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Windcutter
10-15-2012, 05:42 PM
Between a book contract and a book release.
It seems the amount of time is getting longer, not shorter, despite the technology becoming more efficient. Before my detour into screenwriting, the average time between contract and release was said to be one year. Now it's two.

I was amazed to discover things are different in some European countries. 6-8 months is pretty average. And in Russia, even though it's a big country, a major publisher usually takes only 4-5 months to release a book.

Why is it different for the big six? Is it the sheer amount of books? Or maybe it's not the production itself but the fact that books are bought in advance to fill up the schedule, so a publisher *could* release a newly bought book in 6 months, but the spot's already taken by a book that had been bought earlier?

willietheshakes
10-15-2012, 05:44 PM
"Technology becoming more efficient" has very little impact on how long it takes to write a book, edit a book, market the book to the trade, sell it in, promote it, etc.

Sage
10-15-2012, 05:56 PM
There's also a large number of books that came before yours. There's only a certain number of books that makes sense to release within a season, so all those books that came before your agent sold yours have to come first.

And as willie says, it takes time to properly edit those books, put together a cover, market it, promote it, build buzz.

leahzero
10-15-2012, 06:12 PM
"Technology becoming more efficient" has very little impact on how long it takes to write a book, edit a book, market the book to the trade, sell it in, promote it, etc.

The OP is talking about what happens after a book is written, edited, and ready for publication.

And they listed examples where it doesn't have to take two years. Small presses, foreign presses, etc. can put out books far faster than the big pubs.

I'm no Amazon cheerleader, but Amazon's print publishing division also shows that a book going through a big publishing house doesn't need to take years to be released anymore. They're filling every role the Big Six do: paying advances, running marketing campaigns, doing the printing and distribution, etc. They're just doing everything more efficiently.

It is, quite simply, a matter of established business practices not catching up with technology.

The US publishing industry is antiquated in many ways. Books are bought years in advance to fill future catalogs. This made sense in the pre-internet era of snail mail and typewritten manuscripts. It doesn't make sense now. But when you have billion-dollar businesses built on these entrenched models, change is a slow and painful process.

I think Amazon is the major force that will drive the Big Six to streamline their processes. When Amazon is putting out books faster than they are, well...

waylander
10-15-2012, 06:19 PM
There are fewer full-time staff in editorial offices to handle the launches than used to be the case.

shaldna
10-15-2012, 06:23 PM
Between a book contract and a book release.
It seems the amount of time is getting longer, not shorter, despite the technology becoming more efficient. Before my detour into screenwriting, the average time between contract and release was said to be one year. Now it's two.

I was amazed to discover things are different in some European countries. 6-8 months is pretty average. And in Russia, even though it's a big country, a major publisher usually takes only 4-5 months to release a book.

Why is it different for the big six? Is it the sheer amount of books? Or maybe it's not the production itself but the fact that books are bought in advance to fill up the schedule, so a publisher *could* release a newly bought book in 6 months, but the spot's already taken by a book that had been bought earlier?


It depends.

If you are, for instance, Stephenie Meyer or JK Rowling and you've just completed the latest book of your super hot series - chances are that's going to be rushed out a lot faster.

Aside from that, it takes time - all the corrections, edits, rewriting and changes can take weeks to months. Then there's the cover art, and more proofing, typsetting formatting and last minute changes.

Also, trying to find a slot in the scheudle that works for your book - for instance, if you've written a chic lit novel do you really want to be competing with a Marian Keyes and a Sophie Kinsella which are released the same week? Probably not.

Then there's the publicity machine - setting up the promotion for your book is going to take time, getting advance copies to readers, garnering reviews and attracting attention - it all takes time, and it's all geared towards release date too.

Additionally, other books - even those with other publishers - can have an influence on your time scale - if mermaids are suddenly hot and there's another author with a mermaid book then they might well take priority while your book about talking kittens isn't such a major rush. However, if mermaids flop and talking kittens are suddenly hot, you could find your release date moved forward.

The point I'm trying to make is that 2 years is not set in stone. I've seen folks have their book out in 10 months and others waitng three years. There are so many factors that influence and change dates/

Torgo
10-15-2012, 06:25 PM
A fairly big issue is the retailers, who plan at least nine months in advance. I can probably get a book from MS to print in two months, so long as I don't mind if nobody stocks it.

willietheshakes
10-15-2012, 06:40 PM
The OP is talking about what happens after a book is written, edited, and ready for publication.



Not according to the first post they're not.

The only guidelines given are "Between a book contract and a book release." Which, actually, actively precludes "edited and ready for publication" and may or may not be based on a written (note: not final) manuscript.

Unless we're reading two different posts.

As to your description of the antiquated industry: there's a lot you're not taking into account, and a lot you're just plain misinformed about.

shadowwalker
10-15-2012, 06:41 PM
I'd also want to look at the overall published quality of the books that come out so quickly. Obviously there are exceptions on both sides, but I'd be willing to bet those that take longer are generally put together better than those that get rushed out the door. Personally, if I've got a contract and an advance, I'd rather the book came out later and the editing, marketing, and promotion was well done than have it come out early with slap-dash results.

victoriastrauss
10-15-2012, 08:22 PM
I'm no Amazon cheerleader, but Amazon's print publishing division also shows that a book going through a big publishing house doesn't need to take years to be released anymore. They're filling every role the Big Six do: paying advances, running marketing campaigns, doing the printing and distribution, etc. They're just doing everything more efficiently.
This is certainly the image of Amazon that has been sold to the world by the anti-traditional publishing folks. However, I'm with Amazon Publishing (Amazon Children's Publishing, for my forthcoming YA novel Passion Blue), and in my experience the timeframes involved are no different from those I've had with other publishers. Editing, copy editing, proofreading, ARC printing, finished copy printing, trade reviews, and marketing are proceeding according to schedules exactly like the ones I've encountered in the past. Many of these are areas where human schedules are paramount, and technological efficiencies don't apply.

I think Amazon may have been able to be quicker with some of the books it has acquired through its Amazon Crossing imprint and with some of the self-published books it has transitioned to traditional, and possibly with some of the more high-profile Amazon advocates like Barry Eisler, for PR purposes. But for me and the other Amazon authors I've encountered who have sold not-previously-published manuscripts to the NY division, the schedules follow the traditional template.

- Victoria

Torgo
10-15-2012, 08:34 PM
I think Amazon may have been able to be quicker with some of the books it has acquired through its Amazon Crossing imprint and with some of the self-published books it has transitioned to traditional, and possibly with some of the more high-profile Amazon advocates like Barry Eisler, for PR purposes. But for me and the other Amazon authors I've encountered who have sold not-previously-published manuscripts to the NY division, the schedules follow the traditional template.

- Victoria

Yeah. It's certainly possible for us to rush a book out in a couple of months; it just involves clearing the decks and convincing retailers to make room for it in plans they made six months ago. For Amazon, who are also the main retailers, the latter is easier, but if they're doing everything on much shorter lead times what that means is that they're working less efficiently in some ways - they'll need more staff to publish an equivalent number of books, and thus it'll cost them more money.

suki
10-15-2012, 08:40 PM
"Averages" always make me wonder -- ie, what is the true, mathematical, statistical, average and what is the mean (as opposed to the perceived ones), because I was two years from contract to publication date (for many reasons I'm perfectly comfortable with), but I know several authors who were sale to pub date in less than a year. So, I'd love to know the actual average and mean, and in what market/genre.

Assuming you mean YA, for example, in the US, then the answer is complicated but includes just how many YAs have been published by the same (or in many cases, less) number staff to edit, copyedit, format, design, oversee production, market, sell, etc.

And then you add in strategic list and timing decisions, and the answer gets even more complicated.

It's a complete fallacy that the acquisition, editing, design, production and marketing of a book would, on average, be significantly less than 10 years ago.

So...I guess I wonder why you think it would be a shorter time given it appears that in YA there are more books being published, with less staff, and less production outlets, etc.

But I guess the short answer is, because it does. :)

~suki

Sheryl Nantus
10-15-2012, 09:01 PM
When Amazon is putting out books faster than they are, well...

Faster does not equal better.

I've seen small epubs here brag about putting books out in a few months.... and the quality of said books leaving something to be desired.

This isn't a race. The goal is to put out a GOOD book with excellent editing, cover art and do good promotion to sell said book.

It's not to bash out something in six weeks, slap a title and a cover on it and flog it to buyers who expect quality.

JMO, YMMV.

Jamesaritchie
10-15-2012, 09:05 PM
Between a book contract and a book release.
It seems the amount of time is getting longer, not shorter, despite the technology becoming more efficient. Before my detour into screenwriting, the average time between contract and release was said to be one year. Now it's two.

I was amazed to discover things are different in some European countries. 6-8 months is pretty average. And in Russia, even though it's a big country, a major publisher usually takes only 4-5 months to release a book.

Why is it different for the big six? Is it the sheer amount of books? Or maybe it's not the production itself but the fact that books are bought in advance to fill up the schedule, so a publisher *could* release a newly bought book in 6 months, but the spot's already taken by a book that had been bought earlier?

Well, first, big country has nothing to do with how many books get released each year.

Anyway, it often takes less than two years, and eighteen months is closer to average for a number of publishers.. And once you've been published a few times, it can then take very little time. In the right genre, it can happen pretty much every month.

But think about it for a second. With no system to keep books in the pipeline, nothing would work. All businesses operate this way. You must have time to promote a book, to send out ARCs, time for those reviewers to publish their reviews, time for readers to read them, etc.

And it often takes as long for a book to actually be published in many European countries, it's only that time from signing to publication is shorter. You simply can't always tell how long it takes a book to be published just by the time from signing to release. Sometimes it's practice for the signing itself to be held up for many months because publishers don't want to commit time or money until the last minute.

And what difference does it really make? Six months or two years, who really cares. If you use those months to write another book or four, it won't be long before you have a new book being released on a regular basis.

dangerousbill
10-15-2012, 10:45 PM
Between a book contract and a book release.


The publisher's budget governs the number of titles they can pump out in a year. But they likely see enough good manuscripts they want to buy that they develop an inventory. So the publication schedule will get longer and longer.

Also, they find opportunities for quick fluff books that they push to the head of the line. Recently-dead celebrities, for example, and things from the headlines.

For example, the biggest selling books right now are right-wing screeds purporting to discover awful things about Obama's past.
http://www.amazon.com/lm/RU5LOR4IUO6XC/ref=cm_pdp_lm_all_itms
http://www.amazon.com/Anti-Obama-Books/lm/R3P8QIPZJD9IVE

Most (if not all) are total fabrications pumped out by teams of ghostwriters. But the right wing nutjob market is huge, and the industry is making hundreds of millions of dollars from these books, especially since many are also subsidized by the SuperPACs. But after November 6, they'll be just so much scrap paper.

With that going on, everything else is on hold.

shaldna
10-15-2012, 11:40 PM
The OP is talking about what happens after a book is written, edited, and ready for publication.

The first post asked about the time between a contract and publication - I don't know anyone who didn't have rounds of editing and proofing after signing a contract.


And they listed examples where it doesn't have to take two years. Small presses, foreign presses, etc. can put out books far faster than the big pubs.

You need to factor in the schedules, staffing levels, promotions for existing and expected big sellers. A small press might well have the time to dedicate to getting a book out in six months because they aren't juggling dozens of writers and schedules and liaising with retailers over in store promotions and stock etc etc. Many small presses don't have instore presence, so they only have to work on their own timescales and not work with retailers.


The US publishing industry is antiquated in many ways. Books are bought years in advance to fill future catalogs. This made sense in the pre-internet era of snail mail and typewritten manuscripts. It doesn't make sense now. But when you have billion-dollar businesses built on these entrenched models, change is a slow and painful process.

The thing is, it doesn't make sense if you work in production - obviously you want to get a product out there as fast as possible. But it makes total sense if you work in retail. Promotions, stock, future lines, it's all planned months in advance. When I worked in retail for a very large supermarket, we would be ordering our seasonal stock up to ten months in advance - partly because, for example Christmas stock would go on sale in early to mid autumn. The level of planning involved is huge.

Ad to that that producers (in this case the publishers) will already have an idea of what are likely to be their big seasonal sellers - so, for instance, between summer and Christmas you'll see a lot more 'gift' books - celeb biographies, cook books, TV tie ins, box sets and blockbusters that have been timed to tap into the gift market and would have been planned that way months before hand. After all, there's no point in releasing a winter cookbook in July when what folk really want are beach reads. Consumer buying habits are taken into consideration too when it comes to timing a release.


I think Amazon is the major force that will drive the Big Six to streamline their processes. When Amazon is putting out books faster than they are, well...

Faster does not necessarily equal better. And again, see my point above about timing and consumer buyign habits - I mean, as an author do I really want my book released in January when it would sell best in July only to see it sell a handful of copies in the first flush of release and be taken off the shelves by the bookstores before it's reached it key selling time? I really think you need to take that into consideration too - online it's not such a problem, but a lot of people still buy their books from physical stores - be that chain stores, supermarkets or whatever. When a book is published it doesn't sit on that shelf indefinately. It gets a couple of weeks, or a couple of months maybe, and if it's not selling it goies back and gets replaced with something that will.

As a side note, there can be other reasons for timing a books release a certain way - some of the Harry Potter books, for example, were only released over the summer holidays so kids wouldn't skip school to get them - us adults still pulled a sickie from work, but hey-ho, you can't win em all.




Also, they find opportunities for quick fluff books that they push to the head of the line. Recently-dead celebrities, for example, and things from the headlines.

For example, the biggest selling books right now are right-wing screeds purporting to discover awful things about Obama's past.
http://www.amazon.com/lm/RU5LOR4IUO6XC/ref=cm_pdp_lm_all_itms
http://www.amazon.com/Anti-Obama-Books/lm/R3P8QIPZJD9IVE

Agreed. In fact, I would bet a months salary that we'll be seeing a Jimmy Saville book before Christmas.

Windcutter
10-16-2012, 12:42 AM
I've been thinking about this for a long time. I just can't imagine the actual working time spent on one book being long enough to justify it. I worked in marketing & promotion, after all.

But I wrote the post after I'd met a person who is a bestselling YA author in Russia. She told me how it went for her first YA book. She used to write regular fantasy for her publisher (a major one), then she decided to write a YA book. But the book had to be completed first. She signed the contract in late November, spent December exchanging emails and edits with her editor, and in the last days of March the book hit the shelves. Two winter months were spent on promotion, the book received a rather nice chunk of promo money so there were posters, giveaways, ads in teen magazines, etc. Now she finished the last book in the series in May 2012, sent it to her editor in early June, and the release date will be around December 2012.
I was super-amazed at the speed.

"Technology becoming more efficient" has very little impact on how long it takes to write a book, edit a book, market the book to the trade, sell it in, promote it, etc.
I assume the book is written completely by the date the contract is signed. I know it's not always the case, but it's like this for many books, especially the debut ones.
Two years spent editing a single book? Nope, not buying it. And buzz starts much later anyway.
#
I'm getting an impression it's almost like with agents. We are told that agents are super-busy, they simply can't read a requested full within two months or reply to a query within two weeks, they need a lot of time, etc. Yet there are agents--good, respectable ones--who are perfectly able to do that. Who regularly do that. Which makes one think others simply choose not to--rather than can't.

Gotta reply individually now.

willietheshakes
10-16-2012, 12:49 AM
I assume the book is written completely by the date the contract is signed. I know it's not always the case, but it's like this for many books, especially the debut ones.

That's a big assumption, and not one which is likely factored in when considering this vague "average" of two years, wherever you got it from.

(Arithmetically, I think it's a ridiculous misuse of the term "average", but I'm letting it stand.)



Two years spent editing a single book? Nope, not buying it. And buzz starts much later anyway.


Did I say two years was spent editing a single book? I don't think I did.
And if you think buzz starts AFTER publication, you'd be sorely mistaken.

Look, you asked a question. You've received a lot of answers, valid ones. You just don't seem to like them.

Sheryl Nantus
10-16-2012, 12:59 AM
Look, you asked a question. You've received a lot of answers, valid ones. You just don't seem to like them.

I'm wondering what the OP wants to hear.

Yes, go and rush to self-publish because the Big Bad Trade Publishers delight in screwing around for two years, holding up YOUR masterpiece because they're just having too much fun?

It takes as long as it takes. Some people get married six months after meeting their mate and stay married for decades. Some live together for decades and get married only to divorce after six months.

So it goes...

suki
10-16-2012, 01:07 AM
I've been thinking about this for a long time. I just can't imagine the actual working time spent on one book being long enough to justify it. Then I think you had better consider self publishing, or publishing in those foreign markets you believe more efficient. Because otherwise you are in for some serious frustrations and disappointments.

I worked in marketing & promotion, after all. That feels irrelevant to why the process and production times are as they are.

But I wrote the post after I'd met a person who is a bestselling YA author in Russia. Very different market than the US.

She told me how it went for her first YA book. She used to write regular fantasy for her publisher (a major one), then she decided to write a YA book. But the book had to be completed first. She signed the contract in late November, spent December exchanging emails and edits with her editor, and in the last days of March the book hit the shelves. There are micro and e-presses that could turn this around, I suppose, with minor edits. but I can tell you the first round of edits on my book alone took months - several between the edit letter and my work time. And that was just the first round...

And design, copy editing, etc. take time, as well, as does the actual printing.

And that is for each book. Every staff member at a major publisher is working on many projects at once, in different phases of the process. And it is the pipeline approach that keeps the business viable - ie, one book is being read and then negotiated and acquired, while another is being edited, and designed, and while another is in the copy-edits phase, and another in pass pages, and another is in pre-production, and then productions....

And, again, you don't seem to be hearing that publication dates are strategic - they don't always rush the book to shelves as soon as printed - they want to make sure there is not too much competition between books out at the same time, and that they can manage promo and marketing, etc. And sometimes there are other considerations, like the expected market strength - ie, beach reads will be held until spring even if feasibly ready in fall beforem, etc.


Two winter months were spent on promotion, the book received a rather nice chunk of promo money so there were posters, giveaways, ads in teen magazines, etc. Now she finished the last book in the series in May 2012, sent it to her editor in early June, and the release date will be around December 2012. I was super-amazed at the speed. I'm surprised, and skeptical, but the reality is - that's a different market. There are micro presses here that can match that speed, if speed is your primary concern. I suggest you seek them out. They can have your book from acquisition to printed in 60-90 days. Question is, where it goes from there... ;)

I assume the book is written completely by the date the contract is signed. I know it's not always the case, but it's like this for many books, especially the debut ones.
Two years spent editing a single book? Nope, not buying it. Two years of non-stop work? of course not! But two years in the publishing pipeline described above. Absolutely. And, you've already heard some who think your "two year" average is off... ;)

And buzz starts much later anyway. No, this is where you're wrong. The buzz that counts the most builds from pre-pub to the month after for many books. For some books, they have three months to grab a market share before the returns start pouring in. So...better take the time to get the reviews and buzz going before pub date or you're screwed.

I'm getting an impression it's almost like with agents. We are told that agents are super-busy, they simply can't read a requested full within two months or reply to a query within two weeks, they need a lot of time, etc. Yup. And for many that is absolutely true. My agent better not take time away from negotiating my contract or closing my deal or dealing with my crisis to read your not-yet represented manuscript. And if he has 12 clients, all with active submissions, manuscripts to read, deals in progress, you might wait 3 months for him to get to your requested full. Tough. :) And if he becomes your agent, then you would like knowing that your needs, as a client, take priority over requested material from prospective clients. ;)

Yet there are agents--good, respectable ones--who are perfectly able to do that. Who regularly do that. Which makes one think others simply choose not to--rather than can't.

Gotta reply individually now.

You may you need to educate yourself on the publishing options available to you. From this post, I suspect it may be that trade publishing will not meet your expectations, and you will be more satisfied, time wise, with small or micro presses or self-publishing.

I am not being at all sarastic. Trade publishing isn't for everyone. And I am all for an author being really clear about his or her objectives, and then making the decisions that meet those objectives most closely. For some, that does not include trade publishing.

~suki

Mr Flibble
10-16-2012, 01:23 AM
What they all said

Not to mention the printers. They get booked up well in advance (that is they might well be booked up a year ahead). So you have to fit in with where/when they have a slot. It's not a small undertaking, and there are only so many printers that are capable of producing a large print run to an acceptable quality. Yes, sometimes there are cancellations, or things can be swapped about. But generally, where you can get your print run fitted in is at least part of the equation.

And buzz? Not as late as you might think. My book isn't out till February. ARCs are going out to reviewers now (because they can't read a book at a drop of hat you know - they've got a queue of things to read, but it's nice if the review comes out about the same time as the book) Promo stuff was in the goodie bag of a conference I went to last month. Getting the name/premise of the book out there.

It may seem simple on the surface - just edit, proof, cover and away! But it's vastly more complicated, and the bigger your print run (or anticipated sales), the bigger your stable of authors/books, the more complicated it gets.

PS: I'm going to be about 12 months from signing to publication with the Big Six.

WeaselFire
10-16-2012, 01:46 AM
I went back and checked, last two books were 11 months and 13 months from contract to publication. These are tech books, and they are not written until the contract is signed.

Current book, the last edit was submitted September 22, last PDF proof was October 9 and the book has a December 4 release date. Contract was March 16.

Not necessarily related to anything else of course.

Jeff

Toothpaste
10-16-2012, 02:00 AM
I think the ARC thing and the when to release your particular book thing are much bigger factors than the OP thinks.

Take my book out early December. I didn't know when it would be coming out, I was just told the fall. Why didnt they choose say September? Because they wanted to spread out the releases of their bigger books so they didnt overlap. So instead if releasing all fall books all at once they spread us out over four months.

It's called strategy, and I am more than happy with it. I got December. That adds 4 months and makes me a two year till publication kind of girl. But you know, I like December. That's the holiday season. I'm fine with having to wait. Anyway, it's not like I'm sitting around doing nothing. I'm promoting it, and I'm working on something else.

The ARC thing is important to take into consideration. Buzz is essential and must happen BEFORE a book hits the shelf. So copies if your book are available months ahead of time. And that is a very important step, one which I wouldn't want to skip either.

Lastly amazon. Yes they can produce faster as has been explained by others here. They also have a much smaller list. I've seen their catalogue. I am actually quite keen on them as a publisher and like the people who they've hired (I've actually worked with many of them). But they are new and still small. Let's see if they can maintain such speed and quality after time and with a larger list.

Also I have a friend bring published by them and the turnaround they are expecting to get her sequel from her so they can publish it quickly is insane. To the point where she told them she couldn't do it as fast as they wanted and they'd have to be patient. Sometimes fast turnaround benefits the author, sometimes it directly affects them negatively.

Windcutter
10-16-2012, 02:44 AM
There's also a large number of books that came before yours. There's only a certain number of books that makes sense to release within a season, so all those books that came before your agent sold yours have to come first.
So basically we are talking about demand dwindling so supply gets redistributed in effort not to flood the market?

The point I'm trying to make is that 2 years is not set in stone. I've seen folks have their book out in 10 months and others waitng three years. There are so many factors that influence and change dates/
I wonder if there is something in the typical major contract about limits set on dates. Like, what if I wake up one beautiful morning and the publisher informs me they decided to release my book in 2019. xD

There are fewer full-time staff in editorial offices to handle the launches than used to be the case.
I didn’t know that. Is it a general problem for the whole publishing industry?

A fairly big issue is the retailers, who plan at least nine months in advance. I can probably get a book from MS to print in two months, so long as I don't mind if nobody stocks it.
Do they need a finished package to start planning?

The only guidelines given are "Between a book contract and a book release." Which, actually, actively precludes "edited and ready for publication" and may or may not be based on a written (note: not final) manuscript.
I should have written a more detailed post.
What I was talking about was an overall impression from debut deals in commercial fiction. The majority of those books had been finished before the contract was signed.

I'd also want to look at the overall published quality of the books that come out so quickly. Obviously there are exceptions on both sides, but I'd be willing to bet those that take longer are generally put together better than those that get rushed out the door. Personally, if I've got a contract and an advance, I'd rather the book came out later and the editing, marketing, and promotion was well done than have it come out early with slap-dash results.
I dunno, I found typos and plot holes in hardcover bestsellers from major publishers just as well. As for promotion, I think the biggest factor is the budget--and the business savvy of those who work on it.

So, I'd love to know the actual average and mean, and in what market/genre.
Me, too. Mine is mostly a general impression. I used to see something like “sold in July 2007, will be released in June 2008”, but now even in our YA section there is an astounding amount of “sold my book this summer, it will come out late 2014”.

