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Publish Your Way! BelieversBookServices provides professional publishing services for today's independent author.

Timelines: How long does it take?

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Timelines: How long does it take?

andrew mackay

Publishing timelines are a significant source of confusion for many authors. "How long does it take?" "Can I have my book by Christmas?" "I have an event in three weeks, can we be done by then?" I get some version of these questions nearly every day.

For perspective, I want to start you with a timeline drawn from the traditional publishing market:

From idea to book proposal to your literary agent: 1-3 months
From agent to editor and book contract offer: 2-5 months
From contract offer to first paycheck: 2-3 months
From contract to delivery of manuscript to editor: 3-9 months (sometimes longer)
(From delivery of manuscript to editor actually working on it: 2-5 months)
From editor to publication: 9-12 months
— From Steve Laube: http://www.stevelaube.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-published/

Publishing a book the traditional way takes a long time. There are some reasons for that. For instance, did you know that book reviewers (even in electronic media) want an Advance Review Copy at least 4 months prior to the book's launch date? True fact. Supply chain issues, marketing issues, and even when readers are likely to buy all play into a traditional publisher's planning.

That brings us to the Indie industry. You know, where you can have your cake and eat it too? How long does it take to publish a book?

The answer: it depends.

It depends on the services you need and the level of attention you want or can afford. For instance, you might have a manuscript that isn't ready for prime time. You might hire a developmental editor to work on it. They may spend 1-2 months revising and commenting on your manuscript. You might then spend another 1-2 months rewriting and working on your manuscript. Then, there's copy editing, design and typesetting, legalities, and distribution setup to handle. All of that happens before you have a book ready to print.

On average, BelieversPress takes 4-8 months to get a project from manuscript to available to the world.

And keep in mind, that's without a single thought for marketing. You can't afford to do this without a marketing plan that starts well before your book launches and continues until... well, until you hang up your author hat. 

So, how should you plan?

  • Start marketing early. This sounds dirty, but it isn't. Serve the people who need your content. That's good marketing, and everyone benefits.
  • Write the best book you can.
  • Don't commit to major events until you have completed, at least, the typesetting and cover design phases of pre-production. That way, you're sure to be close to finished books, and you have great art to use in your presentations.
  • Write the best book you can.
  • Create launch excitement: host a party, talk to local media, do everything you can locally, easily, to let the world know your book exists.
  • Write the best book you can.
  • Lastly, don't rush. You want the book to be great. Even if you have to publish a month later than you hoped. Put the time in to make your book great. Your readers will thank you.