Time as a Factor in the Self-publishing Process

time self-publishing timeline

“Time and tide wait for no man” holds great significance in the book industry. Many new or planning-to-be self-published authors usually have a hard time knowing the self-publishing process and how to plan their schedule to ensure that their work is published in time.

If you’re a new author planning to self-publish but are still unsure how to manage time, you are in the right place.

In this article, you will get some great insight into how much time is required to successfully complete the three main stages of the self-publishing process.

Scarcity of Time

As an experienced author shifting from traditional publishing, you may find that self-publishing is very much different in how time is allocated.

In self-publishing, an author has absolute control over the book publishing process from editing, typesetting, cover design, distribution, pricing, and marketing.

The stigma associated with self-publishing some 15 years ago has gradually faded, with more authors embracing digitally formatted ebooks and audiobooks.

However, the challenge is that time as a factor in the self-publishing process is difficult to quantify.

Self-Publishing Timeline

A self-publishing timeline may seem to be straightforward to some authors but complicated to others. If you belong in the “others” category, below is a rough estimate of the time it should take you to publish your book.

The variation seen below in the timeline will depend mainly on the following factors.

  • The book’s length (word count)
  • The complexity of the book’s content
  • The editing process
  • The level of editing necessary to produce the final product
  • Your editor’s schedule

#1 Editing: 4 to 13 weeks

Editing is a crucial step in the book publishing process. It provides a solid foundation for the subsequent steps in the book publishing process. Remember, a poorly edited book can annoy readers and hamper your reputation as an author!

Editing has two very crucial and distinct steps.

  • Developmental editing (2 to 12 weeks): It is a step that focuses more on the author’s story and usually takes longer to finalize. It is important to understand that no fixed time can be allocated for this stage since the number of structural edits and resubmissions greatly depends on the author’s first submission quality. Most editors edit from 1,000 to 10,000 words per day. A 100,000-word book takes roughly anywhere between 2 weeks to 3 months for a successful edit.
  • Copyediting (3 to 10 weeks): This is a crucial step in the book publishing process that is often not given its appropriate importance. It is true that good grammar won’t sell you a lot of books, but poor grammar will sell you as a lousy author. This step involves correcting grammatical errors, inconsistencies, punctuations, and repetitions. It usually takes anywhere between 3 to 5 weeks for books with 100,000 words or less and between 5 to 10 weeks for longer books.

#2 Design & Typesetting: 2 to 7 weeks

  • Cover Design (1 to 2 weeks): Even if the adage that you don’t judge a book by its cover holds for books, the first impression will always matter. If you are a new author, it is in your best interest to invest quality time in designing a good cover for your book. The first draft of the cover design phase usually takes one week to complete. An additional one to two weeks is necessary for cover reviews and redesigning.
  • Interior design/ typesetting (1 to 3 weeks): A great cover may attract a reader to your book, but a well-designed interior will keep a reader glued to it. The initial concept development phase takes one week for most books since whatever style is preferred is to be applied uniformly throughout the book.

I recommend that you add another two to three weeks to proof reviews.

You should note that cover design, typography, and typesetting can be done simultaneously to save you some time.

  • Illustrations: The amount of time taken in this phase is also dependent on whether your book has images, figures, and illustrations. If present, time spent here varies depending on the type, depth, and quality of illustrations.

#3 Publishing: 3 to 14 days

The good thing about self-publishing is the rise of platforms such as IngramSpark and Amazon KDP. Successful self-publishing of ebooks on these two platforms takes less than a day for some ebooks. After which, an author gets up to 70% royalties on their ebooks.

However, self-publishing is not as straightforward as it seems.

If you want to sell your books in online stores and brick-and-mortar stores, then ISBNs are necessary. Each format will require a different ISBN.

Online publishing platforms generally take three to fourteen days to distribute your book.

Knowing the self-publishing timeline can help self-published authors plan their after-publishing strategy that includes pricing, selling, and building an audience of hungry readers.

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