Chris A. Baird | January 9, 2024
How Long Does It Take to Self Publish a Book in 2023-Blog

So, you're looking to get your book on the market, but how long will this entire self-publishing process take you? That's what we're going to discuss today. The topic of today is: How long does it take to self-publish a book in 2023?

Importance of understanding the timeline

So, let's just get straight into it - the timeline. The first thing we're going to want to look at for the introduction is the importance of understanding the timeline. Now, you have to keep in mind that when we're looking at the order of steps, which I break down in my free checklist, it goes through these steps exactly. 

You want to consider how efficient you can be. If you're not thinking from the beginning about what can be done in parallel, what steps are sequential (where they follow one after another), and where they're dependent on each other, you might find yourself wasting a lot of time in this process. 

So, the first thing you're going to focus on is efficient planning. Understanding the timeline is crucial for efficient planning and project management. So, when you're dealing with this, you've got to keep in mind that your book itself is a project. 

We're going to need to make sure that we're staying on track with each one of the steps while remaining flexible enough to ensure that our book is indeed progressing. And we're not burning ourselves out in the process. The next thing to consider is the significance of deadlines. This is another really important aspect of it. 

We have certain deadlines that we've set for ourselves, and we're going to work hard to reach those deadlines as long as we're not losing motivation. And then, effective collaboration. We're going to be working with different people as we proceed to ensure that the necessary steps for getting our book onto the market are indeed being met. 

Factors influencing the time required

There are several of these factors, one of which is the scope of the book. How many pages will the book have? How many of these tasks will you do yourself, and what will you outsource? Much of this depends on your budget. Do you have the funds available to make this project a success?

Check out this related article: How much does it cost to self publish a book in 2023

In other words, if you're doing everything yourself, it will take a lot longer. However, for certain skills, like formatting, which I highly recommend doing yourself because you may need to make changes to the book, it will take some time, especially the first time you do it.

So, we need to be a little flexible with ourselves and not be too hard on ourselves when it comes to things we've never done or known how to do before. But, at the same time, we don't want to get too bogged down in learning one special skill that we could simply outsource to somebody else if we have the ability.

Now, how long does it take to self publish a book in 2023? Another important factor is collaboration and communication. This ties back to the idea that if we're working together with people in an effective way, which we learn over time with self-publishing, it can significantly impact the process.

Pre-Writing and Planning Phase

We're going to be able to get the book out faster if you have the experience and skill level. This, again, goes back to the idea that if you have no experience, it's going to take you longer to get your book onto the market. Prewriting and planning in 2023 and 2022 for that matter, take about the same amount of time.

Ideation and concept development

So, the pre-writing and planning phase, which is critical, begins with ideation and concept development. We start with brainstorming and exploration, looking at ideas, and identifying your areas of expertise. What are the skills you already possess?

You can position yourself as an expert in those areas, making it easier to write about or delegate the writing if necessary, ensuring you won't get bored with or lose focus on the chosen theme. Another crucial aspect is analyzing the market and the associated keywords. This is one of the most important considerations. Are you writing a book for a non-existent market?

If you are, you should reconsider your approach. It's worth your time to ensure you're targeting existing markets with high demand and relatively few available books. This way, when people search for specific keywords, your book will appear at the beginning of the results. This is why I strongly recommend tools like Publisher Rocket or KDPSpy. 

The tools will give you more insight into market trends. You're also going to have a lot of things to consider. If you're dealing with fiction, you're going to have storyboarding, and for non-fiction, you'll need a table of contents. You'll also need an outline to determine what this book is going to look like. 

In this phase, you can see that it could vary greatly, depending on your very first book. That's one of the reasons I would suggest not going for something like 'War and Peace,' a huge, gigantic volume. Instead, keep it simple with something small that makes the entire process easier, reducing the need for excessive highlighting and structuring of the book.

