What do books and babies have in common?

I wasted some of my limited reading time on a memoir which ultimately had very little appeal to me. However, the author, a traditionally published writer, did mention one thing that made me stop and think. It was an offhand comment about how it took nine months from the time she turned in a completed manuscript until it was published and began making her money.

Of course the link between babies and books is that figure of nine months for their production.

The author, however, didn’t say writing the book took nine months (and from the quality of the writing, I’ll hazard that nine weeks, or even nine days, was more like it). I’m not sure how long the actual physical process of printing a book takes. A writer who spoke at my library said she was at a writers’ convention where her publisher had a P.O.D. machine (or whatever it is properly called), and was producing her books on the spot for anyone who purchased one. Whether traditional publishers use such equipment and produce truckloads of books within a few hours, I can’t say. But if you allot half the nine months for the physical process of printing, binding, and distributing the books, that leaves four and a half months for everything else: editing, proofreading, creating the cover, and writing the blurb. And that is when a team of professionals is doing that work.

Speaking for myself, I’m always eager to get a new book out there, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. I’ve seen posts on the KDP forums where authors have mentioned writing and publishing a book every month (and those posters were talking about novels, not those 20-some page pamphlets that abound in e-books). To me both writing and getting a book ready to publish within a month seems impossible. But in the past I had rather blithely assumed that a month or so was all that was needed to whip an already-completed manuscript in shape and put it out there.

Which may be the reason why I’ve had to do post-publishing editing and corrections on every book I’ve published. So on my most recent book I took a lot more time with it, and I’m hoping when it goes live (by tomorrow morning possibly; it’s in review now), that will be it, and I won’t have to go through more edits or corrections. I still love the book, but I swear I have most of it memorized from working on it so much.

I’m telling myself now that it’s all right to take the time I need to get the book just right before I push it out into the world, and not base its emergence on some self-imposed arbitrary deadline.

So what do books and babies have in common? They both need the right amount of time before they’re done.

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