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Mail Call: How Long Does It Take To Get A Book Published?

Dear Writer’s Relief: I’ve finished my novel manuscript. How long is it going to take to get it published if I try to find a literary agent and get a paying book contract with a major publisher?

These days, there’s no single path to book publication. Some self-publishing companies can turn a manuscript into a book very quickly. Traditional publishers (those that pay advances) tend to take a bit longer, as the process is more complex.

How many years it takes to get a book published can vary. But we can offer some general guidelines.

Your search for a literary agent can last a couple weeks or a couple years, depending on how diligent you are about sending out submissions. Here at Writer’s Relief, our Full Service clients send 25+ submissions once every two months. Most of our clients know within a year whether they will find a reputable literary agent or need to revise.

Once a literary agent has offered to represent a book, there may or may not be requested revisions. You may need to allot a few months to revisions at this stage.

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After the manuscript is ready, the agent gets to work. Sometimes, book deals happen quickly and within a month. Other times, it can take six months or longer depending on how “hot” a project your book seems to be. Before signing with an agent, you may want to ask how long it takes to begin work on sending out a project. Learn more: Nine questions to ask a literary agent.

Negotiating a book contract can take a month or two, depending on your agent. Then, a publisher will have (generally) between eighteen and twenty-four months to publish the book.

When all’s said and done, the process of getting an agent, then getting a book deal, then seeing the book in print can take anywhere from a year to three years.

The good news is that once you have a literary agent and you get the ball rolling, it doesn’t have to take quite so long for the next deal.

Happy submitting!

4 Responses to Mail Call: How Long Does It Take To Get A Book Published?

  1. This timeline is very helpful, as most of the novelists I know have self-published or turned to vanity presses. It’s about what I expected to find.

  2. These “Mail Call” blog posts that you guys have started to post are AWESOME! So far, questions that I’ve wanted to ask but had no one to ask have been answered. YAY!

  3. Thanks, it’s nice to read something that relates to people who are genuinely wanting advice to learn, no matter how hard where others make it sound so easy. Everything written was very friendly and real something I could relate to without feeling apprehensiveness. I like.

  4. Thank you for breaking this down – you make it seem like getting published is actually possible! =)

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