In my posts about a first-time writer deciding between traditional publishing and self-publishing, I’ve recently been discussing non-financial considerations. Today I’m writing about the time it takes for the writer’s book to come to market once the manuscript has been completed.
Since The Case for Killing was self-published, I’ve learned about “time to market” for traditionally published books through blogs and speaking with a few publishing industry veterans.
My conclusion is that, from the time a manuscript has been completed and accepted by a publishing house, a writer should plan for at least a year before his book comes to market. Obviously, though, this will vary between houses. This time arises from the many decisions a house makes about packaging and marketing a book, the demands of a full publication schedule, and staff being overburdened. And that one year can stretch if the house sees too much competition for a book or simply identifies other priorities.
Compare that conclusion to self-publishing. Once a manuscript is in final form, a self-pub can get a cover design in a month. Add another few weeks to learn the in-and-outs of preparing files for eBooks, and how to upload the manuscript and cover to the online distributor, and the writer can have his book available in five or six weeks.
Of course, a publishing house produces print books as well as eBooks. However, a self-pub can also handle this in a short time by using a print-on-demand service. So, all in all, the time to market for a self-published book seems much better.
So the question becomes, does faster time to market make any difference?
If the author has done all his other work right, it certainly can. The sooner a book is released, the sooner it can make it into the hands of readers, and hopefully generate word-of-mouth support and reviews. A writer who is traditionally published must hope that the cachet of his publishing house, and the house’s input into the publication of his book, compensate for the later release.
The phrase “has done all his other work right” is important. What it means—and I’m saying this as much for me as for you—is that the author’s research is complete, his book is properly edited, and his marketing plan is in place. And, even more importantly, the self-pub has to put in the work to execute that marketing plan.
Reducing the time to market for a first-time writer’s book is a plus, and self-publishing helps that. Rushing the time to market is not, and a focus on marketing is a must.
Copyright © 2014 Peter Fritze