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How long will it take to self publish my book?

There are many reasons to choose to publish your books independently, like maintaining creative control and setting your own timelines. There are also very many decisions that you end up having to make after you decide to independently publish, and my golly, they can be overwhelming.

Writing the book is just one part of the process and you may end up finding that you spend a whole lot more time on the post-writing jobs, like planning a release campaign and ongoing marketing.

I published my first book in 2016 and there weren’t the number of resources available then that there are now. I don’t know if I would have done things differently if I had a specific guideline or timeline to follow then, but I am definitely glad we can share a resource that marks out all of the steps for people who are new to Indie Publishing, or those who make decisions to write a book at remarkably short notice (I’m talking about me here).

Below you will find a handy guide that BFA staff created with our Bronze Sponsor, IngramSpark. It highlights some of the key milestones of the publication process.

You can sign up for your IngramSpark account as soon as you decide to publish your book. Having your account isn’t so that you can upload your book super early, it’s so you can access the handy marketing tools they have available.

The second thing to do is book in your editor and cover designer as early as possible. These people are specialists in their field, indispensable for publishing and often booked months in advance. Although the adage always counsels against it, we know that people will definitely judge a book by its cover. Because of that, your cover art should indicate your genre and be engaging. As for an editor, you can use editorial software, spell check everything three times and still have errors sneak through. I believe I once spotted a military ‘corpse’ lining up instead of a ‘corps’. A good editor will pick up errors like this and many more, which is important, because you don’t want your soldiers dead before your battle begins, unless it’s a zombie horde, I guess.

The other most important things to note is the time required to have your print files approved and the print turnaround times. When you upload your manuscript files, there is an initial digital approval phase, followed by a manual phase, where the files are reviewed by someone in the US office. Sometimes, you get lucky and your files will be approved overnight. Other times, you might submit before a long weekend, and it might take almost a week to get that approval, not something you want to happen on a time crunch. You should also order a physical proof copy to review before ordering a larger print run, so you need to allow a week or so for that to be processed and then another 1–2 weeks for your main print run.

One last tip, IngramSpark offers varied print options (Rush, Express and Economy), allowing you to have books printed in 1-5 business days. However, at times of high demand, the Rush and Express options may not be available, so don’t leave processing your order to 3 days before an event and plan to get Rush service and overnight shipping. It’s a recipe for high blood pressure and teeth-grinding stress levels (trust me, I’ve been there, done that and do not recommend it).

With all that information in mind, I can say that this publication guide will help you have a pretty smooth and stress-free book publishing experience. Feel free to share where you’re up to in the publishing process in the comments.

P.S. If you are planning to release a new book in time for Book Fair Australia 2024, you can find a version of this template with specific dates to help you make sure you have your books in time for the event here.

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