Sunday, September 20, 2009

How long it takes for a book to be released once contracted

I just found a new blog of note: Ramblings of the Bearded One by Kim Ayres It's quite entertaining and the author talks about his home in Scotland from time to time and since I've always been fascinated by Scotland (ever since I read Harlequin romances set there when I was a kid and loved them) I joined its readership. I'm a fan. This post in particular caught my eye Well That's All Right Then. It asks a very important question to writers and needs to be addressed for writers who plan to be published. Mr. Ayres commented on a post by another blogger/author Khanh Ha entitled "Dear Author" about the length of time his contracted novel is projected to be published. Mr. Ha is speaking about his personal experience with this one book. He did not say all books take this long. As with everything else, some can take shorter, some the same, and some longer. As in this case, it can take a long time from having a book accepted for publication to actually be published. This is not always the case. It depends on the publisher. It depends on the publisher's schedule. It depends on a lot of different factors, one being if you're a first time author with that publisher or one already in their stable. It also depends on your editor, their schedule, their motivation, etc. The author herself can make the process longer if she's having trouble with the edit, personal problems, or not getting along with the editor. There could be outside factors like 911 or Hurricane Katrina. I'm a published writer of more than 40 stories. I've had stories published within three months of their contracted date. That's very quick and unusual but it has happened. I've had stories that took three + years to finally make it to publication. That felt like forever and I seriously doubted that story would make it to publication, but it finally did. The only thing that kept my sanity during that process was having other books published in the interim and works in progress that kept me busy. This book was not with a publisher that was new to me, but it had gone through four editors. Yes FOUR. At least two of the editors left the company during this time. Another had too many authors so had to lighten her plate, and the fourth finally brought it to publication. This is the only story where editors were switched mainstream, so I have to count myself very lucky. At a different company, I've had the same editor for two years and more than twenty stories. My norm from acceptance of the story to publication is about 6 months. Last month I contracted three stories. Their release dates are March, April, and May 2010 respectively. Not bad. In fact, it can be a problem also if the time between acceptance and publication is short. The author needs times for edits (in particular if she has multiple stories contracted that require editing plus other small things on her plate like kids, husband, a day job...) and promotion. Marketing (for me anyway) is tougher than writing the book. Typically, the newer the publisher, the more you write for a publisher, the sooner publication tends to take place. Or sometimes, another author can't deliver on time and if your book is ready, they'll push your book through the process much faster. This happened to me once at the same publisher that took more than three years to publish the other novel. Whereas it was nice in one way, it threw off my marketing plan since I was given notice only a couple weeks before it was released when I was setting up promotion six months out. I panicked for at least a few minutes after finding out. When I was a newly published first time author, a much more experienced author told me I needed to start my marketing efforts nine months in advance or not be able to effectively promote the book. I've since discovered this is probably true if the book being published has a shelf-life of two months. If it's an ebook also, they live a lot longer so the time crunch is not as pressing. Still, it's good if you can have a decent amount of promotion in place to greet the new book and make readers aware of its existence. Fortunately, nowadays the Internet and its social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo Groups helps tremendously for fast and inexpensive promotion. The reason I write this post is to enlighten pre-published and newly published authors with only a couple contracts under your belt. I hate to see someone who wants to be published be scared off because the time *might* sound prohibitive. Remember also that once you contract that book, you should be working on the next. Then submit that and start working on yet another book. Once you're into the cycle of having several books in various stages of the publishing process you won't worry that one specific book is taking a year or two years to be released. A writing friend of mine that you've probably heard of, Holly Jacobs, advised when I first started writing, you should have at least seven works submitted at a time. In other words, keep writing, keep submitting, keep promoting. You'll be too busy to stress out about any one particular project. Of course a brand new writer won't have seven works to submit at once. Don't wait until you have seven to submit one, but once the ball is rolling, keep going. Don't stop.

You'll also want to see what Amarinda Jones, Anika Hamilton, Anny Cook,
Barbara Huffert, Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, Dakota Rebel, Kelly Kirch,
Molly Daniels, Sandra Cox, Regina Carlysle, and Cindy Spencer Pape
are up to, so make sure to visit them also. :)


Unknown said...

All that writing and planning sounds exhausting and frankly I always find it worrying when a publisher wants to push your book forward due to to a 'contracted' book not actually been written. Who puts a contract on something without it actually existing?

Unknown said...

I must have been unclear. I presume the contracted book was written, but had editing problems. That publisher has never to my knowledge contracted an unwritten book.

The Bumbles said...

This was an interesting post. I know nothing about the whole process - as a dreamer I never think about all the real work involved - just the writing process. I admire those who stick with the process and find success. I admire even more those who are still searching and stick with it.

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