Monday, June 27, 2011

Timeline to Publication or How to Watch Paint Dry!

I was browsing Baen Book publisher today, trying to see how much success they are having with their policy of offering the first book in a series as a free download. They believe readers will become fans after reading the opening book in a series. Then, they will trust the author’s writing and buy the rest of the series. Theory sounds good. I sent them an email asking for statistics on sales since they started the freebie-deal to see if sales back up their expectations.

While visiting Baen, I noticed a table showing what happens from the time an author signs a contract to the actual first day of sales for a new book. This timeline offers a sobering reality.

Here are their words below, or you can go look at their nifty timeline video at:

From Manuscript to Bookshelves

(By the way, their video runs too fast on my computer so I clicked on stop button and advance it one slide at a time.)

If you don't feel like using the link, here are their month to month points:

Month 1:  Sign Contract, Submit Manuscript, Art Gets Assigned
Month 2:  Editorial Input, Author Revisions
Month 3:  Tip Sheet Process Begins, Need Info/Bio From Author
Month 4:  Entry of Data for Title, FINAL MANUSCRIPT IS DUE
Month 5:  Marketing Strategy Meeting with Sales People
Month 6: Artwork is due for catalogue, Jennie Prepares Seasonal Catalogue and Brochures
Month 7: Proof Reading from Month 7 through 9
Month 8: Sales Conference held to present titles to sales force
Month 9: Advance Reading Copies of Manuscript sent to reviewers
Months 10-11-12: Off to the printer

Then, a month before distribution and publication, there’s more for the author to do:

- Visit local bookstore and libraries. Let them know your book is coming soon.
- Offer to do a book signing event in their store (line up friends and family to come)
- Tell publisher office about your plans and schedule so they can offer support.
- Arrange radio/TV/internet interviews and blog about the release on your own.

Let’s get this straight. As an author, I already spent the better part of a year writing, revising and editing my manuscript. Then, I waited anywhere from a few months to a couple years querying literary agents to represent me. An agent begins pitching my book after reviewing it and offering any little adjustments that might make it more saleable. That puts the process somewhere between one and two YEARS before signing a publishing deal. Yipee! I finally signed my contract. Uhhh...not so fast buccko, the publisher says, it will be at least another year before the book hits the shelves.

This publishing business is sounding more and more like watching paint dry. Guess that’s why they say the best thing a writer can do after completing a manuscript is to get started on another one. Ya know, despite the nerve-testing delays and frustrations of waiting for publication, I still get excited every time I watch a new story unfold. It’s the writing that makes this whole process worth the trouble. Now, where’d I put my laptop?


  1. ...and glaciers are cooler.

    Couldn't resist the obvious. I have the impulse control of a fish. Hang a pun in front of me and I'll bite every time.


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