Friday, July 22, 2011

Publishing is Slow - Why Not Have Fun?

Free-form Friday

One of the things that makes self-publishing attractive, if your patience is anything less than saintly, is the fact that the time between the moment you finish your book and the point at which it begins appearing on shelves in the book store is best measured in years. Agents and then editors can take months to read your manuscript and then books are acquired roughly eighteen months before they will be published.

Why so long?

Large publishers have systems in place to make sure that they have books in the pipeline to meet their publishing schedule. The eighteen month schedule includes time for editorial revisions, all the aspects of book production from cover art, layout, and design to buying paper and scheduling the print run, and about six months of marketing efforts prior to publication.

Rachelle Gardner recently talked about why publishing is so slow.
"In reality, everyone is making decisions at exactly the speed they need to, in order to fill their lists. Sometimes it’s slow, sometimes it’s fast. But you can be sure that no matter where in the pile your project is, this process isn’t all about you. Don’t take the perceived slowness personally."
It's hard to say how the new world of electronic publishing might change this picture, but one thing is certain: the time lags will never disappear completely. Editorial revisions will always take time. There's still book production work to do formatting files and testing them on various readers. And it could easily take six months of marketing effort after you publish to build an audience.

So what's a writer to do?

The same thing you do with any other aspect of life when you're forced to wait: you can either complain or have fun. 

If you choose the more adaptive path, in addition to working on your next project(s) you've got time to come up with creative ways to promote, launch, and augment your book.

And if it stops being fun--the hard, satisfying kind of fun--and becomes something you'd rather complain about, it might not be the right thing for you to do.

Image: Photography by BJWOK /

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