How Long Does it Take to Publish?

tracking wonder - how long to publish

A lot of people ask me how long it takes to publish a book.

I wish I had the definitive answer. Let’s get perspective on the reality and why you might or might not need a traditional publisher.

It took one author a solid 15 years to publish her book because of the book’s complexity and because of the traditional Big 5 publishing process.

It took Lowell Thing over 25 years to see his book The Street That Built a City to life with Black Dome Press.

A renowned novelist I’ve worked with told me that a novel is often started with a feeling and then another 10 years trying to find the form for that feeling. 10 years is how long it took Anthony Doerr to write his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

So, don’t feel bad if it’s taking you a few years to finish or publish your book. Okay?

We try to shave some years for our clients without shaving quality.

A client of ours who published last year used it as a catalyst for other ventures and to expand her reach. It took less than three years from original rough conception to bring it to publication. Considering the client’s full life and the pauses in between, that length is not bad.

Considering that without the right guidance, know-how, and creative collaboration many books stall for 4, 8 years or indefinitely, that time frame is good.

And when you factor in the level of creative collaboration, editorial guidance, and exquisite design entailed with this project to assure it had integrity and quality as part of her larger brand trajectory, that time frame is downright hard to beat.

Still, if you have the hutzpah and the technology and funds, you could knock out your own book with your own imprint in six weeks.

A traditional publisher – whether whether an imprint with the Big 5, a mid-sized publisher (that does about $50-200 million in gross publishing sales annually), a small publisher, or a hybrid publisher – will add anywhere from 9 months to 2 years to your book’s publishing life.

Given that a publisher adds this time to your publishing cycle and will take anywhere from 50-93% or more of book sales, you rightfully should ask what value does a publisher add these days.


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