So...I guess I wonder why you think it would be a shorter time given it appears that in YA there are more books being published, with less staff, and less production outlets, etc.
I didn't know about less staff.
And why--because everything is e-done, online, digital, etc, now. Including design and sales managing. Putting together, say, a packaged teaching course is done much faster and easier than before. I assumed it also became much easier to put together a book.

This isn't a race. The goal is to put out a GOOD book with excellent editing, cover art and do good promotion to sell said book.
But according to stuff said by earlier commentators, a book can be released late because of time spent fitting it into different schedules and marketing concerns. It doesn’t mean more time and effort was spent on the book itself.

Anyway, it often takes less than two years, and eighteen months is closer to average for a number of publishers.. And once you've been published a few times, it can then take very little time. In the right genre, it can happen pretty much every month.
Which genre is it? I’m just curious.

But think about it for a second. With no system to keep books in the pipeline, nothing would work. All businesses operate this way. You must have time to promote a book, to send out ARCs, time for those reviewers to publish their reviews, time for readers to read them, etc.
I guess I never imagined just how much in advance everything was done. I mean I knew books weren’t just tossed out there, but still.

Sometimes it's practice for the signing itself to be held up for many months because publishers don't want to commit time or money until the last minute.
So some stuff gets done even before the actual signing? Assuming the book itself is written beforehand.

And what difference does it really make? Six months or two years, who really cares. If you use those months to write another book or four, it won't be long before you have a new book being released on a regular basis.
I care. In two years I might be dead. Or on my way to becoming a dentist. Or engrossed in a new family. Or getting ready to pack up and move to a galaxy far, far away. Obviously I will have to deal with it if/when I get published, but to me, 2015 and 2025 sound about the same = distant future.

Torgo
10-16-2012, 02:55 AM
Do they need a finished package to start planning?

Yes. They don't necessarily need a completely finished, print-ready book, but by the time you present to buyers you need to get the book to ARC standard, have a pretty much finished cover and all the cover blurb and metadata ready. You need a product, not just an idea.

The whole business relies on scheduling a long way in advance, otherwise you'd end up with a situation where your book comes out in the same month that Stephen King and James Patterson and JK Rowling bring out their new books with no warning. The bookseller wants to sell as many books as possible, so each month's offering needs to be carefully thought about to give it the best chance.

That all entails nine months or so of lead time. Add on top of that the months of editing you need to go through, and you're going to hit a year quite easily. Then we have to look at the fact we acquired the book in October, say, so a year from now is when all the blockbusters are coming out, and your debut novel is going to get swamped; let's put off publication until the spring. Or whatever. What I'm trying to say is, it's not just about when the book is ready for sale. It's also about when the market is ready to sell it.

suki
10-16-2012, 03:18 AM
I wonder if there is something in the typical major contract about limits set on dates. Like, what if I wake up one beautiful morning and the publisher informs me they decided to release my book in 2019. xD

Contracts do usually include the expected year, and sometimes even season, of publication. But books get pushed back all the time, and often it's in the author's best interest to go with it, rather than try to cancel the contract and start over.

I didn’t know that. Is it a general problem for the whole publishing industry?

Every industry is trying to do more with less staff. Including, if not especially, publishing. Now, it's not all publishers - not all have cut their staff, obviously. But even for those that haven't cut staff, their staff in YA have been in higher demand. The YA market has been booming for at least 6 years. And few publishers have added staff in booming numbers. So, higher number of books, same or slightly less staff, you do the math... :)

I should have written a more detailed post.
What I was talking about was an overall impression from debut deals in commercial fiction. The majority of those books had been finished before the contract was signed.

Part of the padding with debuts is publishers not yet knowing how good the author will be at revisions, coupled with strategic decisions. So, for example, my publisher acquired my book summer 2010. They slated it for fall 2012, in part because they had never worked with me before and had no idea if I could meet the kind of deadlines that would be needed to get it on shelves by fall 2011 or even winter 2012. Plus, I think their fall 2011 list was pretty complete (I do have a smaller publisher than some). So...they said at acquisition it would be fall 2012. Now, we technically could have probably gotten it out spring 2012, if not sooner, since the whole process took less time at every stage than my editor thought it might. But they kept it as a fall 2012 book - and I was fine with that. It gave us plenty of time at every stage of the process, and more than enough time to get review copies out and start building buzz.

A lot more than pure production time goes into these decisions. And sometimes a new debut waits an extra season, or even an extra year, so they can debut it at a time when it's not competing with one of their own or someone else's title in the same market, or for other reasons - ie, beach reads, to target the school market, etc.

Good publishers build a list each season that is balanced across markets, genres and types of books, and that is designed to build a readership season to season.

So, if the timing is of primary concern for you, I suppose you could talk to your agent about it. And if multiple editors were interested, I suppose the timing could be part of your decisions making.

As for promotion, I think the biggest factor is the budget--and the business savvy of those who work on it.

I'm not sure I agree entirely with the budget, but I do agree with the savvy of those working whatever budget there is -- and sometimes that means holding a book for a later season not to have two books on your list that compete for the same market share, especially from medium to smaller presses, and most especially in YA.

Me, too. Mine is mostly a general impression. I used to see something like “sold in July 2007, will be released in June 2008”, but now even in our YA section there is an astounding amount of “sold my book this summer, it will come out late 2014”.

FWIW, I've been paying attention to these deals and tracking them for at least 6 years - and the times have been pretty consistent from my perspective.

Plus, those announcements might not be completely accurate. Sometimes if a book deal is made and the publisher knows it won't be out for 2 years, or more, the publisher and agent will wait to announce it until closer to publication. They might even wait until the contract is signed and that can take a year if the negotiations are heated -- so, for example, the offer is made in February, but between February and August the agent is negotiating the contract with the publisher (while the author works on revisions with her editor, by the way), and then the contract finally gets signed in October. And the deal gets announced, with a pub date of November of the next year. So, it looks like it was just over a 1 year from acquisition to shelves, but it was really more like 20 months.

So, if you are going by announced deals, those announcements are not always accurate. ;)

I didn't know about less staff.
And why--because everything is e-done, online, digital, etc, now. Including design and sales managing. Putting together, say, a packaged teaching course is done much faster and easier than before. I assumed it also became much easier to put together a book.

Transferring stuff around at some stages might be faster because of technology, but not all. For example, several of the steps in my process were still done in hard copy, including copy edits and pass pages. And while sending it digitally around to people in the pipeline might shave a day or two, it doesn't shave months. A lot of the work is still human intensive. A human doesn't read and edit, or revise, any faster because of technology. And I'd argue they don't always design faster because of technology, either. You're making a lot of assumptions I think are inaccurate about the process.


I guess I never imagined just how much in advance everything was done. I mean I knew books weren’t just tossed out there, but still.

Yup. The ARCs have to be to reviewers and review journals and trade shows months before release. And sales decisions of major retail outlets are also pitched and negotiated months in advance, as are some publicity and marketing efforts.


I care. In two years I might be dead. Or on my way to becoming a dentist. Or engrossed in a new family. Or getting ready to pack up and move to a galaxy far, far away. Obviously I will have to deal with it if/when I get published, but to me, 2015 and 2025 sound about the same = distant future.

Well, this is an issue you need to think about, and decide what you the cost/benefit analysis is for you and your needs. My advice is to assume that if you sell to a large trade publisher, it will be 2 years from acquisition to shelves. It might very well be less (I know several who had their debuts come out in a year from acquisition to shelves), but assume it will be 2 years. Would that make you choose a smaller press, or self-publishing? If so, then you should consider whether to even waste your time trying to find an agent or sub to larger trade publishers. Because 18 months to 2 years is likely not too far off the norm.




I know this business is not easy on the nerves, and requires lots of patience. And maybe trade publishing doesn't suit your needs. Only you can decide that.

~suki

Mr Flibble
10-16-2012, 03:20 AM
I wonder if there is something in the typical major contract about limits set on dates. Like, what if I wake up one beautiful morning and the publisher informs me they decided to release my book in 2019. xD



There is indeed something about timely publication in most (good) contracts.


What I was talking about was an overall impression from debut deals in commercial fiction. The majority of those books had been finished before the contract was signed.My book was 'finished' when we signed. That is, finished to the best of my ability. That doesn't mean there weren't edits. And another round of clean up edits. And copy edits.


And why--because everything is e-done, online, digital, etc, now. Including design and sales managing. Putting together, say, a packaged teaching course is done much faster and easier than before. I assumed it also became much easier to put together a book. Because you aren't taking into account everything else. I get my edits by email. That doesn't mean it takes me less time to do them, or my editor to write up the notes. The only time you save is in postage. (technically minimal, unless you rely on Royal Mail...)

Add - what was said above - I managed to get my edits/next books done quicker than was anticipated (I think) so the pub date for the otehr books in the trilogy have been altered - brought forward. Because they have been/will be ready in time.

Sheryl Nantus
10-16-2012, 03:26 AM
I once had someone ask me, in July, how long it would take for my book to come out. I told him and he was curious as to how long it would take for *his* book to come out since he'd just lost his job and started submitting to publishers.

He said, and I quote: "I hope it makes me money for Christmas."

I pointed out this was quite unlikely.

The contracts I've signed have stated that the book will be published within a certain time period.

I'm not even sure what to say anymore. I have no idea what the OP wants or expects at this point.

Windcutter
10-16-2012, 03:41 AM
The publisher's budget governs the number of titles they can pump out in a year. But they likely see enough good manuscripts they want to buy that they develop an inventory. So the publication schedule will get longer and longer. .
This inventory thing is interesting.
Just how free are they to move stuff around? For example, if there is suddenly a hot new trend—spots need to be cleared up. But I don’t think a contracted book can be pushed back infinitely. So, mix and match?
Also, acquiring budget. If there is a hot new trend, I want to buy new manuscripts that fit it. But if already spent lots of money on other mss—and have not yet seen the profit because they aren’t even published yet… there must be some flexible assets.[/QUOTE]

The thing is, it doesn't make sense if you work in production - obviously you want to get a product out there as fast as possible.
Or the creative side of ad, well, in some cases. At one of my jobs it was like, whaaaat? three weeks is such a long time, gimme this evening! I think someone there would have a stroke if they were told a project would be ready to go in 18 months.

And again, see my point above about timing and consumer buyign habits - I mean, as an author do I really want my book released in January when it would sell best in July only to see it sell a handful of copies in the first flush of release and be taken off the shelves by the bookstores before it's reached it key selling time? I really think you need to take that into consideration too - online it's not such a problem, but a lot of people still buy their books from physical stores - be that chain stores, supermarkets or whatever. When a book is published it doesn't sit on that shelf indefinately. It gets a couple of weeks, or a couple of months maybe, and if it's not selling it goies back and gets replaced with something that will.
Well, if it were a choice between this January and this July. But when we are talking years. Anyway, thanks for the information, especially about retail.

That's a big assumption, and not one which is likely factored in when considering this vague "average" of two years, wherever you got it from.
Mostly debut deals, I cleared it up in an earlier comment. I don’t know many (actually, any, save maybe for some celebrities) debut authors in commercial fiction who didn’t have to finish their book first.

And if you think buzz starts AFTER publication, you'd be sorely mistaken.
I know it doesn’t. But I was under impression it started about several months before the actual release.

Look, you asked a question. You've received a lot of answers, valid ones. You just don't seem to like them.
No, the answers are good. What I don't like is the idea that it's the way it should be.
I don't know how to describe it without sounding pissy, so I'll just be honest. When people say "that's how it is because of this and that", I'm grateful for the information and the insights. It's stupid to argue against hard facts. I learned something new.

But "that's fine, that's exactly the way it needs to happen" frustrates me, because, hello, 21st century here. Speed of light. E-banking, e-schooling, flying around the globe. How can two years or even 18 months be considered a normal time for the development of such a project? New i-models probably come out more often than that.

I'm wondering what the OP wants to hear.

Actually leahzero said exactly what I wanted to hear. But others seem to think that's not likely to happen.

You may you need to educate yourself on the publishing options available to you. From this post, I suspect it may be that trade publishing will not meet your expectations, and you will be more satisfied, time wise, with small or micro presses or self-publishing.

I am not being at all sarastic. Trade publishing isn't for everyone. And I am all for an author being really clear about his or her objectives, and then making the decisions that meet those objectives most closely. For some, that does not include trade publishing.

Nope. :) Been there, done that, frankly didn't care for the tee shirt. It was pretty much like sending a finished ms to all my friends to read. So it’s either big or bust. And if I bitch to myself in a dark corner over my release dates, well, that will be my own problem.

Also, I got it about the strategic planning. Now I’m wondering how it’s done. I mean, if there are two similar books at the same stage of packaging, which one gets the green light? The one that pulls a heavier weight, has more chances to sweep the market, a headliner? Or the one that’s meant to be a warm-up?

No, this is where you're wrong. The buzz that counts the most builds from pre-pub to the month after for many books. For some books, they have three months to grab a market share before the returns start pouring in. So...better take the time to get the reviews and buzz going before pub date or you're screwed.
But “pre-pub” doesn’t mean “right away”, does it? I thought buzz started just several months before release.

Yup. And for many that is absolutely true. My agent better not take time away from negotiating my contract or closing my deal or dealing with my crisis to read your not-yet represented manuscript. And if he has 12 clients, all with active submissions, manuscripts to read, deals in progress, you might wait 3 months for him to get to your requested full. Tough. And if he becomes your agent, then you would like knowing that your needs, as a client, take priority over requested material from prospective clients.
This is offtopic, but I always wondered about the chrono-math of it.
If there is this agent. Who has, say, 12 clients. He must devote time to them first, of course. And he is super busy. He doesn’t have much time to spend on other stuff like prospective clients. This is all perfectly logical.
But where will he find time to deal with me properly as his client if he signs me on? His day didn’t become longer since he signed me on. If he had very little time for anything but his 12 clients, how will he have time—the same amount of time as before—for each of his 13 clients now?

It's called strategy, and I am more than happy with it. I got December. That adds 4 months and makes me a two year till publication kind of girl. But you know, I like December. That's the holiday season. I'm fine with having to wait. Anyway, it's not like I'm sitting around doing nothing. I'm promoting it, and I'm working on something else.
But wouldn't you have been happier if it were December 2011? This is a purely theoretical question. :)


The ARC thing is important to take into consideration. Buzz is essential and must happen BEFORE a book hits the shelf. So copies if your book are available months ahead of time. And that is a very important step, one which I wouldn't want to skip either.
Do they still send unedited ARCs out these days?


Also I have a friend bring published by them and the turnaround they are expecting to get her sequel from her so they can publish it quickly is insane. To the point where she told them she couldn't do it as fast as they wanted and they'd have to be patient. Sometimes fast turnaround benefits the author, sometimes it directly affects them negatively.
Was it Amanda Hocking who published like 10 books a year with Amazon? I forgot.
It also seems to be a strategy of many electronic publishers—throw lots of books at the reader with little or no promotion. Well, I vote for the golden middle.

Al Stevens
10-16-2012, 03:46 AM
It's physically possible. When I was writing computer programming books for Wiley, Holt, S&S, the time from contract to shelf was always less than a year--a year that included writing the book. It was necessary. The volatility of the content drove it. Technology gets obsolete in a hurry. If you take two years to publish, you're way behind the times.

The production process for such works is more complicated and time consuming than for the typical novel. Figures, equations, source code, an index and glossary, footnotes, and lots of nested headings.

Not much dialogue, though. :)

Yet they were able to do it. They certainly wanted to. Nobody in their right mind would release a book today on how to write program code for the iPad 1, for example.

shadowwalker
10-16-2012, 03:59 AM
I dunno, I found typos and plot holes in hardcover bestsellers from major publishers just as well.

Yes - and I stated "Obviously there are exceptions on both sides, but I'd be willing to bet those that take longer are generally put together better than those that get rushed out the door."

Mr Flibble
10-16-2012, 03:59 AM
But "that's fine, that's exactly the way it needs to happen" frustrates me, because, hello, 21st century here. Speed of light. E-banking, e-schooling, flying around the globe. How can two years or even 18 months be considered a normal time for the development of such a project? New i-models probably come out more often than that.

Again you're expecting a physical thing to equate to an e-thing

Real world physics (among other things) tend to interrupt the flow. Like how fast I can turn around the edits.


Mostly debut deals, I cleared it up in an earlier comment. I don’t know many (actually, any, save maybe for some celebrities) debut authors in commercial fiction who didn’t have to finish their book first.

Finished the best I can make it on my own is, as already stated not the same as finished after edits, more edits and copy edits.


Do they still send unedited ARCs out these days?
Don't know about anyone else, but ARCs are edited, that is, they are not the MS I handed in originally, they have had developmental edits an perhaps copy edits(but may still contain typos etc that have crept in during the process)

Look, if you don't want to go the trade route, that's cool. But 'I don't want to wait until my book is perfect and has had a good buzz built up and has marketing' may not be the best reason to do that.

It depends on what you want. If you're itching to get out there with a polished product, go for it. That does not make the trade route silly, or stupidly slow or whatever. I makes them different options. With different pros and cons. This is all. .

willietheshakes
10-16-2012, 04:05 AM
But "that's fine, that's exactly the way it needs to happen" frustrates me, because, hello, 21st century here. Speed of light. E-banking, e-schooling, flying around the globe. How can two years or even 18 months be considered a normal time for the development of such a project? New i-models probably come out more often than that.


This is what I mean -- you've GOT the answers. You can see why it needs to happen in that way. It's got nothing to do with e-banking, e-schooling or flying around the world. What does any of that have to do with how long it takes to edit a manuscript (editor)? Revise from those edits (writer)? Re-edit? Re-revise? Line edit? Copy edit? Proof? Approve first pages? Approve final pages? Come up with several different cover designs? Internal design? Printing? Shipping? Cataloging? Selling it in to bookstores? Having it read by reviewers?

Yes, it's a wonderful, high-tech world - so what?
What are you really asking?

suki
10-16-2012, 04:05 AM
Okay, I think this post cleared up for me that you are not arguing with the facts, but more bitching why can't it be faster. :) And I get that. I do. I don't think there is a debut author alive who wouldn't have wanted it to happen faster. But I also know that as someone who just went through the 2 years thing (a little more than 2 years, actually), I don't regret a minute of it. ;)




Also, I got it about the strategic planning. Now I’m wondering how it’s done. I mean, if there are two similar books at the same stage of packaging, which one gets the green light? The one that pulls a heavier weight, has more chances to sweep the market, a headliner? Or the one that’s meant to be a warm-up?

Usually, the timeline is set near or at acquisition. The publisher knows what else is coming out a year to two years in advance, and can see what will slot in where. Sometimes a book gets bumped up by a few months, sometimes even by a season. Or get bumped back by a few months, or a season. But a lot of books come out in the season they were acquired for, and few last minute shuffling happens.


But “pre-pub” doesn’t mean “right away”, does it? I thought buzz started just several months before release.

The actual ARCs going out to reviewers, appearing a trade shows, etc., can start 3-4 months before release (sometimes a little sooner, if there is a good reason, like ALA or BEA). They probably *have* to be heading out at a minimum 2-3 months before release (and sooner for some reviewers/journals). But that means the ARCs need to be in production at least 5-6 months before release, maybe sooner. And the book needs to be edited and designed and the cover approved by then, ideally. So...that's 6-7 months pre-release right there, before any editing is taken into account.

And publishers pitch their seasonal lists to reviewers, librarians, booksellers 3-4 months in advance, if not sooner.

And publicists start working on lining up conferences and festivals and publicity opportunities for the authors 3-6 months in advance, depending on publisher and book and author.

So, you'll start seeing the buzz efforts 3-4 months out, but the setting up of those efforts is earlier. And those planning meetings start well in advance. It's not uncommon for the inhouse planning and seasonal list launch meetings to start a year out - ie, a publisher might bring its staff together to look at the fall 2013 list in fall 2012, and then the various external-minded departments (sales, marketing, etc.) start working.

This is offtopic, but I always wondered about the chrono-math of it.
If there is this agent. Who has, say, 12 clients. He must devote time to them first, of course. And he is super busy. He doesn’t have much time to spend on other stuff like prospective clients. This is all perfectly logical.
But where will he find time to deal with me properly as his client if he signs me on? His day didn’t become longer since he signed me on. If he had very little time for anything but his 12 clients, how will he have time—the same amount of time as before—for each of his 13 clients now?

Well, some of it is how many clients the agent can comfortably take on. Some of it is as the agent's list gets larger, they request fewer manuscripts and the response times to prosepctive clients lengthen. Somtimes it's cyclical. After my deal was closed, and the contract signed, I didn't really need much of my agent's attention for months, many months. Then I started sending him my new manuscript. So, in between, he had plenty of time to look at new stuff, or work on someone else's stuff. A good agent has an idea of their client's rates and cycles of productivity.

And when they get bigger, they take on assistants to help, and then assistant agents, etc.


Do they still send unedited ARCs out these days?

Depends on the publisher and the book. My ARCs were printed after the bulk of the editing was complete, but not from the final, final version of the book. But I have heard of nightmare stories of the ARCs being printer even before all substantive edits. And the reviewers write scathing reviews of the version they read. Usually, that's what happens when the timeline for that book is compressed and the marketing and sales people need the ARCs before the editor and author are done with the revision process. ;)



~suki

shadowwalker
10-16-2012, 04:12 AM
But "that's fine, that's exactly the way it needs to happen" frustrates me, because, hello, 21st century here. Speed of light. E-banking, e-schooling, flying around the globe. How can two years or even 18 months be considered a normal time for the development of such a project? New i-models probably come out more often than that.

But how much of the process is actually affected by this speed of light technology? People still have to read it and then send it back for edits/revisions (maybe several times); the author still has to work out the edits/revisions (maybe several times); then it goes back to the publisher for all the formatting stuff (I say "stuff" because I know there's a lot involved in that but don't know the technical terms) and much of that has to be done by people at human speed. It's kinda like saying having a computer should make you type faster. It will, to a point, because the keyboard works faster than a typewriter - but you still have to type.

bethany
10-16-2012, 04:16 AM
Masque was a hair over 14 months.
Sold in February
First round of revisions received end of April (2011)
Arcs printed in November
Book out in April (2012)
There were a few months that I felt nothing was happening, mainly because we got to copyedits fairly quickly because they wanted them for a specific conference. BUT things were happening, when I visited New York, lots of things had been happening with marketing and sales reps and stuff.

James D. Macdonald
10-16-2012, 04:36 AM
It's a complete fallacy that the acquisition, editing, design, production and marketing of a book would, on average, be significantly less than 10 years ago.


You can have a baby in just one month if you put nine women on the job.

willietheshakes
10-16-2012, 04:38 AM
You can have a baby in just one month if you put nine women on the job.

Mathematically, that works.

But you might want to check with a woman for the final word on it.

absitinvidia
10-16-2012, 04:57 AM
But "that's fine, that's exactly the way it needs to happen" frustrates me, because, hello, 21st century here. Speed of light. E-banking, e-schooling, flying around the globe. How can two years or even 18 months be considered a normal time for the development of such a project? New i-models probably come out more often than that.


You're conflating apples with oranges. Ebanking is faster because the thing that used to take a lot of time--getting documents from one place to another--is now almost instant.

The time it takes to read a manuscript hasn't changed. An editor who could work through 8 pages an hour 40 years ago can still work through 8 pages an hour today.

Some things remain more or less unaffected by technology. The time it takes a good, thorough editor to get through a manuscript is arguably one of them.

Toothpaste
10-16-2012, 05:45 AM
But wouldn't you have been happier if it were December 2011? This is a purely theoretical question. :)

I honestly don't know. I don't think it would have been enough time, I finished the book in April, went two rounds of thorough edits with my editor (wouldn't want to rush either my editor's editing nor the time for me to do it), a round of copy edits and then two sets of galley edits. Plus it's really good to have the ARCs out months before, which means that I'd have to have got to the galley edit stage by... June. So two months only to do all those rounds of edits...

I think the answer would have to be no :) .


Do they still send unedited ARCs out these days?

Well they aren't unedited exactly. They are the round before the final round, so pretty close to good...


Was it Amanda Hocking who published like 10 books a year with Amazon? I forgot.
It also seems to be a strategy of many electronic publishers—throw lots of books at the reader with little or no promotion. Well, I vote for the golden middle.

