The Timeline of a Book

Books go through a series of steps to get from the initial idea to their final printed form.

binding by snalckles (CC BY-ND 2.0) - Flickr (2)

Here’s an overview of how a title would be managed from start to finish. This is based on a title in academic publishing, but trade publishing works similarly.


First comes market research, looking at trends, at what rivals are doing; meeting and talking to people who are experts in their field, e.g. by going to conferences, doing campus visits, etc.

The book proposal, either drawing one up in collaboration with an expert (collaborative commissioning), commissioning a title (proactive commissioning), or receiving a proposal (reactive commissioning).

Obtaining peer reviews for the book proposal.

The author comments on the peer reviews.

Drawing up a P & L and assessing the titles strengths and weaknesses.

Presenting the title at an acquisitions meeting to other departments, namely Sales and Marketing.

In academic publishing, the title is also presented to the Academic Board, e.g. at MUP this is a panel of academic experts who work at Manchester University, discuss the academic merit and quality of the title, and approve it or not.

Sending out the contract, the author reads and discusses the terms, which include the deadline for the MS, word count, etc.

Awaiting completion of MS while sending out regular reminders.

Obtaining peer reviews on the MS.

Any final changes in light of peer reviews.


Edits go back to the author for review.


Proofreading, by the author and by a hired proofreader.

Author creates index.

Cover design.

Creating blurbs, etc.

Metadata, AI sheet, and other marketing.

Pitching the title at a sales conference.

Getting the book printed.


More marketing.

Delivering frees for review copies, etc.

Book launch (possibly).

Then comes the cycle of regularly looking at sales and units in stock to make the decision on whether to reprint the title, put it out of print or to create a new edition.

Image binding by snalckles (CC BY-ND 2.0) – Flickr


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