Why Publishing is Slow: the Experience

As you probably know, I’ve been working towards the goal of getting published for several years now. Last year I had some success with my short stories, managing to get three of them accepted by various e-magazines and digital sites. That success only encouraged me to work harder to get my books in front of publishers to try and get them published as well.

Then, in October, I received my first book contract for my YA Superhero novel, “Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero”. The book is the first in what I expect to be a six-book series. I was (and still am) very excited about this development, but, as I have said many, many times, publishing is slow. I know where in the queue it sits for revisions and I know when the deadline is for the cover-art. I also know it probably won’t be available until Spring 2012.

That is the way of the industry, especially with smaller presses that have limited resources. I have no complaints and I cannot wait to get going on the process.

There have been additional developments in my quest to make my books available. A few months ago I decided to self-publish another YA book of mine. It was my thought that I could get the books to cross-promote each other and I would get another kind of publishing experience.

And let me tell you, it has really driven home why the publishing industry moves slowly.

Let me walk you through the process:

  1. Finish manuscript and proof it and revise it until you think you have something good. Luckily, I was already at this point when I made the decision to self-publish. As some of you know, the question of when to stop revising and move on to step two is a bit of an arcane art. Set a deadline.
  2. Get you manuscript in front of beta readers for critique and comment. I think this is a key step and can be accomplished in a couple ways: have trusted people who you know will give you an honest assessment of your work or use a community like Critters.org. In either case, be prepared to wait… and wait some more. You will not get as many responses back as you might expect, so use a bit of a shotgun approach. If you think you need three critiques, get six people to read your work. Set deadlines.
  3. Start looking at cover-art and who or where you will acquire it. If you are asking someone to create it especially for your book, get them working on it immediately. Set deadlines.
  4. Start researching how you are going to publish the book and with what service. There are many to chose from: Lulu.com, Createspace, Smashwords and a host of others, both good and bad. When you know how you are moving forward, understand the potential pitfalls and advantages of your decision. Set deadline to finish research.
  5. Take all the comments from your beta readers and make the necessary changes to your book. This can be extremely time-consuming, so be prepared. Oh yeah, and set a deadline for the edits to be complete.
  6. Take the finished pieces of cover-art and book and, using the templates provided by your service of choice, layout your book. Yes, you guessed it, set a deadline for completion of this step.
  7. Do quality control of the book. Each eVersion has its own gotchas and you should get an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of your print book. Spend the time necessary to go over each with a fine-toothed comb to remove any mistakes you may find. Unless, of course, you don’t care about the quality of the book. Set a deadline.
  8. Release book. Set a deadline.

You couldn’t help but notice “set a deadline” in each step. That’s because this must be treated as a project and projects need deadlines. Without them, it will never get finished. People will never give their pieces the attention required and you will have other things get in the way. Also, don’t be too disappointed if your release date slides a little. In my case, I had hoped to release the book May 20th. It is now June 18th and the book is still under construction. My new release date is July 8th. I might be able to beat that, but that is my release deadline.

You should note, that none of the steps above include marketing and promotion. Those are key to selling your book and should be underway as soon as you have your plan in place. That way, you have some hope of selling your book once it is finished. But that is another project altogether.

The big lesson learned here? Publishing is slow, regardless of whether you do it yourself or have an actual publisher do it for you. Once you realize that, you will sleep better at night.



  1. This is a good article. Every author who “has done it” can nod our head. Traditional publishers are even slower. It would have taken your book two years to be out for sale (I haven’t been here but I have researched. The publisher I used is a great publisher that has everything done in one place so I didn’t have to set deadlines (I needed more help), but this is great advice for people who go the total DIY approach. Just wait, marketing is the hardest part of the whole thing!

  2. Marketing is the hardest part? Don’t I know it! Getting your voice heard in the cacophony of the Internet is no small task. Getting your books read, equally so.

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