No. She self published and released them on Amazon. There were none of the steps needed for the publishing process, she wrote them and uploaded them. This was something that Amanda has said was the reason why she wanted to go trade. To actually have an editor and copy editor. At any rate Amazon the publisher had nothing to do with it. Eventually she got a deal with st martins and the pace slowed.

victoriastrauss
10-16-2012, 06:39 AM
But I wrote the post after I'd met a person who is a bestselling YA author in Russia. She told me how it went for her first YA book. She used to write regular fantasy for her publisher (a major one), then she decided to write a YA book. But the book had to be completed first. She signed the contract in late November, spent December exchanging emails and edits with her editor, and in the last days of March the book hit the shelves. Two winter months were spent on promotion, the book received a rather nice chunk of promo money so there were posters, giveaways, ads in teen magazines, etc. Now she finished the last book in the series in May 2012, sent it to her editor in early June, and the release date will be around December 2012.
I was super-amazed at the speed.
I'd be willing to bet that the book market in Russia is a fraction of the size of the US book market, with a correspondingly small range of retail options and publicity avenues. So that could explain the faster speed (though it doesn't sound as if she did a lot of editing).

My book was bought in January 2011, and scheduled for publication in November 2012. I sold it to Marshall Cavendish, which was acquired by Amazon in January 2012. Amazon did not change any of the schedules that had been set up by Marshall Cavendish, as far as I know, and from what I can see at Publishers Marketplace, the deals for manuscripts (as opposed to self-pubbed titles) that Amazon Children's Publishing is making now have similar timeframes. (I.e., Amazon is not popping them out faster than other trade publishers.)

Like Toothpaste, I went through several rounds of edits, then copy edits, then galley edits, then proofreading edits. In between, we worked on cover concepts, flap copy, catalog copy, and getting author blurbs. This takes time; you can't ask a famous author to blurb your book and then say Oh by the way, I need it next week.

ARCs went out in late May, as did the fall catalog. Sales reps did their thing in the summer. Trade advertising was done in August and September.

And as all of this goes on I'm working on a sequel. So the timeframe is fine with me. Admittedly, I might feel different if writing were my main income, but it's not and never has been--I'm simply not well-known or prolific enough.

- Victoria

ios
10-16-2012, 07:10 AM
Why is it different for the big six? Is it the sheer amount of books? Or maybe it's not the production itself but the fact that books are bought in advance to fill up the schedule, so a publisher *could* release a newly bought book in 6 months, but the spot's already taken by a book that had been bought earlier? I don't work in the publishing business, so I can only guess. I think some of it is scheduling--so many slots, so unless you are special, you go last in line. And in pre-eboom days, I heard there were major bottlenecks at printers. But it makes sense to control timing of release. If two years was killing the Big Six, profit wise, they would shorten it. Either the loss is not that great or there is an actual gain to the delay. So in the end, whatever the reason is, two years works for them, that is why. If it didn't, they would change it. If there were some minor advantage to making the average book come out faster and little harm in leaving it as is, they probably wouldn't change it. Because many businesses have known inefficiencies, but it isn't worth their time or money to change it until it becomes a major inefficiency. Jodi

KalenO
10-16-2012, 07:21 AM
For what it's worth, I know a number of YA and adult sf/f debut authors that went from book deal to book on shelves in much less than two years, and many of them were with Big Six imprints. No two authors will have the same experience or timeline. If it takes two years for a book to come out, its usually because that's how long the book needs, or that's simply the timeline the publisher needs to fit it into their schedule. To my knowledge, most offers come with a projected timeline for when the publisher wishes to release the book - if the timeline doesn't work for you, just turn down the offer. Its that simple.

Off the top of my head, Anna Banks (OF POSEIDON) sold her YA in February 2011, it came out May 2012. Jessica Khoury sold ORIGIN (a YA with Razorbill) last October, it came out this September. Shannon Messenger sold her Middle Grade, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES to Simon and Schuster last fall and it came out two weeks ago, Genn Albin sold CREWEL to FSG a year and a half ago and it comes out tomorrow, Tahereh Mafi sold SHATTER ME to HarperTeen and it came out nine months later. Anita Howard sold SPLINTERED to Amulet in July of 2011, and it was supposed to debut in summer 2013, so a full two years.....but she met all her edit/revision deadlines and Amulet had an earlier spot open up in their catalog so they bumped SPLINTERED a whole six months and now its coming out in January. And so on and so on.

It all varies depending on what each book, author and publisher needs. But really, the 'lag time' only matters if you're a debut author. If you write fast enough that a two year turnaround feels slow to you, there's nothing stopping you from selling multiple books to multiple imprints, and eventually, it catches up. The book you sell tomorrow might not come out for another two years, but you can have a book you sold a year and a half ago coming out in three months, then another coming out from somewhere else six months later, etc.

Stacia Kane
10-16-2012, 02:17 PM
This is offtopic, but I always wondered about the chrono-math of it.
If there is this agent. Who has, say, 12 clients. He must devote time to them first, of course. And he is super busy. He doesn’t have much time to spend on other stuff like prospective clients. This is all perfectly logical.
But where will he find time to deal with me properly as his client if he signs me on? His day didn’t become longer since he signed me on. If he had very little time for anything but his 12 clients, how will he have time—the same amount of time as before—for each of his 13 clients now?




But keep in mind that each of those clients isn't taking up a portion of every day. I speak to my agent or otherwise communicate with him maybe a couple of times a month. It's only when there are deals in the works that I take up more of his time, or when I've finished something he needs to read, or he's getting ready to submit, or whatever. An agent may have clients with whom s/he's constantly dealing, and s/he may have clients s/he only talks to a couple of times a year because they write slowly or whatever.

If an agent is taking a new client, it's because s/he has time for it. His or her work is almost cyclical in nature, by which I mean as one client suddenly takes up more time another one might be working on something and thus require less time. Agents generally manage to schedule their time so everything gets done that needs to be done. That's how they have time to read queries and submissions etc.: they may not have time to read full mss the second they arrive in the inbox (and most do their reading after office hours), but if you're taken on as a client it's because they feel, based on their everyday schedule and workload, that they can make the time.

aruna
10-16-2012, 03:40 PM
For the record: the contract for the polish rights to Of Marriageable Age is dated 11 December 2011; the book went on sale in Poland on 25.09.2012. Just over nine months; and of course it had to be translated. No mean job, as the finished work is over 700 pages! Nobody was more surprised than me when I got me free copies about two weeks ago! I actually received the finished contract AFTER the. Book went on sale, and I only got the advance last month... Ok, that was because of the whole international tax thing, but still.
And yes, I am pleased. Very! It means that, assuming it outsells the advance between now and December 31st, I get some monies in February!

shaldna
10-16-2012, 04:29 PM
I've been thinking about this for a long time. I just can't imagine the actual working time spent on one book being long enough to justify it. I worked in marketing & promotion, after all.

Well, if you worked in marketing and promotion then you are more than well aware that is only one aspect of it, and that any product or service has been in the planning, production and manufacturing stages for a long time before it ever gets as far as the promotion folk.


I assume the book is written completely by the date the contract is signed. I know it's not always the case, but it's like this for many books, especially the debut ones.
Two years spent editing a single book? Nope, not buying it. And buzz starts much later anyway.

Actually, no. Buzz starts long before the book comes out - if you have a marketing and promotion background then you should know this - you make the people want it, and THEN you give it to them.

Also, no one is saying it takes two years for edits - not sure where you got that impression from. But here's my most recent experience:

Book delivered as per contract.
First edits sent three weeks later. I have two weeks to review and make changes.
I send them back.
four weeks later second edits reveal some plot holes that need fixing - discussions with editor lead to cutting a character. Major rewrite for which I get six weeks.
I send them back.
Two weeks later - Next round of edits - still some minor issues, nothing huge. I get two weeks to review.
I send them back.

That's 20 weeks - and that's before it even got to the galleys. So, basically the first six months after I turned in my 'completed' book, I have just finished edits. Now, sometimes it will take less, but honestly, there's a lot fo back and forward which takes time. Throw into that mix unforseen circumstances - be it with you, your editor, or even another author and it can all set things back further.



I'm getting an impression it's almost like with agents. We are told that agents are super-busy, they simply can't read a requested full within two months or reply to a query within two weeks, they need a lot of time, etc. Yet there are agents--good, respectable ones--who are perfectly able to do that. Who regularly do that. Which makes one think others simply choose not to--rather than can't.

Seriously?

Have you ever worked in a really busy office environment? I currently do, want to know how I answer my emails?

1. I scan through what's come in overnight and pick out the ones that I can tell are likely to be urgent - existing clients, existing contracts, projects or issues.

2. Once I deal with those I will do another scan for anything that is likely to require my attention pretty quickly - emails from my collegues, emails from home etc (I only get messages from home when something important has happened)

3. By this time it's maybe early afternoon and, in addition to catching up, I've also had MORE emails coming into my box - each one of them has to be considered on a scale of importance.

4. If I catch up with today's urgent emails then I will start on what I missed over the last couple of days - those I didn't consider to be important. These are often general queries that don't require an immediate response - these are like submission queries. You'll get to them eventually, but it might take some time when more important things come in.

What I'm trying to say is that you can't expect that as soon as your email reaches someone that it immediately becomes the most important thing they have to do that day, because the chances are that's it's not - they will have their priorities - existing clients, their collegues, editors etc will all come first.

Even IF your query reaches the top of the pile, unless that agent reads everything herself, it will be forwarded on to a reader, who will put it at the bottom of their pile and will get to it eventually. THEN if they think it's worth the agent reading, they will place it at the bottom of the agents to read pile.

And that's why it can take 8 weeks.




Not to mention the printers. They get booked up well in advance (that is they might well be booked up a year ahead). So you have to fit in with where/when they have a slot. It's not a small undertaking, and there are only so many printers that are capable of producing a large print run to an acceptable quality. Yes, sometimes there are cancellations, or things can be swapped about. But generally, where you can get your print run fitted in is at least part of the equation.

Often you'll be lucky and get a slot within six months, or a cancellation. But even if you get a clear run at it and are willing to pay more for a rush job, it still takes a while to set things up - formatting your files, sending them, the printer reviews them and if there are issues they send them back - recently, for example, my hubby had a problem with the cover that was for a book - there was something (don't ask me what) wrong with the coding, or the formating or something which would basically mean that too much black ink was printed and would cause bleeding. The printer picked up on it and it was recified - but that took another week off the print time.

Also, it should be noted that sometimes, no matter how well it's formatted, there only real way to see how a book looks is when it's printed - and covers that look perfect on the digital proofs can be slightly off on the physical copies, and that can mean another period of jiggling with it to get it right.


And buzz? Not as late as you might think. My book isn't out till February. ARCs are going out to reviewers now (because they can't read a book at a drop of hat you know - they've got a queue of things to read, but it's nice if the review comes out about the same time as the book) Promo stuff was in the goodie bag of a conference I went to last month. Getting the name/premise of the book out there.

This. Reviewers are inundated with books, and as you say, they can only read, and review, so many in any period of time.




I wonder if there is something in the typical major contract about limits set on dates. Like, what if I wake up one beautiful morning and the publisher informs me they decided to release my book in 2019. xD

Most contracts I have seen stipulate a date by which the book must be in print - although I've seen a couple of contracts that have also stated that in the case of unforeseen circumstances on either the part of the publisher or author, there is the option of extending the period further so long as both parties agree to it.



Do they need a finished package to start planning?

You need a book that's been written and signed and has started on the pre-publication side of things to really start planning. Final dates will be considered later, not at the start.



What I was talking about was an overall impression from debut deals in commercial fiction. The majority of those books had been finished before the contract was signed.

They might have been written, but they certainly weren't 'finished'.

Just getting the words on paper doesn't mean the book is done.


I dunno, I found typos and plot holes in hardcover bestsellers from major publishers just as well.

And think how many plot hold and typos there would have been if those books had never seen an editor - you think some books from big publishers are badly edited then you should check out some unedited self-published work - the difference an editor makes is unreal.



As for promotion, I think the biggest factor is the budget--and the business savvy of those who work on it.

Certainly part of it. But there's also timing to consider.


And why--because everything is e-done, online, digital, etc, now. Including design and sales managing.

So? That only means you are cutting out the postage time - which, if you send first class RM is 24 hours. And even then, if I send an email today, there's not even a guarentee that the person on teh other end will get it tomorrow - meetings, travel, other priorities etc.



Putting together, say, a packaged teaching course is done much faster and easier than before. I assumed it also became much easier to put together a book.

Apples and oranges.



This inventory thing is interesting.
Just how free are they to move stuff around? For example, if there is suddenly a hot new trend—spots need to be cleared up. But I don’t think a contracted book can be pushed back infinitely. So, mix and match?

Within reason as specified by your contract - and honestly, each situation and circumstance is taken into account before decisions are made, and when considering those, the vast majority of all concerned are happy enough.



Also, acquiring budget. If there is a hot new trend, I want to buy new manuscripts that fit it. But if already spent lots of money on other mss—and have not yet seen the profit because they aren’t even published yet… there must be some flexible assets.

Those hot new MS would have been bought last year and the hype built up around them months ago. Even if you buy one now, by the time you get it out the trend could be wanning. HOWEVER, if you have a Hot New Trend MS alreayd in the production pipeline, you might do well to bring it forward to take advantage.



Or the creative side of ad, well, in some cases. At one of my jobs it was like, whaaaat? three weeks is such a long time, gimme this evening! I think someone there would have a stroke if they were told a project would be ready to go in 18 months.

Yes, but consider what the ads were? I mean, you could probably design a one page magazine ad in and evening, but how long would it take you to plan and coordinate a multi-format international multi-language marketing plan for a product? Then get all those different ads and promotional materials created, distributed, acquire the ad space, get the reviews, get the endorsements and get the whole thing timed so it all comes to a head at the same time? More than an evening I would think.



Mostly debut deals, I cleared it up in an earlier comment. I don’t know many (actually, any, save maybe for some celebrities) debut authors in commercial fiction who didn’t have to finish their book first.

You keep saying 'finish'. I don't it means what you think it does.

A 'finished' book is a published book. The book that an author signs a contract on the basis of is a draft. It could be the first, it could be the 21st, but it's still a draft and will still be edited etc.


No, the answers are good. What I don't like is the idea that it's the way it should be.

I don't think anyone is saying that's the way it should be,but most of us are trying to explain WHY it is the way it is.


I don't know how to describe it without sounding pissy, so I'll just be honest. When people say "that's how it is because of this and that", I'm grateful for the information and the insights. It's stupid to argue against hard facts. I learned something new.

Except you have been given lots of detailed reasons as to why things operate the way they do.


But "that's fine, that's exactly the way it needs to happen" frustrates me, because, hello, 21st century here. Speed of light. E-banking, e-schooling, flying around the globe. How can two years or even 18 months be considered a normal time for the development of such a project? New i-models probably come out more often than that.

See pretty much everything that has been written by everyone else above.

E technology helps, but it's not the time saver you think it is - as was pointed out, no matter how you deliver a book to an agent or editor, it will still take them the same length of time to read it.



If there is this agent. Who has, say, 12 clients. He must devote time to them first, of course. And he is super busy. He doesn’t have much time to spend on other stuff like prospective clients. This is all perfectly logical.
But where will he find time to deal with me properly as his client if he signs me on? His day didn’t become longer since he signed me on. If he had very little time for anything but his 12 clients, how will he have time—the same amount of time as before—for each of his 13 clients now?

The amount of time spent with each client at any given point will be determined by what's happening with that clients book and career at the time.

For instance:

Client 1 has a new book that is about to go to auction. He get's a lot of time and contact right now.

Client 2 had a book out last year and a studio recently bought the rights. She gets a lot of time too, but since the deal has been done, less time that client 1.

Client 3 doesn't have a book out now but is working on their next novel, expected to be finished sometime next year. Client 3 doesn't really get any time because they don't need it.

Now, next year, when client 3 finishes her book, she'll become a priority again.



Was it Amanda Hocking who published like 10 books a year with Amazon? I forgot.

Yes. And the editing sucked balls - as Amanda herself has discussed many times.

RedWombat
10-16-2012, 10:23 PM
For what it's worth, I'm on a twelve-month turnaround on my current series (including a lot of illustrations!) but at this point, my editor, art director and I have the workflow pretty well down--and even so we still occasionally hit snags where "Oh crap, gotta get the cover done RIGHT NOW so that it can go in the catalog!"

But it took us years to get here. The first book took eighteen months and the whole format changed--and we're talking 15K word kid's books, which is a whole lot less editing than the standard novel.

Meanwhile, another book will have been in the pipeline for almost four years by the time it finally comes out, because the publisher wanted to wait until this series was nearly done before releasing a stand-alone, so that I didn't actually compete with myself. (And I am completely and totally fine with that. The book will already be laboring under the handicap of not being one of the established series--I want it to get the best possible chance in life!)

Takes as long as it takes, and speed of editing turnaround is only one of many, many factors.

Filigree
10-16-2012, 11:05 PM
This thread is just one of the reasons I love AW: candid, real-world, real-time discussions from all ranges of authors and publishing professionals.

Honestly, do some of you know how hard it was to get information like this in the late 1980s?

Al Stevens
10-16-2012, 11:33 PM
Honestly, do some of you know how hard it was to get information like this in the late 1980s?We asked our editors and hoped they knew the answers.

CrastersBabies
10-17-2012, 12:06 AM
I'd also want to look at the overall published quality of the books that come out so quickly. Obviously there are exceptions on both sides, but I'd be willing to bet those that take longer are generally put together better than those that get rushed out the door. Personally, if I've got a contract and an advance, I'd rather the book came out later and the editing, marketing, and promotion was well done than have it come out early with slap-dash results.

I think there's something to this. GRRM's Dance With Dragons was hot out of the gate as soon as humanly possible (after Martin finished the book and after his editor went on a no-sleep binge to edit the thing in as short amount of time as possible). But, I think the book suffered a bit for it. Some editing weirdness here and there that more careful consideration might have fixed.

Timmy V.
10-17-2012, 12:25 AM
So basically we are talking about demand dwindling so supply gets redistributed in effort not to flood the market?

I wonder if there is something in the typical major contract about limits set on dates. Like, what if I wake up one beautiful morning and the publisher informs me they decided to release my book in 2019. xD

I didn’t know that. Is it a general problem for the whole publishing industry?

Do they need a finished package to start planning?

I should have written a more detailed post.
What I was talking about was an overall impression from debut deals in commercial fiction. The majority of those books had been finished before the contract was signed.

I dunno, I found typos and plot holes in hardcover bestsellers from major publishers just as well. As for promotion, I think the biggest factor is the budget--and the business savvy of those who work on it.

Me, too. Mine is mostly a general impression. I used to see something like “sold in July 2007, will be released in June 2008”, but now even in our YA section there is an astounding amount of “sold my book this summer, it will come out late 2014”.

I didn't know about less staff.
And why--because everything is e-done, online, digital, etc, now. Including design and sales managing. Putting together, say, a packaged teaching course is done much faster and easier than before. I assumed it also became much easier to put together a book.

But according to stuff said by earlier commentators, a book can be released late because of time spent fitting it into different schedules and marketing concerns. It doesn’t mean more time and effort was spent on the book itself.

Which genre is it? I’m just curious.

I guess I never imagined just how much in advance everything was done. I mean I knew books weren’t just tossed out there, but still.

So some stuff gets done even before the actual signing? Assuming the book itself is written beforehand.

I care. In two years I might be dead. Or on my way to becoming a dentist. Or engrossed in a new family. Or getting ready to pack up and move to a galaxy far, far away. Obviously I will have to deal with it if/when I get published, but to me, 2015 and 2025 sound about the same = distant future.


You go Windcutter. I'm super impressed with all your responses to the posters. Your questions and concerns are very valid. For those who say "whats the difference how long it takes?" I think it makes a huge difference. I know it would be very important to me and if I was told I had to wait 3 years I'd be very discouraged.

Windcutter smartly brings out the contradictions in the process. And I agree. Technology does make things much faster. When the power is all on one side of the equation, I'm sure there are many times the process takes too long, way too long, because they can take too long and if you don't like it, we don't have to publish your book.

No large entity is a well oiled machine. I'm sure there are noble reasons for these unreasonable delays, I'm even more sure there are dubious reasons for the delays too. Like Senator so and so's niece's book moves to the front of the line because she's the niece of Senator so and so. Your agent drinks too much and doesn't get to it. Who knows. When humanity is involved in the context of a huge power imbalance - things are not going to go well.

I agree with Windcutter. Its getting worse. There taking too long. And it does matter that it takes too long.

I don't think its unreasonable to acknowledge Windcutter's frustration and empathize with it. Life is short. Time is shorter. We're not all 22 years old. 2 years does matter. 3 years matters even more. It has the power to disenchant the writer. Writers are not made of stone.

Mr Flibble
10-17-2012, 12:31 AM
Technology does make things much faster.

It doesn't make agents/editors read quicker

It doesn't make editing quicker for the editor - deciding what needs changing.

It doesn't make editing quicker for the writer - noodling over the editor's notes, deciding how to implement the changes required.

It doesn't make reviewers read or compose their review quicker.

It doesn't make the queue at the printers much less either I should think.

As Shaldna noted upthread, pretty much the only thing that technology has helped with in any real way timewise is cutting out postage (which is PDQ anyway - in the whole process it may account for a few days. Not the weeks that a single round of edits may take)

Technology is not god.

Torgo
10-17-2012, 12:33 AM
You go Windcutter. I'm super impressed with all your responses to the posters. Your questions and concerns are very valid. For those who say "whats the difference how long it takes?" I think it makes a huge difference. I know it would be very important to me and if I was told I had to wait 3 years I'd be very discouraged.

Windcutter smartly brings out the contradictions in the process. And I agree. Technology does make things much faster. When the power is all on one side of the equation, I'm sure there are many times the process takes too long, way too long, because they can take too long and if you don't like it, we don't have to publish your book.

No large entity is a well oiled machine. I'm sure there are noble reasons for these unreasonable delays, I'm even more sure there are dubious reasons for the delays too. Like Senator so and so's niece's book moves to the front of the line because she's the niece of Senator so and so. Your agent drinks too much and doesn't get to it. Who knows. When humanity is involved in the context of a huge power imbalance - things are not going to go well.

I agree with Windcutter. Its getting worse. There taking too long. And it does matter that it takes too long.

I don't think its unreasonable to acknowledge Windcutter's frustration and empathize with it. Life is short. Time is shorter. We're not all 22 years old. 2 years does matter. 3 years matters even more. It has the power to disenchant the writer. Writers are not made of stone.

Oh, goddam it.

Mr Flibble
10-17-2012, 12:34 AM
Oh, goddam it.

Technology could help you say that faster.

shadowwalker
10-17-2012, 12:37 AM
Methinks technology has only made authors more impatient...

Ken
10-17-2012, 12:40 AM
_ _ _ the wait time is long b/c they want to torture writers and make them suffer.

Sheryl Nantus
10-17-2012, 12:53 AM
You go Windcutter. I'm super impressed with all your responses to the posters. Your questions and concerns are very valid. For those who say "whats the difference how long it takes?" I think it makes a huge difference. I know it would be very important to me and if I was told I had to wait 3 years I'd be very discouraged.

Windcutter smartly brings out the contradictions in the process. And I agree. Technology does make things much faster. When the power is all on one side of the equation, I'm sure there are many times the process takes too long, way too long, because they can take too long and if you don't like it, we don't have to publish your book.

No large entity is a well oiled machine. I'm sure there are noble reasons for these unreasonable delays, I'm even more sure there are dubious reasons for the delays too. Like Senator so and so's niece's book moves to the front of the line because she's the niece of Senator so and so. Your agent drinks too much and doesn't get to it. Who knows. When humanity is involved in the context of a huge power imbalance - things are not going to go well.

I agree with Windcutter. Its getting worse. There taking too long. And it does matter that it takes too long.

I don't think its unreasonable to acknowledge Windcutter's frustration and empathize with it. Life is short. Time is shorter. We're not all 22 years old. 2 years does matter. 3 years matters even more. It has the power to disenchant the writer. Writers are not made of stone.


Okay, I'll be the biotch.

Suck it up, sunshine.

No one is owed YOUR book within a half hour of you finishing writing it.

There is a system and there are people involved and it will take time. We can shoot an email around the world in seconds but if the agent/editor/publisher/author is not right there and able to answer back within seconds, it's not going to happen.

Just because we have the ability to do things faster doesn't necessarily make it better - or possible. I don't WANT my book rushed out within three days with the editor going on a non-sleep binge with a caffeine drip.

It takes as long as it takes. Don't you think the publishers would want to make MORE money by pushing MORE books out the door?

There's a line between speed and quality. Break it at your peril.

Again - I'm the biotch.

Have a nice day.

:)

willietheshakes
10-17-2012, 12:58 AM
You go Windcutter. I'm super impressed with all your responses to the posters. Your questions and concerns are very valid. For those who say "whats the difference how long it takes?" I think it makes a huge difference. I know it would be very important to me and if I was told I had to wait 3 years I'd be very discouraged.