Outlining and structuring the book

How long does it take to self publish a book in 2023? We're going to establish a story structure, so you're going to start outlining it. This helps us create the overall structure of your specific book. You'll be looking at key plot points, character arcs, and the progression of events.

This is crucial to keep readers engaged, whether they're dealing with fiction or non-fiction. They should be on the edge of their seats, eagerly turning to the next page. If you're not making your book like that, they won't be interested in reading it. So, it's very important in this phase that you do a little bit of planning.

You're going to define your chapters or sections, including the elements that will be included within the chapters, to keep things flowing smoothly. You'll be balancing plot and character development to ensure we're not overemphasizing one at the expense of the other. 

I can't tell you how many times I've read a book where they spend all this time developing the character. But then, they don't have a story that makes it captivating, or we put that character in the story. Or the opposite happens sometimes children's books will do this. 

Check out this related article: How to Self-Publish a Children's Book in 2023 [10 Steps]

We don't spend any time on character development; we just jump straight into the action. Now, I don't have any connection to the character. These are the things we're going to spend some time on, and they're going to take some of your time when you're getting started.

Research and fact-checking (if applicable)

Research and fact-checking – you're going to research and fact-check if applicable. This applies to both fiction and non-fiction, as gathering accurate information is crucial. My wife was just telling me yesterday that she was reading a book, and some of the things in there, within her profession, were completely off. 

They were doing a funeral, and they were mentioning certain things like when the organ plays and everybody knows to stand up. That is not the case. The person who had written this very famous book didn't even bother to research within the funeral industry and things like that – how exactly you're supposed to do this thing right. 

They just guessed it. And what that does is it's off-putting to your readers. When you're putting incorrect information in a book, like, for example, "The Hunt for Red October," the right information regarding the submarines was so accurate that they had to change it because it almost seemed to violate classified documents. 

So, on the nature of military submarines, which is amazing if you think about it, right? Lots of research goes into fiction, and for non-fiction, it's even more important. This is one of the reasons why, if you're writing in a field that you already know a lot about, it can make the whole process go a lot smoother. 

Right now, verifying sources; let's make sure we're not using fake news for our stuff. We're going to make sure we have really solid sources. If it's fiction or nonfiction, you might cite those sources and use bookmarks just so we know where this information is coming from, particularly in non-fiction. 

Fiction's a little bit weird when doing that, but at least for non-fiction. And then consistency and realism. So when people are reading your fictional books, it's at least consistent with itself and consistent with the literature that's out there on the market. It's not like pushing two ideas at the same time that's going to drive your readers crazy. And this is just a part of this initial process.

Writing and Editing Phase

Now, how long does it take to self publish a book in 2023? The next big phase is the writing and editing phase.

Drafting the manuscript

You're going to start with drafting the manuscript. We want to get into free writing and brainstorming. So you're just going to start getting into writing, and sometimes you might do the editing later, but you already have a basic outline and a story arc that you're dealing with on the whole thing.

Then, you're going to have writing with momentum to ensure that as we're writing, we're keeping it moving forward. We're not getting bogged down in one specific thing. This is a problem you can have if you've got your writing hat on and your editing hat at the same time. This can create huge challenges for you. 

The other is maintaining consistency. So, as you're going throughout the book, we're going to make sure that the story hangs with itself. It's not just going off the deep end. I can tell you I've read some of these books where they just take this swing, and suddenly the entire story is like something very different. 

Kind of like a murder mystery where suddenly we take a break, and the person's on vacation. It's like, what does this have to do with the story? Do not do this. The same goes for your non-fiction books, making sure that the entire thing hangs together. 

Revisions and self-editing

Now, with revisions and self-editing, we're going to read with fresh eyes. So you might approach some of your beta readers. And when they're looking at it, when they read it through with fresh eyes, they're going to be able to give you some feedback on what's going on. When you're looking at it, you need to give yourself a little bit of distance.

