Why Does it Take a Year to Publish a Book?

Or 25 Things a Publisher Actually Does Before a Book is Published


In the year before publication a publisher must:


  1. Check to see the title is original enough to market, if not, change the title
  2. Get the manuscript professionally edited
  3. Layout the manuscript and transform it into a print-ready PDF
  4. Get a cover professionally designed that is beautiful and fits the genre for the book
  5. Spend two to four weeks proofing the print version of the book
  6. Get the printed book copy-edited: fix typo, grammar, and formatting issues
  7. Get several versions of a description written, one for the flap, several for web and other uses
  8. Send advance copies to major and minor reviewers to capture some good press and blurbs (for the novel I’m currently promoting this was 60 reviewers, each requiring a personalized letter)
  9. Execute giveaways that generate reviews and buzz
  10. Design bookmarks or postcards for a direct mail campaign to bookstores or organizations
  11. Research the market and send out materials to a that particular niche
  12. Design the ebook
  13. Plan a blog tour
  14. Find authors willing to read and write blurbs for the back of the book
  15. Follow up with blurb writers gifting them finished copies of the book
  16. Keep the web page for the book updated with reviews and blurbs
  17. Facilitate the author’s participation in the blog tour, in staying active on Goodreads, her approval (or disapproval) of edits, and marketing to their group of friends and associates
  18. Research ad campaigns and pick the best version for the particular book
  19. Design the advertising, write the copy
  20. Write promotional blogs, tweets, Facebook shares
  21. Prepare a media kit: professional looking and well-written promotional materials
  22. Query media for reviews/interviews and send out media kits
  23. Talk to everyone about the book
  24. Plan promotional campaigns for the first months of publication
  25. Nervously wait for the pub date!

And there are many more tasks I didn’t list!


Marketing = Publishing

I didn’t believe it either, does publishing really have to take so long? But then I published a book with only two months of prep and I realized, huh, it’s not selling at all. When I first started my publishing company, Raincloud Press, I promised myself I wouldn’t take 12 months to get a book out the door. Well, I changed my tune pretty quickly after that first book. I realized there’s a lot more to it that just getting a nice cover. Most of the work in publishing is trying to assure your book is discovered out there where there are quite literally millions of books.

IBPA_proudmember_1-175wI get asked a lot about what a publisher actually does. I’ve had to learn this from scratch and I am still learning what it means to be a good and effective publisher. Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there like the Independent Book Publishers Association and countless others.

Early on in my journey becoming a publisher I subscribed to Publishers Weekly. At first, it was like reading Egyptian tablets. I would have never guessed that in two years I’d be able to read that thing cover to cover. I get something out of every issue. In a recent issue, I read an interview with an author who I thought was a perfect fit to write a blurb for a book that’s forthcoming. I researched the author’s contact information, queried her about the project, and she agreed to read the manuscript. These are the small successes that keep me going every day.

I spent 2015 preparing three books for publication in 2016. Though it was hard giving up publishing anything for a whole year, I knew that the titles I had would need the midwifing I could only give them with plenty of time and a great team of editors, designers, writers and printers. Being a publisher has taught me about delayed gratification, but now I have concrete dates to look forward to:


From Ashes Into Light: A Novel, pub date 2/26/16


For the Love of Meat: Nine Illustrated Stories, pub date 4/22/16


Spot 12: The Story of a Birth, pub date 10/7/16