How Long Does It Take To Get a Book Deal?

For authors who do not want to self-publish their own books, a book deal offers a wonderful opportunity to get their work published. It also saves them the hassle of negotiating with publishers for the best deal. Unfortunately, landing a book deal can be a long, tedious, and confusing process, particularly if you don’t know the ins and outs of the industry.

It could take a few months or up to 3 years to get a book deal. The exact timelines depend on the time taken to get an agent and a publisher. Also, after clinching a book deal, you might have to wait for over 12 months for the book to launch, depending on the work needed to get it publish-ready. 

In this article, you’ll find out more about why it takes so long to get a book deal and what you can do to speed up the process.

What Is a Book Deal?

A book deal is a contract offered to an author by a publishing company. It spells out the conditions to be met for the company to publish the author’s book. The author agrees to sell their book to the company under certain specifications, such as a royalty rate, sub-rights, or an advance.

To get a book deal, it will really help to have an agent to represent you. The agent pitches the book project to traditional publishers and, if successful, sells your book. The publisher then purchases the rights to the book from you, the author.

If your book attracts the interest of more than one publisher, a bidding war ensues. This is how some authors get to receive lucrative deals comprising 7-figure advances.

Why You Might Want To Pursue a Book Deal

Becoming a traditionally published author is a big deal, and it’s the dream of every author. Besides, if your book is brilliant, it could end up on the New York Times Bestsellers list. 

Other reasons that make authors pursue book deals include:

  • The high prestige associated with traditional publishing. Since your book has to go through many hands, many people think the book is better than others.
  • It’s an enormous accomplishment, as you get your name and words in print and the respect and recognition that comes from publishing your work.
  • Famous authors find it easier to publish through traditional publishers, as well as authors with a massive platform or celebrity status.
  • Using a literary agent assures you of getting a good deal since they possess excellent sales and negotiating skills.

Some authors might opt not to look for a literary agent, choosing to reach out to smaller publishers who accept submissions directly from authors instead. 

However, relying on a book agent can save you lots of time and hassle. Besides, the more money they negotiate for, the more they earn. Hence, they have the motivation to get you the best deal possible.

Why Book Deals Take Long

Let’s look at some of the reasons why book deals take so long to come through.

The Book Deal Process Is Long

As mentioned, getting a book deal might take only a few months if you’re lucky. But it could also take 2-3 years owing to the lengthy process. For starters, it might take you a while to get an agent to show interest in your proposal. 

This is especially true if you’re not that well connected to people in the publishing world. Be prepared, as book proposals or queries often receive lots of rejection or no response.

Your Agent Must Read Your Manuscript

It also takes time for the agent to read your manuscript, if they request it, and for them to finally agree to represent you. Next, the agent works with you to prepare the book for the editors, since minor edits might be necessary before submission.

Your Proposal Gets Handed To Many People

The traditional publishing industry is quite subjective, and your proposal passes through many hands, including sales, marketing, production, finance, and publicity, before you can receive a book deal, which takes time. Therefore, you might want to only send your manuscript to publishing houses that might respond positively.

The Publishing Queue Takes Time

Once you’ve signed the book deal, you work with an editor to meet deadlines and then wait for your book’s turn in the publishing queue. This period can take anywhere between 1+ years and 3 years, but the actual time will depend on the work needed to get the book publish-ready. 

Besides, the size of the press matters as well as how far out the publishing house plans their production schedule. 

You Are a First-Time Author

Agents and publishing companies typically check your online presence to determine whether you’re a good bet to publish. This means that if you have never published before, or even self-published, it might take you longer to convince an agent or publisher to take up your book.

Your Book Is Non-Fiction Work

It also depends on whether your book is fiction or non-fiction. You see, in most cases, publishers hardly ever take up non-fiction books. The only exception is if you’re an author boasting serious backing or clout.

How To Get a Book Deal Fast

A book deal doesn’t always have to take long. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to speed up the submission process. 

Here’s what to do to ensure your book deal comes through quickly:

  • Complete your manuscript.
  • Get recommendations from other authors, mentors, and key members of writers’ organizations.
  • Hire a ghostwriter to give you feedback on your manuscript and confirm whether it’s ready for submission to a book agent.
  • Consider self-publishing first to build an audience and help build social proof to prove that your books sell.
  • Create a more extensive outreach or platform by joining numerous writers’ and literary associations as proof to agents and editors that you can effectively market your book.
  • Have a fantastic pitch to draw in an agent, and include a remarkable title plus a couple of lines explaining your book concept.

Final Thoughts

As we have seen, landing a book deal can take time owing to various factors. And while some of them might be beyond your control, there are several steps you can take to speed up the process of clinching a book contract. 

Use the tips provided in this article to get your book published sooner rather than later.