After writing a book, new authors are usually eager to get it published and in the hands of readers. Of course they are! The excitement of their new book is at its highest. But unfortunately, they can quickly lose hope and the passion for publication as they discover it can take much longer to actually publish a book than just writing it. So how long does it take to get a book published?
The publishing process can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, with 12 -18 months being the more typical range. The traditional publishing route generally takes the longest, with self-publishing being a good alternate for authors who want more control and the ability to publish in 6 months or less.
Should I Take the Traditional or Self-Publishing Route?
Let’s get a painful reality out of the way first: Writing a book is only half the battle, as we’ll see. The other half is a sometimes long process to turn your efforts into release.
An unpublished writer will typically think along the lines of traditional publishing when they ask themselves how long it takes to publish a book. That is how it has worked for decades, so why would you consider anything else?
The problem is that the traditional publishing route has unrealistic expectations and can lead to disappointment. Yes, it can lead to “The Big One” – the dream of publishing your book. But it can also leave you vowing never to publish another book again.
However, there are many options for authors who don’t want the hassle of traditional publishing, which is why self-publishing has become a popular alternative.
Self-publishing takes significantly less time, usually only a year or less, compared to the much more typical 18 months to 2 years for traditional publishers.
Picking which one you are targeting to sell your book means you will have a much more realistic idea about how long it will take you to complete the process.
As a new writer, knowing that it can take as long as 2 years can be down-heartening but going in prepared with this information means you are more likely to remain positive during the delays.
Let’s look at the two publishing options mentioned in a little more detail.
Why Traditional Publishers Take So Long?
2 years may seem like a very long time if you are new to the whole publishing process, but you will understand why it is so slow if you ever go through it.
Many different steps need to take place before your book is ready for the public. With traditional publishing, your book will be going through several different processes and departments once you have a contract.
The complexity and length of the book being submitted for publication will have a significant impact. For example, a long technical book will take far longer than a romance novel.
There are many steps in the process of publishing a book.
Let’s briefly look at the main ones:
The first major process will be editing your book. This is your chance to work with an editor to trim, cut, and rearrange the content to improve your book. This can be a long process involving multiple rounds. A book can take anywhere from 2 to 10 or more rounds of editing, depending on many factors.
Give yourself a better chance of getting a book deal by polishing your manuscript before you send it out.
Here is a good video on self-editing to improve your skills
2. Proofreading and Fact-Checking
Once your book is edited, it is then sent to the proofreader. This could lead back to more edits, or it could be the final check before your book is ready to go to the next stage. If your book is non-fiction, fact-checking will also be done.
3. Get on the Publishing Schedule
While these steps are taking place, you will be put on the publishing schedule. Most publishers will have this planned out well into the future and your book will need to slot into their existing plans. This could mean a delay waiting for a gap that works for your genre and how many other books are already planned.
4. Design and Typesetting
A designer will lay out the text and images in the book. This can involve dividing the text into chapters, inserting headings, and arranging the text on the pages to make the whole book looks good. Again, you are likely to have some input, but the publisher will likely heavily influence this stage.
5. Sales, Marketing and Publicity
The sales team will notify booksellers of new and upcoming books based on their publishing schedule to place pre-orders. This will be done months in advance to allow plenty of planning time for everyone.
Advance copies may also be sent to reviewers and must be done with enough time to review the book and do interviews if they wish.
As a newer author, you are likely to get much less publicity than established books, but some efforts will still be made and they take time.
So those are the main activities a book goes through from the time it’s written until published.
These stages will vary in length, but the main reason for a long time for traditional publishers is that their teams are all working on multiple books and with many different authors and their agents at once on all these steps.
Most of this time is simply due to the need to wait your turn with each team to move you forward through the process.
But it can be much faster!
Why Self-Publishing is Faster
If you really want to get your book published far faster, the self-publishing route may be for you. In this process, you’ll have the final say in all these steps as you will be deeply involved in all of them.
Many of them you could do 100 percent yourself. As you do not need to wait for anyone else, you can obviously complete a step in a few days that would have taken weeks or longer with a standard publisher.
You get the choice to do all these steps yourself or hire your own people or service to do it for you. Most self-publishers provide these services, but you’ll want to find those that fit your budget and style.
Some of the authors that have done self-publishing and made significant money have done it in under a year. Self-publishing is faster because you will have more say over projects and be more involved.
On the other hand, self-publishing your book means you will be investing more time, effort and many resources that could be used to work on your next book. Standard publishing can be preferable if you do not to do all those steps yourself but the drawback is that you’ll go through a more rigid process that takes far longer.
Pick whichever works for you and go for it. Good Luck!