Self Publishing Timeline for First-Time Authors

A previous blog post discussed the Traditional Book Publishing Timeline which summarized everything you need to know about outsourcing publishing to a company rather than going down the self-publishing route. Today we’ll be talking about self-publishing and how it could potentially allow you to bypass many of the obstacles you would experience in traditional publishing and accelerate the process.


The publishing timeline varies based on several factors. For example, is your manuscript already in perfect shape or does it need proofreading and editing services? Are you looking to publish an eBook only, or are you wanting a physical book as well?


To give you a sense of what your self-publishing timeline might look like, let’s break it down:


  1. Copyediting

This editing process, in which a copyeditor searches for spelling & grammatical errors and typos, can take about 3 weeks for manuscripts of 25,000 words or less, or more like 4 weeks for 100,000+ words. Additional costs are associated with this service as well. 


  1. Developmental editing

This is a more thorough editing process that can take around 2 weeks for an approximately 25,000-word manuscript or 2 months for a 100,000-word manuscript. However, this can vary depending on factors like the quality of the writing, and the complexity of the subject.


  1. eBook formatting and publishing

If you format your eBook and upload your manuscript to a publishing platform, such as Amazon, this might be completed in as little as a week. 


  1. Print book formatting and layout

For standard formatting and layout for the interior of a print book, you can expect about a 5 week turnaround. If there are a large number of editing and/or formatting requests, this timeframe can increase significantly.


  1. Post-production proofread

For manuscripts 50,000 words or under, it should take about 1-2 weeks for a proofreader to do a final proofread of the book.


  1. Cover design

For a print book, this can take 4-5 weeks. This also depends on the complexity of the cover requests. Illustrated covers can take longer to complete.


  1. Illustrations

This can vary widely depending on how many illustrations are needed, how detailed, how many versions you go through with the illustrator, etc. The process can be shortened by finding an artist online to provide you with a digital design in a couple of days, but quality can be lowered if timelines are rushed. The artist will need to be provided with copious amounts of information, including bleeds, margins, orientation, etc. This information is crucial to ensure that the illustration(s) you receive will work within the layout of your book and eliminate the need for extra edits that may negatively impact your timeline.


  1. Copyright / LCCN registration

On average it can take 1 to 2 weeks to register a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office and generally 1 year to receive the Copyright certificate. LCCN registration from the Library of Congress is a quicker process, with most authors receiving their LCCNs within 2 weeks.


(It may be possible to pay extra to get some of these services expedited.)




Self-publishing offers a great alternative to the time-consuming and highly competitive and selective processes of getting your book to consumers through a traditional publisher.

If you find yourself struggling with the concept of writing a book and figuring out which publishing route is right for you, I suggest you check out the annual Publishing and Publicity Mastermind – A 12-week mastermind where you get to work with Meredith Eaton of Eaton Press and myself. 


Together we will guide you through the process of answering these questions and creating a plan to ensure that when you start writing, you’ll be writing the RIGHT book to accomplish your business goals.


Here’s some feedback from last year’s mastermind, 


“Your class gave me the framework I needed to know that I can write a book and what I needed to approach a publisher. Today I signed my contract to publish my book! You guys made all the difference.”


Are you ready to write the right book? Apply today and receive special early bird pricing. Spots are limited: