How long are you willing to wait to get your book published?

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.

21 thoughts on “How long are you willing to wait to get your book published?”

  1. Sir,

    This part of yours gave me a little strength. 5 years is a long time and I was getting impatient and worried as I am going to complete my first year of waiting.

    I have sent query letters and submitted sample chapters of my novel to some of the publishers and LA out of which one publisher named leadstart publishing appreciated my work but asked for fee for the publishing and as i am studying and struggling all alone with my first novel to get published I said cannot pay and after that they didnt replied at all. SBPRA and Raider publishing houses which are out of India were asking for my complete manuscript but i was a bit scared to send my complete work to them and so i am still waiting wondering that is this possible that without money to pay will my fantasy get published?

    What do u think?

  2. Priyanka,

    Yes, it can be pretty frustrating waiting for the right publishers to open their doors.

    I can’t talk about the specific publishers you’ve approached, but in general, I’m not a big fan of paying to get published. The dynamics in that game are very different.

    Here’s an earlier post about authors paying to get published and vanity publishers in various forms.

    If you have some more inclination, here’s some more dope to help you understand the business aspects of getting published:
    Book publishing tips

  3. Sir
    I want to publish my very first book . but in this field there is lots of things is happen and going to be happen which gave me really a huge disappointment and i really don’t know what to do ? the publisher demands a great price just because of they really don’t want to any risk . i just want to know is this possible if they publish my book without a price and after that i also don’t want any money.

  4. Shivi,

    A traditional, mainstream publisher will never ask their authors to pay.

    Read this post to understand the concept of ‘money always flowing to the author‘ –> Will you pay to get your book published?.

    If you paying a publisher, you are entering the realm of vanity publishing. Read up more about the pros and cons of that model before taking a decision.

  5. Hello sir,
    I am an aspiring writer/poet. Ive just completed my manuscript, a collection of 50 poems and i wish to publish them. What are my chances of getting published because its my first book and that too poetry? Does the publishing house treat poetry and fiction/non fiction novels the same way or is it tough to publish poems than novels?Also can i send my proposals to more than 1 publisher at a time?

  6. Dear Sameer,

    Leadstart Publishers sent me a letter of intent. I am not able to decide. They are more of a vanity press. I am not living in Mumbai. Just wanted to know what the publishing circle and writers like you think of them. Please let me know.


  7. I think leadstart send the letter of intent to almost every one who send a query to them.
    I have experienced same and have read numbers of similar review on different forum about leadstart.

    • Hi Swati,
      Have you got any success with Leadstart ? I too have got an letter of intent from them.
      How was your experience with them ? Or did you just didn’t bother further ?

  8. Hello, I have just completed my first manuscript and sent it to several publishers about 3 months ago (the sample chapters, synopsis, and my bio). I got a ‘Letter of Intent’ from Leadstart and didn’t send them my complete manuscript because they were asking for money. Grapevine publishers rejected my work saying their calendar schedule was fixed for the year. No other publishers have contacted me yet.
    Can you help me out?
    I want to get my detective fiction published

  9. Hello..
    I had also got leter of intent from Leadstart few months ago but after complete evaluation of my full manuscript I was rejected. I had also got full manuscript request from Pegasus Publisher, New York but I did not send. Is this publisher really exists? Please help

  10. Hello Sameer Sir,

    First of all many many thanks to you for providing us such useful insights about this writing and publishing industry. I have a query regarding Leadstart publishing agency. I have sent my proposal to many publishers but unfortunately most of them turned it down. I have recently got a response from Leadstart. They have offered me the traditional publishing and have not asked any money for publishing my work. As this is my first book I am both skeptical and scared. I have read some negative reviews about them online. I just want to know your views on the same.

    Thanks a lot!!!

  11. @Raj: As they say, there’s no smoke without fire. Apart from the views you might’ve read on other sites, read some of the comments under this blog post.

    While I generally refrain from commenting on individual publishers, I’ll admit that I personally do not have a very good opinion about them. From the brief interactions I’ve had, I found them quite unprofessional.

    • Thank you so much SIr for your kind response,

      There is one more thing I wanted to discuss. Apart from LeadStart I have also got a buy back offer from a good publisher, in which they have asked me to buy about 1000 copies at some discounted price. As I am running out of options I have been thinking if I should go for it. Is it a good idea??
      Also, what are the things I should keep in mind while signing any contract with the publisher. As a first time author I am not very much aware of the legal terms and conditions that I should or shouldn’t be agreed to.

  12. Do they take interest in publishing poems as well? And if at all they show inclination towards this, how many poems do they expect?

  13. Sir, I am Ms Ruchira Banerjee and my novel is selected by Leadstart Publishing House, Mumbai (traditional publishing) 6 months back that too in one attempt. They have ask me to wait but they not mention the total number of waiting months. My question to you is “Is it normally 12months for a novel to get publish in India?”

  14. Sir,

    I’ve read that it took five years for you to get your first book published. Well I sent a query along with a few sample chaptets. Well let’s say, it passed the first stage of evaluation. They asked me for my entire manuscript along with my choice of publication (I choose the traditional publication option). My first book got selected for their second stage of evaliation too. It’s been an year but still I didn’t get any letter or a mail from them. Do you think I need to wait for a little more time or send my book to any other publisher? The publisher states in his letter of intent that I can send my book to any publisher in the mean time.


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