What happens after a book is sold to a publisher?

It’s time that we all step back and think about the process once an author accepts an offer from a publishing house. Remember the time it took to write the book? Let alone the time required to build a strong network or to find an agent? Assume a similar amount of time will be spent once your book begins its official path to the bookshelf.

#1 – The final contract

Ask any author who is published, a contract can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months (or longer) once the offer has been accepted. The length of time depends on the month of the year, the amount of negotiation required, and/or how busy the publisher’s contract department is at the time of the offer.

#2 – The editing process

This can be a challenging time for any author, as the editor is going to do his or her best to ensure the book is ready to be published. Take those edits to heart, try to keep consistent and good communication with the editor, and never take the edits as a personal affront to the book or your writing. Always remember the editor loved the book enough to offer a contract, and that it’s a shared experience by both parties.

#3 – Marketing (before & after the book is published)

Assuming you’ve worked hard at building a social media presence before the publishing contract, additional individuals will now play a role in building additional buzz for the book.

How does your book reach a bookstore? It isn’t going to magically teleport onto the bookshelves. There will more than likely be a marketing department, a sales representative, a book buyer, and book reviewers who play a role in the process. This takes time, usually 4-6 months of work in advance (possibly longer). The best way to ensure these behind-the-scenes people buy/review/recommend your book is to actively promote yourself in as many channels as possible beforehand. This will in turn give them the opportunity to piggy back on your successes.

#4 – Timing

For those of us who have worked in bookstores (I have), Tuesdays are busy days. It’s a fairly standard practice for books to be released on a Tuesday. Additionally some books may be released in conjunction with an important day. Ex: Holidays, special events, etc.

Additionally there’s the importance of the official release date. Not just the day of the week. Your publisher will launch your book at certain time of the year, usually in the Winter, Spring or Fall. This can be from a few months after the book is completed up to 18-24 months after signing the contract. While that would be quite a long wait, envision the advantage of many months to reach readers.

#5 – Keep it personal, be yourself

While it’s important to participate in social media, it’s equally vital every writer adds a personal touch to the promotional process. Determine opportunities to get face time with people who know books; this includes booksellers, book reviewers, readers, the media, etc. Word of mouth can go a long way and your publisher will appreciate it. Attend conferences, go to book events, and be available to support other writers as they go down the same path.

With any new book, it’s essential one understands the time and preparation between the book’s publication date and the acceptance of the offer. . Please never assume that things will fall into place or that the book will sell itself. The editing process can take several months, as well as the marketing preparation, long after the contract is negotiated. As more people help make possible to “birth” your book into the world, it’s important to remember this is a team effort from beginning to start.

In closing, I can’t help but emphasize that one always remember to reach out to readers, bookstores, and reviewers on a regular basis. Keep building that buzz by being available and approachable, friendly and personable, smart and engaging. Plan on keeping this pace and setting new goals for your book for several years. Make it a regular part of your writerly life.