The Publishing Timeline


Publishing is every writer’s dream, but the road from manuscript to book-store sales takes quite a while.

The publishing timeline from the author’s perspective

Month 0: Submit

You submit your work to an agent/publisher. Submission is a lengthy process which can take anything from months up to years until you find someone interested in buying the product.

Month 1: Agree

You agree on contract terms by phone.

Month 3: Sign

You actually sign the contract. Yeah, it takes a while to actually draw up a contract.

Month 6 to 14 : Begin editorial process.

*Note: This part takes longer if the contract is based on a concept rather than a full manuscript.

First, the editor presents a report to the author, this includes suggestions for change, twists to the plot, deepening characters and so forth. The author then makes the changes and sends the manuscript back for approval. Afterwards, they send the manuscript to a copy-editor for punctuation, spelling and grammar check.

The production department is next, where the manuscript is designed and typeset. Galley proofs, 8.5 by 11 Xeroxed pages showing what the pages will look like, are sent to the author for proofreading. The front matter (title page, table of content, dedication, copyright page etc) is completed. Marketing staff design the cover and promotional material.

Bound galley proofs are sent to various reviewers for advance reviews. These will also help your publisher decide how many copies need to be printed. The printing itself takes about six to eight weeks.

Now this may seem like an awful lot of time just to get the books on the shelves, but also look at the same timeline from the publisher’s point of view.

The publisher’s perspective

Month 6:

Minor and Major editorial changes. A lot of scheduling needs to happen here. They’re also looking into the jacket input.

Month 7:

Copy-editors put the final touches on the product. The cover designing process begins. They’ll produce a flap copy. Make a fact sheet/book brief (for internal use). Design the pages (font etc).

Month 8:

Pre-sales Launch meeting happening. Publicity needs planning. Set the prices. The editor preps the catalogue copy.

Month 9:

The galleys get their first pass. Sent out bound galleys for reviews. Marketing budget is set, press kit prepped and the catalogue comes out.

Month 10:

Sales reps get their kits.

Month 11:

Orders start coming in. Confirm the publication date.

Month 12:

Time to print the books.

Month 13:

The book reaches the warehouses. They ship them out to the stores.

Month 14:

Publication completed.