Blogger: Rachel Kent
I received an email from a potential client asking me if I would have an answer for him about representation soon so that he could be sure to get his book traditionally published in six months. 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 (This can take much longer! We have had some projects take 2 years to get ready to shop.)
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. And sometimes certain negotiations take longer and require many emails and phone calls between the agent and contracts administrator.
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 9 months 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?
Publishing: practicing patience.
I noticed how long it takes on the other end, and how quickly the author must respond (galleys to author 4-6 months, galleys back 7-14 days). Thank God for the adrenaline rush that comes after all that waiting–energy to fuel the quick turn-around.
Shawn D Brink
God definitely teaches patience in this industry. The key is to keep writing so that you always have projects in various stages of the publishing process.
I first learned how long it took to get published when I started following this blog a little over two years ago. I owe a lot of what I know now to the B&S folks. Thanks, Rachel!
*My patience with the process was encouraged by the results of my first Genesis entries in 2015. When I learned that my omniscient-narrator writing style was no longer what the publishers wanted, I bought most of the recommended books on the writing craft and poured myself into studying them. Then I kept the plots but totally rewrote the novels in the style popular today.
*The first is just coming to market two years after I had what I thought was a publication-ready manuscript. If I’d blown off the negative comments about using the classic style, I wouldn’t have created the book I now have. When I look back at those early drafts, I am so glad I spent the time to learn how to do it right for today’s readers.
I’ve had books with three publishers (without an agent). Previously one of them had an editor who would get back with me within two weeks of any time I sent a proposal. Withing two months for an answer from committee. Book was out within a year. But that was exceptional and now that that editor has left, I’m not even hearing back on projects 🙁
“They have the watches, we have the time.” – Afghani proverb
When the manuscript ready is accepted for publishing, we authors should get a barrel of coffee to keep awake through the lengthy process.
Before this week, I always wondered if it really took long to get published, despite reading blogs that said so.
There’s a bestselling author who released four books per year between 2005 and 2010. I decided the process didn’t take long. It wasn’t until yesterday I learned he had written the first draft of most books two years before they were published.
I was left gaping.
‘When the manuscript is accepted.’
Kindly forgive the error.
A friend of mine, after hearing about my novel, told her agent about it (unbeknownst to me). He wanted to hear more, so she made the official introduction, and I sent my introduction to him. Then six months went by. I finally got an email from him asking for the first 3 chapters even though my manuscript was still unfinished. I sent that to him and another several months went by without hearing anything. I now hear from my friend that he is going through some health struggles, so I likely won’t hear from him at all, even if he liked what I sent him. That was my first personal taste of the process, though I have many friends who have had books published and I’ve watched them walk through all the waiting with grace.
“…walk through all the waiting with grace.” Just beautiful, Jennifer!
Rachel, I love that you wrote, “an email from a potential client” rather than, “a query”. It sounds more respectful, and showing respect for our fellow human beings is never a bad thing.
Elissa, you nailed it…and Rachel, this is one of the things that makes you a Dream Agent.
Thank you, Elissa and Andrew. 🙂
Off topic: Andrew’s having a hard time this afternoon, and he could use extra prayers this weekend.
Will pray! Thanks, Carol!
Father God, You are the Great Physician and our living Father. We ask that you put Your hand on Andrew and bring healing and comfort. Give Him the peace that can only come from You. Restore His strength and energy so that he can continue the good work You’ve called him to.
Janet Ann Collins
I’ll pray even harder than usual for him.
Linda K. Rodante
Linda K. Rodante
I spent eight years shopping 3 books that won contests, being told by editors and agents that the writing was good, getting some feedback about why one or the others weren’t accepted (one being that the main couple of the series become missionaries, nothing to do with writing, character or plot) and having no two editors or agents agree. Soooo, I jumped ship and went Indie. I love it. I have 4 books out, am seeing a decent profit. I believe in learning how to write well, I thought going traditional was how I wanted to go, but cannot believe the time it takes or the lack of agreement among publishing experts. I know there are a lot of great people in traditional publishing. I have met many. But traditional publishing scares me right now because it is not changing as the times change. I hope they do. So I guess this is a shout-out for traditional publishers to step back and really look at the way things are going. We still need the gate keepers.
I’m pretty sure the editor/agent who didn’t like your missionaries wouldn’t want my protagonists who convert and stand firm under iimmanent risk of death!
In the Middle East, real people are doing no less this very moment.
Thanks for the information, Rachel. So much of the process is behind the scenes and involves a lot we don’t think about. Definitely a practice in patience to be a writer!