At the author gig I had this week, we were asked the question, what surprised you most about becoming a published author. While there are many astonishing things, one of the bigger ones was definitely how long it takes from book deal to shelf.
You know how long it takes to hear back from an agent, and then land one if you're able? Nothing really changes once the book deal comes.
It seemed like forever to get my contract once I was offered a deal, which was at the beginning of April, 2010. And my agent sent it back to HMH once because there was something in it she didn't like. I can't remember how long it took, but I would guess 8 to 10 weeks.
Then comes the advance check. That seemed like forever. I'd say another two months. So now we're at about four to six months.
Next comes line edits, copy edits, and first pass pages. These are all editing phases. You wait about three to six months for each phase, then only have about two weeks to get them done.
The one thing that seemed really early to me was the ARCs (advance review copy). I received those about March of 2011, and it was going out to the media and reviewers, which seemed really early to me. But what do I know, I'm only the author.
Then comes the longest wait. The book. As you know, my novel came out January of this year. That's nearly two years from deal to shelf.
You've been warned. You want to be in this frustrating, yet rewarding business? Learn patience. Keep on writing to bide your time, otherwise you'll go crazy.