You’ve been tossing around this fantastic idea in your brain for a while now. Finally, you’ve made up your mind to write this concept down as a book. And after numerous hours of writing, editing, and revising, your draft is complete!
You’ve created something you’re proud and excited about, and you should be! But the job’s not done… It’s time to get your book into the hands of your readers.
Where do you go from here? How do you get your book into the world?
The answer is simple: You publish it!
But don’t get too hasty. Publishing a book is an exciting process, yes, but it involves many steps.
And it also can take a while…
Just how long does it take to publish a book?
You’re about to find the answer.
And although there’s no definitive timeline, with any luck, reading this post will help you better grasp how it may work for you and your book depending on your chosen method of publication.
How Long Does It Take to Publish a Book? Exploring Your Options
The length of your publishing journey can be as short as a few weeks, or as long as months, maybe even years. It’s entirely dependent on which path you’re going to take.
Method 1. Self-Publishing
The method of independently releasing your book is known as self-publishing. By doing this, you serve as both the book’s author and publisher rather than giving a publishing business your manuscript to edit, package, distribute, and sell on your behalf.
That means no one else is involved in the process and you have total control over what happens to your work.
Additionally, you get to choose when your book will be published. You set up your own timeline and decide your own release date.
You’re also in charge of marketing and public relations. If you have your own platform and a large following, self-publishing is perfect for you.
But don’t get discouraged. Self-publishing is still a viable option even if you’re still building an audience for yourself. Your book can still make an impact. How you get the word out is solely up to you.
With self-publishing, the author foots the bill for publishing the book. Yes, you are taking all the financial risk, but that also means you get to keep 80%+ of the royalties and keep publication rights.
“You reap what you sow.”
The best part about this method? You can get started immediately!
Method 2: Traditional Publishing
In traditional publishing, you sell the publication rights to a publisher, who completes the entire publishing and distribution process.
This has been the standard method for decades, and it can take several years before your book becomes available on shelves or in stores. It’s the most effective approach for you to sell your book without having to assume any financial risk.
When you choose to publish traditionally, a publisher offers you a contract, and typically pays you an advance.
Then, they hire (or assign in-house) a professional editor to proofread and format your manuscript and a graphic designer to create a book cover.
But despite popular belief, they don’t do much when it comes to marketing.
They help with distribution, sure–getting into bookstores.
But they want you to already have a big audience since they’re taking a risk by paying you an advance.
So once you finish your manuscript, you just have to sit and wait and be in for the ride of your life. Sounds great? Not really.. There’s also a downside to taking this route.
By selling your publication rights to a publisher, you will also:
- Lose your ownership rights
- Take a lower share of royalties
- Lose creative control (format, design, etc.)
- Have longer publishing timelines (12 – 48 months)
But don’t get the wrong idea. There are some great upsides to traditional publishing–it all comes down to your ultimate goals.
The Process Of Publishing A Book And Why It Takes Time
As mentioned earlier, publishing a book is a long and complicated process. There are several steps and factors that affect the time it takes for a book to get published.
It makes sense for authors to become irritated with the publication process after spending so much time producing the book and submitting the manuscript.
However, keep in mind that the production timeline was designed to provide you with as much time as possible to offer you and your book the greatest opportunity possible for a successful book launch. And that was all productive time.
Nevertheless, let’s dive into the steps involved in publishing a book the traditional way.
Steps Involved in Traditional Publishing: Timelines
1. Sign with a Literary Agent (~2-3 months)
Unsolicited submissions are often not accepted by established publishers. In other words, unless you have a literary agent, you won’t be able to approach an acquisitions editor about your work until you run into one at a writing conference.
Although working with a literary agent adds a step to the publication process, they are quite helpful when it comes to analyzing book contracts, making pitches to major publishing firms, and effectively promoting your work to specialists in the field.
2. Send you Proposals Through Your Agent (~2-4 months)
You should now delegate the task of contacting publishers to your agent. Expert agents frequently already have connections within publishing firms, which will help them enter more quickly and gain access to decision-makers.
Keep calm and check back often for news. But don’t be a pest. Remember: “Patience is a virtue.”
You also have to make sure your agent makes every effort to close a sale for you.
3. Contract Offer & Negotiations (~2-6 months)
When a publication contract comes through, your first inclination could be to accept it without doing your homework.
Avoid doing that. You must take steps to ensure that the contract conditions are advantageous to both you and the book because this is your book. You must also be aware of who’s proposing the deal
Also, keep in mind that you have the right to dispute any clause that you find unsatisfactory.
4. Book Editing, Design & Printing (~9-12 months)
Once you deliver your manuscript to your editor, It’s going to through countless rounds of editing and fact-checking
The publisher will now work with you to ensure that your book will look fantastic when it is produced.
To make the book appear amazing, someone will typeset it for you once you’ve agreed on a cover design. A test print will then be made and then proofread to check for any errors.
Note that it may take longer than this. And that’s the best-case scenario to ensure the highest quality for your book.
Think of it as if your book is a gold ore that’s going through constant heat and pressure to remove all of its impurities to become precious..
And once all of that is done, it’s time for the final stages..
5. Marketing and Sales (Ongoing)
It’s all publicity from here on out. After much waiting, effort, and tension-filled anticipation, the day has finally here. Congratulations! All that’s left to do is sell your book!
That’s all there is to know about Self-publishing and Traditional Publishing.
I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t there another option? There has to be another way! And you’re right! So let’s just “skip to the good part.”
The 3rd Type of Publishing That’s the Best of Both Worlds
What if you combine all the positive attributes of both self-publishing and traditional publishing?
The answer: Hybrid Publishing.
Yes, this might just be the answer you’re looking for, and here’s why.
In the hybrid publishing model, a writer collaborates with a publishing house to share some of the publication expenses in return for a greater percentage of royalties, distribution support, and marketing help.
Because the author bears the majority of the financial burden of publishing the book and receives no advance on revenues, hybrid publishing is similar to self-publishing. And because the book’s production and distribution are handled by a contractual business with strict professional standards, it resembles traditional publishing.
The easiest approach to sum up the value of hybrid publishing is to say that it combines self-publishing and traditional publication while avoiding their major drawbacks.
The major drawback of traditional publishing is that the author loses control over the publication date, the characteristics of the book, ownership rights, and more.
With hybrid publishing, you may influence the majority of these elements while also reaping the benefits of letting experts handle the publication and promotion of your book without having to give up as many rights as you would in traditional publication.
Self-publishing frequently requires you to work alone or to assemble and supervise a team of independent contractors.
However, hybrid publishing addresses this since you’re dealing with a publisher that has an internal staff that manages production, distribution, and some marketing.
Additionally, you may use the publisher’s current network of book reviewers and other business leaders.
What Is Best For You?
The journey to get your book published is possible, but it depends on your process and how fast you work.
Traditional publishing takes a long time. When you sign a contract with an editor, it’s usually several years before the book is released.
This can be frustrating for authors who want their books out there so badly, but this is the route that most successful authors take in order to get their message out there on paper or pixels (or whatever).
If self-publishing sounds like an option for you because of its speed and ease of use—and if that message is something that needs breaking into print right away—then go ahead and do it!
But if hybrid publishing sounds like something worth pursuing because you get to reap the benefits of both traditional and self-publishing then no one’s going to stop you.
It’s entirely up to you. The most important thing is to decide what kind of publishing option is right for you and your book.