If you are publishing your first novel, you will probably be overwhelmed and frustrated at how much work is involved from the time you or your agent submits your manuscript to a publisher to the time it is actually released to the public for sale. It is not as simple as submitting it, receiving a contract and it automatically goes into the printing process. If it were that easy, most authors would have their books on shelves within about six months from the date of their contract. Unfortunately the process is much more complicated than that and can actually take a year or longer from the date of the contract to the time the book actually arrives on bookstore shelves.
The publishing process begins even before you submit the final manuscript to the publisher. The editorial staff will review your manuscript and though they may like it, they will more than likely request changes before they will make a final decision on approving your novel for publication. The changes they ask you to make may include any number of things from cutting the number of words to changing the ending or parts of the plot. Whether you choose to make the changes will determine if you will publish your novel with that publisher.
After your final manuscript has been approved and the contract is signed, the publisher will schedule the print run. At some time prior to the final printing, review copies of your novel will be sent from the publisher to people who have requested them. They may be other writers or just readers who have requested a pre-publication copy in order to read and review prior to the book going to bookstores. These early reviews tell the publisher what kind of sales to expect from your book and whether they should schedule another print run.
If you have an agent or publicist, they may schedule book signings or interviews to coincide with the release of your novel. These promotional tools will help ensure that your book receives as much exposure as possible, and being able to see an author and his book helps some people decide if they wish to purchase that book. Sometimes the author will receive pre-release copies of his book so that he can begin appearing for book signings and let the bookstores see the response the reviews the book will have thus allowing them to determine how many copies they should order upon the novel’s release.
The final step in the publishing process is when your novel finally arrives on the bookstore shelves. The length of time this takes will vary, but the average is six months to one year from the date of the contract. There are many steps that are involved in the process, and of course, if you choose eBook format or POD the time frame and process will be a little different. The end result is always the same—your novel arrives in readers’ hands in eBook or printed format.