How long does it take to self-publish a book?

If you decide to self-publish a book it makes sense to put together a publication plan to keep yourself on track.

Writing a book can take anywhere from a few months up to five years in the case of Stephen King and IT. Perhaps even longer in some cases. But not many new writers consider the timescale for getting their book ready for publication.

Realistically, you need to allow a minimum of 4 months for editing, cover design, page layout, proofreading and marketing before your publication day.

2023 Calendar
Writing and publishing can be broken down into sections

Some of these areas can overlap, such as designing the cover while the manuscript is still in the editing stages.

Here’s a simple checklist for you:

  • Write your book
  • Edit your book
  • Buy your ISBNs
  • Choose your publication platform(s)
  • Cover design
  • Book design
  • Proofreading and corrections
  • Create a launch campaign
  • Publish

At Chapter One Book Production we get involved at the book design stage. Clients come to us with a fully edited final manuscript and it’s our job to turn this into a beautifully easy to read book. This is the point at which your book goes into production.

Many book designers offer a range of services that include book interior design as well as cover design. Book an appointment with a few companies to get a feel for how they work and if they provide everything you need.

Design considerations

You will be asked to share your ideas about the interior page layout, whether you want a physical book and/or an eBook, and the type of genre-specific cover you want.

It’s worth putting together a design plan early on to help you navigate these steps. If you have a clear awareness of how you want your published book to look then it’s much easier to work with your book designer. Your plan can be created as you write your book and added to as you explore more ideas.

We advise our clients to look at other titles on the market, particularly those in the same genre.

  • What typography do you like?
  • Is there a particular book layout that caught your eye?
  • Which book covers drew you in and made you pick up a certain book?

Knowing what you like, and don’t like, gives the designer a great starting point to build on. To be able to create the right book files, they will need as much information from you as possible.

For example:

  • Which self-publishing platform are you using?
  • Do you want to take advantage of Amazon’s ‘look inside’ feature?
  • Do you need ARCs (advanced reader copies) for promotion purposes?
  • Are you producing an eBook version?

I’ve just uploaded my book in print and kindle and it was a doddle with the files Catherine created. I changed my mind a few times about things and it was no trouble. She made the process of getting a book out there in the world that looks good, easy. Thanks, Catherine.”

—Joanna Lott, Author of Your Dream Job Toolkit

Book a virtual cuppa with me to discuss how Chapter One Book Production can help you navigate the design considerations when you self-publish a book.

Having all the information about the self-publishing process as you are working on your book takes a lot of stress out of the activity for you. It allows you to hand over your clean manuscript with confidence.

I will stay in contact with you throughout the process. When ready, you will receive your interior files for proofreading and checking for errors that may have been missed. This is when you get to see your complete book layout for the first time.

So how long does it take to self-publish a book?

Timescales vary enormously. Text-only books could take a few weeks to produce, whereas a book with images, bullet points, pull quotes, or other technical elements will usually take longer.

Factors include page and book size, and word count – the more words the more time needed.

As a rough guide, allow three to six months for the production process depending on the complexity of your book. If you have a specific launch date in mind add this to your calendar and work backwards. Only you know how much time you can commit to the writing of your book, so once that part is added to your calendar the rest of your time can be dedicated to the edits and design.

Your copyediting time will be determined by your schedule and that of your editor, but four to six weeks is reasonable for a 50,000 word manuscript. For works of fiction, you may need to add a further four to six weeks for developmental editing.

The book design process for a simple print version interior file can take another four to six weeks. However, this increases depending on the design/formatting complexities.

It’s hard to pinpoint an exact timescale, but it’s worth allowing a minimum of four months to edit, typeset, proofread, and design a cover for a 50,000 word book.

At Chapter One Book Production we offer a range of book design services depending on your needs, but we can also provide custom quotations.

All our packages include:

  • Advice on appropriate book size
  • Advice and suggestions for printing and distribution options
  • Typesetting from edited text file
  • Reprographics on any images supplied*
  • First proof for proofreading
  • Taking in the proofreader’s corrections
  • A revised proof for final checks and indexing if required
  • Adding the index if needed
  • Any final minor corrections
  • A flawless, print-ready PDF tailored for the printer of your choice

* Reprographics includes cropping images, converting colour to greyscale if required and making improvements to tone and contrast

Catherine stepped in at short notice to take over the digital formatting of my new book, Survival Skills for Freelancers. Though I had been aware of Catherine’s services through LinkedIn, this was the first time we had worked together. I warned her that my perfectionist tendencies meant I would be extremely specific (read “picky”) with my comments, but she took everything in her stride and the end result is – in my opinion, at least – the best-looking business book I’ve ever seen. If you’re new to self-publishing and need an experienced and capable pair of hands, contact Catherine. She really does live up to her reputation as being ‘virtually unflappable’!

Sarah Townsend, Author of Survival Skills for Freelancers

I have 25+ years of experience designing the content for and managing the production of books. My background in working for publishers like Able Publishing, Robert Hale Ltd, The Crowood Press, and DK, have given me both breadth and depth of experience to help authors bring their manuscripts to life as wonderful books.

For more information about hiring me to typeset your book and produce the files you will need to self publish, schedule a virtual cuppa to discuss your project.

Alternatively, you will find a list of services and costs on the website.

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