Ask an Editor: How Long Will It Take to Write and Publish My E-Book?

The most popular email I get from current clients is “I’m not going to meet our deadline. What can we do?” Most writers underestimate the time it will take to write their books. This is why I fill in my editing calendar in pencil.

So, how long will it take for you to write and publish your e-book? I think it’s best to set an ideal publish date and work backward. Let’s look at a month-by-month guide for releasing your book.

1 year to 8 months before the release– You should be reading all you can about writing, marketing, and editing, as well as books for research, and books similar to the one you want to write. Read reviews of books similar to yours. What do people like? What’s missing?  Who is writing on the topic? Connect with them on social media and interact with them on their blogs. (You’re going to want endorsements, reviews, and a launch team. People are more likely to say yes if they  know you and you’ve been supporting their work.) Also, if you plan to have a separate website for your book, look into buying the domain name.

8-5 months before release– Write your book. This will take longer than you think. Allow plenty of time for a bad first draft, a better second draft, and a really good ready-for-the-editor draft.

5-4 months before the release–  Line up your team. Whose help are you going to need to publish your book? Your team could include an editor, cover designer, website designer, formatter, and marketer. Each of these people is going to need a certain amount of time. Depending on the length of your book and her availability, your editor could need weeks to edit. Then you would need time to read her suggestions and make the changes. Many authors want their editors to do a second read through, to make sure they caught every thing. This could take another two weeks. The person formatting your book needs to know the final page count and page size to format the book and then the designer needs that information from her to create your paperback cover dimensions correctly. Your marketer will need a finished product to send out for reviews and organize the blog tour. Line-up the help you need now so they are ready for you when you’re ready.

4 months before release- Get your book edited and make the corrections your editor suggests. If you’re asking people for endorsements or to write a forward, you will send them the edited PDF version of your book. You may also want to get their endorsements and the forward edited before you add them to the final copy you will send to be formatted.

3  months before release– Have your book formatted for the ways you want to release it. These could include PDF, Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Smashwords, Book Baby and/or CreateSpace. You will also want to work with your web designer if you are launching a new website specifically for the book. Communicate with your cover designer to create exactly what you want. Create your Facebook fan page if separate from your main fan page. Start advertising and building an audience.

2 months before release– Order proof copies and give final approval. Keep in mind time for shipping. Work with your  marketing adviser on sending out review copies and get guest posts set up on other sites willing to promote your book.

1 month before release–  Make sure your review copies have been shipped and your launch team knows the release date and when they can write blog posts to promote the book and leave reviews on Amazon, Good Reads, and other sites.

Release day– Relax! Most of the work is done. Everyone you’ve hired should have done their jobs and you can focus on enjoying the fact you self-published a book!

The main point is allow yourself plenty of time. Book ideas don’t become books overnight. Give your dream time to come true. It’s worth it when you see your name on the cover!

(This is a basic overview of a possible timeline to release your book. I recommend the book Self Publish (affiliate link) for even more details on each step.)