How Long Does it Take to Self-publish a Book?

Figuring out how long it will take to self-publish depends on a variety of factors - here are some to consider.

by Adam G. Fleming

Short answer: assuming your book is written, you can self-publish it on Amazon in just a few hours. But should you? 

Step 1: Figure Out What Your Goals Are 

Sometimes people just want it done. You may not care if lots of people buy it. For example, you may be publishing a memoir with the purpose of purchasing 50 copies for family and friends. You may do workshops and you plan to purchase your own copies to take along, and hand-sell them. In that case, you may not need to worry about marketing. If your goals don’t include selling lots of copies, you could self-publish within a few hours. Make your own cover, upload your manuscript to Amazon, and it’s all pretty simple (at least, it will be the second time through).

On the other hand, some people don’t want to launch a book until they’ve done a great job of creating a launch team, doing pre-sales, running a Kickstarter campaign (which can help pay for costs of cover design, etc.). Figure out how much time you need to market your book UP TO the time of your release, and then work backward. Making sure to give yourself enough time to market can add several months to the process – after you get a cover design. 

Step 2: Consider These Factors

What are some factors to consider in preparing to produce a great book? If you want to do things well, you’ll want to get a good cover design. This can take weeks. Interior layout (typesetting) can take some time also. Purchasing an ISBN is one step you’ll have to cover if you want your book to be available in multiple marketplaces (not just Amazon).  At VVP, when we do a production package, this process can take around two months. One of our colleagues went back to the drawing board four times with his book cover design because he kept having trouble with the size requirements. If you’re prone to frustration you might want to make sure to hire a cover designer who has half a dozen projects or more under their belt. 

You need the font from the cover to finish typesetting, and you need to finish typesetting to finish the size of the spine. With all that, it’s no wonder people hire a company like Victory Vision for project management. That being said, if you plan to produce multiple books, you might want to struggle through and learn to do all these things yourself. 

Nonfiction: Do you Need a Foreword?

One thing to consider for nonfiction books is procuring a foreword to add credibility to your work. Since all I have is a bachelor’s degree I like to get people with a PhD to write one for me. I’ve been blessed to have Mark Whitacre (“The Art of Motivational Listening”) and Jonathan Bornman (“Old Roads, New Friends”) write forewords for me. Bornman isn’t famous outside a small circle, but the story of Whitacre’s life (or the first half of his life) was played by Matt Damon in the Hollywood film “The Informant.” Getting a foreword is something you may want to begin working on before you've finished proofreading. 

The Real Scoop

The fact is, if you’re going to self-publish, there are factors from marketing to forewords to cover and interior design to consider that can take up to six months or even longer, if you want to do it well. If speed is an issue, hiring an experienced company with a production manager who is experienced in the publishing industry can help you take that six month window down to two or three months (depending on how much is done already). What’s really important, though, is saving yourself massive headaches. I have four books in the queue right now because although I finished writing them in 2022, I haven’t had time to market them in 2023. Patience is a virtue. 

We wish you the best on your self-publishing journey, and as always, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions. 

Interested in getting to the next step? Click here for a free discovery meeting with Adam.

Adam G. Fleming, PCC, is an ICF certified coach and trainer. He has trained people in coaching skills around the world and has also led other seminars as speaker and facilitator. Using both traditional and DIY methods, Adam has published 13 books in a variety of genres, and serves as the CEO and lead ghostwriter for Victory Vision Publishing, Inc. He lives in Goshen, Indiana, with his wife Megan and their four children. Contact:

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