Publishing a 3rd-party book–Scheduling the process

Getting a book written about your product takes a lot of advance planning. Here’s a sample timetable showing some standard benchmarks and the minimum times for a typical book.

February 1:    Draft the initial scope, purpose, and outline, and start looking for author.

March 1:    Author submits detailed outline and writing schedule to company for review and approval; start contract negotiations with the publisher.

April 1:      Detailed outline and writing schedule is approved. Company signs contract with publisher, publisher signs contract with author. Writing begins.

April 15:     Publisher starts design effort for the cover and initial marketing materials (such as catalog copy).

May 1:       Author submits first chapter for review to publisher, company. Outline and focus may be adjusted at this stage.

May 15:     Review comments for first chapter are incorporated; chapter sent to editing at publisher. Some fine-tuning of the scope possible at this stage, but no substantial scope changes can be made without affecting the delivery date.

June 1:      Cover design circulated between publisher and company, changes made.

August 1:   Author completes manuscript; last chapters are sent in for editing.

September 1: Final pre-production work completed, cover design finalized and signed off, book is sent off to printing.

October 1: Book back from printer.

This schedule shows you that it will take at least 8 months to create a book from start to finish. Remember that this schedule assumes that absolutely everything will go smoothly, but there have been many cases where the schedule took a lot longer. It would be wise to make plans in your marketing efforts to allow for potential delays. Some common reasons for delays are:

  • difficulty in finalizing an agreement with the publisher,
  • difficulty in finding an acceptable author,
  • difficulty in deciding on the outline (usually more of a problem inside the company, with Marketing, Engineering, and the CEO duking it out),
  • difficulty getting timely reviews and technical information from the company,

and the ever-popular

  • delays in producing the final version of the product being written about.

Above all else, though, the most significant reason for delays in getting the book out is a problem with the writing. The author may get sick, the schedule may be overly optimistic, information may not be available, reviews are held up, some sections may take longer than expected, or the author may simply be late. Do what you can to prevent these obstacles before they start, and budget for the likelihood of the rest.

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