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Getting a Book Deal is Faster Than You Think

You’ve spent months, or even years, writing your book. Many of you have spent a career, or a lifetime, preparing for the moment to share it.

Every writer knows how long the idea building and writing process can take, so it may surprise you to hear that getting a book deal itself happens much faster than you think. Once you and your agent have developed your manuscript (if fiction) or your proposal (if nonfiction), your agent will typically share a list or submission strategy, and then create a cover letter to accompany the submission.

Here’s a birds-eye view of the submission process and timeline:

  • An agent sends your submission to a list of publishers (About a day)
  • Editors read the work, and if interested, get reads and feedback from colleagues (Typically takes one week to one month)
  • An editor presents the submission at their acquisition meeting (Depending on the publisher and whether the concept is “hot” or timely, this should take about two weeks)
  • Once an editor is authorized to offer, an agent then negotiates that offer (About a day)
  • Once the offer is accepted over email, in our industry, it’s as good as a handshake deal. It can take a month for a contract to follow, but YOU HAVE A BOOK DEAL. And you can now tell everyone you know!

Why does this happen so quickly? If you’re working with an agent who has strong relationships, publishers expect those agents to separate the wheat from the chaff, and if that agent has a strong sales track record, editors may be even more inclined to scoop up a project quickly.

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But the power of speed to drive your submission actually has more to do with your package than with anything else: like agents, editors have a fairly quick and categorical way of assessing material. If the book is an immediate “get,” if editors can immediately see the “comps,” the author’s platform, the book’s media appeal, and it’s capacity to break through in a crowded market, more often than not, they will jump on it.

So hold tight. After all of your hours working in quiet isolation, it’s now going to be a rollercoaster.

Getting a book deal is faster than you think. And it’s going to feel incredible when you land one.