How Much Time Does It Take To Publish A Book

By Esme Howler

Unsolicited Press
Oct 18 · 3 min read

The short answer?

A very long time in a world of writers expecting instant gratification.

Our team recently began contracting books for 2022. Seriously. All of 2020 will pass. All of 2021 will pass. And some of our new authors are shocked by this revelation, but this isn’t new in publishing.

It can baffle writers and readers to discover that it takes sooooo much time to bring a book to the trade. But it is critical to have that time because a rushed book will as quickly find itself in the bin as the crust of my son’s peanut butter & honey sandwich. And no author wants that.

Why does it take so much time?

Writers work years on their manuscripts before they go looking for a publisher to bring it to life. I can understand the impatience of an author to realize that their precious baby won’t be born for at least two more years. But the time from idea to publication doesn’t stop after a writer completes a book. Really, it has just begun.

After a writer signs a contract, there is usually a lull between that excitement and getting to work on the edits. That lull isn’t really a lull, but a window we provide authors to revisit their manuscripts and prepare them for submission to our editorial team. Some authors scoff at this and insist there is nothing that needs to be done. Those are the same writers who end up going through a much more intense editorial process than the authors who take that window and revise and polish just one more time.

Once the book has been submitted to the editor, the editing process can take anywhere from six months to a year, or more. There are many other things happening too…other books are being developed (I’m certain authors forget this and think they are the only author we have). In other words, publishing books is a delicate juggle.

The cover is developed (months of work)

The manuscript is formatted (at least a month)

The manuscript is proofed (minimum of 40 hours of work)

Once the book is polished and considered to be FINAL, the marketing team takes a minimum of nine more months to build its market. We must find its tribe in a sense. Identify the readers. Approach reviewers. Target bookstores. Write press materials. Submit press materials. Follow up. Follow up some more. Schedule social media.

The list goes on and the work never stops.

For the most part, it takes the better part of two years to publish, but usually it’s more like three years. Could we shorten it and publish a book in a week? Absolutely. But nobody would ever know about it. The book would be worthless as art and commodity. Even with one year we wouldn’t be able to dedicate enough time to a title to give it the life it deserves once it leaves our nest.

I wanted to write this post today because we want writers everywhere to know that your publisher works very hard to make your book a reality. Publishers invest thousands of dollars and hours of time to your book without asking for anything but your patience and cooperation in return. So today, I am asking you to thank your publisher for investing in your book without any guarantee of success.

Unsolicited Press

Written by

The wonderful, kick ass publisher in the Pac Northwest

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