Ugh…we all have deadlines and we all find ourselves scrambling at the last minute to either complete a task or project on time or try to find ways to extend that dreaded due date. The same is true, if not more so, in publishing. Publishers have very
specific dates in mind for when a manuscript needs to hit each of its respective deadlines. An entire season can hinge on whether a book is published at its scheduled time. If you, as the author, are late in getting your final edits back to your editor or if you keep soliciting outside advice on your book’s title or cover design to the point where you can’t make a final decision, the success of your book could truly be at stake.
Once the publishing contract has been signed, one of the first duties of your acquisitions editor is to go over the production schedule with you. Keep in mind, that there is often greater room for flexibility here than most editors will have you believe. Still, it is imperative that you turn in your work on time. As ego-bruising as it may be to admit that your book isn’t the publisher’s number one priority, it’s true. Depending on the size of the publisher, there could be anywhere from twenty to thirty other books at various stages of the production cycle simultaneous to yours. In order to keep everything running smoothly—and to preserve your editor’s sanity—it behooves you to stay on track. Or, if you know in advance that you’re running behind, be sure to alert your editor sooner rather than later.
If absolutely necessary, a book may be pushed back a season…sometimes two. No one is happy about this—least of all the bookstore buyers—but it happens. A delay beyond this oftentimes, however, spells your book’s doom. Book release dates are determined by a number of factors, most of which are somehow tied into the book’s marketing/pr schedule. If you start missing your deadlines, the window of opportunity for your book from a sales and marketing perspective narrows exponentially. No one wants to see this happen.
So, be organized, stick to your deadlines, communicate with your editor if you anticipate a delay…and everyone should be happy.