Windcutter smartly brings out the contradictions in the process. And I agree. Technology does make things much faster. When the power is all on one side of the equation, I'm sure there are many times the process takes too long, way too long, because they can take too long and if you don't like it, we don't have to publish your book.

No large entity is a well oiled machine. I'm sure there are noble reasons for these unreasonable delays, I'm even more sure there are dubious reasons for the delays too. Like Senator so and so's niece's book moves to the front of the line because she's the niece of Senator so and so. Your agent drinks too much and doesn't get to it. Who knows. When humanity is involved in the context of a huge power imbalance - things are not going to go well.

I agree with Windcutter. Its getting worse. There taking too long. And it does matter that it takes too long.

I don't think its unreasonable to acknowledge Windcutter's frustration and empathize with it. Life is short. Time is shorter. We're not all 22 years old. 2 years does matter. 3 years matters even more. It has the power to disenchant the writer. Writers are not made of stone.

Did you even read the thread?

I'm gonna see Torgo's "oh, goddam it" and raise it with "for fuck's sake".

thothguard51
10-17-2012, 01:00 AM
Windcutter, you're right. It takes much too long for what you expect. My suggestion, just skip everything, and go self publish your work...

That will leave more room on the book store shelves for my future work...

You say bookstores are a dying breed.

Well consider this. In 2011 E-books sales accounted for over 2 billion dollars in sales while Print sales accounted for over 10.5 billion in sales. That means print still outsells e-books 4 to 1. That means e-books sales account for less than 20% of book sales. Now, if you also add the fact that in e-books, the last figures I read shows that self published e-books accounts for 65% of titles but only 20% of the sales.

In my book, the commercial publishers still hold the lead, still have the connections, and still have the better product to offer readers and writers. So it really depends on what the writer wants as to what works for them. But that is only my opinion and you obviously are set on yours. Good luck...

Richard White
10-17-2012, 01:20 AM
Oh, goddam it.


Hands Torgo a single malt and reminds him to breathe deeply.

I've been a self-publisher. I've published with an e-publisher. I've published with a packager. I've published with one of the Big Six.

I've tried to talk to people about publishing and those who've drunk deep from the well of the "self-publishing is the way of the future" cannot be disuaded from their path. It's always "BIG PUBLISHING"'s fault that they're not being picked up or that they don't get books when they want them.

It's easier to blame a big amorphous entity than to consider perhaps some more time with the editor or getting proper ARCS out or letting the sales force build up momentum before the book comes out is more adviseable than just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Hell, in comics, you have to have your book done three months before it comes out because that's the ordering cycle. Diamond is now soliciting books that will come out in January. Why? Because retailers need to budget for what they're going to bring into their stores. They don't buy "on demand". The billing cycles and the delivery cycles don't work like that (plus, neither do authors and artists . . . gotta have it done well in advance if they're going to get paid on time too.)

Remember speed is more important than quality these days for some people. I mean, if Windows X.0 doesn't work, just ship X.1 next week. Who needs testing and documentation? It must work the same way for books, right? *grin*

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
10-17-2012, 01:37 AM
Technology does make things much faster.

Sometimes, only sometimes.

Pit the old cashiers against their current day versions, working with wonderful card-paying technology at a local shop during the Christmas period.

Have workers who trail through hundreds of emails every day compete against their old fashioned counter parts receiving snail mail.

Consider administration taking courses to get a handle on that wonderful custom made software supposed to make their every day jobs so much faster. Too bad it doesn't do what it needs to, is extremely costly to change and maintain, and runs into bugs that take countless hours of experience to fix + teach to newcomers.

Teachers training in new means of teaching. Students trying to find their way among courses/assignments in a maze of webpages. The list goes on and on.

Technology is wonderful, helpful, interesting. But much faster? Got to love it, but it eats time.

Unimportant
10-17-2012, 02:12 AM
No large entity is a well oiled machine. I'm sure there are noble reasons for these unreasonable delays, I'm even more sure there are dubious reasons for the delays too.
Publishers exist to make money. If their reason for changing a book's release date is because it will make us more money to do so, that's hardly a dubious reason. If they could make more money by ramming books through the publishing process more quickly, they would.

Some publishers, in fact, do just that. They whack out a bunch of unedited books with cheap cover art, and go from contract to print in just a few months. Then readers get pissed off that they've bought crappy books, and they stop buying the publisher's books, and the publisher goes out of business. There's a whole big bunch of them here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=792). Look for the grey text.


Technology does make things much faster.
Technology makes some things go faster. Things that depend on technology, yes. Things that depend on human thought or motion, no.

shadowwalker
10-17-2012, 02:18 AM
Pit the old cashiers against their current day versions, working with wonderful card-paying technology at a local shop during the Christmas period.

I used to cashier at a grocery store, back in the 70s. Today I use the self-check outs. I guarantee I could put at least twice as many customers through the line as the computerized systems.

Technology can do more things on the back end (such as inventory control) but on the front end it's more cumbersome and time-consuming. And frankly, to get to the outcome I don't think is any more accurate or takes less man hours. It's only shifted which group of people spend those hours.

Toothpaste
10-17-2012, 02:18 AM
Here's the thing Timmy. No one has said that the only reason it can take up to 2 years (and no one has said it ALWAYS takes 2 years, that was put forth by the OP not the responders) for a book to come out is technology. Almost every single person has explained it's ALSO about marketing. And you better believe the Senator's niece's book is coming out faster than mine, especially if the niece's book is a tell all all about the Senator's recent embezzling scheme or something. And you know what, that's life. Timely books, books that are a sure thing, books people have been waiting years for - those get priority. If that's a problem for you, then you probably don't want to be in business - where numbers count more than feelings. In this case, a need to push through a book quickly in order to capitilise on some current situation is far more important in order to make the most amount of money than pushing through a newbie work of fiction that can in theory come out any time.

And no one's saying the system is flawless. But seriously, it's not some big evil conspiracy to hold authors down. It really does come down to lists, and who's more popular, and what title won't conflict with another's. Who is a lead, who is not.

No one is saying it's just the time it takes to edit, but gosh that actually does matter. That actually does take time. And no technology is going to change that.

I think you should go back and actually read the thread, not just Windcutter's responses to it. As all of what I've just said, has been said already. Many many times before.

In the end, it's a business. And it ain't perfect, and things do need to change in some areas. But I'll tell you what, the timeline is actually one of the last things on the list in my opinion. What really needs fixing is marketing/publicity strategies and ebook pricing/royalty rates.

Lastly, anyone who thinks 2 years is a long time in the process, has never actually experienced it. Trust me, once you are right in the middle, it is a very rare feeling that you feel "OMG, I'm so bored, why doesn't my book come out already." Even once you are done your galley edits and there might be 6 months until the book is out, there are interviews being done, contests, ARC reviews. And also . . . writing the next book.

You can assume superiority to all of us sheep who clearly can't think for ourselves and have given in to the man. Or you can maybe consider that not you nor Windcutter have experienced the publishing process and that maybe there is something valid in what those of us who have have to say about it.

Jamesaritchie
10-17-2012, 02:18 AM
So
I care. In two years I might be dead. Or on my way to becoming a dentist. Or engrossed in a new family. Or getting ready to pack up and move to a galaxy far, far away. Obviously I will have to deal with it if/when I get published, but to me, 2015 and 2025 sound about the same = distant future.

You might be dead in two hours. Publishers want writers who are in it for the long haul, and it ain't about the date of release, it's about the writing. Two years or ten, you're writing, and that's what make sit all work.

Mr Flibble
10-17-2012, 02:27 AM
In the future, publishers have a plan to replace all writers and editors with T-1000s, thus reducing the time taken for novels from inception through to published to 3 hours and twenty minutes.

The added advantage is, of course, when a sad meat sack of a reviewer doesn't like the result, they get Terminated.

Stacia Kane
10-17-2012, 03:32 AM
I don't understand the idea that faster automatically equals better, or that all a writer wants is an immediate release. Personally I'd rather take the time to make sure my book is as good as it can possibly be, and with proper marketing and promotion in place, and with readers waiting for it because there's been plenty of time to build buzz and interest.

The time it takes to publish a book was not designed to punish authors. It's not a conspiracy.

It takes my pork roast seven or eight--or up to eighteen, depending--to cook properly, low and slow, with twenty-four hours of dry-brining before it even goes in the oven, so it's tender and juicy and delicious (seriously, DELICIOUS) and falls apart. Sure, I *could* cook that roast at a higher temperature for a shorter time--or I could say, "Hey, technology! I'll toss it in the microwave and have it done in forty minutes!"--but it would be tough and stringy and flavorless, a chore to eat rather than a pleasure.

I'd rather wait. Sometimes it's better to wait. Sometimes the wait is worth it.

Technology has nothing to do with it. It works the way it works. It works that way because people with a hell of a lot of knowledge and experience have learned the hard way that that's how it works best. If you think speed is all that matters, self-publish and be done with it.

Mr Flibble
10-17-2012, 03:40 AM
Godsdamit now I want pork roast!



I'd rather wait. Sometimes it's better to wait. Sometimes the wait is worth it.



I want it now, now! NOW! doesn't do anyone any favours, Publishing is not about you, personally. It' about you and your book, and other authors and their books too.

ME ME ME doesn't get you far in life. Or in business. ME ME ME is what you are at 12. No at 22, or whatever. It's not all about you, or your ego.

You have to see the whole picture, and realise you are not the centre of the universe. Really, you aren't and neither am I.

thothguard51
10-17-2012, 03:42 AM
What Windcutter and Timmy are ignoring, is that with the big commercial publishers, you are not sitting and waiting for the check to come in while all of this is going on. As soon as you sign, the first of your advance is sent. As soon as you finish the edits and the editor approves as is, the next payment is sent. In other words, you have been paid a professional fee. Who cares if it then takes the publisher another year to get the damn book onto the book store shelves, you should already be submitting the next book and working on the one after that while your waiting.

Stacia Kane
10-17-2012, 04:02 AM
Your questions and concerns are very valid.

No, actually, they're really not, and as Toothpaste said, many of us with actual experience at this have explained why they're not.



For those who say "whats the difference how long it takes?" I think it makes a huge difference. I know it would be very important to me and if I was told I had to wait 3 years I'd be very discouraged.

Then I'm afraid you're in the wrong business, or rather, commercial publishing with a major house is not for you. You may enjoy working with a smaller epublisher who does not do marketing, does not produce ARCs, does not produce original artwork for covers but instead uses stock images, does not do several editing rounds, and does not get books into stores.



Windcutter smartly brings out the contradictions in the process.

No. Windcutter operates on the assumption that all that matters is a quick release date, and ignores those of us explaining what else needs to happen during the publishing process and why technology doesn't affect most of that in any way.



And I agree. Technology does make things much faster.

Some things. Most of which are not editing or marketing or getting reviews or designing cover art or copyediting or proofreading.




When the power is all on one side of the equation, I'm sure there are many times the process takes too long, way too long, because they can take too long and if you don't like it, we don't have to publish your book.


What "power?" Since when is it Us vs. Them? Publishers work WITH authors. We work TOGETHER. Publishers are not sitting in their offices, gleefully pressing their fingertips together Mr. Burns-like and congratulating themselves on how they're screwing authors by delaying their books.

Publishers buy books because they think those books will sell. Do you honestly think they don't want the money they think they'll get from those sales? Do you honestly think they sit around saying, "Oh, well, we think that book's going to earn us twenty grand, and we paid the author an advance, so let's wait and wait and wait on it so we don't have to bother actually receiving that money and we certainly don't want to recoup that advance?"




No large entity is a well oiled machine. I'm sure there are noble reasons for these unreasonable delays, I'm even more sure there are dubious reasons for the delays too. Like Senator so and so's niece's book moves to the front of the line because she's the niece of Senator so and so.

1. They are not unreasonable delays, and about a dozen people have explained why.

2. It is not "dubious" for a publisher--who is in the business of making money--to speed up the release of a topical book. If Senator A has suddenly been caught in a scandal, and a publisher has Senator A's daughter in the pipeline, you bet they'll move it up. Because that's free publicity for that book, which means the book can and likely will sell a lot more copies, which means more money for everyone. (It also means the publisher will have more money to take chances on new authors, but of course, that's just crazy talk.) That isn't "dubious"--it's the reason the publisher is in business. If YOU ran a business, and you had a product scheduled for release in six months but suddenly it was a hot topic, wouldn't you try to move up the release to take advantage of the sudden enthusiasm of the market?

Again: release dates are not scheduled to punish authors. The publishing process is not designed to punish authors. It is designed for everyone's benefit. Some things matter more than a quick release date.



Your agent drinks too much and doesn't get to it.

First...uh, wow. Second, your agent isn't involved much in the actual publishing process, beyond stepping in if there's a problem with edits or cover design or something. Your agent sells the book and deals with the contracts and acts as your advocate.




Who knows. When humanity is involved in the context of a huge power imbalance - things are not going to go well.

Again, what power imbalance? Publishers do not exist to abuse authors. They want those books to be successful just as much as their authors do.

Release dates are not scheduled as punishment.



I agree with Windcutter. Its getting worse. There taking too long. And it does matter that it takes too long.

If it's getting worse it's because the population has increased, there are more sales outlets, and more writers.

They are not taking "too long," and what matters is publishing the best book possible and getting it as much attention and as many sales as possible. That takes time. It takes time to do something right. Technology doesn't change that. This is a human business. Books cannot be produced on an assembly line like cars, all exactly the same and requiring no more than twenty-three seconds to slap on a bolt and send it to the next guy.




I don't think its unreasonable to acknowledge Windcutter's frustration and empathize with it. Life is short. Time is shorter. We're not all 22 years old. 2 years does matter. 3 years matters even more. It has the power to disenchant the writer. Writers are not made of stone.

It's not unreasonable to acknowledge his frustration, no. What's unreasonable is the refusal to listen to the explanations of why the process takes the amount of time it does, and why that's necessary. Yes, life is short, but as James pointed out, you could be dead in two hours. Who knows? I'm not twenty-two either, but the process takes as long as it takes, and as is often said, if you're looking to Get Rich Quick then publishing is not the business for you. If you're going to become disenchanted and quit because you've been paid an advance for a book but the book will take some time to release--and frankly, if you care so little about your book that you don't want to take the time to edit it, and you don't want it to have the best launch possible--then maybe publishing is not the business for you. Period.

If you need everything to happen immediately, there are other industries--oh, wait. No, there aren't. Everything takes time, because that's how life works. What businesses, exactly, offer instant gratification? I'd love to know.


I'm sorry to be harsh, I truly am, but really, this has been explained and explained and the response seems to be covering-the-ears-and-chanting-"But TECHNOLOGY! TECHNOLOGY!" over and over again as if that actually changes things.

bearilou
10-17-2012, 04:22 AM
What businesses, exactly, offer instant gratification? I'd love to know.

Self-publishing!

ohwait...there's doing the edits, getting comments from betas, more edits, formatting, cover design, marketing and getting the word out, trying to get reviews lined up...and that's all assuming you already have your platform in place.

So, maybe not self-publishing.

...gimme a minute...I'm still thinking...

:/

Unimportant
10-17-2012, 04:26 AM
What businesses, exactly, offer instant gratification? I'd love to know.
Brothels?

victoriastrauss
10-17-2012, 04:53 AM
Honestly, do some of you know how hard it was to get information like this in the late 1980s?
Yup. I got my start in the 1980's, and unless you personally knew a professional writer, this kind of info was just not out there. About all you had to go on was the (vastly fewer than now) books on writing and publishing.

On the other hand, publishing itself was vastly different then--not nearly so complicated and fraught with peril and confusion as it is today. Plus, there was publishing and there was everything else--basically, a binary choice. There wasn't the range of options you have now, with publishing, self-publishing, small press, etc. And while info on scams was scarce, there were far fewer scams than there are today.

So you didn't have access to the inside info--but you also really didn't need it as much.

- Victoria

shaldna
10-17-2012, 01:47 PM
Oh, goddam it.

I'll second this.

I'm also giving up on this thread - seems you can't teach people who don't want to learn. And on this thread there are a few folks who clearly only want to hear certain things and either can't understand or can't accept that there are reasons for the timescales which have nothing to do with technology (or how drunk you agent is).

It's been explained here, several times and at great length, what exactly is involved in the publishing process, how long it takes and what is happening during those time frames.

I agree that it can be frustrating for authors, but authors are only aware of a tiny part of what is going on in the background. So, if you don't know the industry then you're going to have to listen to folks who do. If you don't want to listen to explanations and would rather believe that your book takes that long because everyone in the publishing industry is the evils and is stiffling your genius and keeping your opus from the world, then that's up to you.

Psychomacologist
10-17-2012, 02:23 PM
This has been a very interesting thread, and I've learned a lot here thanks to the contributions of people in the business.

I should add that it's not just books that take a while to get out onto shelves. When I worked in clothes retail it was exactly the same. The next season's new lines would be in head office well in advance, so they had time to hire the models and shoot the catalog shots and promo material; and time for the merchandising team to plan how the window manikins would be dressed and how the interior of the store would be merchandised (because all that got planned, we didn't just throw some shirts on the shelves and hope for the best). And time for the design teams to design the new posters and window stickers that went with the new season's styles and and and...

This kind of delay seems to be pretty much standard. Those clothes were probably designed a year before we sold them in the store. It is the way it is because the marketplace is extremely crowded and consumers have so many choices. Anyone selling a product - a book or anything else - has to work hard to get the product noticed in a crowded market, and to make the product stand out so that customers will pick it. It's not just about having a product ready for market; it's about building the market for the product.

I mean it's not like Apple started designing the iPhone 5 six months ago.

Old Hack
10-17-2012, 05:22 PM
Timmy and Windcutter, neither of you seem terribly satisfied with the answers you've been given, so perhaps you could suggest the sort of schedule you'd find more appropriate. And I don't want a response from you along the lines of, "six months would be fine," I'd like you both to suggest how all the various tasks required to bring a book to market could better be scheduled. You could also explain how improved technology could speed up each stage, where appropriate.

I'll help you out a bit here by listing a few of those production tasks you'll need to slot into your schedules. It's not an exhaustive list, so do add things I've forgotten. And remember that some of these tasks will overlap, but others will depend on earlier tasks being completed.

Editing (perhaps a couple of passes by the editor and the author each), copy editing, proof reading.

Typesetting, layout, internal design.

Cover image. Jacket design. Blurb-writing. Collecting endorsements.

Getting bookstore / distributor approval of cover design.

Printing. Delivery and approval of printed copies. Delivery of print run.

Sending out review copies.

Designing ads. Writing ad copy. Scheduling advertising and booking trade ads. Writing, designing, proofing and printing sales catalogue for sales reps and distributors. Selling the book to distributors. Selling the book to bookshops.

Creating point-of-sale items for retaillers.

Arranging special in-store promotions, booking signings, launch events, press ads, radio interviews, and so on.

Adjusting publication schedule to ensure that your book's publication doesn't clash with anything similar, etc.

There. That should get you started. How long do you think each item on that list should take, and how many can run concurrently with each other? What have I forgotten? What, if anything, could be dropped from this list? And how should improving technology have had a significant impact on which aspects of book production over the last few years?

Medievalist
10-17-2012, 06:38 PM
OFFS

You can have it fast, you can have it good, or you can have it cheap.

Pick two. Your choice.

Windcutter
10-17-2012, 07:43 PM
I'm away from the thread for a day and it explodes. xd I'll respond in more detail a bit later, but now I have a sort of an overall question.

How did it shift from schedules and marketing to "people can't read/write that fast"? Basically, the first replies explained to me how scheduling is done in advance, how retailers plan in advance, how release date is sometimes postponed on purpose, etc. But then we suddenly arrived at the concern of "human speed", editors not being able to edit that fast, writers not being able to revise fast enough and so on. Weren't the early responders telling me exactly the opposite--yes, you can write, edit and revise a book fast enough, but no, you can't push the packaging/promo/sales machine to roll faster?

eqb
10-17-2012, 07:47 PM
How did it shift from schedules and marketing to "people can't read/write that fast"?

It didn't shift. The very first reply to your post mentions reading, editing, and revising. So did many others.

I'd love to hear your answers to OldHack's questions, though.

Mr Flibble
10-17-2012, 07:52 PM
Plus the assertion that tech can speed up this schedule - it can, for the tech bits. But not the not tech bits, which is quite a lot of it. Tech won't make the bookshops stop planning their buying however many months in advance frex. So trying to say that tech will/should make this all quicker - well, it was an explanation of why that ain't nesc so

Terie
10-17-2012, 07:58 PM
How did it shift from schedules and marketing to "people can't read/write that fast"?

Because you and another poster posited that 'it should be faster because TECHNOLOGY!!'.

I, too, am looking forward to your reply to Old Hack's post. So, I imagine, would the execs at the big publishers, because I'm quite sure that if someone who obviously has no clue about how their business works can actually point out a way for them to bring books to market faster, they'd love to know how to do it.

Old Hack
10-17-2012, 08:00 PM
I'm away from the thread for a day and it explodes. xd I'll respond in more detail a bit later, but now I have a sort of an overall question.

How did it shift from schedules and marketing to "people can't read/write that fast"? Basically, the first replies explained to me how scheduling is done in advance, how retailers plan in advance, how release date is sometimes postponed on purpose, etc. But then we suddenly arrived at the concern of "human speed", editors not being able to edit that fast, writers not being able to revise fast enough and so on. Weren't the early responders telling me exactly the opposite--yes, you can write, edit and revise a book fast enough, but no, you can't push the packaging/promo/sales machine to roll faster?

If you read everyone's comments in this thread this question will be answered.

That you've had to ask it makes me wonder if you are reading people's responses properly, or not understanding them. Or something.

Old Hack
10-17-2012, 08:06 PM
Because you and another poster posited that 'it should be faster because TECHNOLOGY!!'.

I, too, am looking forward to your reply to Old Hack's post. So, I imagine, would the execs at the big publishers, because I'm quite sure that if someone who obviously has no clue about how their business works can actually point out a way for them to bring books to market faster, they'd love to know how to do it.

I posted my question in hope that their answers would throw some light on why neither Timmy V nor Windcutter seemed able to understand the issues from a publisher's point of view; I wondered if they were unaware of a specific sector of production and publication processes, or if they didn't realise how long some of the processes take, for example. I do hope they respond because while it would probably be a dull exercise for them it would certainly help clarify in my mind how people outside publishing perceive it.

RedWombat
10-17-2012, 08:16 PM
Cover image. Jacket design.

If I may put on my former cover artist hat for a minute, it was rare that we got a cover painting turned around in under six weeks--and I was working exclusively for small presses that should theoretically be more agile.

Two months or more was much more normal, and I was, in absolute honesty, a bargain basement artist. Nobody was beating down my door on the quality front. Art directors used me because I was fast, cheap, and reliable, not because I was the next Michael Whelan. You want a GOOD artist, they will be booked and not ready to drop everything and work on your project just because you're impatient.

(I did, on one single occasion, turn out a cover in 24 hours when another artist flaked out and didn't tell anybody until the deadline was terrifyingly close. It cost the press double my usual fee, for one of the worst paintings I have ever done. I do not advise cutting corners on this stage.)

If the author is involved in any way, just double the time flat out. An art director and an artist can slam things out between them, but authors get very...fiddly. ("Make her look more wistful! WISTFUL, DAMNIT! And ineffably sad! And put in a monkey.*")

Now, this may have changed--I got out of that line of work years ago, because it didn't pay nearly enough for the grief! But I doubt it changed by that much. Technology improved cover art delivery by making scanners freely available and making edits easier to redline digitally, but paint dries at the same speed for the just and unjust alike.


*oh god, I wish I was joking about the monkey.

Mr Flibble
10-17-2012, 08:21 PM
*is disappointed she doesn't have a monkey on her cover*

*composes email to editor to demand one*

Rachel77
10-17-2012, 08:47 PM
Mental note: When querying, mention in the query letter that the eventual cover art must feature a monkey. A wistful monkey.

Al Stevens
10-17-2012, 08:53 PM
A toothless monkey, some celophane, and a can of Redi-Whip.

Windcutter
10-17-2012, 09:32 PM
I started to write lots of small comments but then realized the response was drowning in details and things got repeated several times.
So I’ll just say thank you to everyone who provided some information.
Also, suki, bethany, victoriastrauss, and Toothpaste, thank you for the personal book details.

I also want to clear up some stuff. Probably needed to do that earlier. I wasn’t asking “why doesn’t it take three weeks”? But it seemed to me like the waiting period was increasing over the last few years. That’s what I was most curious about. I used to think that for commercial fiction from the major publishers 9-12 months was a pretty standard time (some series even seem to have 2 releases per year, though I realize it's different with series), so the sheer amount of two year cases became a very unpleasant and surprising trend. I was pleased to learn it’s not as widespread as it seemed.

So if I were to type out the exact (not very polite) thought that was in my head at the moment of creating the thread, it would be something like, “but it used to take about a year, now X has a release date set in 2014 and Y’s is pushed back to 2013 even though the book sold like ages ago, are you kidding me, why does it suddenly take even longer than before?”
I got some answers from the thread. Which is cool.

I, too, am looking forward to your reply to Old Hack's post. So, I imagine, would the execs at the big publishers, because I'm quite sure that if someone who obviously has no clue about how their business works can actually point out a way for them to bring books to market faster, they'd love to know how to do it.
Yes, such questions is an old trick to catch your opponent and make them look foolish. You don't like my book? Well, tell me how to write it, because obviously you are the pro here. Like that. Real classy.

However, I don't believe Old Hack would stoop to it, as he said he wanted to see an outsider's impression, so I'll reply anyway.

And I don't want a response from you along the lines of, "six months would be fine," I'd like you both to suggest how all the various tasks required to bring a book to market could better be scheduled.
But why would I need to do that when it’s been done by people who know what they are doing? Not even talking obscure publishers, people in this very thread said it was done with some hot bestsellers, or that for some books it was only nine months. It does take only a year for many books—again, not my words.

In short, it makes no sense for me to try to streamline/organize a process that has already been organized by pros.
My point is—they can. They did. They simply choose not to, sometimes. I’m sure there are business reasons for it, because at the end, it’s a business. I was explained some of these reasons.

However, if you want to see how people outside publishing perceive it, I’ll reply. I imagine that the following parts of the process develop concurrently:
- revisions/editing/copy edits, everything related to text itself
- publication schedule
- getting ready for promotion – because once you bought a book (talking about when the full manuscript is here already), you know enough to start creating blurbs and teasers and plan media coverage (with the exception of visual ads because that requires a cover)
- working on cover – because writers don’t seem to have much say in it anyway, so it makes sense to have it done early, right after marketing/promo determines the selling points which affect the package
- retail/sales planning



And how should improving technology have had a significant impact on which aspects of book production over the last few years?
Retailers and sales reps coordinating catalogues and fill-ups within a global network, like it’s done with airplane tickets.
Typesetting, layout, etc created by using special software (okay, this isn’t exactly new, but I imagine software keeps improving).
Jacket design, ads and other kinds of design—same.
Electronic review networks, such as Edelweiss and NetGalley.
Print technology improving in order to print books more efficiently.

You say bookstores are a dying breed.

Well consider this. In 2011 E-books sales accounted for over 2 billion dollars in sales while Print sales accounted for over 10.5 billion in sales. That means print still outsells e-books 4 to 1.
You must have mixed me up with someone else from this thread, because I didn't even mention bookstores vs e-sales.

You have to see the whole picture, and realise you are not the centre of the universe. Really, you aren't and neither am I.
I bet James Patterson is. :) Dunno what his release schedule is like, though.

willietheshakes
10-17-2012, 09:41 PM
I'm away from the thread for a day and it explodes. xd I'll respond in more detail a bit later, but now I have a sort of an overall question.

How did it shift from schedules and marketing to "people can't read/write that fast"? Basically, the first replies explained to me how scheduling is done in advance, how retailers plan in advance, how release date is sometimes postponed on purpose, etc. But then we suddenly arrived at the concern of "human speed", editors not being able to edit that fast, writers not being able to revise fast enough and so on. Weren't the early responders telling me exactly the opposite--yes, you can write, edit and revise a book fast enough, but no, you can't push the packaging/promo/sales machine to roll faster?

I believe you may have misread my first response to your query, THE first response to your query.

How you could misread it is another matter, but I think you may have.

Timmy V.
10-17-2012, 09:56 PM
0

Sheryl Nantus
10-17-2012, 09:58 PM
Well, there's time spent totally wasted that I'll never get back.

A writer needs to know how the publishing world works. Whether you self-publish or not you need to learn how it works.

What a waste of thread space.

:(

willietheshakes
10-17-2012, 10:06 PM
Windcutter is awesome though. Its Windcutter against 100 of everybody else and wow Windcutter stays calm and holds Windcutter's own.

Have a great day.

Sweet holy fuck. Are you kidding, or trolling?

This isn't an us against them thing, a Windcutter versus the world thing, and if you're framing it that way, you're deluded as to how this board, and this thread, actually works.

Windcutter
10-17-2012, 10:23 PM
I believe you may have misread my first response to your query, THE first response to your query.

How you could misread it is another matter, but I think you may have.
I thought you were being sarcastic at first.

It went kind of like this in the thread:
- it doesn't take two years to edit a book
- but it takes lots of time to sell, plan and promote, and there's fewer staff now
- well... okay
- also, it takes a long time to edit a book, and you know, having Word 2012 doesn't help you write faster
- but didn't we just say that time was mostly spent on other things?

Hi Old Hack this thread is fascinating.
Not "against". I was asking for information, not a fight.

Publishers exist to make money. If their reason for changing a book's release date is because it will make us more money to do so, that's hardly a dubious reason. If they could make more money by ramming books through the publishing process more quickly, they would.
Or simply because it happens to be more convenient for them for some reason.
As for ramming books through, the market can't consume more than it consumes. In many cases, you can stimulate it, but you can't really force it to open its mouth, eat up and clean its plate. However, withholding goods to up the perceived value is also an old tactic.

However... the money question is really interesting.
Imagine author X has a series,
Book one is released in 2012, book two in 2013, book three in 2014. A later release might have brought more money, though. But the author would also have received that money later. The cost of life is rising, currency is becoming devaluated, investment of capital is also something to consider. It might be more profitable for a writer to receive profit earlier.
Or it might not. It's impossible to say without having the numbers. But later and bigger isn't always 100% better when it comes to live money flow.

Old Hack
10-17-2012, 10:25 PM
Thanks for your response, Windcutter. I'm beginning to see where some of your confusion is coming from.


I also want to clear up some stuff. Probably needed to do that earlier. I wasn’t asking “why doesn’t it take three weeks”? But it seemed to me like the waiting period was increasing over the last few years. That’s what I was most curious about. I used to think that for commercial fiction from the major publishers 9-12 months was a pretty standard time (some series even seem to have 2 releases per year, though I realize it's different with series), so the sheer amount of two year cases became a very unpleasant and surprising trend. I was pleased to learn it’s not as widespread as it seemed.

I don't think it now takes longer to publish a book than it used to. If anything, I think the average time it takes for a book to move from signing to publication is contracting.

Note that series which might have two releases per year often come from packagers and have multiple writers working on them. And having multiple publications each year doesn't necessarily change how long it takes each book to come to market: I don't see your logic there.


So if I were to type out the exact (not very polite) thought that was in my head at the moment of creating the thread, it would be something like, “but it used to take about a year, now X has a release date set in 2014 and Y’s is pushed back to 2013 even though the book sold like ages ago, are you kidding me, why does it suddenly take even longer than before?”

Except that it didn't used to take a year to bring a book to market. Why do you think that it did?


I got some answers from the thread. Which is cool.

I'm not sure that you've internalised many of the good answers you've been given in this thread, I'm afraid.


Yes, such questions is an old trick to catch your opponent and make them look foolish. You don't like my book? Well, tell me how to write it, because obviously you are the pro here. Like that. Real classy.

For the record, Terie is a very classy writer and a valued member of AW. Please don't get snarky with her. If you have a problem with anything anyone says here, you'd be better off reporting that post than snarking about it in-thread.


However, I don't believe Old Hack would stoop to it, as he said he wanted to see an outsider's impression, so I'll reply anyway.

I try not to stoop too much as it hurts my back. And you might want to adjust your understanding of my gender before we go much further.


But why would I need to do that when it’s been done by people who know what they are doing? Not even talking obscure publishers, people in this very thread said it was done with some hot bestsellers, or that for some books it was only nine months. It does take only a year for many books—again, not my words.

Because, as I think I said before, it would help me understand better why you seem convinced that publishers waste time and could get books out much more quickly than they do.

You've given me some clues in this answer, but if you'd responded more fully to my questions instead of trying to wriggle out of them I think we'd all have gained from the exercise.


In short, it makes no sense for me to try to streamline/organize a process that has already been organized by pros.
My point is—they can. They did. They simply choose not to, sometimes. I’m sure there are business reasons for it, because at the end, it’s a business. I was explained some of these reasons.

Publishers can always hurry a book through production if they want to. But it costs a lot of money to do so, it means that errors are far more likely to sneak in, and it means that a lot of marketing and sales work won't get done. So it can work for a book which is huge, or very topical; but it's not advisable.

And again: you're wriggling. I wasn't asking you to streamline the existing process, I was asking you to tell us how you understand the publication process works so that we could spot where you were going wrong in your thinking.


However, if you want to see how people outside publishing perceive it, I’ll reply. I imagine that the following parts of the process develop concurrently:
- revisions/editing/copy edits, everything related to text itself
- publication schedule
- getting ready for promotion – because once you bought a book (talking about when the full manuscript is here already), you know enough to start creating blurbs and teasers and plan media coverage (with the exception of visual ads because that requires a cover)
- working on cover – because writers don’t seem to have much say in it anyway, so it makes sense to have it done early, right after marketing/promo determines the selling points which affect the package
- retail/sales planning

One can't copy edit a book until the final edits have been done; one can't proof read a book until it's been copy edited. These things have to be done in order.

Publishers start working on a book with a publishing schedule reasonably complete, so your second point is superfluous.

Few books have the sort of media coverage you're imagining: and you've missed out marketing from this schedule, which mostly comes before promotion.

One can't finalise back cover copy or ad copy before a book is edited (not copy edited) because characters might be dropped, plots might be diverted, and endings can be changed during the editing process.

One can't always finalise a jacket design prior to editing for the same reason.

One can't start promoting a book until one has a reasonable idea of what the book will be once it's finished being edited.

One can't get quotes for the jacket or for catalogues and so on until one has a reasonably final edit.

One can't work on "retail/sales planning" (whatever that is) until one has stuff to sell the book with: which means that one needs jacket designs, blurbs, ad copy, and quotes. So that can't usually be run concurrently with editing (although of course, some of this work can be and is done alongside editing).

I could go on.


Retailers and sales reps coordinating catalogues and fill-ups within a global network, like it’s done with airplane tickets.

Retailers don't work on catalogues with sales reps. Sales reps use catalogues to sell books to retailers.

I don't understand "fill-ups" or your reference to airplane tickets. Please explain.


Typesetting, layout, etc created by using special software (okay, this isn’t exactly new, but I imagine software keeps improving).
Jacket design, ads and other kinds of design—same.

Absolutely not.

You can't let a computer typeset or lay your books out for you: both tasks are far too complex for a computer to manage. Yes, there is software available which typesetters and designers use but such programs are already in use and have been for two decades or so.

And suggesting that computers and technology could take over jacket and ad design is like suggesting that they could take over writing the book too. These things need people.


Electronic review networks, such as Edelweiss and NetGalley.
Print technology improving in order to print books more efficiently.

If your potential readers don't read online review publications--and many-to-most don't--you've just missed out on a huge sector of your potential readership.

And print technology is improving all the time, but it doesn't speed things up that much. Better printers can't overcome the issues involved in buying print and booking slots at the printers, nor can they overcome the issue of shipping books home. I can remember buying print in the far East, and it taking three months for the books to reach me in the UK. The only way to speed that up is to fly the books in, which costs a huge amount and would soak up all the profit from the book--and so make publishing it a pointless exercise.

Windcutter, if you want to write then I strongly advise you to stop assuming things about publishing and to start learning things instead. Read real books about publishing: Carole Blake's From Pitch To Publication is excellent, and there are plenty more. Be careful about relying on blogs and message boards, as you risk learning from people who don't know what they're talking about. You seem to have learned a whole lot of stuff that isn't true so far, which is why you're so confused here.

Good luck.

shadowwalker
10-17-2012, 10:26 PM
Well, obviously these guys have it all figured out and we need to get with the program - er, technology. No wonder publishers are going the way of the dinosaur....

:e2hammer:

Old Hack
10-17-2012, 10:30 PM
Hi Old Hack this thread is fascinating. I'm going to reply again. but not this second. We had a little earthquake here last night that freaked me out and I'm really cranky and I don't want to say something stupid now that will get my ass kicked because I only said it because I'm cranky and then that dilutes things.

But I am a person who is an outsider, and does not have an insider view of the publishing industry so I would love to respond as a person in that role, but when I'm not a drama queen cranky human being.

Windcutter is awesome though. Its Windcutter against 100 of everybody else and wow Windcutter stays calm and holds Windcutter's own.

Have a great day.

I don't expect you to have a thorough knowledge of publishing, Timmy. You could learn to understand it a bit here, if you stick around. But Windcutter is making a lot of erroneous assumptions and getting a lot--a lot--of stuff wrong in this thread, and if you think that this thread is an all-of-us-against-Windcutter thing, or that Windcutter's comments are in any way awesome simply because he's remaining mostly respectful, then you need to do some serious work on your reading comprehension, I'm afraid.

James D. Macdonald
10-17-2012, 10:40 PM
The longest gap I've personally experienced between turn-in and publication was in 1990 (published in 1995, by Philomel).

Nine to twelve months? In what universe? Two to three years has been common for as long as I can remember. Yes, hot books can come out a bit quicker -- at the expense of taking resources away from other books. No, this isn't an unmitigated good.

Yes, publishers have known about cell phones and computers for ... decades. Inefficiency is expensive. Publishers try to avoid it. Yes, some very smart people have cut away as many expenses as possible. Some might say they've cut too much.

Yes, some outsiders have come up with New! Exciting! Efficient! plans. Nevertheless, YADS (the most common of those schemes) hasn't worked yet, despite two, coming up on three, decades of outsiders announcing that Publishing is Inefficient and they will Fix Everything! with Computers! and E-mail!

Let me try to explain this once more: Handcrafted artwork takes time.
And ... this is not a bad thing.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
10-17-2012, 10:51 PM
Handcrafted artwork takes time.

No kidding. I measure mine in terms of decades (not writing fortunately).

From my pov, publishing is speedy enough :)

RedWombat
10-17-2012, 10:52 PM
Others can jump in if I'm wrong, since I am definitely not an editor, but editing and determining publication schedule are not something I'd count on occurring concurrently, for the simple reason that authors don't always hit their deadlines.

Now, if I'm working with Noted Pro X, on a series where they ALWAYS turn the edits around in Y number of weeks, come hell or high water, and we rarely have to do more than two or three passes, then sure, I'll go ahead and say "Book Z is coming out Spring 2014," give 'em a catalog spread and call it good, while the book is still just a twinkle in the author's hard-drive.

On a debut author, I think I'd be pretty leery of assuming that they will get their edits in on the same schedule. Working with an editor is a thing you have to learn, nobody knows it right out of the gate. It seems to me that you're looking at a lot less potential grief if you wait until you have at least a close-to-final edited (if not copy-edited) manuscript before you finalize the schedule.

Medievalist
10-17-2012, 11:02 PM
I'm in one of the few niches of trade publishing where books are created exceedingly rapidly; I write consumer technical /computer books.

My very favorite publisher can and does publish books very very quickly. It's not unusual for me to get a contract in Month 1, turn in my final ms. in Month 2, get edits turned around in late month 2/early month three, and have the book in stores by late month 3, or early month 4.

But the books are printed in small runs--typically 5 to 10 thousand, using multiple printing companies, they're "short" in terms of word length (say 30K to 50k typically) and they have lots of photos.

But it's very much a niche—and the writers who work in my particular niche have non-standard skills. We do most if not all the image manipulation. We work closely with our publishers' editorial and production departments, to the point of importing and using custom style sheets for formatting, we use FTP to transfer files, and in some cases, we do the the first pass layout and typesetting ourselves.

For a couple of recent ebooks for consumer technology use, I've used custom CSS from my publisher and html'd the book as I wrote, creating a flat ebook file for the publisher's production team to do the final production, a step which saved them, they said, a day or more of work.

But these are books that are out of date in about a year, and sometimes, in six months. The print runs are small, and they typically will use a couple of different printers in the U.S./Canada for North American English sales, and then a couple more in the UK for EU English sales.

Publishing really and truly isn't broken. It works pretty well.

And I confess I'm very tired of writers pressing their noses against the glass and saying yer doin' it rong, when they're not even sure what it is publishers do.

Torgo
10-17-2012, 11:19 PM
Others can jump in if I'm wrong, since I am definitely not an editor, but editing and determining publication schedule are not something I'd count on occurring concurrently, for the simple reason that authors don't always hit their deadlines.

This is one of the reasons we keep a bit of extra time in the schedules: things can miss their deadlines. If a book is a month late arriving, the editor can juggle it a bit so that it can keep the same pub date.

I'd say most things we publish, we could have published sooner, but then I allow 70 minutes to get to work even though it sometimes takes me only 50, in case I have to wait 15 minutes for a bus, you know? Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

Apropos of that: in the USA about 350,000 books were published into the trade last year. That's about 30,000 new books a month. Managing that in such a way that it maximises profits for all concerned is the sort of thing you have to consider well in advance. It's possible to crash the schedule with a big and important book you've suddenly acquired - people will clear the decks if they think it's worthwhile - but you can't do it for everything at once. The publishing world doesn't revolve around your book, it revolves around all of them.

We sold in Christmas in March, I think.

If it's indeed true that lead times are getting longer - and I don't see much evidence of that, I have to say - here's a possible explanation for Windcutter. The number of books being published continues to increase, and the traditional channels are narrowing. There is only so much space on shelves, and fewer slots to go around. Online, the number of self-published titles is exploding, and the increase in readership associated with the rise of e-readers isn't keeping pace. Suddenly worried about a title getting lost in Xmas 2012 because there's only one high street book chain left, and they didn't pick it? Move it to the Spring of 2013. I've certainly seen that happen.

But I haven't seen the standard schedule for fiction, the one that we all work to when we acquire a book, and which defines the earliest reasonable pub date, changing over the last 12 years. So I think the idea that they're getting longer is wrong on the facts, and the situation in the previous para isn't becoming the norm. That's when things go wrong.

Windcutter
10-17-2012, 11:54 PM
I'm beginning to see where some of your confusion is coming from.
Thank you for your response, too. Sorry about the gender mistake, I shouldn't have assumed.


Except that it didn't used to take a year to bring a book to market. Why do you think that it did?
It was an impression/observation from hearing about new deals and watching new deals.
I think now that I might have acted on emotion, but for what it's worth, I have never heard so many "wow I sold my book, the tentative release is two years from now" before.


And having multiple publications each year doesn't necessarily change how long it takes each book to come to market: I don't see your logic there.
I thought it was different (a shorter route) for series because a series is marketed as a whole in some ways. For example, the general marketing concept is created for a whole trilogy to tie it together, so there is less work on the next two books.

I'm not sure that you've internalised many of the good answers you've been given in this thread, I'm afraid.
I guess time will show that.


If you have a problem with anything anyone says here, you'd be better off reporting that post than snarking about it in-thread.
I was merely explaining that the potential snark about "newbies got the nerve to tell publishers what to do" would not work on me.


Because, as I think I said before, it would help me understand better why you seem convinced that publishers waste time and could get books out much more quickly than they do.
Because they have already done it before.
Now, I'm starting to think I might be mistaken, but this is how it looked to me: publishers put out perfectly fine books within about a year from contract to release. Then they started putting out same books within a year and a half, often even within two years... but why?

The gist of the issue was, if SHATTER ME [just an example provided earlier in this thread] spent nine months in the works and came out with fine editing, lovely cover and great promotion, why does RANDOM NEW TITLE now need twenty-four months to do the same?

I got some answers during the course of the thread, of course. But if there were a blurb for OP, that would be it.
Also, because other publishers do that with even fewer resources, so it must be technically possible. The promo-related answers somewhat cleared it up.


And again: you're wriggling. I wasn't asking you to streamline the existing process, I was asking you to tell us how you understand the publication process works so that we could spot where you were going wrong in your thinking.
I meant to say that since it was done before, it was proven to be possible. So the technical aspect didn’t need to be reinvented.


Few books have the sort of media coverage you're imagining: and you've missed out marketing from this schedule, which mostly comes before promotion.
So I’m wrong in thinking that marketing can be (at least partially) done at the same time as edits? I imagined a contract covers up the content of the book pretty tightly. Otherwise, an author would have too much freedom to deviate from the story that was bought and paid for in the first place. I wrote scripts for a TV show once—for two episodes—the people there were very strict about how far writers could stray and where. Of course, we had the original show to adhere to, but I thought the actual manuscript, the one that got its author an advance, served as such a foundation.

It’s interesting about covers. For the genres I mostly read in (fantasy and young adult), covers don’t seem to be all that precisely connected to the content (I’ll even go as far as saying they often look interchangeable), so I didn’t think they were so co-dependent.


One can't work on "retail/sales planning" (whatever that is)
I meant all those schedules.

I don't understand "fill-ups" or your reference to airplane tickets. Please explain.
Fill-ups as in filling the release spots in advance. Planning the future releases.
The thing with airplane tickets is that booking agents use special systems in order to manage the huge amount of sales, returns, bookings, etc, that’s going on as fast as possible. It is kind of similar to online hotel booking, only more complicated. It made the whole process more efficient because of global coordinating supported by a database.


And suggesting that computers and technology could take over jacket and ad design is like suggesting that they could take over writing the book too. These things need people.
I just meant that people might be able to do it faster.

If your potential readers don't read online review publications--and many-to-most don't--you've just missed out on a huge sector of your potential readership.
Wasn’t it done to organize the reviewers? Bring them all to one place, give them a database of their own to save some time.


Read real books about publishing: Carole Blake's From Pitch To Publication is excellent, and there are plenty more. Be careful about relying on blogs and message boards, as you risk learning from people who don't know what they're talking about. You seem to have learned a whole lot of stuff that isn't true so far, which is why you're so confused here.
Thanks for the rec!

Psychomacologist
10-18-2012, 12:01 AM
Windcutter, I think maybe you're confused because you think there's one, single reason why books take the time they do. Whereas actually what I'm getting from this thread and from experience with other sales-based industries is that there's multiple factors that contribute to the time scale.

One factor is having a product ready to sell - which for a book means doing all the edits, re-edits, copy-edits, final checking, oh-crap-how-did-we-miss-this last-minute panic checking etc. Plus the covers, blurbs etc. This part of the process might get done quickly if the editor and/or the writer work fast on the edits, OR if the book doesn't need that much work in the first place. But it will still take X number of weeks to get the product up to a full, polished standard where it's ready to sell.

But this is just one part of the equation. The other delay is deliberate - holding back the product (even though it's ready) so that there's time to market it and build up buzz. And actually most industries do this with their products, because the market is crowded and they need that time to generate interest in the product so that people will actually buy it.

I mean, sure, you could probably have the actual book ready in a few months and chuck it out without any publicity - but in a crowded market, how well do you think it would sell? Probably no one would even notice it. What I'm seeing from the answers in this thread is that publishers hold the book back ON PURPOSE so that they can spend that extra time building up buzz and excitement about the new release. The time required to market and publicise a new release is factored into the schedule from the beginning.

And actually it was the same when I worked in retail, which is why the process described here is so familiar to me. It's essentially the same for most consumer products.

Because, honestly, I had wondered myself why the process took so long, but having seen it described here by people I absolutely understand why and how it could take a year or 18 months or even two years. The explanations people have given here have been very clear and illuminating.

Torgo
10-18-2012, 12:05 AM
Also, because other publishers do that with even fewer resources, so it must be technically possible. The promo-related answers somewhat cleared it up.

Technically we can get a book out in a matter of months, if we don't care if it sells or not. But publishing isn't about the logistics of making a book available. Look, if JK Rowling rang me up and said "I have a children's novel I must have out for Christmas or it's no deal," I'd move heaven and earth and might just make it for December, but everything else has to wait its turn.


So I’m wrong in thinking that marketing can be (at least partially) done at the same time as edits? I imagined a contract covers up the content of the book pretty tightly. Otherwise, an author would have too much freedom to deviate from the story that was bought and paid for in the first place.

A contract says almost nothing about the book beyond the title and maybe extent, but a book is acquired on the MS, and won't change beyond recognition. (We don't buy a book and then discard it.) But marketing starts close to release (it's annoying to hear about a book released too far in the future) and the lead time for retailers is about nine months from the moment you have an ARC. So they'll never be concurrent. Plus we like marketeers and the people they market to to actually read the finished book, so it'd be bonkers to send out something unedited.


The thing with airplane tickets is that booking agents use special systems in order to manage the huge amount of sales, returns, bookings, etc, that’s going on as fast as possible. It is kind of similar to online hotel booking, only more complicated. It made the whole process more efficient because of global coordinating supported by a database.

