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Oct. 21, 2021

"How Long Will It Take To Publish My Book?"

"How Long Will It Take To Publish My Book?"

Ep005. Join author and coach, Lanette Pottle, each week to get your burning self-publishing questions answered. On this week’s show, Lanette helps unpack one of the top questions on every first-time author’s mind: “How long will it take to...

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Hey, hey my soon-to-be-published author friend! Welcome to episode five. Today we’re going to dig into how long the self-publishing process takes. 

I'm going to tell you right up front --  there is no quick, one size fits all answer to this question. Like  many of the questions you’ll have throughout the publishing process, the answer to this one is “it depends.”  

For the sake of time, let’s tweak the original question to  ‘What are the elements that will impact my publishing timeline.” This will get us closer to a real answer for you. 

One major factor out of the gate is dependent on where you are in your manuscript process -- Are you at first draft stage, first edits, final edits, or proofreading?

If you’ve already got a fully edited, proofread manuscript things can move along relatively quickly. But the time it takes to wrap up the writing/editing piece varies widely. Each person and project is unique. It will take as long as it takes -- though a hint here is to block time for writing/editing every day until it’s complete… Whether that’s 15 minutes or 3 hours a day will depend on your personal circumstances but creating a daily practice is what’s going to help get you across the finish line wherever you are in the process.  

Here are a few things to start thinking about in addition to the readiness of your manuscript… in no particular order….


  • Design & formatting work -- Do you have a clear idea of what you want here? Have you selected someone to work with? What are their turnaround times for deliverables?


  • What time of year will you be publishing? It might sound like an odd consideration but the lead times vary greatly depending on the season… things slow down significantly leading into the end of the year, for instance. 



  • How much time can you dedicate weekly to get through the process?


  • You need to think about Proof copies -- Before finalizing your book and putting it out on the marketplace, do you want to test any different bindings, trim, finish, and paper, or are you clear on exactly what you want? With my first book, I tested papers and cover finishes and I’m really glad I did. I wouldn’t have been happy with the choices I was initially going to make. 


  • The last thing I’ll mention for now, is deciding what your initial order of author copies will be … the size of the order can impact which distribution centers are utilized  - which impacts shipping timelines and also how much lead time is needed for production. 


As I’m sure you’re getting a sense, there are lots of contributing factors -- and we’re just scratching the surface. But it’s plenty for you to get started with. 


Don’t get discouraged. I’m sharing all this detail because I want you to be informed so you can set up realistic expectations about this process so it’s less overwhelming when you get started. 


Before we wrap up -  let’s revisit the original question: 


How long will it take? Speaking in very general terms, from the time of completing your first draft to holding your bookstore-ready book in your hand, will take about 9 months -- depending on the complexities of the project and your time and resource investment.  Sometimes it can be quicker and many times it's longer.  What I’d say is almost always true, whatever amount of time you initially think it's going to take, double that number. Think of it kind of like that home renovation project -- there is always something that comes up that you’re not expecting. This is why when I work with clients who want to launch on a specific date we build a plan working backward to paint a clear picture of what needs to be done by when in order to meet that date. Sometimes that creates a totally doable task list and other times it becomes clear the date in mind is unrealistic and changes need to be made.


It’s your first time out in the independent publishing arena so it's essential to build in learning-curve time. Your second book will happen more quickly but with this first one you’ve got to invest the time to understand and execute the process… and build troubleshooting skills along the way. Yes, every single publisher needs them at some point in the process. 


So here’s this week’s challenge -- Consider when you would like to release your book. Take an honest look at where you’re at then start doing some reverse engineering to see if you realistically will be able to accomplish all you need to do to hit that date. 


A cautionary note here: Resist the temptation to fudge the numbers. As the saying goes… Garbage in, garbage out. Consider not only the external timelines but consider what’s going on in your life and business during this period of time, too. Do everything you can to set yourself up to successfully meet your publishing goal by thoughtfully tackling this pre-work. Because what I know for sure is that releasing your book to the world is too important to leave to chance.