Monday, February 6, 2017

Why Does It Take So Long to Get Published?

By Andrea Merrell

You’ve finally made. You went to writers’ conferences, practiced, pitched, and submitted. You put in the work, and it paid off—you have a contract on your book.

Congratulations. Now you can sit back, put your feet up, and relax.

Not a chance.

Yes, you’ve worked hard getting your manuscript ready for publication, but your journey is just beginning.

I’ve been asked numerous times why it takes so long for a book to be published after a contract is signed. It’s possible for a book to be ready to launch within six to eight months, but most books take at least a year. Sounds like a long time, but there’s a lot involved in the process. 

The details will differ from one publishing house to another, but this will give you a general idea what happens once you sign a contract:

  • Your manuscript is added to the publisher’s master schedule and assigned to an editor.
  • Your editor will go through your manuscript and make corrections using comments and track changes.
  • Once your editor finishes, the manuscript comes back to you to accept or reject changes, as well any required rewriting.
  • The manuscript goes back to the editor for a second round of edits.
  • Once the author and editor sign off on the edits, the manuscript goes to a proofreader, then back to the editor. The initial editing process (including notes for the author,  e-mails, and phone calls) can take up to three months, sometimes longer.
  • The manuscript is now sent to design where your Word doc is converted to a PDF. At this point, everything needs to be included (endorsements, dedication, acknowledgements, endnotes, etc.).
  • The PDF is sent to the author and editor for proofing (typos, formatting, paragraphs run together, etc.). It is also sent to a set of beta readers.
  • The PDF is now ready to be converted to a Mobi file (for Kindle books and e-readers) and a print copy.
  • The print copy is assigned to another proofreader, and the corrections come back to the original editor.
  • The book cover is created, along with the author’s photo, bio, and back cover blurb. This also has to be proofed and edited.
  • The first marketing stages begin.

Factor in delays in any of these steps (which happen on a regular basis), and you can see why you have to wait patiently for your release date.

But there’s so much for you to do in the meantime. In my next post (February 27), we’ll talk about all the important steps you need to take while waiting.

What has your experience been with the publishing process? If you have tips to share, we’d love to hear from you.

(Photos courtesy of Isolated Images and Stuart Miles.) 



  1. Thanks Andrea for the timeline. I have wondered this myself. Makes sense when I see all the steps. Looking forward to your next blog post.

    1. Thanks, Sheryl. It's a lot more complicated and time-consuming than most people think. :)


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