How Long Before My Book Is Published?

PublishingQ&AHere’s the place where I address common questions about the mysterious world of royalty publishing (as opposed to indie publishing). If you have a question you’d like me to answer, be sure to post it in the comments below. Keep in mind that I’m not as much an expert on some topics as those who are more experienced, but I have worked with three different publishers so far and can give feedback accordingly.

How Long Before My Book Is Published?

Let’s say you found a publishing home for your book or are seeking one. If you sign a book contract, how long are you expected to wait before that wonderful product shows up (as an e-book or in print form) with your name on the cover?

I have no intention of ever glossing over the truth here, so I’ll be straight with you.  At a minimum you’ll be waiting at least a year. In my case, I’ve never had a book come out when it was supposed to. My first novel, Fatal Illusions, came out eighteen months after I signed my contract. My second novel, The Tenth Plague, didn’t take that long, but it was still over a year before it was published. There were always delays for one reason or another. I don’t believe my experience is that unusual. No complaints here—these are just the facts.

Of course, in this situation, any author would be disappointed to have the release date delayed, but this is just the way the wheels turn, and authors need to accept that. Some things are beyond your control, so you have to just roll with them.

Why does the process take so long? Place yourself in the shoes of those accepting book-length manuscripts and then getting them ready for prime time. Getting manuscripts from point A to point Z is no small feat (think: title, cover, revisions if anything in the story needs reworking, layout, edits, marketing, launch, and so forth). And publishers often have several books in line for the same process. Your project isn’t their only baby, though it may be yours. So it’s understandable that a logjam will occasionally occur; it frankly would be a mystery to this author if it didn’t.

So if you’re hoping your title will show up in print within six month or less, I’m sorry to disappoint you. But it’s better to know the truth, eyes wide open, before going into publishing than to learn it on the fly and have your preconceptions dashed. Hope this helps.

It is true that my indie friends can crank out their books more quickly, but there are tradeoffs. They may be able to speed up the process, but then they aren’t working with those who will be pouring their resources into their product. After all, it’s in their best interest that the product will sell well and be something they are proud to release to the public. I personally find it comforting when a publisher (1) likes my product enough to buy it, (2) is willing to invest its staff and finances into the product, and (3) is willing to stake its reputation on the book being a success. For any author, having the clout of a publisher behind you, in spite of the sometimes-lengthy process, is encouraging all by itself. And in my opinion, it’s worth waiting for.

One thought on “How Long Before My Book Is Published?

  1. Barbara H.

    Thanks, Adam. It’s understandable the process would be so lengthy with all that goes on behind the scenes. Though indie publishing is tempting, I’d still rather go with a traditional publisher, for the reasons you mentioned, plus, I wouldn’t know what I was doing the first time through. I’d rather have the input of the publisher’s experience.

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