1. I wish I knew that a reasonable publishing timeline is at least a full year.
A publishing timeline is the period of time from when you finish writing your book to the time that the book publishes. I know that waiting a whole year from the time you finish writing your book to publish it sounds crazy. I bet you thought, like me, that writing the book was the hard part. There is no doubt that writing a book is hard work. It is because of that hard work that your book deserves the full year to be properly published and marketed!
Once you’ve finished writing your book, you need to edit the book. If it’s a novel you may also need a developmental editor and then a traditional editor to perfect your manuscript. Once your book is properly edited, you will need a book cover designer and a book interior designer for both your eBook and your print book—the files are different. After you have an edited manuscript, book cover, and the book’s interior design file, you might then decide to delve into book marketing and pre-publication review outreach.
If you decide to create a galley (review copy) of your book as part of a pre-publication review outreach, you will need someone to design it, print it and create a pdf version of it. You will need time to roll out review copies, submit it to reviewers, and track/collect the reviews. Some reviewers require your galley copy five months in advance! You will also need the time to develop a distribution plan for your book and submit your book to distributors or aggregators. (Distribution simply means the way your book will be sold—through online retailers and aggregators, book stores, libraries, international publications, etc.)
Note: If your book is published traditionally, your publisher will handle the editing, the book cover, and the book’s interior design files, as well as the distribution and review/galley outreach, but the publishing timeline will still be a good twelve months, and sometimes longer than that.
Finally, you will need the time to put together your pre-publication marketing plan and carry it out. A full year gives you the time to properly complete your book and implement a successful book marketing plan!
2. I wish I knew that I should use my name as my website name.
Back in 2009, when my first book, It Gets Easier and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers, published, my website designer suggested that I name my website something to do with my first book. I picked help4newmoms as a website name. Back in 2008, web surfers (potential book buyers) could find a book by its topic. I wrote a book for new moms, so it made sense that new moms would search for my book by topic (specifically “help for new moms”). As the years went by and I increased my book promotion efforts—speaking gigs, appearances, columns, etc.—people started to search for me by my name but could not find me. The website name also locked me into the “help for new moms” theme, curtailing my ability to write on other subjects. You want more flexibility. You will be writing other books and speaking on other topics. You are an author now and the world will look for more information about you and your books by your name!
3. I wish I had started book marketing while I was writing my book!
The first version of my first book was self-published. More accurately, it was traditionally published by a publishing company that I started! Months after I published that first book, I was offered a contract with a larger publishing company who purchased the book, changed the cover (a bit), had me write three more chapters, and re-released the book as it stands today. When I created that first publishing company to release the first version of the book, I was learning about publishing, distribution, and pre-publication marketing all at the same time. Although I did have a pre-publication review outreach thanks to a book marketer whom I hired, I didn’t have time for too much more.
My entire publishing timeline was about five months long in order to hit the deadline of a Mother’s Day release date. It was a crazy time. I had taken the time to identify my book’s message, audience, and hook—the book marketing fundamentals—but I didn’t have the time to research all of the different ways to market my book or to research new ways to connect with potential book buyers. Since I was learning on the job as well as working a part-time job with three kids, I was absolutely frantic and feverish during those five months. I don’t recommend it.
For my latest book, Get Your Book Seen and Sold: The Essential Book Marketing and Publishing Guide, I had more knowledge of great book marketing ideas from my years of experience as a book marketer for other authors. I was able to more thoughtfully and methodically create and execute a detailed marketing plan. What’s more, the added time gave me a chance to try new, creative book marketing ideas.
I created a Substack newsletter/podcast focused on book marketing to reach a potential book reading audience. A newsletter and a podcast take time, but if you have the time to do it, you will have a nice, warm audience for your book when it publishes. I also had the time to reach out to local media colleagues and podcasters. I could let media (locally and nationally) know well in advance of my book’s publication date what I was working on and if they were interested in an interview or story to air when the book was available for sale. You, too, can do these things if you have the time.
Give yourself a full year after you write your book to properly publish and market your book. Use your own name as a website name and learn as much as you can as soon as you can about book marketing so that you can use the time that you set aside—the year before you publish—to methodically execute your book marketing plan.
Claudine Wolk is the author of Get Your Book Seen and Sold: The Essential Book Marketing and Publishing Guide. Find her writing/podcast at claudinewolk.substack.com.