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Indie Publishing: Slow and Steady

Our desire to hit specific timelines often causes us authors to overlook the importance of fully preparing our books before hitting publish. Rushing the process can result in unfinished or imperfect books that fail to resonate with readers. Here are a few things to think about regarding your timeline.

Self-Publishing: Slow and Steady

It is more important to give your readers an amazing book than to get it out on an arbitrary timeline. Producing an unfinished or subpar book doesn’t serve you or the reader. Readers are discerning and unforgiving when it comes to poorly executed works. A book that feels rushed or lacks polish can leave a lasting negative impression, potentially damaging an author's reputation and credibility.

A fully developed and refined book pays off in the long run. Readers appreciate quality over speed. They're willing to wait for a kickass book. By exercising patience and committing to the writing process, we can produce high-quality, impactful books that people will talk about with their friends.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.”

- Mae West


One infuriating challenge in indie publishing is waiting long enough for people to get back to us. We want our writing circle to get through more every week. We want our editing partners to finish up already. It’s hard to sit on your manuscript while beta readers read and provide feedback. The struggle between the need for a great cover and the need to have it done now is real. Don’t underestimate the power of patience when it comes to the first external interactions with your book. The more time you have to communicate, the better your book will turn out.

Hint: Before engaging with your team of beta readers, editors, cover designers, and ARC reviewers discuss the expected time until completion. Make sure there is enough time to get a great result.


Preparing a book for publication involves much more than just writing the manuscript. From book formatting and cover design to marketing and author branding, there are numerous steps involved in launching a successful book. Each of these elements requires time, attention, and careful planning to ensure a cohesive and compelling end product.

Writing the Manuscript: The time required for writing varies widely depending on the author's writing speed, research needs, experience, the complexity of a project, and how much time they have to sit down and pound out the words. It can take anywhere from several months to many years to complete a manuscript. While maintaining momentum is helpful, take the time you need to tell the story.

Editing: Plan for multiple rounds of revision, self-editing, beta reader feedback, and possibly professional editing services. This process can take several weeks to several months, depending on the extent of revisions needed. More here.

Hint: While waiting for others to give you feedback, get a headstart on your next project. It will take your mind off your current project.

Book Formatting: Formatting the manuscript for publication typically takes anywhere from a day to a week, depending on the complexity of the formatting requirements and the author's familiarity with formatting tools or software. More soon.

Cover Design: Designing a professional cover that captures the essence of your book can take anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on whether you go it alone or wait for your dream designer to compose a piece of art, including a number of revisions. More here.

Blurb Writing: Crafting an engaging blurb that entices readers to pick up your book requires careful consideration and iteration. This can take anywhere from hours to weeks. It is really hard for most of us. More here.

Hint: Iterate toward the perfect blurb. Take a break between each sprint to come back with an open mind.

Metadata: Writing metadata, including keywords, categories, and descriptions, to optimize discoverability on online platforms can take several days of research and refinement. More soon.

ISBNs: Obtaining your book’s unique ID numbers only takes about an hour for beginners, it is like so many other tiny aspects that take longer than you’d want. More here.

Author Bio: Writing about ourselves can be hard. While a rare breed of human might nail it in an hour, it takes a few days to a week for most. Revisions are your friend. More Here.

Hint: Look at other indie- or self-published author bios in your genre and see what kinds of information they include. Don’t compare yourself to them, just adopt aspects of the ones you like.

Author Photo: If you have a great photo on hand, ready to go, then you’re the lucky one. A good author photo can take time to set up with a friend. Choosing the best pic out of the bunch can take much longer for some. More soon.

Beta Readers: Recruiting and coordinating beta readers to provide feedback on your manuscript can take several weeks to months. Don’t rush the process or you won’t give them enough time to do a thorough job and you won’t give yourself long enough to absorb the comments and make use of them. More soon.

ARC Reviewers: Building a team of advanced reader copy (ARC) reviewers to generate buzz and early reviews for your book can take about three to five weeks. This should always come after beta reader revisions. It takes time to reach out, distribute copies, collect feedback, and thank them. Read more.

Hint: Consider swapping ARCs with other indie/self-published authors. You’ll see what it looks like from the other side.

Proof Copies: Ordering and reviewing proof copies of your book to ensure print quality and formatting accuracy typically takes a few weeks. More soon.

Webpage: If you don’t have an author’s website or yours is out of date, take some time to correct this. A clean and attractive site takes time, especially if you have someone else do it for you. Take time to collect your author's photo, bio, book blurb, cover design, and any other digital assets you want to share. Read more.

Hint: Less is more. De-clutter your site. Put your books front and center with the “About Me” sections taking second fiddle. You don’t need much more.

Marketing and Promotion: Planning and executing marketing and promotional strategies, including social media campaigns, and advertising, can take several weeks to several months leading up to the book launch. Read more.

Blog/Newsletter: If you want to create a presence with people who read your blog/newsletter, you’ll want enough time to build up your content and following. This step isn’t strictly necessary, but it can help some authors. More soon.

Hint: Build up your content slowly so you don’t take time away from your main writing endeavors.

Audiobooks: Most of the time, audiobooks aren’t worth the heavy cost, but if you want to go down that route, plan for at least three extra months after everything else is done. The reason for this is that once you narrate it, it costs a lot to make changes. Read more.

“Slowing down is sometimes the best way to speed up.” 

- Mike Vance


Getting a book done right before the public sees it is essential for maintaining credibility, professionalism, and integrity. Rushing to release without thorough review and refinement can result in subpar quality, errors, and negative perceptions from your audience. By taking the time to ensure that your work is of the highest standard before sharing it with the public, you demonstrate respect for your audience's time and trust. Additionally, presenting a polished and well-executed final product enhances your reputation, builds trust with your audience, and increases the likelihood of success. Remember, quality trumps speed.


Q. Why should indie authors prioritize excellence over rushing in the publishing process?

A. Prioritizing a polished work over a timeline ensures that your book meets the standards that readers expect. Rushing to publication damages your reputation as an author.

Q. What are the risks of rushing to publish a book without thorough review and refinement?

A. Rushing to publish can lead to grammar, plot holes, poor pacing, weak character arcs, awkward dialogue, overused clichés, poor structure, and inconsistent voice.

Q. How does going slow help in the long run?

A. Your books need reader satisfaction, positive reviews, and word-of-mouth to rise above the mountains of books available to readers. You won’t get that if you take shortcuts.

Q. How can indie published authors balance the desire to publish quickly with the need for quality?

A. We can strike a balance by setting realistic timelines, breaking the publishing process into manageable steps, and prioritizing tasks based on their impact on book quality.

Q. How can authors cultivate patience?

A. We can improve our patience by setting realistic expectations, practicing mindfulness, stepping back from our works in progress, and thinking about our favorite books (which took time).

Q. How can indie published authors overcome the pressure to rush to publication in a fast-paced publishing landscape?

A. Vent your frustrations with impatience to your fellow authors in person or online. We are there to lend support and commiserate. Be careful to not badmouth anyone you are waiting on.

Q. What advice do successful authors have for aspiring writers regarding speed to publication?

A. They often emphasize the importance of perseverance and dedication to presenting your book in the best light. You spent all this time writing and revising your book to perfection, so spend enough time on the publishing phase to honor your hard work.


As always, I appreciate your support of indie authors. In the name of putting myself out there, here are a few of my works.


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