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How a book gets published

August 14, 2014 3:10 pm | 9 Comments

Publishing contract

Our readers may have noticed a sudden lag in our blog posting… The reason is that we have been working tirelessly to bring you great new books this fall! We have some new novels coming out like The Accidental Marriage by Roger Thomas, Iota by T.M. Doran, and some great classics like Jane Eyre and Sense and Sensibility.

Publishing is a longer and more arduous process than most people think. On more than one occasion, a prospective author has asked how long it would take for their book to be published. On average, it probably takes one to two years (and sometimes longer)… unless you’re the pope and then sometimes we make an exception. “What?” he or she might say. “Why so long?” Well, I’d like to break down the process for you:

  1. We receive the manuscript. Once we have a manuscript, it has to be reviewed by our production team. This can take up to six months. We receive hundreds of manuscripts per year and it takes some time to go through all those, much less decide if it will be published.
  2. The manuscript is accepted. Once we accept a manuscript, a contract with the author must be drawn up and any other additional rights or permissions must be obtained.
  3. Developmental editing. Sometimes a book needs a bit of style polishing, so one of our great developmental editors will work with the author to make their work the best it can be. This can take weeks or months.
  4. Copyediting. Nobody’s grammar or syntax is perfect, so the work must be copyedited. Depending on the length of the book, this can take a few months.
  5. Book design. The book design includes the trim size of the book, inside design specs, soft/hard cover, and cover design.
  6. Typesetting. Once it has been edited and the inside design has been decided upon, the book must be typeset. Typesetting is a delicate process and can take a month or two. It is more than just copying and pasting text. The typesetter makes the book look great and easy to read and it takes time.
  7. Proofreading. Once the book is typeset, the typeset manuscript and the copyedited manuscript must be compared to make sure that all corrections and style changes have been made. This can take up to several weeks.
  8. Author review. The author reviews the manuscript throughout these steps to make sure he is happy with the changes.
  9. Printing. Once a print order is sent to the printer, it usually takes about a month for the first print run to reach the warehouse.
  10. E-book production. Depending on the book, electronic publishing can take a few days or a few weeks.
  11. Marketing. Throughout the process, marketing works hard to find fellow authors to promote the book with blurbs for the back cover or reviews. Sometimes a book trailer is produced, as well, and other marketing strategies.

There are many other little details that go into getting your favorite book into your hands or on your e-reader, but I hope this gives you a basic understanding. We’re working hard to bring you what you love! Look for new books coming out soon!

Meryl Kaleida

Meryl Kaleida

Meryl Kaleida is Production Assistant and E-book Editor at Ignatius Press. She is also a guest writer for Catholic Word Report. She graduated from Ave Maria University with a Bachelors in Theology and Literature. Meryl is a wife, gardener, singer, author, chef, artist and lover of truth. Her short story "I Couldn't Help but Notice" is available as an eBook. You can also learn more about Meryl on her website Kaleida House.

Tags: getting published Iota new Ignatius books The Accidental Marriage


  1. August 14, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    There are ways of automating the typesetting process that could drastically cut that time down from a couple of months to a week or less. I know things can be tight during crunch times, but perhaps in another lull you should consider an XML workflow (Word > XML > InDesign).

    Doing it this way it will automatically style a lot (paragraphs, character styles, populate headers, automate TOC generation, etc) – leaving the typesetter free to worry about making it pretty (widow/orphans, adjusting letting/kerning where needed, manually tweaking placement of images, etc)

    • Meryl Kaleida

      August 14, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Thank you for the input. Our typesetters are some of the best in the business and do often use the methods you’re describing. However, the time it takes doesn’t only depend on how long the work takes but the number of projects that are also being typeset at the same time.

      • August 25, 2014 at 3:29 pm

        Ah, I’d not considered scheduling. That can be hard because people see one item get turned around really quickly and, a little later, an easier job take forever. They don’t see the 10 extra projects with the second that caused the delay.

  2. August 15, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Does Ignatius Press accept unsolicited manuscripts or do you prefer to work with agents? I’m curious about whether there are any other steps prior to the first one mentioned above. (Thanks for this post, by the way. The lag time makes sense!)

    • Meryl Kaleida

      August 15, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      We do accept unsolicited manuscripts. And all submissions must be complete. In other words, you must send your full finished manuscript- – not a selection or a chapter. For more information, please refer to our Manuscript Submission Guidlines on our website at

  3. August 16, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    What of you wrote a children’s book but can’t draw. Does the publisher take care off the animation or does the Arthur have to hire an artist? Thanks.

    • Meryl Kaleida

      August 16, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      That depends on the publisher. Generally though, authors prefer to choose their own artists. Ignatius does very few children’s books. So if you are looking for a good children’s publisher, I would try Bethlehem Books or Magnificat.

  4. August 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Just F.Y.I, on the above comment-Bethlehem Books does not accept new manuscripts anymore. They only republish works that are no longer available in print.

  5. August 19, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Thank you so much Meryl and say a prayer I can send you my book! God bless you all for your good work!

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