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.
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.