More chaotic publishing secrets (behind the scenes with Gigi Griffis)

by Gigi Griffis

Last week, I shared my real timeline for traditionally publishing four books. This week, the data nerd in me decided to break down some of the trends in charts. How long does it take from completed draft to sale? From submission to sale? How long do I keep secrets from y’all after I sell a book? Read on to find out.

Keep in mind that four books isn’t a statistically significant sample to judge the publishing industry on. But it’s fun and it’s my whole sample. So here we go. Let’s talk about how long my books take in their various stages of the publishing process…

Jargon note: for those not in the industry, submission is when your agent starts sending the manuscript (or proposal) to editors at the publishing houses for consideration. It could mean sending to a single editor (an exclusive submission, often done when you have a preexisting relationship with that editor or publisher), multiple editors at different publishers, or even multiple rounds of editors (if a dozen say no, it goes to a dozen more, for example).

(For those using screenreaders, all data is included in the text below the images; the images are just visual representations of that same data.)

Alright, let’s go…


draft to sale bar chart

How many months does it take for my books to sell after they are drafted?

As you can see, the number is all over the map.

You’ll notice that I put a negative number in (-4) for WE ARE THE BEASTS. This is because I sold that book on proposal and delivered the draft about four months later. THE EMPRESS barely appears on the chart because it was less than a month between when it sold on proposal and I had to deliver that first draft (here’s how I wrote it in 20 days).

My other two books are as different as can be. THE WICKED UNSEEN took six months from complete draft to publishing offer. And, despite being possibly the best thing I’ve ever written, AND THE TREES STARE BACK had one of those lengthy, chaotic stories nobody wants to live through with two agents and multiple years of submissions to the publishing machine. It topped out at a whopping 2 years and 9 months when it finally got its offer.


submission to sale

How long does it take to sell a book in traditional publishing?

My submission to sale numbers are slightly different than my offer-to-sale numbers in multiple ways.

AND THE TREES STARE BACK was still the longest by a large margin, clocking in at two years and three months (though it’s worth noting that I changed agents and had to pull the submission for a period of time in the middle of all that). THE WICKED UNSEEN is still our runner up at four months. And I’m calling WE ARE THE BEASTS two months because that’s about how long it took from submitting the proposal to getting the offer.

THE EMPRESS was sold on audition (so sort of proposal) and is a bit complicated. After the audition, they actually hired me several times to expand the book before they committed to the full enchilada. First, they hired me to write Act I. Then they made another offer for me to write half the book. Then, finally, we got the go-ahead for the whole book. I’m calling the number above a month, but it’s really multiple milestones all on a superspeed timeline.

offer to publication

How fast do publishers release books?

The general wisdom in publishing is that books sell about two years before they come out. In my experience, that rings true, though I’ve got the outliers in here.

WE ARE THE BEASTS will come in at just over two years from sale to pub date. And AND THE TREES STARE BACK doesn’t have its exact publication date yet, but should be around two years.

THE WICKED UNSEEN was originally supposed to be two years, but it got moved up to Pride Month, which took that wait to just a year and a half instead.

THE EMPRESS was a “crashed” book written to come out in tandem with the Netflix series of the same name. Which means it’s timeline is a total outlier at just nine months from sale to pub date.

How long do authors know about their book sale before they can talk about it?

Finally, I feel like I always have a ton of secrets I’m keeping, so I charted those too. How long from when I got the good news (that a book sold) until I could tell the world about it (e.g. announce the book)? The typical answer (for me) falls somewhere between six and nine months, with one distinct outlier…

THE WICKED UNSEEN was secret for six months. THE EMPRESS clocked in at eight months. And AND THE TREES STARE BACK took an agonizing nine months to announce.

And our outlier…WE ARE THE BEASTS, which was just a month between good news and announcement.

Now, if you are an author, add to my data set! How long between finished draft and sale for your book? How long did you keep secrets? Let’s make the comments on this post a useful collection of additional data for other authors.

Share this post!

You may also like

Leave a comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Opt-out here if you wish! Accept Read more