Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Long and Winding Road

Can you explain why the publishing process takes so long? I see sales on Publishers Marketplace, and then the books don't come out for a year. Why is that?

You know, I really don't know the official answer to this, but I'd love to hear it, so if anyone knows, please chime in!

I can tell you that in my situation, it will be a year and a half (!!!) from the time we sold the ms to the time it will be published. There's been a lot of lag time but things are picking up now. For a little breakdown - we sold in January, I got my revision letter in mid-February, turned in the revisions in March...and then didn't do that much between March and the summer. In August, I got my cover art, last month, we dealt with catalog copy and copy-edits, and in the next few weeks, we're getting the ARCs, which is when the fun really begins. Once I get the galleys, I'll send them out to my editors/contacts/reviewers, and my agent, editor and PR person will send them out to every person whom they deem important too.

I guess part of the reason for the lag is that some magazines/reviewers need about six months lead time, so if you rushed a book to print, you'd miss out on some big plugs. So, for example, I'll get my women's magazine editor the ARCs by Nov/Dec to ensure that the book could receive potential placement in the May or June issues. Additionally, I know that publishers tend to set their release dates about a year in advance, so if you sell your book and hope that it can come out nine months later, the publisher isn't likely to have a slot for it. Now WHY they work this far in advance, I'm not sure. Maybe it just takes that long for the ms to go through all the steps of the process: the editing, the art, the copy-editing, the promotion, the sales to stores, etc. I imagine that some of it also has to do with getting catalogs and the actual BOOKS into booksellers' hands - the sales team needs time to do that, though how long, I really don't know.

Shrug. That's my best guess. Anyone know something that I don't?

6 comments:

Manic Mom said...

All I know is I hope you do a contest and give away an ARC!

winkwink.

Eileen said...

It is a torture device used to drive writers to drink. Also the houses all have a schedule and things needed to be slotted in- they can push a book through in a short turn around- but I think they leave those options for books that would be very timely. My pub date was moved up a few months when another book dropped out of the schedule.

MBT said...

The other thing is the actual book production - much of that is done off shore these days. I know on the last book I did, when I called to see if the copies were in the warehouse yet, I was told "They are literally on the slow boat from China."

Bernita said...

The length of time may also have something to do with the fact that most houses have more than one book in the system...

larramie said...

Hee. I've been wondering about this question for years and find it appropriate that there's no "real" answer. Ah, what a relief! ;o)

Sara Hantz said...

I've just heard my pub date is April 2008 - and I sold July 2006. It sure is a long time, then again I'm reading of people selling now who aren't being pubbed until 2009. This is the hardest time, I guess. Once you're on a roll then it won't seem so bad, because you'll always have something due out - well, that's what I'm telling myself!!