And then, when you read it, you'll have a brand new, fresh set of eyes. We don't want to be doing the editing while we're writing it. So, when we're dealing with this, we're going to focus on structure and flow to make sure the whole thing is flowing nicely and smoothly. 

We'll refine language and polish prose; we want to make sure that the language we're using is at the level of our readers, so it's not going over their heads or speaking to a child if that's not our target audience.

Professional editing and proofreading

Then, we're going to polish it to make sure that it's not repetitive, and that we're not using the same words and phrases all the time. That can be very off-putting to your ideal readers. Professional editing, and proofreading. But how long does it take to self publish a book in 2023?

Now, if you've got a budget, we're going to save some money and time on this one. So, you're going to have comprehensive feedback. That means we're going to have different types of proofreaders. There are a lot of different editing and proofreading services available on Fiverr and Upwork, my two favorite locations to go to for both of these services.

And they're going to be able to go through this thing and rip apart your book. Now, you need to be not so sensitive to this; you need to understand they're trying to help you. It's like a personal trainer coming in with their skill set and telling you you're doing things wrong. Sometimes you may disagree with them if they're trying to change the overall flow.

But many times, if you're going with somebody positive, they're coming with a fresh set of eyes, and you're paying them to be critical. So, do not ignore the feedback that you're getting. Then you have the language and the grammar, which are part of the editing and proofreading, but not all of it. How long does it take to self publish a book in 2023?

Then you have the quality assurance, just to make sure. Professional proofreading ensures that your manuscript is error-free and ready for publication, which is really what it's all about – the whole thing hanging together. There are lots of different types of editing that you can do. You'll have to see which ones are right for you. I cover them in other videos.

Design and Formatting Phase

The next main thing when trying to figure out how long does it take to self publish a book in 2023 is the design and formatting phase.

Cover design and interior layout

The first part of this is cover design and interior layout. You want an eye-catching cover, in particular, something that's going to stand out as a thumbnail for goodness' sake. When they see it on Amazon and these other platforms, it's really small. So, the point you're trying to get through needs to be clear and eye-catching, where it pops off the page.

There are a couple of things here too. Make sure it doesn't have a white background so you can't even see the covers; it blends into the background page on Amazon itself. That's something we do not want to make a mistake on when trying to figure out how long does it take to self publish a book in 2023.

Then, my ebook formatting course covers thoughtful interior layouts to ensure that the formatting is going to look good. In the formatting, I recommend using Jutoh. I have an eBook Formatting Course Made Easy. I also provide Coaching and guidance, where we go through exactly how to use the tool Jutoh. 

In my opinion, it is the cheapest and most thorough way to publish your book. I can't promise it's the easiest; there are other options like Attica and others, which I'm sure are fantastic. But, in terms of being able to ensure there are no mistakes, and that your book will be accepted by the platforms and make your readers happy, Jutoh is the go-to tool that I recommend. We discussed this in detail with my clients on how to use that tool.

So, how long does it take to self publish a book in 2023? It's about having a thoughtful interior layout, ensuring it flows easily, and avoiding huge walls of text. These are the subjects we discuss in other blogs as well. Then, you have consistency and branding to make sure your book matches your other books in terms of consistency across the board. 

This is especially crucial when it comes to your covers, to ensure they align with your goals. You can hire someone on Fiverr, and I have a recommended cover designer. She is amazing and charges $30 per cover.

I know it's called Fiverr, and nothing's just five dollars anymore on there, but $30 is a reasonable investment. If you can't afford that, you can use Canva for free. I don't recommend it, but your covers will be acceptable. I started with books like that until the money started coming in, at which point I hired someone else to do all of my covers, specifically the person  that I recommend

Formatting the manuscript for publication

Next, when formatting the manuscript for publication, the first thing is to follow publishing guidelines. There are a lot of things you need to do, and that's one of the things I cover in my course, including using a template. I have a template specifically designed to ensure it follows industry standards, resulting in consistent formatting. 

