Messages to me!

I've got that Blogger 'email me when someone comments' thing turned on -- so I can reply to people -- which is good when it works, and a bit confusing when it doesn't. Sometimes the notification comes through in seconds, other times it's days. Something that arrived today was from Robert:

1 thing confuses me, I go to Amazon and other publishers, and they say a book will be printed say Dec 06, or Jan 07. Sometimes it is quite clear the Author has finished the book, does it really take that long to print a book, or is there a waiting list to be published? It sours me to think that your new book has been finished since last year, but we have to wait 6 months. Can't the publishers speed up a bit?

In the comments Sandra brought up a good point about publishers needing to give places like Publisher's Weekly or Kirkus time to review (for the US market), and I thought I'd add in my tuppenth worth:

Another reason is the lead time needed to get a book through production. My current schedule needs me to deliver a year before publication date. Then the thing gets editied (which will take anything up to four months of going back and forth with questions and answers and tweaks and the like) then it gets internally sold to the publisher's marketing and sales teams so they're behind the project. Then the covers get designed and the title fought over and that takes another big chunk of time. Book goes away to the typesetters to be set for printing, which results in more checks and tweaks. THEN, it's produced as bound galley proofs for the booksellers and reviewers etc and sent out. After that, publication's only four months away and that time's used to get the PR in place, any blurbs sorted out, and the actual book published and distributed.

And that's a whole year in a book. Except that I kinda screwed the whole blurb thing up this year being shy. Not going to do that again. Next time I'm going to be pushy bastard boy.

With the US version they take a copy of the UK plates and run them, so there's less production time involved, but the publishers are also looking to have the book coming out at a time when they think it's going to do well. Not be swamped by a host of similar titles, so it won't get review space. Plus the way promotion works in bookstores there's only limited space made available, so you've got to book way in advance if you're going to make any use of it.

Amazon's a bit deceptive -- being pretty much instant unlike traditional bookshops. It looks like this massive international marketplace, but most of my books have actually been bought from bookshops. Amazon represents only a tiny fraction, which is why I don't sweat my Amazon ranking. Now and then Agent Phil will email me to say, "You're number 329!" and I'll smile, shrug, and get on with it, because I know the number is ultimately pretty meaningless. Doesn't mean I wouldn't celebrate a couple of weeks at number 1 thought ;}#

Anyone else got any ideas -- why do these damn book things take so long?