For all the hundreds of thousands of books that seem to hit the bookshelves each year, you might get the impression that there’s some fantastic super-efficient machinery running behind the scenes that’s working at break-neck speed to pump out tons of books at a record pace. Far from it.
Publishing is a extremely slow moving industry. If you are a new writer waiting for your first big break, the earlier you realize this, the less painful your journey will be. Set the expectations right and get ready for a LOT of waiting at every stage of the process.
The maximum control you have on the book publishing process is when you are working on the manuscript. You will have complete control over how much time you spend thinking, writing and re-writing your bestseller. Once the creative part has been completed and the manuscript is ready, the pace changes dramatically.
You will have to wait to get a publisher interested. Forget interest, getting a rejection can also take several months.
If you can’t get the interest of a publisher directly, you’ll have to wait till a good literary agent gets interested. The best best literary agencies could be as selective as (if not more than) the publishers.
Once you have got an interest from a literary agent, you will have to wait for the agency to approach the publisher and try to do exactly what you were trying to do directly.
After you’ve got the publisher interested, you will have to wait for the publishing contract to be signed. And if you haven’t become super-desperate to sign on the dotted line without reading the publishing agreement, you will have a few suggestions on some clauses. Those changes will go back to the editorial and legal teams for review. The clock continues to tick.
After getting the legalities out of the way, you will wait for an editor to be allocated to your project.
The editor will probably have her hands full at that moment. So you will have to wait till she wraps up her existing projects and moves on to yours.
Then you will wait to get comments and suggestions on your manuscript. The re-work (and the re-re-work) will go on till your editor is satisfied with the final product.
You will then wait for your manuscript to go though the type-setting process. Yup, Microsoft Word doesn’t automate everything yet.
Then you will wait while the manuscript gets sent off to the printing press.
If you are trying to cover a big geographical area, distributors and retailers will come into the picture. Getting the books to them is another time-consuming process.
These are just the high-level phases that you’ll encounter. If you are just starting the process, apart from honing your writing skills, learn some relaxation exercises (meditation might help too). It’ll help keep the impatience and stress levels under control.
If you think that’s an exaggeration, let me share my experience. After completing my manuscript, guess how long I had to wait before I could hold the first printed copy in my hands. 5 years!!!
But I’ll admit, the approach I took in the earlier years wasn’t the most optimal. Though I read a lot about the industry, I still made mistakes and took detours that slowed down the process. I’ll talk about those in subsequent posts. Subscribe to the blog (enter your email ID on the top right section), if you haven’t done so yet to ensure you don’t miss any important posts.