It depends on so many variables that I was paralyzed, and unable to answer the person who asked me this.
Predicting the length of the editing tasks is possible, but there are many other steps. I keep thinking of that line: “fast, good, or cheap” – in that if you have scads of money, you can probably produce a book quickly.
The books I work on generally take 10 months after the writing is done – but they use teams of editors and designers, too. They’re probably in production for up to a year before that, with teams of writers.
Then, I understand that there are trade books that get knocked out in a week! (Think of “The True Story of …” titles.)
Here are reasons the publishing process might go faster or slower. Please add any in the comments that I have missed.
- single author
- few approvals
- few design (or word count) constraints
- straight narrative, single thread
- clear parameters that don’t change
- light content, not technical
- teams of editors and designers
- strict content requirements (learning objectives)
- technically dense
- strict design features & word counts
- multiple authors
- multiple layers of approvals, etc.
- changing parameters
- printed (but days only)
In the end, I said “10 months, but it depends” and asked to learn more about the project.