That's right, every single chapter, every page, everything follows a standard format, and you're using styles to do this. You're not manually adding spaces, and you're not trying to throw in extra carriage returns between paragraphs. No, we're going to let the tool do all of the heavy lifting for us to ensure it looks great.

How long does it take to self publish a book in 2023? You're going to prepare it for different formats. That's the thing I like about Jutoh; just click a few buttons, and voilà, you've got your paperback, hardcover, ebook, and all the formats you'll need to sell this thing in different formats without doing any additional work.

I originally tried Scrivener, and I ended up moving over to Jutoh because it just worked so much better, at least for my needs. Maybe you have had different experiences; let me know below in the comments. 

Incorporating illustrations, images, or graphics

Incorporating visual appeal, such as illustrations, images, or graphics, is crucial. How long does it take to self publish a book in 2023? You're going to want to enhance visual appeal to ensure that you have these elements in there. When your readers go through it, these visuals draw them in. This even applies to fiction; having some images in there, like drawings, can be effective. 

You can use AI to create them, or if you prefer not to use AI, you can find illustrators on Upwork and Fiverr at a very reasonable price. We want a consistent artistic style, so please do not use free artwork from the web and avoid just mixing and matching clip art. 

It's going to look poor, and your readers are going to punish you with low one-star and two-star reviews. So, don't do that. Then, you're going to balance text and visuals, making sure it's not only visuals unless this is a children's book. Then, of course, just visuals are fine, but having good blending helps it pop. 

Publishing and Distribution Phase

The next thing is the publishing and distribution phase.

Choosing a publishing platform or service

I'm going to be choosing a publishing platform or service. You're going to research the different options. I recommend going with Amazon, IngramSpark, Draft2Digital, or maybe Lulu. These are the ones I recommend. 

They're going to get it onto these other platforms, or you can go manually through all the thousand different platforms and do it, but I wouldn't recommend it. It's a waste of your time, plus most of your sales will be made on Amazon and IngramSpark. 

Check out this related article: Amazon Ads For Authors

So why would you waste your time going that particular route? Complete waste of time, all right, so don't do that. Next, evaluate the features and services. You're going to go through and look to see whether or not it meets your needs. Some of my clients, just don't like the paper quality on Amazon.

Fine, then go for IngramSpark or go for Lulu. Also, test things out. Do not assume. It's not just because it worked for one person that it will work for somebody else. You're going to want to test this stuff out to see what happens and let me know what exactly you find. You're also going to consider your target audience and genre. What exactly are they expecting when it comes to the publishing and distribution of your book and all of these sorts of things? 

So, there are a lot of choices to be made. This is also going to take a bit of time. You can look at some of the videos or you can work with me one-on-one as a coach to guide you through these steps and help you figure out the decisions that are best for you.

You can find more information about my one-on-one program or my group coaching in the description below. 

Uploading and preparing the book for publication

Next, we move on to uploading and preparing the book for publication. The first thing is you're going to have to consider the file format and specifications to ensure that it exactly meets the requirements of the platform you're publishing on. Different platforms have different requirements, but fortunately, this makes it easy to publish on any of these platforms.

But whatever the case is, even if you want to go with a cheaper or free route, just make sure it's going to match, because otherwise, they're just going to keep rejecting it. Then, you have to deal with the metadata and book details.

This is where the tools that I mentioned earlier, like the Publisher Rocket and KDPSpy. These tools can be very helpful in figuring out what exactly and how should be filled out. We're also going to use ChatGPT to help us fill out some of this metadata and come up with ideas. So that is also very helpful for those of you who don't hate AI. 

I'm sorry, but it's here, and it's going to be more prevalent. So, you know, you're going to have to figure it out one way or the other. I know some people are like, 'We're going to stop and never use AI for anything,' and I'm telling you, it's very easy to use. I talk to my Group Coaching clients and my 1-on-1 clients about how to exactly use these tools every day.

