Radius News

Publishing Note: Speed to Market


“Hey, Mark, I finished my book and want to publish it as quickly as possible,” says an author excitedly on a video call.

“Okay. Tell me about your book and why you want to publish it,” I reply calmly, ready to listen and take notes on all the details that will come into play, and shape my follow-up questions.

After describing the book and her journey writing it, she circles back to timing.

“So, this important once-in-a-lifetime event is coming up in five months, and I want to use that platform as a springboard to launch the book and grow my brand. Can you have books ready by then?” she asks, hoping the answer is going to be yes.

“Well,” I say, mentally racing through all the tasks and challenges we’d need to overcome, “the short answer is yes, it is possible, but with some caveats.”

Speed to market is a common fixation of authors. Most people outside the publishing industry, and many that actually work within the industry, know very little about what it takes to publish a book successfully, the time required to complete all those tasks, and the complexity of the timing of those varied tasks needed to produce books by a given date. As a first-time author, you can’t be expected to grasp the magnitude of work, or the difficulties and number of variables involved. You are probably just so thrilled to have finished writing your manuscript—and I heartily celebrate that achievement with you—you may think the finish line must be close at hand. Even published authors, ghostwriters, literary agents, and others with publishing experience, see and comprehend only bits and pieces of the publishing process. Unless you’ve been involved in actually producing a book, managing the chain from start to finish, it is difficult to comprehend what’s involved. Particularly when it comes to speed to market, knowing what a publisher has to do to deliver finished books by a given date helps authors temper their expectations.

To help you gain a glimpse of what a publisher must accomplish, here is a barebones list of production tasks involved once you deliver your completed manuscript. Each of these tasks has its own subset of tasks, each of which goes through multiple sets of hands and eyes. Further, this list does not include a host of related tasks and it does not provide a more detailed picture of the network of people and organizations required to execute all the tasks.

  • Substantive Editing
  • Legal Review
  • Copyediting
  • Cover design
  • Interior design
  • Typesetting
  • Proofreading first-pass pages (1PP)
  • Entering corrections to 1PP
  • Slugging
  • Reviewing second-pass pages (2PP)
  • Indexing
  • Entering corrections to 2PP
  • Final reviewing and approval
  • Delivering files to the printer
  • Printing
  • E-book creation
  • Finished books shipping to the distributor’s warehouse
  • Distributor shipping books to booksellers and retailers
  • Publication Date

Can Radius Book Group deliver finished books in six or five or four months? Yes.

The norm is more like nine to twelve months. To be clear, it is not unusual for other publishers’ projects to take eighteen to twenty-four months from signature of a contract, especially when you have only written a chapter or two by the time the contract is signed.

If you have good reasons to want to publish a book quickly, that’s a start. When you become aware of all the tasks involved and understand the average time it takes to complete those tasks, we ask again, how important it is to publish this book by that date. If your answer is still definitely yes, then we begin to calculate the costs, which go well beyond the run-of-the-mill production schedule. Devoting the publisher’s time, attention, and resources to this one rush project, in essence jumping to the front of the line ahead of other projects on more standard schedules, costs us making headway on those projects and risks our ability to keep our promise to other authors. Plus, the all-consuming nature of rush projects can mean the loss of other opportunities, which is a real business cost. That’s why a rush project costs so much more than a standard project.

Even so, we are happy to help you publish quickly when circumstances justify it. Speed to market is one of the many advantages offered by an author-centered hybrid publisher like Radius Book Group. Contact us if speed to market is top of mind for you.