An airline ticket is two things: a price and a journey. Easily commodified and managed by a fast computer system. Books are not like that in any way.

Medievalist
10-18-2012, 12:13 AM
An airline ticket is two things: a price and a journey. Easily commodified and managed by a fast computer system. Books are not like that in any way.

This is crucial. Books are not commodities. One title/book is not just like/the same as/equivalent to another.

Old Hack
10-18-2012, 12:38 AM
Thank you for your response, too. Sorry about the gender mistake, I shouldn't have assumed.

Don't worry. There's something about a machine-gun that makes people make that assumption. I'm sure it can't be because of my tone.


I thought it was different (a shorter route) for series because a series is marketed as a whole in some ways. For example, the general marketing concept is created for a whole trilogy to tie it together, so there is less work on the next two books.

Every book has to be edited and so on, even if it's in a series. You can't skip steps just because a book is part of a series. The marketing side of things can't be skimped on if you want to maintain momentum.


I was merely explaining that the potential snark about "newbies got the nerve to tell publishers what to do" would not work on me.

That's not what Terie was doing, and you're misrepresenting her by suggesting it is. My warning still stands. You might like to reread the Newbie Guide at this point.


Because they have already done it before.
Now, I'm starting to think I might be mistaken, but this is how it looked to me: publishers put out perfectly fine books within about a year from contract to release. Then they started putting out same books within a year and a half, often even within two years... but why?

As has already been said in this thread several times, publication schedules are not getting longer. You are mistaken in your premise. And that response doesn't actually answer the question it addresses.


The gist of the issue was, if SHATTER ME [just an example provided earlier in this thread] spent nine months in the works and came out with fine editing, lovely cover and great promotion, why does RANDOM NEW TITLE now need twenty-four months to do the same?

I can't give you a specific answer here because I don't know the books concerned, or the reasons behind their different schedules; but my general response is, "because all books are different".


I got some answers during the course of the thread, of course. But if there were a blurb for OP, that would be it.
Also, because other publishers do that with even fewer resources, so it must be technically possible. The promo-related answers somewhat cleared it up.

I meant to say that since it was done before, it was proven to be possible. So the technical aspect didn’t need to be reinvented.

No one here has denied that it's possible to speed things up. What several of us have said before is that it can be done, but it's not always wise to do so.


So I’m wrong in thinking that marketing can be (at least partially) done at the same time as edits? I imagined a contract covers up the content of the book pretty tightly. Otherwise, an author would have too much freedom to deviate from the story that was bought and paid for in the first place. I wrote scripts for a TV show once—for two episodes—the people there were very strict about how far writers could stray and where. Of course, we had the original show to adhere to, but I thought the actual manuscript, the one that got its author an advance, served as such a foundation.

There's a huge difference between how writing for TV works, and how writing books works. I used to date an EMMY-winning TV writer and have seen first-hand how very differently the process works. You can't reasonably compare them in this way.


It’s interesting about covers. For the genres I mostly read in (fantasy and young adult), covers don’t seem to be all that precisely connected to the content (I’ll even go as far as saying they often look interchangeable), so I didn’t think they were so co-dependent.

They're similar because cover design provides a sort of shorthand to tell readers what the books are going to be like. But yes, they are tailored individually to each book. Otherwise publishers could just create a handful of generic covers and slap on the right titles and author-names each time they signed some new books.


I meant all those schedules.

I'm still no clearer.


Fill-ups as in filling the release spots in advance. Planning the future releases.
The thing with airplane tickets is that booking agents use special systems in order to manage the huge amount of sales, returns, bookings, etc, that’s going on as fast as possible. It is kind of similar to online hotel booking, only more complicated. It made the whole process more efficient because of global coordinating supported by a database.

Books aren't airline tickets. They're complex, time-consuming to create, and individual. Airline tickets are none of those things.

And you're describing a retail system here. If you were comparing book sellers to air travel agents you might find some parallels, but otherwise--nope.


I just meant that people might be able to do it faster.

Did you really think that these things were still done without computers? We've moved on a little since hot metal, you know.


Wasn’t it done to organize the reviewers? Bring them all to one place, give them a database of their own to save some time.

Wasn't what done to organise reviewers?

Whose time is being saved here?

How do people who like the reviews which appear in the Sunday Times fit in here? The librarians which base their buying choices on the reviews which appear in their trade presses? These are the people who buy books: these are the people who reviews are for. Telling them they have to go read reviews on some website or other because it means the reviewers will somehow be more organised isn't going to benefit anyone, I'm afraid, and it's certainly not going to speed up the publishing process.

waylander
10-18-2012, 01:02 AM
I thought I knew a fair bit about how publishing works, this thread has taught me several things that I didn't know.
Thanks guys, it has been worth it

RedWombat
10-18-2012, 01:37 AM
It’s interesting about covers. For the genres I mostly read in (fantasy and young adult), covers don’t seem to be all that precisely connected to the content (I’ll even go as far as saying they often look interchangeable), so I didn’t think they were so co-dependent.


Once in a blue moon--and again, with the caveat my info is possibly out of date--you'll walk into a bookstore and see art you recognize from Artist X on the cover a book that you know damn well was done a couple of years ago, because it was on his website/in the Spectrum annual/whatever back then, usually filed under "personal work," and you can extrapolate that probably they just forked over a licensing fee to using existing art.

Every time I've ever seen that, it was on a sword-and-sorcery anthology, though. (I won't swear they don't do it for others, but that's where I usually spot it.) For the rest, even with the current reliance on photo covers, publishers really do tailor them. Even for "photo of girl in a fancy dress looking sad with Photoshop pattern overlay around edges" which encompasses a large range of YA books these days, somebody puts in a surprisingly number of man hours on it.

Photoshop makes it faster and easier than twenty years ago, but there still isn't a "Push Button To Make Art" function.

Windcutter
10-18-2012, 02:06 AM
Nine to twelve months? In what universe? Two to three years has been common for as long as I can remember. Yes, hot books can come out a bit quicker -- at the expense of taking resources away from other books. No, this isn't an unmitigated good.
Now the statistics from this thread alone are jumping all over between 9 months and 3 years.
I'm sorry for not providing proof of my 12 months earlier impression, but it would really take an incredible amount of time to dig up all kinds of old stuff, threads and emails.


Let me try to explain this once more: Handcrafted artwork takes time.
And ... this is not a bad thing.
I think it pays off only for big time artists in the end. Others might have been better off doing a production line. From the business point of view. Now the lifestyle choice is a completely different matter.

And I confess I'm very tired of writers pressing their noses against the glass and saying yer doin' it rong, when they're not even sure what it is publishers do.
But without writers--I'm not talking about unpublished ones, but about the contracted ones--there would have been nothing to sell. Though most seem to be satisfied with the way things are going, so it's a moot point.

A contract says almost nothing about the book beyond the title and maybe extent, but a book is acquired on the MS, and won't change beyond recognition.
Thanks for clearing it up.


Plus we like marketeers and the people they market to to actually read the finished book, so it'd be bonkers to send out something unedited.

An airline ticket is two things: a price and a journey. Easily commodified and managed by a fast computer system. Books are not like that in any way.
I must admit I had a rather more cynical view on book sales and book promotion.

Don't worry. There's something about a machine-gun that makes people make that assumption. I'm sure it can't be because of my tone.
It was neither. It’s the nickname. It somehow registered along the lines of Old Harry or Old Jack.


That's not what Terie was doing, and you're misrepresenting her by suggesting it is. My warning still stands. You might like to reread the Newbie Guide at this point.
From reading the guide, actually, I don’t think I’m supposed to start going all “but he said”, “but she said”, “but I said”, so I won’t. I’ll just say I don’t intend to get into any snark-battles with anyone.


As has already been said in this thread several times, publication schedules are not getting longer. You are mistaken in your premise. And that response doesn't actually answer the question it addresses.
This is why I said it in past tense, I was explaining my initial impression.
I’m not sure I understand the question correctly then.


I can't give you a specific answer here because I don't know the books concerned, or the reasons behind their different schedules; but my general response is, "because all books are different".
So, to sum it up and see if I got it wrong.
There are many reasons why some books take longer than others. Most of them have to do with production, some depend on marketing decisions. Sometimes it just happens for a whole bunch of reasons. Sometimes a release is pushed back on purpose and not because something failed or took a longer time than necessary.
There was no significant increase in the average time period between acquisition and release over the course of recent years.
The time limits are normally stated in the contract, if a book gets several offers, this issue will also be addressed, but it’s impossible to say more beforehand.


They're similar because cover design provides a sort of shorthand to tell readers what the books are going to be like. But yes, they are tailored individually to each book. Otherwise publishers could just create a handful of generic covers and slap on the right titles and author-names each time they signed some new books. "
What I meant is… well, to put it maybe a bit roughly? If a cover features a typical girl in black leather against the background of a night city [urban fantasy], then who cares if her love interest dies in the last chapter or not? That’s what surprised me. Of course, covers have to be done individually, but I never thought edits might affect them.


I'm still no clearer.
This:
Selling the book to distributors. Selling the book to bookshops. Adjusting publication schedule to ensure that your book's publication doesn't clash with anything similar, etc.


Did you really think that these things were still done without computers? We've moved on a little since hot metal, you know.
I thought that every little advancement put together might also move forward the whole system.
Like, an older computer might take a night to go through with generating a 3D model. A new one allows you to work on something else while it takes a few hours to do its thing in the background.

I didn’t expect retailers to be such a block, either. Like it was said earlier

I can probably get a book from MS to print in two months, so long as I don't mind if nobody stocks it.

Wasn't what done to organise reviewers? Whose time is being saved here?
Networks like NetGalley or Edelweiss. Creating a big interactive database instead of approaching reviewers individually.
I don’t mean those who read reviews. I mean those who write them. I thought such big databases cleared up the networking channels. Instead of sending out e-galleys to a hundred people, for example, it’s enough to download it into the network. Instead of gathering one’s own list of potential reviewers, it’s enough to log in into the network and see all the reviewers doing reviews for all the publishers. Just like reviewers can log in and simply see all the upcoming books. All the storage work is done, too, they just need to read book & type review.
Librarians could also be united into a global library network within which they could access every review ever written, dealing with a database that allows selection based on different factors, including even key words—rather than reading reviews in trade press.

As for readers, I can imagine a search engine modified in a way that allows selection as narrow as you like. Want a book featuring a blond man, a sad love affair, airplanes, and lots of flashbacks, written by a Canadian author? Here it is. Want a new sad book that has a schoolgirl as a main character, a tragic ending, a contemporary setting, a high vocabulary, an abusive parent, about 200 to 250 pages long? Here, three upcoming releases fitting your criteria, each coming with a bunch of professional reviews.
Maybe that’s just me, but I’d sure prefer such a database over some newspaper.
But I digress.

Even for "photo of girl in a fancy dress looking sad with Photoshop pattern overlay around edges" which encompasses a large range of YA books these days, somebody puts in a surprisingly number of man hours on it.
Oh yes yes, those covers.
I didn't mean to say it was done during lunch break. Just that--such a cover isn't really deeply tied to the plot, is it? So even if the plot changes somewhat during the edits... the cover wouldn't need to change, would it? Not unless it's some big change or it features a direct scene from a book. Like, for example, if the cover features an alien city but revisions turned it into a space station, I can see the dependency. But if it is a huge apple with a black background, it kind of looks like it goes with anything. :)

Mr Flibble
10-18-2012, 02:26 AM
However... the money question is really interesting.
Imagine author X has a series,
Book one is released in 2012, book two in 2013, book three in 2014. A later release might have brought more money, though.

One a year has always been pretty standard for series, IIRC. And some publishers are changing that - my own for one. My trilogy is coming out next year (the first 12 months after signing the contract, though there was some time spent negotiating previous to that). Three books, February, June and November (note - I am just finishing book 3 as we speak. The latest I could hand in and still get November is...I think it was January? For all the other stuff to get done, edits etc). It's something they've been trying for a while and they've found it helps sales, so they are trying (where possible) to have that release schedule close together - I think they started with Brent Weeks and again I think it was because he had all three already written when he signed. They tried it again with a few other series, and it seemed to work - something to do with a reader not forgetting about your series in the downtime between books?

Now, when I signed I only had book 1 written. The original publication schedule was for the books to come out 6 months apart, to give me a reasonable time to write the next two! But I got done quicker than we thought, so they pulled it forwards, because they could, and because it is likely to help sales.

Other books get put back for all sorts of reasons - I can think of one writer whose next book has been put back more than once due to his crippling depression, which resulted in being less able to write, hence the book took longer. Other authors are writing other things under other names, and have to juggle deadlines. All sorts of reasons. But my point is, yes sometimes the publishers put the release back. But often, it's because the book isn't ready for one reason and another. Because life happens. Not because they're being big old meanies. :D

willietheshakes
10-18-2012, 02:27 AM
Networks like NetGalley or Edelweiss. Creating a big interactive database instead of approaching reviewers individually.
I don’t mean those who read reviews. I mean those who write them. I thought such big databases cleared up the networking channels. Instead of sending out e-galleys to a hundred people, for example, it’s enough to download it into the network. Instead of gathering one’s own list of potential reviewers, it’s enough to log in into the network and see all the reviewers doing reviews for all the publishers. Just like reviewers can log in and simply see all the upcoming books. All the storage work is done, too, they just need to read book & type review.

(shakes head)

Reviewers don't work for publishers.
(Note - the above is true, across the board, but below I'm talking about reviewers, not bloggers, lit-bloggers, Amazon reviewers, etc.)

Reviewers work for/are hired by the periodicals in question. Which means those periodicals need a physical book, so it can be stacked up with the other books coming up in that time period, so it can be decided whether or not a review will be assigned. The review editor then finds a reviewer (a reviewer may have pitched that title, or they may be approached cold), and they send them the book. The reviewer then reads, writes, files, invoices. The periodical then runs the review.

So... the publisher needs to make up ARCs (time), send them to the review editors of magazines and newspapers (time), who assign, then publish (time).

Consider that a long lead monthly needs to commission a review four to six months prior to the book's pub date, and they need an ARC (aka, an almost final version of the book) before they can do that...

absitinvidia
10-18-2012, 02:29 AM
Just that--such a cover isn't really deeply tied to the plot, is it? So even if the plot changes somewhat during the edits... the cover wouldn't need to change, would it? Not unless it's some big change or it features a direct scene from a book. Like, for example, if the cover features an alien city but revisions turned it into a space station, I can see the dependency. But if it is a huge apple with a black background, it kind of looks like it goes with anything. :)



You say that, but stop and think for a moment. If that's the case, WHY was Twilight's cover so striking? Someone had to think up the concept and render it, and that someone wasn't a Google image search. That took creativity and design skills, and the willingness to do something different. For some genre fiction there are certain cliches that endure (man-titty comes to mind*), but this isn't a Twitter avatar. You don't just look for something cute and call it a book cover. There is a lot more to it than that.


*That being said, historical romance readers in particular are extremely knowledgable about fashions in their chosen period of history, so a book cover that is not representative of that time will be roundly abused. Just because the cover isn't "tied to the plot" doesn't mean it doesn't have to reflect specific aspects of the story.

bearilou
10-18-2012, 02:45 AM
Networks like NetGalley or Edelweiss. Creating a big interactive database instead of approaching reviewers individually.

And who is going to create it? Enter the thousands of books a year that are released? Maintain it?



Librarians could also be united into a global library network within which they could access every review ever written, dealing with a database that allows selection based on different factors, including even key words—rather than reading reviews in trade press.

Same questions above followed by who will make sure all systems are compatible? And why would this system now fall to publishers to make happen instead of this 'global library community'?


As for readers, I can imagine a search engine modified in a way that allows selection as narrow as you like. Want a book featuring a blond man, a sad love affair, airplanes, and lots of flashbacks, written by a Canadian author? Here it is. Want a new sad book that has a schoolgirl as a main character, a tragic ending, a contemporary setting, a high vocabulary, an abusive parent, about 200 to 250 pages long? Here, three upcoming releases fitting your criteria, each coming with a bunch of professional reviews.

Maybe that’s just me, but I’d sure prefer such a database over some newspaper.

But that's not how I shop for books. This 'search engine' (with same questions as above) would be useless to me as a reader. Bookstores are still in business. There was a link to an article floating around somewhere on the boards on how that is where the majority of book sales still are generated from; brick and mortar stores.


I didn't mean to say it was done during lunch break.

I'm going to perfectly honest here. Your questions throughout this thread so far? That is exactly what you appear to be implying. That publishers are this huge evil overlord who is sitting on books until they feel like doing something with them and laughing maniacally because some writers are frustrated by all this *handwave* inconsequential work that really can just be done by running it through Adobe Illustrator/InDesign and calling it a day in time to catch the game on the tube in the breakroom.

A question you keep coming back to is 'if it can be done for one book, then why is it taking so long for ALL books' and I find that frustratingly naive. Not just because each book is different and requires individual attention but because of priorities. You, working on several tasks at once, at some point will have to make the decision on what will take first priority, then second, then third. There's only so far you can carry multitasking before it becomes a wreck.

Now multiply that by the number of books per year/per month that a publisher puts out, divide that by the number of people they have at each of those tasks and tell me if you think it's possible to keep up that kind of production.

Those decisions, one would hope, would be based on sound business practices that will maximize efficiency across the board for the best of the book and not just because some was asking 'but why is miiiiiine taking so loooooong'.

buz
10-18-2012, 02:52 AM
I thought that every little advancement put together might also move forward the whole system.
Like, an older computer might take a night to go through with generating a 3D model. A new one allows you to work on something else while it takes a few hours to do its thing in the background.

Okay, but, technology also mucks things up. Technology has allowed an explosive glut of stuff. There is more noise out there than ever before--more voices, more opinions, more products, more purveyors--and it's harder to scratch and claw above the noise to make people pay attention to This One Product, one out of bazillions. Making it all the more vital to make sure it's a damn good one and that you're giving it the best shot possible (in terms of timing/marketing/art/editing/etc).

And, as mentioned, technology does not cause faster reading or proofreading or anything else that requires attention. What else would you expect someone to be doing as they're proofreading? Nothing, hopefully...

Medievalist
10-18-2012, 03:04 AM
Creating a big interactive database instead of approaching reviewers individually.
I don’t mean those who read reviews. I mean those who write them.

You don't want to broadcast your ARC to every Tom dick and Hairy [sic] reviewer.

You position your book with specific reviewers/publications that you know are reputable, have readers, have institutional readers (i.e. buyers and librarians).

For instance; I'm the managing editor and Admin for GMR.

I get about 300 review requests a month. My publisher gets more.

I don't even read most of them because they're not targeting me/GMR.

They sending it to every friggin' email address they have.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, I get about 30 review requests a month for me the academic in a very specialized niche.

These are requests from publishers /marketing staff who know their books, and who are targeting me as a reviewer because their book and my areas match.

Moreover, they're pros. They know that even if I don't personally like a book, my review will be thorough and will suggest who might like the book.

They know, in short, that a good review doesn't have to be one where the review falls in love or even likes the book.

It's one of the things about marketing/sales and submissions that writers often miss completely. Agents know editors, they know what they like; they will target specific editors for specific books. Marketing people and sales people know what reviewers, and buyers, (marketing and sales are nto the same) will like, what their readers will like, and be likely to buy.

The sales people in particular often know exactly what does well at specific bookstores, never mind regions.

RedWombat
10-18-2012, 03:07 AM
*That being said, historical romance readers in particular are extremely knowledgable about fashions in their chosen period of history, so a book cover that is not representative of that time will be roundly abused. Just because the cover isn't "tied to the plot" doesn't mean it doesn't have to reflect specific aspects of the story.

Oh lord, preach it!

I'd think on a photo shoot, it would be even worse, because you presumably have to figure A) get a model, B) get the dress C) get a new model that fits the dress D) do the shoot, E) scream a lot because the author finally saw it and pointed out that was Victorian, not Regency, and sweet god, the two are NOT interchangeable F) get a new dress G) see if Model A is still talking to you H) set up another photo shoot I) drink heavily J) go to Photoshop...well, you get the idea.

The more people who have to sign off on a process, the longer it's gonna take...

Mr Flibble
10-18-2012, 03:11 AM
You forgot the monkey. Maybe H,a) Monkey arrives and destroys model's hairdo, and the dress.

Medievalist
10-18-2012, 03:12 AM
Librarians could also be united into a global library network within which they could access every review ever written, dealing with a database that allows selection based on different factors, including even key words—rather than reading reviews in trade press.

As for readers, I can imagine a search engine modified in a way that allows selection as narrow as you like. Want a book featuring a blond man, a sad love affair, airplanes, and lots of flashbacks, written by a Canadian author? Here it is. Want a new sad book that has a schoolgirl as a main character, a tragic ending, a contemporary setting, a high vocabulary, an abusive parent, about 200 to 250 pages long? Here, three upcoming releases fitting your criteria, each coming with a bunch of professional reviews.
Maybe that’s just me, but I’d sure prefer such a database over some newspaper.

Erg.

Can I ask you how many books you read in an average year? How many of those do you buy vs borrow from a friend/family member/library?

This isn't how people shop for books, or select books. This kind of data has been available in various formats, off and online, since the 1970s.

It's mostly been used by librarians and academics. Amazon has been doing this for about twelve years now, and four years ago, began offering public tagging (and fired their meta data librarians).

But it's not the way most readers' minds work. They may know they like a genre, or, quite likely, a sub genre, say, cozies vs detective novels, but in general, outside of some very fringe markets (mostly erotica) it isn't how people even think of books when they want something to read.

Regarding librarians et al finding reviews, that too is old news, going back to the 1970s. Now, it's much of it available online for free, but there are a number of proprietary databases and print services providing reviews, review excerpts, and even metatdata about what books were bought in particular areas, by particular demographic segments, etc.

You'll no doubt have noticed that Amazon, B and N and other larger online retailers have two categories of reviews; editorial and buyers.

Mr Flibble
10-18-2012, 03:15 AM
But it's not the way most readers' minds work. They may know they like a genre, or, quite likely, a sub genre, say, cozies vs detective novels, but in general, outside of some very fringe markets (mostly erotica) it isn't how people even think of books when they want something to read.

The only times I'm at all specific in what I'm looking for when buying books is for research, or if a specific book has been recced to me. Other than that, I want to browse, check out covers, see what catches my eye with some good back cover copy. I don't know I want to read it until, well, until I find it and want to read it.

victoriastrauss
10-18-2012, 03:16 AM
Networks like NetGalley or Edelweiss. Creating a big interactive database instead of approaching reviewers individually.
I don’t mean those who read reviews. I mean those who write them. I thought such big databases cleared up the networking channels. Instead of sending out e-galleys to a hundred people, for example, it’s enough to download it into the network.
Databases present the same discoverability issues that online bookstores do. If the e-galley is one e-galley in a gigantic database of thousands of e-galleys, how do you ensure that the kinds of reviewers you want to review it will ever see it? Whereas if you target the reviewer or review publication directly, you can be reasonably sure the book will at least pass across someone's desk, and have a better chance of catching someone's eye.

There's also quite a bit of networking and lobbying involved in determining what gets reviewed and what doesn't, at least for the major trade venues.

- Victoria

thothguard51
10-18-2012, 03:22 AM
But without writers--I'm not talking about unpublished ones, but about the contracted ones--there would have been nothing to sell. Though most seem to be satisfied with the way things are going, so it's a moot point.

Are you kidding me?

Have you searched Amazon or any of the other retailers operating online and counted the number of self published writers?

While technology has made revising and editing easier for me with the use of a computer instead of an IBM Selectric, technology has also made self publishing a book easier for anyone with a computer and Internet access. So what is the problem, you might ask. The problem is most are not nearly ready for prime time. (NOTICE, I did not say all...)

The problem here is that readers are noticing and complaining about the quality of the books, the quality of the writing, the fact that they have to wade through a wagon load of dung to find a book that might interest them. No matter how the book is delivered...

Personally, I am surprised that book sellers have not demanded exclusives on print books from the commercial publishers. Meaning, no online sales or e-books for 6 months or whatever.

This will eliminate readers from coming in, browsing and then buying on line at a lower price. It might not serve the readers, but it might save book stores by offering new work as an exclusive. Almost what they had before the Internet and big mergers by publishers and book sellers made counting beans more important than putting out quality work and nurturing authors...

But I doubt that will ever happen...

Medievalist
10-18-2012, 03:28 AM
The only times I'm at all specific in what I'm looking for when buying books is for research, or if a specific book has been recced to me. Other than that, I want to browse, check out covers, see what catches my eye with some good back cover copy. I don't know I want to read it until, well, until I find it and want to read it.

Yep. That's true of most readers. Ask anyone who's working in a library or a bookstore.

