Blogger: Rachel Kent
The other day I received an email from a potential client asking me if I would have an answer for him about representation by early July because he was counting on having his book traditionally published by December of this year. He felt that was plenty of time for an agent to shop the project and for it to go through the publishing steps. This kind of question isn’t uncommon, so I would like to take today to give you an idea of the publishing timeline after you find an agent. Remember, these time-frames are all estimates. Every book project is different.
Revamping the proposal with your agent for submission to editors: 1-4 months
Agent pitching and selling the project: 2 months- 2 years (sometimes longer and there’s no guarantee of a sale)
Contract negotiation: 2 weeks-4 months
If the publishing house sends out the contract to the agent right away, the process can move quickly, but contracts departments can experience a pile-up and agents can, too. The contract negotiation can overlap with other steps. You can be working on your final draft during the time the contract is negotiated.
Final book is due: 0 to 18 months after contract
Editorial revision letter back to author: Approximately 2 months after book is turned in.
Revisions done by author and sent back to publishing house: 7-30 days from the time the revision letter is received.
Galleys to author: 4-6 months after revisions
Galley corrections back to publisher: 7-14 days after receipt of galleys.
Book goes to the printer: 1-14 days after galleys are finalized.
Book ships to stores: 1 to 2 months after it is sent to printer.
Book officially releases: 1 to 2 weeks after stores receive the product.
Time that is likely to pass from receiving a publishing contract until your book is published: Between 1 and 2 years. Books can be produced faster than that, but that is considered a rushed project. And I’ve seen contracts for books that won’t be published for more than two years.
The traditional publishing world moves slowly. It’s one of the first lessons I had to learn when I started working at Books & Such as an intern. I was shocked when I learned how long it takes for a book to come out after the contract.
When did you first learn how slowly the publishing world can move?
How has patience paid off for you in your publishing journey?
Rachel, thank you for sharing this. I know this is a off topic … but on that editing phase … how is conversational style writing accepted? I’ve noticed fiction works where in the narration, complete sentences weren’t always used. They wrote like we speak. I don’t mind that style at all, but I wondered how it would go over for a beginner. Any advice on that?
Here’s an example:
She didn’t have strength to walk. Pure exhaustion.
It’s an interesting approach, but in a musical analogy, it’s kind of like the minimalist style of Phillip Glass.
Good to listen to once in a while, but then you really want to get back to the richness and formal structure of mid-career Beethoven.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Mid career? Okay, name one.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Ohhh, very good question!!!
The 6th is probably the pinnacle of Beethoven’s work (perhaps along with the 5th), though one could also make an argument for the 8th.
The 9th is overstated, and the 7th shows a definite lean in that direction – the ‘Beethoven persona’ took over the musical mastery in both works (and dominated the 9th).
Not to say that parts of Beethoven’s late symphonies aren’t great – they are. But a symphonic work is supposed to be a coherent whole, with overlapping and mutually supporting thematic structure, and the late works really don’t do that as well as the 5th and 6th.
Hey! In my works, I will do this a bit, but instead of making two sentences, I’ll add an ellipsis or a dash and then add that fragment.
And I would think it’s fine in the direct quotes … speaking conversationally. But in the narrative … that is where I question the use. Is it okay?
And I see what you mean, Andrew.
Shelli, my thought would be that you could use the ‘spoken’ style in something like an internal monologue, but it could easily be seen as an affectation if used through the narrative.
It’s something that can add spice and flavor to a scene, but its effectiveness comes wrapped in its singularity.
Every type of book is different, so I can’t say there’s a right or wrong way to this, but I wouldn’t try to do an entire book in this style. If it occasionally happens to give emphasis or something, I could see it working, but it can distract from the story.
Thank you, Rachel. I definitely noticed it in the story I was reading.
Shelli, I have heard from various blogs and writing books that a really effective way to use incomplete sentences is when you’re wanting faster pacing. Using it too much though can detract from that, so incomplete sentences should be used with a noticeable purpose. In that sense, I think the publisher would recognize if the author was using incomplete sentences because they’re a beginner or because they have a specific strategy.
That’s great, Amy! Thank you.
Andrea (Wood) Nell
When I was in college I did a research project on the publishing process. I was just starting to write fiction as a hobby and was curious what I’d be getting myself into if I decided to try for publishing. I’m sure some things have changed as that was about ten years ago, but I learned a lot. It was very helpful to have that background knwolege when I decided to get serious about writing fiction a few years ago.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Ohhhh, how I wish I were you and knew something before I started!
“A wizard is never early, nor is he late. He always arrives precisely when he means to.”
Gandalf’s wisdom applies to my view of publishing. I believe in God, and that He’s ultimately in control, so things will happen as they are supposed to happen.
I write my best, revise within deadlines, and beyond that – it is out of my hands, and in His.
Good stuff to remember, Andrew!
