Instant gratification is the holy grail in our culture where faster is almost always regarded as better.
And it’s true that one of the key benefits self-publishing has over the traditional path is speed to market. I mean, a business model that’s grounded in the concept of print on demand pretty much says it all, right?
But if your goal is to publish a bookstore-quality book that reflects positively on you and your business, don’t expect that to happen in just a few weeks. Publishing is a process, no matter which path you take. I’ve written previously about the overall timeline of independently publishing a book.
Today, I want to zero in the actual act of publishing, that moment of clicking the “publish” button. What happens when you click that button? Is your book immediately available for sale all across the globe?
Well, you can stop holding your breath because, no, it doesn’t work that way. The publish button is not an on/off switch; it’s more of a trigger that sets the publishing wheels in motion.
But let’s take a step back. BEFORE you click “publish,” I highly recommend ordering a proof copy. No matter how many times the content and layout have been proofed, you will see it with new eyes when it is in printed book form. Trust me on this.
With Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), which is the gateway to Amazon, the printed proof will be watermarked on the cover “Not for Resale.” Otherwise, it is the actual book. Most paperback proofs from KDP print in 5 days or less, plus shipping time; opt for expedited shipping to speed things up.
Now back to the publish button. Once that is clicked, books are typically live on Amazon within 24 to 72 hours of publishing, Ebooks (Kindle) generally show up quite quickly, possibly in less than 24 hours, while print books take a day or two.
Note that “live” means the basic listing information displays online, but certain elements of the listing take additional time to populate. Although a title’s print and ebook listings may initially display separately, they usually merge into a joint listing within a few days. The “Look Inside” feature often takes several days to become available. Also allow extra days when publishing to international Amazon markets.
The process with IngramSpark is similar, but timelines are longer. The stated time for reviewing files after submission is 3 business days, but in practice, that sometimes takes longer, especially during the busy holiday season. Also, IngramSpark actively monitors the quality of submitted content to ensure the integrity of their catalog, so closer scrutiny may lead to extended processing time.
When the review is complete, IngramSpark prepares an e-proof (PDF), which must be approved before any books can be printed. If changes are needed, revised files can be submitted at this stage, and a new e-proof will be generated, often more quickly than the initial review.
After approving the e-proof, you will be able to order the printed book. You can also “enable distribution” at this point, which is IngramSpark’s equivalent of publishing, or you can wait to do that until after you review the printed book. Expect their paperbacks to print in 5 business days and hardcovers in 10; allow more time during the busy end-of-year period.
Enabling distribution means the book becomes available to IngramSpark’s huge network of stores and online retailers, from major chains to local independent bookstores, as well as libraries and schools. Stores regularly receive data about new books from IngramSpark and choose which ones they want to order/offer. That choice can be influenced by an author’s promotional efforts, which help stores become aware of specific books and may encourage them to carry a title.
Thanks for walking through the weeds of the publish button with me. Now you know that it’s not an instantaneous action, but the process is still pretty darn fast, all things considered.