The modern book packaging is an exceedingly sophisticated sales device.

The other way people buy books is "word of mouth," wherein the words may be spoken, or read, and they may be from a stranger, a known friend/relative/colleague, or a trusted expert, like a known/familiar/reputable reviewer.

Here's an example of word of mouth selling a book (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7670960&postcount=6), a sale that likely is at least partly due to what I'll call packaging; the title, cover, cover art, and cover copy, and the metadata associated with the book online.

Alessandra Kelley
10-18-2012, 03:47 AM
Let me try to explain this once more: Handcrafted artwork takes time.
And ... this is not a bad thing.



I think it pays off only for big time artists in the end. Others might have been better off doing a production line. From the business point of view. Now the lifestyle choice is a completely different matter.

No. Even us small-time artists handcraft each and every picture.

Despite your stated impression, even genre cover art is not done on an assembly line, nor would that actually save much time or money, given how individual every book cover must be. The only paintings that work by assembly line are done in China for hotels, and I suspect that those are only economical because of near-slave wages.



Oh yes yes, those covers.
I didn't mean to say it was done during lunch break. Just that--such a cover isn't really deeply tied to the plot, is it? So even if the plot changes somewhat during the edits... the cover wouldn't need to change, would it? Not unless it's some big change or it features a direct scene from a book. Like, for example, if the cover features an alien city but revisions turned it into a space station, I can see the dependency. But if it is a huge apple with a black background, it kind of looks like it goes with anything. :)

You have a remarkably casual attitude towards the visual art which is the vital first impression of every book, the imagery that is meant to catch readers' attention, identify the genre, sell the book, accurately convey in either literal or symbolic function the heart of the story, and serve as a permanent memoriam for the book for all time.

BenPanced
10-18-2012, 03:51 AM
I think the crucial factor that's being forgotten is the fact that there's a walking, talking, real-life human being behind every step and they're the one that has to push the button to make the machine go *ping!*.

Windcutter
10-18-2012, 04:34 AM
(shakes head)
So... the publisher needs to make up ARCs (time), send them to the review editors of magazines and newspapers (time), who assign, then publish (time).
Thanks for more new info. I knew pro reviewers worked for periodicals, but I had no idea they needed physical books. I actually had no idea the whole process was so physical and time-consuming, with sending stuff back and forth. I thought it was done on the level of pitching or discussing via email or, in some cases, maybe phone and reading e-arcs.

Now, when I signed I only had book 1 written. The original publication schedule was for the books to come out 6 months apart, to give me a reasonable time to write the next two! But I got done quicker than we thought, so they pulled it forwards, because they could, and because it is likely to help sales.
This sound pretty nice. And efficient.

I remember this strategy for series being discussed here some time ago. Can’t find the link, though.

You say that, but stop and think for a moment. If that's the case, WHY was Twilight's cover so striking? Someone had to think up the concept and render it, and that someone wasn't a Google image search. That took creativity and design skills, and the willingness to do something different.
It was a pretty cool cover. But what I was initially thinking is that it could be worked on almost since the beginning of the pre-pub process. Because once the concept was established, the changes within the text of the book would not affect the cover. At least, I don't see how they might do that.

And who is going to create it? Enter the thousands of books a year that are released? Maintain it?
This is a good question. But someone did create NetGalley. Which seems to be a more minimalistic version of it.

As for the library system, I believe it might be useful for the libraries itself. Electronic catalogues already exist. It would be simply a development on them.
Compatibility can be arranged if both sides are interested in dealing with each other. Say, a joint project.


But that's not how I shop for books. This 'search engine' (with same questions as above) would be useless to me as a reader. Bookstores are still in business. There was a link to an article floating around somewhere on the boards on how that is where the majority of book sales still are generated from; brick and mortar stores.
Is it because people still prefer to read a paper book (that is, they investigate online and then come to a store to get the actual book) or because they are attracted more by covers and free browsing?

I'm going to perfectly honest here. Your questions throughout this thread so far? That is exactly what you appear to be implying. That publishers are this huge evil overlord who is sitting on books until they feel like doing something with them and laughing maniacally because some writers are frustrated by all this *handwave* inconsequential work that really can just be done by running it through Adobe Illustrator/InDesign and calling it a day in time to catch the game on the tube in the breakroom.
Not precisely. :) But yes, I believe that everything a business does is done for the sake of that business. Not its employees, neither clients or partners. If something is inconvenient for a writer but convenient for a publisher, I bet a tooth it will be done the way a publisher prefers it. I've seen too many business enterprises to think otherwise.


There's only so far you can carry multitasking before it becomes a wreck.
Exactly, that's why I also keep coming back to the issue of supply and demand and redistributing supply.


Now multiply that by the number of books per year/per month that a publisher puts out, divide that by the number of people they have at each of those tasks and tell me if you think it's possible to keep up that kind of production.
I can't tell you if it's possible or not and where the limit is, because I've never worked for a publisher. However, I think it's an act of balancing between expenses and resources.


Those decisions, one would hope, would be based on sound business practices that will maximize efficiency across the board for the best of the book and not just because some was asking 'but why is miiiiiine taking so loooooong'.
For the best of the profits, I’d say. A book is just a means to get there.

Making it all the more vital to make sure it's a damn good one and that you're giving it the best shot possible (in terms of timing/marketing/art/editing/etc).
Bigger noise, longer noise. Yes, it also makes sense.

And, as mentioned, technology does not cause faster reading or proofreading or anything else that requires attention. What else would you expect someone to be doing as they're proofreading? Nothing, hopefully...
They'll have more time for proofreading if everything else in their life is managed by Her Highness High-Tech, at least. :)

You don't want to broadcast your ARC to every Tom dick and Hairy [sic] reviewer.

It's one of the things about marketing/sales and submissions that writers often miss completely. Agents know editors, they know what they like; they will target specific editors for specific books. Marketing people and sales people know what reviewers, and buyers, (marketing and sales are nto the same) will like, what their readers will like, and be likely to buy.

This is definitely something I had a totally wrong idea of.
I thought you were supposed to put out as many reviews as possible, make every Tom dick and Hairy [sic] talk about it. Full coverage, not luxury goods approach.
I mean, agents yes, because it's such a narrow field. I bet people who work in the same genre all know each other. But when it comes to pre-pub promo--no idea.

victoriastrauss
10-18-2012, 04:46 AM
For the rest, even with the current reliance on photo covers, publishers really do tailor them. Even for "photo of girl in a fancy dress looking sad with Photoshop pattern overlay around edges" which encompasses a large range of YA books these days, somebody puts in a surprisingly number of man hours on it.
Yup. The photo for the cover of Passion Blue is stock. But the designer put in a lot of time coming up with a concept, digitally altering the photo--which involved among other things getting just the right shade of blue--and then tinkering with various versions until everyone was satisfied. We went back and forth with it at least five or six times over successive revisions.

Plus, the same designer designed the book's interior, creating graphics that echo the cover design. That took time as well.

- Victoria

willietheshakes
10-18-2012, 04:47 AM
Just out of curiousity, windcutter - are you spending a lot of time on self-publishing boards, or reading the self-publishing evangelicals (Konrath, DW Smith, et al)?

Because a lot of your preconceptions, your misunderstandings, and the questions arising out of them seem rooted in those sources.

Windcutter
10-18-2012, 04:47 AM
There's also quite a bit of networking and lobbying involved in determining what gets reviewed and what doesn't, at least for the major trade venues.
- Victoria
This is pretty interesting, thanks. I guess I overlooked the part networking plays. I guess it fits the earlier "you don't want to send an ARC to everyone" statement.

Erg.

Can I ask you how many books you read in an average year? How many of those do you buy vs borrow from a friend/family member/library?
I never counted them before, but I did the 100 books in 2011 thing in our YA section and I think my list was somewhere around 120. I usually read a couple books per week. Sometimes it's one book, sometimes more. Three books this week, because I'm in love with a new series.

I discover most of my new reads through goodreads and Amazon. I have lists of potential reads. It usually goes like this: I realize I want to read a book with a certain mood, genre and type of plot, and then I'm trying to figure out how I might find it using 'similar books' feature and tags. Or asking people who read a lot. Like, "I feel like reading a grim Young Adult fantasy about a girl assassin... oh yeah I remember there was a book like that." I borrow quite often because I almost never reread, though once Kindle appeared, the storage problem disappeared.


But it's not the way most readers' minds work. They may know they like a genre, or, quite likely, a sub genre, say, cozies vs detective novels, but in general, outside of some very fringe markets (mostly erotica) it isn't how people even think of books when they want something to read.
Not even regarding the mood/style scale? Such as, a funny and joyful book, or a grim and sophisticated book, something like that?


Regarding librarians et al finding reviews, that too is old news, going back to the 1970s. Now, it's much of it available online for free, but there are a number of proprietary databases and print services providing reviews, review excerpts, and even metatdata about what books were bought in particular areas, by particular demographic segments, etc.
So basically it never became huge because it never became widely popular?

As for Amazon, yes, I noticed, but I meant for pre-pub. Something like Edelweiss, it even lists the types of potential audience.

Personally, I am surprised that book sellers have not demanded exclusives on print books from the commercial publishers. Meaning, no online sales or e-books for 6 months or whatever.

This will eliminate readers from coming in, browsing and then buying on line at a lower price. It might not serve the readers, but it might save book stores by offering new work as an exclusive. Almost what they had before the Internet and big mergers by publishers and book sellers made counting beans more important than putting out quality work and nurturing authors...
Just one word: e-pirates. Forcing the ebooks off the market is practically an invitation for the e-pirates to put their own stolen goods on.

No. Even us small-time artists handcraft each and every picture.
Is the profit worth the man-hours? Not the enjoyment, the artistic merit, the self-expression. But from a purely commercial point of view.
I'm not trying to spite the artists at all. My friend is one, though she doesn't deal with covers, and I see how little she earns despite the amount of effort she puts in. That kind of effort deserves more.

You have a remarkably casual attitude towards the visual art which is the vital first impression of every book, the imagery that is meant to catch readers' attention, identify the genre, sell the book, accurately convey in either literal or symbolic function the heart of the story, and serve as a permanent memoriam for the book for all time.
I must be putting it really messily.
But I really don't think most covers I've seen recently (I mean the books I was reading) accurately conveyed in either literal or symbolic function the heart of the story. Some of them were pretty. Some were amazing. Some I would put on my walls, they were that beautiful. No doubt they required a lot of work and skill and talent.
And yet, you could change half the plot of those books and the impression the covers gave wouldn't change. That was my original suprise. That book edits affected the covers that much.

Windcutter
10-18-2012, 04:50 AM
Just out of curiousity, windcutter - are you spending a lot of time on self-publishing boards, or reading the self-publishing evangelicals (Konrath, DW Smith, et al)?

Because a lot of your preconceptions, your misunderstandings, and the questions arising out of them seem rooted in those sources.
Not at all. I have never read any of those authors you mentioned and I don't think I'll ever want to self-publish anything.

Mr Flibble
10-18-2012, 04:59 AM
Not even regarding the mood/style scale? Such as, a funny and joyful book, or a grim and sophisticated book, something like that?



Gods no. I can be in the mood for one thing when I leave home and in the mood for another when I get to the bookshop. Sometimes I don't know what I want till I see it. Sometimes I think I've got one thing and get another. Sometimes I buy a book for a mood I know I'll be in later, but I don't preselect by protag age or tone or anything except 'does the cover and copy make me want to read it?'

I'm not alone here either.

thothguard51
10-18-2012, 05:16 AM
Just one word: e-pirates. Forcing the ebooks off the market is practically an invitation for the e-pirates to put their own stolen goods on.

Got news for you, they are already there, and not just with e-books. The pirates are going to be around no matter what the publishers, book sellers and authors do...

shadowwalker
10-18-2012, 05:36 AM
But yes, I believe that everything a business does is done for the sake of that business. Not its employees, neither clients or partners. If something is inconvenient for a writer but convenient for a publisher, I bet a tooth it will be done the way a publisher prefers it. I've seen too many business enterprises to think otherwise.

I'm not sure what business enterprises you've seen, but businesses do not stay in business if they do not take care of their clients or partners. And yes, some things may be inconvenient for an author - but does that mean the publisher is trying to screw the author? No. It means the publisher knows how to successfully publish the author's book and that's what the author wants them to do, regardless of whether it's 'inconvenient'.

absitinvidia
10-18-2012, 06:03 AM
Not even regarding the mood/style scale? Such as, a funny and joyful book, or a grim and sophisticated book, something like that?

Generally speaking, I don't give a rat's behind about this at the time I'm buying a book. I want a book that is well written, with an intriguing premise and characters I can relate to. A mood/style scale comes into play when I'm looking at a shelf full of books I already own.

Timmy V.
10-18-2012, 07:07 AM
I was amazed to discover things are different in some European countries. 6-8 months is pretty average. And in Russia, even though it's a big country, a major publisher usually takes only 4-5 months to release a book.



Has anyone directly addressed this point yet?

Timmy V.
10-18-2012, 07:29 AM
Timmy and Windcutter, neither of you seem terribly satisfied with the answers you've been given, so perhaps you could suggest the sort of schedule you'd find more appropriate. And I don't want a response from you along the lines of, "six months would be fine," I'd like you both to suggest how all the various tasks required to bring a book to market could better be scheduled. You could also explain how improved technology could speed up each stage, where appropriate.

I'll help you out a bit here by listing a few of those production tasks you'll need to slot into your schedules. It's not an exhaustive list, so do add things I've forgotten. And remember that some of these tasks will overlap, but others will depend on earlier tasks being completed.

Editing (perhaps a couple of passes by the editor and the author each), copy editing, proof reading.

Typesetting, layout, internal design.

Cover image. Jacket design. Blurb-writing. Collecting endorsements.

Getting bookstore / distributor approval of cover design.

Printing. Delivery and approval of printed copies. Delivery of print run.

Sending out review copies.

Designing ads. Writing ad copy. Scheduling advertising and booking trade ads. Writing, designing, proofing and printing sales catalogue for sales reps and distributors. Selling the book to distributors. Selling the book to bookshops.

Creating point-of-sale items for retaillers.

Arranging special in-store promotions, booking signings, launch events, press ads, radio interviews, and so on.

Adjusting publication schedule to ensure that your book's publication doesn't clash with anything similar, etc.

There. That should get you started. How long do you think each item on that list should take, and how many can run concurrently with each other? What have I forgotten? What, if anything, could be dropped from this list? And how should improving technology have had a significant impact on which aspects of book production over the last few years?


Old Hack this is a great post. I really appreciate that you've laid out the land so clearly. I'm still thrown that other countries do it so much faster, thats mostly what the case felt like for me. And I was relating to the frustrating process it is to the individual. That angle, the emotional challenge it to the writer while the writer is waiting - seems to have been reviled by others on this thread as ridiculous, a waste of thread space etc.

Thanks Windcutter and Old Hack for the great posts.

Thanks for not being pompous, insulting and abusive in the guise of being informed.

A lot of people will learn tremendously from several of your posts on this thread Old Hack.

And Windcutter thanks for sticking with it - if you can get past all the anger and vitriol on this thread - the reader will extract now how the whole publishing process works.

Excellent.

As to the other posters, I don't think I saw anything on this thread about the publishing world having any dysfunctional aspects. Indeed the mere suggestion that the publishing world has dysfunction that might, a wee bit, add to the delay, prompted outrage.

I certainly can't challenge that position. I'm grateful that while the government, sports, the financial world, Hollywood, educational institutions, the music industry have dysfunctions and they are widely discussed in print and in the media, at least one institution, the publishing world, has none.

And as for the post about the senator's niece's book. I was referring to the niece's book NOT about the senator. just a plain ole book by the senator's niece about anything - which will undoubtedly be brought to the front of the line. I have a job where I know firsthand that with anything of value - political connections will always prevail and others without political connections, will have to wait.

In my field there is tremendous frustration that people have to wait while political connections bring the relatives of the connected to the front of the line. I am deeply comforted to know that the mere thought that a writer might be frustrated because of this injustice is totally ridiculous, the writer should suck it up, shut up, and stop wasting thread space.

The lurking reader of the suck it up, shut up, and stop wasting my thread posts will certainly extrapolate valuable information from that position and the empathy of writers toward other writers will be enhanced and glorified.

Unimportant
10-18-2012, 07:48 AM
I am deeply comforted to know that the mere thought that a writer might be frustrated because of this injustice is totally ridiculous, the writer should suck it up, shut up, and stop wasting thread space.
Timmy, no one has said that.

Look. You complained that writers are victims because publishers don't treat every writer exactly the same. You complained that gay male writers are victims because a lesbian fiction group exists. You complained that you were a victim when not every critique you received on your prose was to your liking. But the thing is, writers aren't victims.

Writers are professional business people. So are publishers. Writers choose -- or choose not -- to enter into a business relationship with a publisher. No two publishers are the same. No two writers are the same. It's really not applicable to make up one example about a senator's daughter who writes a novel and assume her book gets published ahead of the plumber's daughter's novel, and then extrapolate that non-existent occurrence to all authors and all publishers everywhere.

James D. Macdonald
10-18-2012, 07:54 AM
Has anyone directly addressed this point yet?

I have no idea if it's even true.

Three of our books just came out in German translation. The publisher approached us on 12 December 2008. The writing was finished -- all they had to do was translate the works (which are, incidentally, part of a series). They even re-used artwork for the covers (the art had originally appeared on some of Elizabeth Moon's books). From 12 December 2008 ... the first came out in June of 2011, and the last in August of 2012 (http://www.randomhouse.de/Taschenbuch/Der-Preis-der-Sterne-3-Zwischen-Ehre-und-Treue/Debra-Doyle/e395244.rhd) (two months ago). That looks like two to three years, there. The books were already written and there weren't any revisions by the author required (darned if I know if the translator had to do revisions).

Meanwhile, when I spoke of handcrafted artworks, I wasn't just talking about the cover paintings.

Everything about books, from the writing through the editing/copyediting/proofreading/catalog copy/blurbs, through the book design/typography, is done by skilled humans, by hand.

Microsoft Word's "comment" function is notably inferior to a blue pencil.

Nor can you hire ten editors to work in parallel to edit a given book in a tenth the time.

Few people say "I want a 230 page book with a blonde heroine, a villain with a mustache, and a bittersweet ending, set during the Crimean war."

Rather, they say "I want a book I'll like," and "I'll know it when I see it."

James D. Macdonald
10-18-2012, 08:04 AM
And Windcutter thanks for sticking with it - if you can get past all the anger and vitriol on this thread - the reader will extract now how the whole publishing process works. Anger? Vitriol? Outrage? Say what? Are you reading the same thread I'm reading?

Amadan
10-18-2012, 08:26 AM
As to the other posters, I don't think I saw anything on this thread about the publishing world having any dysfunctional aspects. Indeed the mere suggestion that the publishing world has dysfunction that might, a wee bit, add to the delay, prompted outrage.

I certainly can't challenge that position. I'm grateful that while the government, sports, the financial world, Hollywood, educational institutions, the music industry have dysfunctions and they are widely discussed in print and in the media, at least one institution, the publishing world, has none.

And as for the post about the senator's niece's book. I was referring to the niece's book NOT about the senator. just a plain ole book by the senator's niece about anything - which will undoubtedly be brought to the front of the line. I have a job where I know firsthand that with anything of value - political connections will always prevail and others without political connections, will have to wait.

In my field there is tremendous frustration that people have to wait while political connections bring the relatives of the connected to the front of the line. I am deeply comforted to know that the mere thought that a writer might be frustrated because of this injustice is totally ridiculous, the writer should suck it up, shut up, and stop wasting thread space.

The lurking reader of the suck it up, shut up, and stop wasting my thread posts will certainly extrapolate valuable information from that position and the empathy of writers toward other writers will be enhanced and glorified.


Wow, you've mastered passive-aggressiveness as an art form.

Dude, I read the whole thread. No one is saying there isn't any dysfunction in the publishing world (I mean, hello? Do you read half the threads on AW?) Just that the specific things you are complaining about aren't evidence of dysfunction, they're market realities. Yeah, probably the entire process (and the industry) could be streamlined to shorten the wait a little bit, but to what purpose? What exactly is "broken" about the waiting period now, other than that it makes impatient writers unhappy? The purpose of publishing is to make money, not to gratify a writer's ego as quickly as possible.

Toothpaste
10-18-2012, 08:34 AM
Weird. I thought I mentioned how publishing isn't perfect and precisely what I'd like to see changed (ebook pricing and royalty rates, and different marketing strategies). Things that I think are more important to fix than timeline.

As to the anger and vitriol, haven't seen it. I certainly haven't expressed it myself. I guess you could take my, "Maybe what people who have actually experienced the process have valid things to say compared with those who have not" as nasty. As me putting down your intelligence or something. But I wasn't in the least. I don't think you are a stupid person at all. I just think in this case the expertise that others might have might be useful and that maybe instead of dismissing what we say, you could respect us enough to concede we might actually be intelligent too and know of what we speak. That actually we are trying to inform and educate because we sincerely want to help. Instead of automatically assuming we are attacking people, and are blind to the reality of how we are being manipulated by the man etc. That is a very unkind conclusion for you to draw.

But no, I don't see vitriol and anger. Frustration when it seems that our words are not being read and our points ignored. But not anger. And there is a difference.

willietheshakes
10-18-2012, 08:48 AM
Old Hack this is a great post. I really appreciate that you've laid out the land so clearly. I'm still thrown that other countries do it so much faster, thats mostly what the case felt like for me. And I was relating to the frustrating process it is to the individual. That angle, the emotional challenge it to the writer while the writer is waiting - seems to have been reviled by others on this thread as ridiculous, a waste of thread space etc.

Thanks Windcutter and Old Hack for the great posts.

Thanks for not being pompous, insulting and abusive in the guise of being informed.

A lot of people will learn tremendously from several of your posts on this thread Old Hack.

And Windcutter thanks for sticking with it - if you can get past all the anger and vitriol on this thread - the reader will extract now how the whole publishing process works.

Excellent.

As to the other posters, I don't think I saw anything on this thread about the publishing world having any dysfunctional aspects. Indeed the mere suggestion that the publishing world has dysfunction that might, a wee bit, add to the delay, prompted outrage.

I certainly can't challenge that position. I'm grateful that while the government, sports, the financial world, Hollywood, educational institutions, the music industry have dysfunctions and they are widely discussed in print and in the media, at least one institution, the publishing world, has none.

And as for the post about the senator's niece's book. I was referring to the niece's book NOT about the senator. just a plain ole book by the senator's niece about anything - which will undoubtedly be brought to the front of the line. I have a job where I know firsthand that with anything of value - political connections will always prevail and others without political connections, will have to wait.

In my field there is tremendous frustration that people have to wait while political connections bring the relatives of the connected to the front of the line. I am deeply comforted to know that the mere thought that a writer might be frustrated because of this injustice is totally ridiculous, the writer should suck it up, shut up, and stop wasting thread space.

The lurking reader of the suck it up, shut up, and stop wasting my thread posts will certainly extrapolate valuable information from that position and the empathy of writers toward other writers will be enhanced and glorified.

Passive-aggressive without a flounce just seems like a waste.
Like a beautiful gymnastics routine that fails to stick the landing.

So sad.

(That, for the record, WAS anger and vitriol. Congratulations, hoss - check off your bingo card.)

Weirdmage
10-18-2012, 08:51 AM
Has anyone directly addressed this point yet?

I can't speak for every country in Europe, but I am Norwegian so I know a bit about how things work here. Or to be more precise, I can give one concrete example where I know some of the details.

The biggest author in Noway at the moment is (arguably) Jo Nesbø. In June 2011 his latest Harry Hole [not pronounced as the English "hole"] novel, "Gjenferd" [English title: "Ghost"] was published. I first heard abbout this book sometime in 2010, and I saw the final cover 4-6 months before it was published. The publication date was revealed on Norway's biggest talk show in March, when Nesbø was a guest. And there was lots of buzz, including a documentary were Nesbø was followed by a TV theme. This documentary revealed that Nesbø had submitted the final edits before the end of 2010.

I am not sure how far in advance Nesbø signed the contract for "Gjenferd", but as you can see it took over six months from he was finished with the book to the time it was available in bookstore. So I would be very surprised if the time from the first time the publisher saw a manuscript to the book was in the store was less than a year.
So even though this was a book that was highly anticipated, the publishers did not rush it, and spent months creating buzz prior to release. Much the same as I see US/UK publishers doing online with anything from Stephen King to debut authors.

(To put into perspective how big Nesbø is in Norway, one week after publication "Gjenferd" had reached a total printing of 200,000, adjusted for for population difference, that would be 12 million books printed in the US. In December of 2011 it had reched a total number of 313,000 books printed; US equivalent 18.78 milllion.)

