before I could give her a real answer. So I decided to do it here.
The thing is, though, I'm not actually sure how to answer this question.
I don't write straight through a book and finish a "first draft" and then go back to the beginning and revise the whole thing into a "second draft." It's a lot more messy than that. As much as I would love to turn off the editing side of my brain while I'm writing, I can only do that for so long before the editor in me kicks in and starts revising—sometimes against my will.
So while I can tell you that I started writing what would become Liam Darcy, I Loathe You in late October 2013 and technically submitted it for publication in July 2014, I really have no idea how many times I revised it or how long I spent writing it.
And that's not even counting all the stuff I reworked after it was accepted.
In the drafting stages, I try to spend an hour or so every morning just purely writing without much revising. "Try" being the operative word.
Sometimes I'm super productive. And sometimes (like this morning, for example) I'm writing pure drivel that I know I'll have to completely toss out later in the process. But the point is, I'm putting more words on the page. Some days that's all you can ask for.
I guess the short answer to this question would be about six months.
The longer version is: I finished the majority of my first draft during Nanowrimo 2013. Then I had to go through it maybe three or four more times, drafting and revising and drafting and revising. And then I did a really thorough copyedit. And after that I changed a bunch of the characters around and messed with the plot again. And just this last Christmas I added a good-sized chunk and rewrote the entire ending.
This is not a recommended method, by the way. Ideally I'd have solved all the plot holes and fixed the ending before I did all that copy editing work. But writing a book is weird and never really goes according to plan.
Eventually, whether you're ready or not, you just have to be done.
This is something I'm still learning. Just this morning I had the urge to call the printer and tell them to stop the presses so I could "fix" something. I could've done it too. I am the production manager. That's one of my powers.
But I talked myself off the ledge and realized, again, that it's over. My words are in print. (Gulp.)
And that's both terrifying and oddly relieving.
It's kind of that calm-before-the-storm feeling of knowing that whatever's going to happen is going to happen and that there's not much I can do about it now.
Except, of course, to promote my book as much as possible and cross all my fingers and toes that it will sell well.
And keep writing.
Which reminds me, 1, 2, 3 with Nephi and Me! went to press today. I'm so excited for you guys to see this book, I can't even tell you. The illustrations are AWESOME!!!!! And I'm just jazzed that I got to write a board book.
Have I mentioned lately how much I love my life?
For reals, though.
And on that happy note, stay tuned for more exciting news about upcoming author events I'll be involved in. I can't announce anything officially yet, but I have lots of fun things in the works.