One of most common questions we’re asked by authors who have written a manuscript and are now keen to self publish their book is: ‘How long will it take until my book is ready to be printed?’ The answer we usually give them is: ‘Probably longer than you’d ideally like it to!’
While we understand that you are excited to have completed your manuscript after dedicating weeks, months or even years to the writing process, this is just the starting point and there are still many steps involved until your book is properly ready to be released out into the world. Of course, if you are impatient to get your book published quickly, it is possible to simply upload a Word file to Amazon KDP and then press the print button. However, if you are serious about attracting a large audience and selling your book, it is a good idea to invest in the self-publishing process by engaging professionals such as editors, proofreaders, typesetters and book cover designers to guide you. Regardless of how important the subject matter of your book may be, it is a waste of time and effort if the quality of the writing and the design aesthetics of your book are sub-standard.
Book publishing is a creative process
Publishing a book is a creative process and, like any form of creativity, it takes time to produce a high-quality outcome. Is is possible for you to write your manuscript in a few weeks? Probably, but the end result will most likely be a reflection of that pressure you’ve put on yourself and the greatly contracted time frame. So why spend months (or sometimes years) working hard on a writing your manuscript and then not take the necessary time to have the manuscript properly edited, designed, and printed?
Engage the services of book publishing professionals
Editing your book
All book manuscripts require professional editing (and unless your friend, your mother or your secretary is a professional editor, they don’t count!). An editor will take the time to think about what it is you are trying to say and work with you to express it in the best possible way. Depending on the overall word count of your book, this process can often take 2–4 months as the edited (marked-up) manuscript moves back and forth between you and the editor. This is a very collaborative process so you need to factor in ‘thinking’ time for both you and your editor to carefully consider the narrative struture of your story or the optimal arrangement of your written content.
Typesetting and book cover design
Within the book publication schedule, time also needs to be allocated for a professional typesetter/book designer to create the page layout design, as well as the front and back covers that suit your particular genre and will appeal to your readers. Complex manuscripts with numerous elements such as graphics, charts, diagrams, tables and footnotes take longer to format than straight text. Once the formatting process has been completed, the typeset interior pages should be proofread by the author and by a professional proofreader. Any last-minute changes that are required at this point are sent back to the designer in order for them to make the necessary amendments (which will then require further checking).
After the proofreading stage has been finalised, your book is ready to be printed. The print-ready PDF files are sent to a book printer who will usually provide a hard-copy proof to the publisher or author for checking. For books which are printed locally via digital printing, the printing process usually takes 1–3 weeks while, in the case of offshore printing, this process can take between 8–12 weeks.
Average timeframe to publish a book
So what is an average time frame to produce a book from start to finish? Depending on the length and complexity of your manuscript, between 2–7 months; however, it can easily take longer. In an increasingly competitive publishing world where everybody is now able to produce a book, it is even more critical that your publication stands out from the crowd and is perceived as a professional-quality item. For this reason, you must be willing to invest in your book – which means allocating sufficient time as well as money to the publication process. Your readers (and, ultimately, your bank balance!) will thank you if you do.