From what I know of the book industry in Norway, this is how it normally goes. I've seen interviews with big name authors here, done in connection to PR of a book that is being released at the time, where the author reveals they have already finished writing the next book. A book that typically comes out a year later.
I have seen that it is the same thing in Sweden. And from what little I have seen of publishing in other European countries, it is the same thing there.

So from my experience here in Europe, the time it takes from script to publication is similar to those in the US. And Norway is significantly smaller, with only five million people, but that does not seem to make much of an impact on the time it takes to get the book out.

I'm not sure about the source for the European and Russian times cited for contract to publication, but they do not match what I experience here in Europe.
I can't help but wonder if the numbers are nothing more than "some people say". I'd at least like to see something to back them up since they don't reflect the reality I am observing.

On a bit of a sidenote to this, it very rarely takes less than six months for a book to be translated and published in Norwegian. And in the few cases that has happened it is with very big authors. An example here is the last Harry Potter book. The translator got a tight deadline of two months to translate that. (Link to the translator stating this in an interview with a Norwegian paper: http://www.dagbladet.no/kultur/2007/06/20/504069.html )
And then we are talking about a highly anticipated book that is being "rushed" through the process. -And by rushed, I mean that the translator starts work as soon as the book is available (,in this case the translator didn't get the book before it was published in English, for fear of leaks), and that a spot is cleared at the printers beforehand.
The point here is that this is a book they wanted out as soon as humanly possible, and it still took over four months. It was published 21. July in English, and 1. December in Norwegian. So from the translator taking two months, we know that it took over two months for everything else.
Remember this is just a translation, no structural edits or back and forth with the author. And also take into account that this was a special case, less than six months is almost unheard of.

willietheshakes
10-18-2012, 08:54 AM
The biggest author in Noway at the moment is (arguably) Jo Nesbø. In June 2011 his latest Harry Hole [not pronounced as the English "hole"]

Nesbo's books are very difficult to review in the broadcast media (TV and radio, as opposed to print) for this very reason.

Or it's because I'm still basically a twelve year old boy and smirking everytime I say the detective's name is not the model of decorum I aspire to.

One or the other.

Weirdmage
10-18-2012, 09:08 AM
Nesbo's books are very difficult to review in the broadcast media (TV and radio, as opposed to print) for this very reason.

Or it's because I'm still basically a twelve year old boy and smirking everytime I say the detective's name is not the model of decorum I aspire to.

One or the other.

I'd try to explain the pronounciation, but it is really hard to explain Norwegian pronounciation to English speakers in text. So instead, here's an interview with Nesbø where he says the name at the start (,and by start I mean as soon as the video begins): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcHTYXdS4Ck

willietheshakes
10-18-2012, 09:23 AM
I'd try to explain the pronounciation, but it is really hard to explain Norwegian pronounciation to English speakers in text. So instead, here's an interview with Nesbø where he says the name at the start (,and by start I mean as soon as the video begins): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcHTYXdS4Ck

I appreciate the effort, but he'll always be Harry Hole to me.

(snicker)

evilrooster
10-18-2012, 10:00 AM
As for the library system, I believe it might be useful for the libraries itself. Electronic catalogues already exist. It would be simply a development on them.
Compatibility can be arranged if both sides are interested in dealing with each other. Say, a joint project.


Oh, the sorts of library search systems you're referring to do exist. I worked on the one that changed the field for a few years - AquaBrowser Library. Here (http://hollis.harvard.edu/?q=bookbinding)'s Harvard University's installation, and here (http://boss.library.okstate.edu/)'s Oklahoma State's. Our competitors started introducing similar search mechanisms a few years ago as well, and they've become standard in the industry.

In both cases, you can do what's called "faceted" search, narrowing your initial broad selection by a large number of factors. With OK State, you can also do an associative search, looking for other books that have similar characteristics to the ones you started with.

The problem is the metadata. If you don't have a good, reliable source of information about whether a book is cheerful or melancholy, about love or war, fanatically pro-monkey or thoroughly anti-monkey, then you don't have the material to search on. We spent a lot of time and effort trying to track down good data sources, and even more dealing with the fact that the data we had was complicated and messy.

Which makes book metadata like everything else that's been discussed in this thread, by the way. The publishing industry, the related-but-not-associated reviewing industry, the cataloging industry...these all look simple when viewed from a sufficiently high altitude, but when you zoom closer in, they're fractally complicated. And very little of that complication is unnecessary. If you reinvented publishing ab initio tomorrow, it would quickly regenerate all that complexity, because the environment it operates in is not simple.

Also -- this board tends to focus very heavily on one view of publishing: the view of the author. But that's not where publishing's intense, passionate focus is. Publishers are, more than anything else, interested in and geared to serve the whims of readers. If there's a clash between what will get the right books into the hands of the right readers just when they're in the right mood and what will make authors' lives easier, publishers will choose readers every time.

And so they should. Readers pay their salaries, and the royalties of the authors, and the costs of the whole fantastic, complicated, highly-evolved shebang.

evilrooster
10-18-2012, 10:10 AM
Also, let me remind everyone in this conversation that, if you have a problem with a particular comment, the appropriate action is not to comment about it on-thread, nor to fire back with what you feel to be a matching level of snark/vitriol/wrath.

What you should do is click the little warning triangle beside the comment, and explain exactly what you feel is wrong with it. That will notify the room mods, who will go have a look at the situation.

Of course, the moderator will not necessarily then appear on the thread and eviscerate the miscreant to your satisfaction, right before your eyes. A lot of the business of the site goes on in private messages and reppies, so you may not see the results directly.

Old Hack
10-18-2012, 10:28 AM
Now the statistics from this thread alone are jumping all over between 9 months and 3 years.

I don't see any statistics in this thread, Windcutter. Just numbers. There's a difference.


So, to sum it up and see if I got it wrong.
There are many reasons why some books take longer than others. Most of them have to do with production, some depend on marketing decisions. Sometimes it just happens for a whole bunch of reasons. Sometimes a release is pushed back on purpose and not because something failed or took a longer time than necessary.
There was no significant increase in the average time period between acquisition and release over the course of recent years.
The time limits are normally stated in the contract, if a book gets several offers, this issue will also be addressed, but it’s impossible to say more beforehand.

You've pretty much got it there, except for that last paragraph. The first part is ok, but it goes a bit odd from the middle onwards.


What I meant is… well, to put it maybe a bit roughly? If a cover features a typical girl in black leather against the background of a night city [urban fantasy], then who cares if her love interest dies in the last chapter or not? That’s what surprised me. Of course, covers have to be done individually, but I never thought edits might affect them.

Because that isn't the sort of issue I was referring to.


Networks like NetGalley or Edelweiss. Creating a big interactive database instead of approaching reviewers individually.
I don’t mean those who read reviews. I mean those who write them.

But if you want a review in the Sunday Times (and most fiction titles would benefit from one) then you have to approach the Sunday Times and ask if they'd be willing to review the book. They're not going to browse through the sites you mention looking for titles to review: they already get two or three hundred books, probably more, for every review slot they have. They have their own stable of reviewers, too, so people who want to review for them wouldn't be able to use those review listings you suggest either.


Librarians could also be united into a global library network within which they could access every review ever written, dealing with a database that allows selection based on different factors, including even key words—rather than reading reviews in trade press.

They can pretty much do that now. But they base their purchasing decisions on what's current, and favourably reviewed in the publications they regularly read.


As for readers, I can imagine a search engine modified in a way that allows selection as narrow as you like. Want a book featuring a blond man, a sad love affair, airplanes, and lots of flashbacks, written by a Canadian author? Here it is. Want a new sad book that has a schoolgirl as a main character, a tragic ending, a contemporary setting, a high vocabulary, an abusive parent, about 200 to 250 pages long? Here, three upcoming releases fitting your criteria, each coming with a bunch of professional reviews.
Maybe that’s just me, but I’d sure prefer such a database over some newspaper.

Most books are still bought as a result of browsing in a bookshop. 40% of online sales are first selected in a bookshop then bought online because of price issues.

Good reviews will make a potential reader more likely to pick a book up and sample a few pages.

Very few readers find their reading matter in the way that you describe.


Personally, I am surprised that book sellers have not demanded exclusives on print books from the commercial publishers. Meaning, no online sales or e-books for 6 months or whatever.

This will eliminate readers from coming in, browsing and then buying on line at a lower price. It might not serve the readers, but it might save book stores by offering new work as an exclusive. Almost what they had before the Internet and big mergers by publishers and book sellers made counting beans more important than putting out quality work and nurturing authors...

But I doubt that will ever happen...

It has happened here with a few books: Waterstones has had a few exclusives. But it wasn't appreciated much by independent bookshops, who kicked up a bit of a fuss, and I haven't seen one in a while.


It was a pretty cool cover. But what I was initially thinking is that it could be worked on almost since the beginning of the pre-pub process. Because once the concept was established, the changes within the text of the book would not affect the cover. At least, I don't see how they might do that.

The problem with that, though, is that the designer can't come up with the concept until after he's briefed, and he's not usually briefed until later in the publication process because it's impossible to tell whether or not he'll come up with that amazing concept until after he's come up with it.


As for the library system, I believe it might be useful for the libraries itself. Electronic catalogues already exist. It would be simply a development on them.
Compatibility can be arranged if both sides are interested in dealing with each other. Say, a joint project.

The existing system works well for all involved.

Libraries are closing all over the UK because of a lack of funding. How do you suggest that your system would be funded, and how do you suggest that anyone would be interested in funding it bearing in mind there's already a system which works?


For the best of the profits, I’d say. A book is just a means to get there.

A book is so much more than that. And until you understand that, you're not going to understand the reason that publishing a good book in a good way requires much time and care.

Old Hack
10-18-2012, 10:38 AM
I was amazed to discover things are different in some European countries. 6-8 months is pretty average. And in Russia, even though it's a big country, a major publisher usually takes only 4-5 months to release a book.Has anyone directly addressed this point yet?

Yes. I have; Torgo has; others have.


Old Hack this is a great post. I really appreciate that you've laid out the land so clearly. I'm still thrown that other countries do it so much faster, thats mostly what the case felt like for me.

They don't. At least, not usually.


And Windcutter thanks for sticking with it - if you can get past all the anger and vitriol on this thread - the reader will extract now how the whole publishing process works.

I see frustration in this thread because some people aren't reading things carefully, and are misrepresenting what others have said, but I see no anger or vitriol in this thread. If you do see those things please report the posts concerned, and don't comment about them in-thread. Thank you.


As to the other posters, I don't think I saw anything on this thread about the publishing world having any dysfunctional aspects. Indeed the mere suggestion that the publishing world has dysfunction that might, a wee bit, add to the delay, prompted outrage.

Then you need to learn to read more closely. This comment, along with your "suck it up, shut up, and stop wasting thread space" comments displays a remarkable lack of comprehension of what's been said here. Again: report comments you don't like, and read things carefully and thoroughly before jumping to conclusions. It would help you enormously.

Polenth
10-18-2012, 11:04 AM
Not at all. I have never read any of those authors you mentioned and I don't think I'll ever want to self-publish anything.

That actually might be the problem, in that if you'd read the original sources, it's pretty obvious it's a marketing angle. By talking about big publishing as terrible in every way (or as getting worse, to cover having some big publisher deals in the past), buying self-published books can be promoted as a rebellious thing to do. It's selling that feeling to the audience as much as the books.

But second-hand it sounds a lot less like a marketing angle, and like it could be true. So though it makes me cringe to suggest it, you could read some of their stuff, to see what I mean about the spin of it. Because it's clear you don't agree with the conclusions they draw, but you are quoting some of the things they use to reach those conclusions.

Terie
10-18-2012, 12:17 PM
One thing that's been alluded to but not addressed in depth is that not one single person involved in the process of bringing a book to market is working on just that one book. Not even the author most of the time. And regarding the author I'm not talking about other life-stuff here; I'm talking about writing: Once you sign a contract, you typically are working on one or more new books.

So, sure. Hypothetically, let's say I blast through writing a book, am offered a contract, and, after a few negotiations, sign it. It moves straight to editing, and the editor works for several days on my book. When I get the editorial letter, I immediately sit down and make the changes. Lather rinse repeat a couple of times until the text is done. Around now, the cover artist is briefed on the book and spends the next week or so working on designs. In the meantime, marketing is briefed on the book and spends several weeks working on the marketing plan designs. During this time, the book goes first to copyedits, then typesetting/internal design, and finally proofreading. I get galleys and turn them around in a few days. All the final prep work is done, and the book is forked to the printer and the e-book producer. The hardcopy books are printed and delivered to the warehouse, which immediately starts shipping them to the bookstores.

This hypothetical process can take as little as a few weeks to about six months. If you're one of the authors putting out the first biographies of Michael Jackson or Princess Di immediately after they died, if you're George R.R. Martin with your next ASOIF book, or if you're JK Rowling with your next Harry Potter book.

As has been said, when one of these hyper-occasional events happens, they clear the decks and rush the books out. So, yeah, sure, it can be done. It's worth putting the extra resources (which cost money) into these projects because they're going to be bringing in a shedload of money to the publisher.

But for all but a handful of books in a year, EVERY SINGLE PERSON working on the book is multi-tasking multiple projects.

I'm a techincal writer, and I manage and produce documentation suites for relatively small bolt-on products. I typically have an average of 5 product releases per month. I'm often working on 8 to 10 different products' doc suites at any point in time.

Sometimes, I get comments like, 'The release guide for my project is only going to be around 10 pages, and there are only a few changes to the online help and the handbook. Besides, you're only going to log 8-10 hours for it. How come you haven't written it and sent it for review yet?'

The answer is: 'Because I'm working on 5 other projects, some of which are 3 to 5 times the size of yours, all due for release 2 weeks before yours. And funny thing, I might be fast at my job, but I can still type only one word -- nay, one letter -- at a time. You'll get your reviews when they're ready.'

If I worked on only one product's doc suite at a time, I could do 2 or 3 in a month. By virtue of multi-tasking, I can do 5 and sometimes even more. (I think my record is something like 14.)

Publishing is the same way. There are more people involved and far more tasks than I perform for small software documentation suites, but the principle is the same: everyone is working on multiple things over the course of production. No one (again, not even the author) is focused solely on one book for the duration of the process.

If every book went through the pipe one at a time, books would come out faster, but publishers would be able to produce far fewer books. A team that currently might produce 30 books a year by multi-tasking could probably do only 3 or 4 by concentrating on one at a time.

Technology has shortened some of the timeframes. I can deliver a manuscript in Word format, it can go through the edit phases with Track Changes via e-mail, and the interior designer can dump it into a template and then customise it from there. All of my published novels have gone through exactly this process. I'm sure that technology has shaved days here and there off all the processes involved.

The time saved means that the publishers can put out a couple more books in the same timeframe. Because all the people involved are multi-tasking.

Publishing isn't about the writers. It's about readers. No business is in place to satisfy the needs of vendors. It's there to satisfy the needs/wants of consumers. If a process will make things better for vendors but worse for consumers, no business worth its salt is going to implement that process.

shadowwalker
10-18-2012, 03:25 PM
I'm going to try an analogy here - anyone feel free to jump in and correct/adjust...

Look at a huge train yard. Trains are coming toward the yard, just arrived in the yard, loading freight, switching cars, going in for repairs, leaving the yard. Any one train could approach, arrive, get repaired, load freight, switch cars, and leave within a few hours. But that's if they're the only train in the yard. They aren't. Every train is moved around by the yard team according to what stage they are at, how much freight has to be loaded, how many cars need to be switched, what repairs are needed, when they're scheduled to be at the next destination, etc etc. Depending on any/all of those factors, one train may get out of the yard ahead of another, which is moved to a sidetrack until the first train is on its way. Is that frustrating for the engineer and crew? Of course it is. But they're still getting their pay while waiting, and they know that they will be moved out ahead of some other train, and they know that they will get to their next destination with the proper repairs made and the right cars attached. Which means their bosses/customers won't be angry because the train breaks down on the way or arrives with the wrong cargo.

And all that happens with some of the most sophisticated technology you can imagine.

James D. Macdonald
10-18-2012, 05:06 PM
The railroad marshaling yard analogy is a good one: Sometimes a special train comes along; they can clear the tracks and run it through pretty quickly. But doing so delays every other train in the yard.

(As an aside on Harry Hole: Perhaps give him a different name in the English translations? Kermit the Frog is Rana René when dubbed into Spanish. Batman's secret identity is Bruno Díaz. And many other examples....)

CaroGirl
10-18-2012, 06:06 PM
But for all but a handful of books in a year, EVERY SINGLE PERSON working on the book is multi-tasking multiple projects.
This is true. Not only is the publisher at various stages in the process with various books, like copy editing one book while doing the cover design for three others, while accepting two manuscripts, but the writer is working on that project, plus another, plus, for most of us, a full-time job. How could we possibly produce a published book in less than a year?


I'm a techincal writer, and I manage and produce documentation suites for relatively small bolt-on products. I typically have an average of 5 product releases per month. I'm often working on 8 to 10 different products' doc suites at any point in time.
derail/ Whaaat?! Holy hell, that's a short release cycle. How many books are in each suite and how long are they? We have a major release every year or two and patch releases every few months (which doesn't require a release of whole doc set). However, my doc set is 35 guides (3000+ pages) and I'm a sole writer. You must work your tail off, seestah!


Technology has shortened some of the timeframes. I can deliver a manuscript in Word format, it can go through the edit phases with Track Changes via e-mail, and the interior designer can dump it into a template and then customise it from there. All of my published novels have gone through exactly this process. I'm sure that technology has shaved days here and there off all the processes involved.
Technology is definitely involved in the process, despite the still long timeframe from contract to publication. When we were editing my manuscript for publication, my editor and I worked entirely electronically, sending the Word file back and forth rather than the physical pages. It didn't mean I could accept, reject or comment on all his changes any faster (I still have that family and f/t job and other writing I'm working on) but it did mean I didn't have to wait for the pages to come in the mail.

James D. Macdonald
10-18-2012, 06:14 PM
Publishing has been described as "glacially slow" for as long as I remember.

(For many of the Celebrity Biography books, the books had actually been written, bought and sold, edited, covers designed, etc. years before. All that they were waiting for was the celebrity to die so the author could write the final chapter (or final few paragraphs), the publisher could edit that chapter (or paragraph) and schedule time at a printer (at incredibly high rates for a rush job) and off they go ... in the bookstores in two to four months.)

absitinvidia
10-18-2012, 06:29 PM
(As an aside on Harry Hole: Perhaps give him a different name in the English translations? Kermit the Frog is Rana René when dubbed into Spanish. Batman's secret identity is Bruno Díaz. And many other examples....)


But then he wouldn't be Harry Hole!

I must admit, I also snicker at Bjarne Møller (I think you have to be an American of a certain age to find that one amusing).

BenPanced
10-18-2012, 06:36 PM
But then he wouldn't be Harry Hole!

I must admit, I also snicker at Bjarne Møller (I think you have to be an American of a certain age to find that one amusing).
3...2...:e2smack:

Stacia Kane
10-18-2012, 07:15 PM
3...2...:e2smack:


Ditto. :)


(Now the theme music is running through my head.)

victoriastrauss
10-18-2012, 07:18 PM
Has anyone directly addressed this point yet?
I signed a contract with a French publisher this August, and with a Turkish publisher this month. Pub dates for both editions are late 2013 or early 2014. This includes time for translation, but there won't be any editing, so timewise, that's a wash. So no real difference there.

A Czech edition of one of my books came out last spring. I sold the rights in 2005. That's the longest time lag I've ever experienced--far longer than I've had with any American publisher.

- Victoria

RedWombat
10-18-2012, 07:47 PM
One thing that's been alluded to but not addressed in depth is that not one single person involved in the process of bringing a book to market is working on just that one book. Not even the author most of the time. And regarding the author I'm not talking about other life-stuff here; I'm talking about writing: Once you sign a contract, you typically are working on one or more new books.


I'm in kid's books, and doing two a year, spring and fall, which is a pretty fast release schedule.

At the current moment, I'm doing the art for Book 9. Normally I'd also be working on the script for Book 10, except that Other Book is slotted into the schedule, and I'm waiting for edits back on it. While we're fooling with the edits there, I'll be starting the artwork for it, and while working on the artwork for Other Book I'll finally get to the script for Book 10.

Meanwhile, I try to put at least a thousand words a day (which is hardly anything) on other projects--Unsold But Really Cool Thing and Thing That Probably Has A Home When Finished--so that I do not suddenly look up one day and find nothing at all on the horizon.

And the small press who handled my already-finished comic book needs a new cover for the omnibus edition and needs approvals on changes on the current covers because they added a thingy. And the other art director may e-mail at any moment because Book 8, which has already receded from my memory, turned out to have a continuity error when the iguana's backpack disappears between one page and the next, so I have to go back and do art edits on Book 8, and Book 9 needs the cover early so it can go in the catalog on time.

And this is not weird or dysfunctional or even particularly slow. This is, in fact, the bare minimum of chaos, given that we're talking two books a year. My team at the publisher is a seriously well-oiled machine. They amaze me. But they've got at least a dozen other authors, plus old titles keep coming back and needing more attention--"Hey, we're releasing Book One-thru-Four in paperback, but we can't do four color printing for price reasons, so somebody in the art department has to go through and switch all instances of red to green. Also, make us a sign for the end-caps. And make sure there's a wistful monkey. Marketing says wistful monkeys are big this year. Also, why haven't you gotten the catalog spread done yet...?"

I realize that when you're working just one book, it's a rare, precious Faberge egg in your hands and this is totally normal. I have held that egg! But eventually you're juggling a half-dozen eggs and people keep throwing more at your head.

Terie
10-18-2012, 07:55 PM
derail/ Whaaat?! Holy hell, that's a short release cycle. How many books are in each suite and how long are they? We have a major release every year or two and patch releases every few months (which doesn't require a release of whole doc set). However, my doc set is 35 guides (3000+ pages) and I'm a sole writer. You must work your tail off, seestah!

/further derail

It's less about short release cycles (although the company uses the Agile Zen development methodology) and more about the fact that I support over 50 products worldwide. I have a team of one person other than myself, and this writer produces about 10-20% of my output (and with substantially lower quality, but we better not go there).

These are localisation products that bolt on to our baseline products, and most have a suite of three docs (RG, HB, and OLH), although a few (thankfully VERY few!) also have a TRM. Basically, the two of us support approximately 100 developers/analysts comprising about 10 or so development teams.

Localisation release cycles are usually about 2 months, sometimes 3 or 4 depending on scope. Baseline release cycles are typically 3 to 6 months, but there are only 8 baseline products and each has its own writer.

Page per page, I produce about three times as much doc per year as the next closest writer. Yes, I work my tail off, seestah, and no, I didn't get the promotion to the job I was forced to take on four years ago.

/end derail :D

MacAllister
10-18-2012, 08:09 PM
(Timmy has been permanently excused from the conversation. The passive-aggressive whinging and stirring of the pot just reached the "not worth the time or trouble" mark, so he's gone.)

aruna
10-18-2012, 08:51 PM
Has anyone directly addressed this point yet?

Yes. A few pages back I said that the Polish edition of my first novel was published barely 9 months after I signed the contract.

But that's super, super fast. I've had other foreign editions which took as long as, if not longer, than me British books. Then again, my first book took barely a year.

However, there's one thing you NEED as a writer, and that's patience. Loads and loads of it. If you haven't got patience then please go into - I dunno - cross country running or something.

Psychomacologist
10-18-2012, 09:05 PM
About translations: I read an article years ago about the translation process, which was very interesting. It was mainly concerned with translating comedy books (Discworld novels, I believe) but the translators said it's not as simple as just word-for-word translating from English to whatever language. Particularly with comedy, a lot of jokes don't work in translation because they rely on wordplay and such, so translators have to try and come up with new jokes so that the text remains funny.

I imagine the same issue applies with various colloquialisms and expressions that don't have equivalents in the 'target' language. Many expressions simply don't make sense when translated word for word. And then finding a way to make the translated text match the style and tone of the original (which isn't actually guaranteed just by doing it word for word) - so basically making sure that a book that was lyrical and poetic in English is still lyrical and poetic in Spanish, or Greek, or Hindi or Mandarin or Swahili.

Getting a good translation isn't as simple as it appears. And translations would also require edits - my aunt has worked as a technical translator for years and even for short documents she will go through afterwards to edit the text for readability, clarity etc.

So basically, good translations take time. And edits.

Windcutter
11-19-2012, 06:45 PM
I'd like to apologize for my sudden disappearance. I came down with the flu somewhat hard. I'll need to reread the thread to reply properly.