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A general guide to the publication process for those who need it.
This is not representative of the traditional publication process, as that is completely dependent on the publisher.
 12-13 months before publication
10-11 months before publication
9 months before publication
7-8 months before publication
6 months before publication
5 months before publication
4 months before publication
3 months before publication
2 months before publication
1 month before publication
Publication Day

Your manuscript is done! You've written the first draft, revised, self-edited, completed the second and third draft - now you feel like it's ready for the next steps!

Book your editors now - developmental editor, copy/line editor, proofreader. Depending on the subject matter in your manuscript, you may even need to book a sensitivity reader.

Note: you do not need to have a completely finished manuscript before you start booking editorial services - the earlier you book, the better!

You can also take this time to look for beta readers, if you haven't had a chance yet.

Do you have a marketing strategy? Might be time to start thinking about that.

Give the manuscript to your developmental editor. It's in their hands now. You'll get it back soon enough!

Take this time to breathe and plan out the rest of the publication process.

Find a cover designer yet? A formatter?

Do you want character art commissioned? Need to find an artist!

You get the manuscript back from the developmental editor - time to start revisions. A common issue is that authors don't give themselves enough time to revise and apply the feedback from their editors! After you finish, you may want to do another round of developmental edits.

Might want to start sign-ups for ARCs.

After revisions and all developmental edits are complete, now may be a good time to use those beta readers. Once you give it to the next editor, all big plot changes should be done with.

It's time for the copy/line editor to take over. Yes, you have to hand it over again. It's okay, it'll be safe.

Do you have a cover yet? A formatter? ARC team?

You should probably start marketing now, if you haven't already. Find your audience, tell people what your book is about, share the aesthetics! Did you end up getting character art? Share it if you have it! 

You should have the manuscript back from the copy/line editor. Time to accept or reject the suggestions! Does it need another round of edits? Talk to your editor!

Write your blurb or find someone that offers that service!

You're getting so close - it's probably time to hand the manuscript to your formatter! 

Some authors prefer to send out ARCs before the proofread happens, and some choose to do it after. It's up to you!

You should have the manuscript back from the formatter now! Do you still need a sensitivity reader? Might as well give it to them now!

Note: you can have your manuscript sensitivity read before you send it to the formatter if you think you may have some major issues.

Did you send out ARCs yet? They need time to read and review, and it helps with marketing!

Sensitivity read done and any fixes made? Wow! You have a completely finished manuscript! Congratulations! Now it's time to proofread.

Note: proofreading is typically known as the last step, but some authors prefer to do a proofread before they format. Just make sure you check it over again for any little grammar or spelling mistakes if you choose to go this route!

Proofreading is finished! 

Order your proof copies of your new book and check for any print mistakes.

You've been hard at work marketing all this time, now you have an audience ready to read your work!

Depending on who your manufacturer is, you may have already pressed publish a few days earlier so it can go live today!

If not, hit publish! Sit back and celebrate! Or cry, depending on what your style is.

This is just a general timeline. Do whatever feels right for you as the author, but make sure you have enough time to do everything you need to, and then account for needing additional time, because not everything goes according to plan.
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