This line ALWAYS makes me smile, Andrew. And, it fits here. 🙂
Sorry. Gandalf’s line. Just love it. 🙂
I am a strong believer in this as well. God is in control and he knows what timing and path is correct for each of us. He will direct our paths.
Thanks for this Rachel. I realized long ago that the journey to publication requires patience, and as Andrew mentioned, releasing the whole process into God’s hands.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
But…but…I thought I was so brilliant, the movie offers and 24 book contracts would make me so rich that by TOMORROW I could buy Hawaii???
And then by Sunday, I’d be doing book signings with my homey Magua and picking the cast for my PBS mini-series.
Soooo, you mean, this all takes…TIME??? Well, I’d better go UNquit my day job. And get out of my pj’s.
My first book was published by a traditional publisher and it came out within one year after contract. Which to me seemed forever. But looking back they did a great job. Because of the long time frame to publish traditionally, I self-published my next book. There are pros and cons of both as everyone knows.
I believe a writer has to settle in for the long haul and surrender to waiting. During the waiting it is very important to utilize the down time, and be as productive as possible. Marketing, keeping up with social media, and on to the next book are all ways to past the time.
Rachel, who would ever think waiting would become one of the hardest parts of writing? 🙂
Waiting seems to be a major theme in a lot of areas of life. It must be important in the long run for everyone to learn to be patient.
Thanks for adding a dose of reality to the dream, Rachel. It’s always good to remember that anything good is going to take time. Especially in publishing. 🙂
Patience has paid off for me in that I continue to grow as a writer. I know that God’s plans are always best. And, since He gave me the desire to write, patience-growth is part of the plan. This pre-pubbed time is growing the character traits I’ll need as a foundation once I’m published (speaking optimistically of course). Keeping a good perspective is another part of that plan, trusting God to work in His timing, not mine. 🙂
I find that I have good days and bad days with trusting God’s timing, but when the fulfillment comes around in His timing it is so obvious that the timing was perfect.
I love that thought. You’re so right. In hindsight we see that God’s timing is so perfect!
Hi Rachel. Thank you for the timeline. I came to the sense that it took about two years from offer of representation by an agent to actual book launch once I began studying the business of getting published (this blog has contributed greatly to my knowledge and understanding of the business side of a writing career–thank you). It is wonderful, however, to have the timeline broken down the way you have done here. And, of course, the timeline is an example of the typical path to getting a manuscript published the traditional way. As you said, having an agent doesn’t guarantee publication. That’s the reality that writers have to accept. Just as agents work on spec, so do writers. That’s why one must write a book for love of writing. It’s like the farmer planting the seed. The farmer plants, and waters, and nurtures faithfully (and hopes) and the rest is up to God.
I feel compassion for the poor guy who wrote to you (although I also admit I found the attitude a bit presumptuous). Thank you for the gentleness with which you give us reality checks.
Have a great weekend!
I am glad you felt I handled it gently here. It is an important lesson for all of us to learn, publishing is very slow. I never want to hurt anyone or draw attention to someone specifically by blogging about a situation I’ve encountered.
Let’s just say I am fully aware of how SLOWLY things move and how LONG it takes. And I am not sure having patience pay off applies to me, because the patience gene skipped me.
But I grin and bear it and try not to whine in public too much…but certain friends do get an earful every now and then when I start climbing the walls. 🙂
I think the trick is just staying busy, keep writing and try not to obsess over the process.
I giggled right along with ya, Cathy. (And then I re-read my own post from Wednesday. On patience.) Lol
I’m glad you can keep smiling through it all! 🙂
Kristen Joy Wilks
I had some very informative classes from the Institute of Children’s Literature that gave me an idea. But it wasn’t until I started submitting to agents and editors that I really realized how very long this journey is that I had signed up for.
Thanks for the timeline, Rachel. It’s definitely helpful. I hear, “Good things come to those who wait.”
As a writer of picture books who can’t draw a straight line, I do a lot of waiting. Once a publisher accepts my manuscript, I have to wait for an illustrator to be available to create the artwork, so my first book came out 18 months after I signed the contract, the next one will be two years from the contract date. It happens. All I can do is put it in God’s hands and pray a lot.
I’ve been reading blogs and attending conferences for a few years now, but I think I’m still learning how slowly publishing can move, Rachel. 🙂 It helps to understand why. Cathy said it best above — stay busy and keep writing. Thanks for an informative post.
Rachel, seriously great post. And one that I’m going to print out for my non-writing friends. 😉
Rachel, Great post containing what Martin, on the late, lamented show, Fraiser, called “a bite of a reality sandwich.” It’s a slow process.
Some self-publishing advocates will jump on this to point out how quickly books can be self-pubbed, and admittedly the traditional process is slow. Then again, there are things like cover design, marketing plan, and multiple edits (instead of just one) included in it.