Then, review and preview. Do not hit publish and just shove it onto the platform. Make sure you've looked through the thing to see if there are any errors in there before you go about doing that. I also take a look at my clients' books. If you want me to do that, that's a service I also provide. 

Selecting distribution channels and formats

So, as we were discussing a little earlier, you're going to research the different channels and see which one matches for you. I like to have as many formats as possible and as many distribution channels. Consider multiple formats; this is definitely the one. In many different formats, make sure it's available in paperback, hardcover, eBook, and audiobook versions.

That's four different versions for every one of your books. As long as it's the minimum page length, like 85 pages for the hardcover books. Then, you're going to assess the distribution options to make sure that you're choosing the one that best matches what you're trying to accomplish. But for most people, it's actually maximizing. 

Marketing and Promotion Phase

We get to the marketing and promotion phase of the whole thing. Congratulations, you've got your book published, but now we need to create a marketing plan for your book. That means identifying your target audience.

Creating a marketing plan

Hopefully, you already did that before you even wrote the book. If you didn't, don't worry about it. We're going to do that for your next book. I'll talk you through the exact steps, and again, the free Checklist that I have, that's a great place to start where I go through exactly the phases of this whole process.

Then, you have established marketing goals, making sure that we know exactly what we're trying to achieve with our marketing, and you have ways of tracking it, like using something like Pretty Links, which is what I recommend. Just check it out. It's an amazing tool that you can have connected to your website.

Next, you have to develop a multi-channel strategy, and this is what I would definitely recommend. You're going to be going across and hitting all different channels at the same time.

Building an author platform and online presence

Next is you have; building an author platform and an online presence. This means you're going to need to establish a professional website. This is a must-have if you're an author; you need to do this. Choosing one niche, one target audience who likes this type of book, and your website's built around that. 

You're going to engage on social media; you'll have blog posts and things like that that you post on your website. You can put those onto social media and set up pages over there. You're going to create valuable content using content marketing as a key strategy. 

It's one of the things I covered in my Content Marketing Course. Learn how exactly we use content marketing to rocket our sales forward as we increase the number of people on our email list. It's a really powerful stuff.

Book launch strategies and campaigns

Then, you have book launch strategies and campaigns. A couple of things to consider are pre-launch buzz, especially true after you've got your first book on the market. For your next book, make sure we're building up this excitement around the release of your book.

You can use influencer and reviewer outreach; there are lots of ways to connect with influencers, offering them a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. There are also services where you can pay people to take a look at the book and provide honest reviews on it.

So, that's also an option, and they're doing virtual events and online promotions to pull in people who are your target audience, making sure that they're aware that your book is getting ready to launch. Which is, how fast can it be done? Really a powerful thing. 


Now, how fast can all of this be done? Well, the answer is that you could go through every single one of these phases. If you're going really fast and using exactly the techniques that I'm talking about, you could literally have the whole thing done in one week. I know that sounds unreal, like crazy, I'm talking research phase all the way through.

If you're writing it yourself, it's probably 30 days. The entire thing can be done in one week, every single one of these. For your first book, a reasonable amount of time would be 3 to 6 months. Don't feel bad about yourself. But look at it this way, once you've done your first book, then you're ready to move on to the second book, and you're going to find that it gets a lot easier as you move along.

But the key is really seeing the steps as I have in that free Checklist, showing you what you need to do, and in what order. Make sure that you're not wasting time but focusing on the secret steps that are necessary to get your book on the market as quickly as possible, not as slowly as possible. Because you know some of you perfectionists are out there, and you want to use years and years or write multiple books. I'm working on 10 projects at the same time. 

You know who you are; I've spoken with you. And I'm telling you, do not waste time. Get the books onto the market. So, my question for you today is how long does it take you to get your first book onto the market? Let me know below in the comments, and check out my other blogs and videos for more answers to your self-publishing questions.

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