Crash Books: Extreme Publishing

What is a crash book and who writes them?

A literary agent discusses why a book might be written and rushed to publication in a very short time.

Occasionally I’ve had authors write and deliver a complete book manuscript in a month or less. Their topics are usually related in some way to a major media event or dramatic happening that the publisher wants to capitalize on before the public interest fades. So they rush books into print within a month or so.

Examples of the triggering event:

  • A cult leader persuades his followers to drink poison, shocking the world into wondering why.
  • A major crime trial concludes with a surprise verdict.
  • A new blockbuster book or a major movie release heightens public interest in similar or related topics.

Why rush a book into print?

Publishers know that interest is highest right after these events, causing many people to buy books to satiate their curiosity. But interest will have waned a year or two later, the time it normally takes to get a book in print and available for sale.

So publishers take extreme steps to drastically shorten the time, rushing the book into print in a few weeks or less. They are called “crash” books.

How does it happen?

Usually crashing a book means that the publisher has to bump another scheduled title, delaying its publication, to have press time for the crashed book. (Bumped books are a rarity; so authors, don’t worry about your book pubbing late.)

This is not a job for an amateur writer.

Crash book authorship requires a seasoned professional who can handle extreme deadlines and who is able to deliver excellent text requiring a light edit or no edit at all.

Copyright 2006 by Barbara Doyen. All rights reserved.

Learn about the steps in normal trade book publishing, and how long each step takes in How Long Does It Take to Publish My Book?

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