Thanks so much for sharing.
As I’ve grown to understand the time and talent it takes to publish, I’ve learned to better appreciate the weight of a book in my hands.
Blood, sweat, and tears have gone into the creation of those pages, and I admire the teamwork it takes to put out a polished product.
“Appreciate the weight of a book in my hands” … that’s beautiful, Jenni.
When I was in grade school, I made OTHERS ‘appreciate the weight of a book in my hands’, but that’s a whole ‘nuther story.
Not to knock agents and all they do for an author, but personally, shopping one’s book around to small presses or mid sized presses could mean that the book does get published a little sooner, but again, it’s all a game of roulette as there may be snags and bumps in the road that delay publication. I was traditionally published but then had a small falling out over a title of the fourth book in a 50-book series and went the way of self-publishing using createspace as my printer. The timeframe for self-publishing was less than 6 months including having an illustrator who did covers and layout and interior illustrations.
I would recommend that the person try hiring a book designer for the layout and pubbing his own works via createspace and utilize all the free to upload places to place the book on the ereaders so that the book is available everywhere. Nook has their own, amazon obviously has the kindle and the program (KDP -kindle direct publishing), and there are others out there, smashwords and draft2digital – both are more like distributors in that they will place your book in all the ereader markets and will take a small percentage of royalties (like an agent).
I’ve been using createspace for at least 5 years now and have had no regrets. E 🙂
Finally Home, (a Kelly Watson, YA, paranormal mystery)
Every person has different publishing hopes and dreams.
I am glad your publishing path is working very well for you and thanks for sharing for those who might be considering the same path.
Lee Wolfe Blum
This is quite accurate. It took me eight years to write the book and get a contract. From the contract…about 18 months until release. My book has been out 6 months…once the book is out. That is where all the hard work begins! Marketing it takes a whole new level of patience.
One thing that might be work remembering –
When things happen they tend to happen fast, and will happen at a time that is not of your choosing.
I knew from hearsay that publishing takes a long time. Each step of the process and all that. But it’s just starting to really hit me now. My friend got her book accepted by a publisher last year and she just now announced that her book will come out June 2015. Waiting all this time alongside her and it’s painfully slow. And that’s not even counting the agent part of the process! Good to experience this now though and gain the patience for later when it’s my story on deck, right? 🙂
Dinozo wrote a book two years ago and it took him 7 years to get it published.
That’s 7 dog years. I thought that was pretty fast.
The title is: 50 Jokes You Should Never Tell A Cat.
It’s a big seller in the canine community according to the animals at amazonk9.com.
Thanks for the timeline! It’s good to know.
Heather Day Gilbert
I totally agree that you should work on your next book while you’re waiting. The more books you have in hand, the better, no matter which publishing route you take. Plus, nothing takes your mind off your wait like being immersed in your own storyworld, hanging out with all your cool characters. 🙂
Getting to hang out with characters in an alternate reality is one the great things about being a writer, isn’t it? 😀
Don’t waste the wait time waiting. Spending it writing another book. You’ll wish you had later, if you don’t. 🙂
That timeline fits my experience fairly well. Only with my first novel it was four months before I had the editorial letter (I had six weeks to complete the content edits) and six months for the second book’s editorial letter (I had, and needed, all six weeks again to rewrite a third of the book). The third book’s editorial letter will arrive closer to two months in this timeline. But after content edits come line edits. Then copy edits. Then proofing the typeset pages.
This year I’ll be writing a new book in between all those editing stages, something I’ve never done before. Never had to. They were already written. Now I have to. Which brings me back around to my suggestion of not waiting during the wait times, but writing.
I am still shocked by how long it takes to publish a book. My background is in the newspaper and magazine industry. Turnaround is much quicker in these industries. When I worked on newspapers (I was a graphic artist) it was very satisfying to come to work one day, produce a graphic, and then see it in print the next day. Now, writing my first book, I hope I can be patient with the desire to see it printed.
I once had a writer contact me. She wanted me to send her manuscript to my agent because she needed a lot of money in six weeks. I was young and inexperienced and didn’t know how to fend off people like that. I should have just said a polite “good-bye”, but I started asking questions and found that her manuscript was single spaced. When I told her that wouldn’t be acceptable, she started arguing with me. I can’t remember how I ended that conversation but it ended. I’m so glad someone invented caller ID!!!
The publishing process is like racing snails.
You do what you can to train the snail, prep the snail, polish the snail. Then you set it on the starting line and you wait. It’ll reach the finish line eventually.
I might be weird (no comments Jen 😉 ), but I like the long process. Quality work comes with persistence not impatience. Also, as a writer working a day job, mothering two toddlers, and etc. etc., there’s really a nice feeling knowing there will be crunch times, but not for the entire process. There are moments to catch your breath. I like the slow moving train, and honestly, I’ve never like roller coasters, so I’m good with it.