To Self-Publish or Go The Traditional Route?

Ok, writers of the world, I’m about to get my manuscript for my first novel back from the editor, and then the next step begins.

Should I self-publish or try my luck at the traditional route? I’ve read so many articles and blog posts on the pros and cons of both but still can’t decide.

Deep down, I want to know if my writing is good enough for the traditional route (is that even fair to say?). I’ve even found a company that takes on clients (if you’re accepted) and shops your work around to find you a literary agent. You can check them out here–Writer’s Relief.

However, this obviously costs money, and like all starving artists, money isn’t just lying around. So, should I skip the trials of the traditional route and dive headfirst into self-publishing?

Anyway, I got to wondering what all my fellow authors out there on the interweb had to say about this subject. If you’ve self-published before, what company did you use? Were you satisfied with them? What do you know now you wish you’d known before?

Any advice is much appreciated, and if you’ve recently published a book, drop me a link. I would love to hear your publishing journey story and read your masterpiece.

About G.Edward Smith

A stranger in a strange land...
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15 Responses to To Self-Publish or Go The Traditional Route?

  1. KT Workman says:

    I think I would do the traditional route…you can always self-publish if it doesn’t work out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s the way I’m leaning, but some people are suggesting on other forums that I go the self-publish route since I’ve already paid to have my manuscript edited. Which makes sense, I guess. Have you ever, self-published? Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • KT Workman says:

        You needed your manuscript edited by a professional before sending it out to literary agents, so I don’t see the logic there in going straight to self-publishing. I would try agents for about a year before giving up on that and self-publishing. And there are publishing houses out there that will accept unagented submissions if you don’t want to go the agent route.
        Yes, I self-published years ago, with minimal success, but pulled my books off Amazon (I wrote about my experience in a previous post). I may someday give publishing a novel another shot, but right now I’m just sending out short stories.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Can you send me a link to your post about your experience? No worries if you can’t. I’ve read so much on querying that I’m cross-eyed and more confused than when I started. Any websites or books you would suggest on the subject? Thanks again for your insights and advice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • KT Workman says:

        Here’s a link to the post—
        Bear in mind, how I feel about self-publishing is personal, and doesn’t reflect how I think of others who give it a go. And doesn’t mean that sometime in the future, I might rethink it.
        I can’t think of any particular website or book that I used to guide me; like you, I’ve read extensively on the subject, and have some experience. If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me, and I’ll do my best to answer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Got the like. Thank you. I will read your post link here shortly. Thanks again for offering your help and experience.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Man, I’m so with you on the self-promoting. Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil in the world of writing. I’m absolutely no good at it in person and somewhat shy about it online. I think I’m going to give my manuscript one year in the traditional route and see what happens. Thanks again for your help. Have a great day.

        Liked by 1 person

      • KT Workman says:

        A “necessary evil”…so true. I need to create an author Twitter account and Facebook page, but keep putting it off. I had both in the past.
        Best of luck to you, Edward (do you go by Edward?). 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I go by Glenn. I have my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages and have garnered quite a few followers(a lot to me, at least). I’m just nervous about submitting my work to publishers. Thanks again, KT!

        Liked by 1 person

      • KT Workman says:

        You’ll do fine, Glenn…just grow a very thick skin. 😊 And I go by Kathy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks again, Kathy! 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      • KT Workman says:

        I replied to this, but it’s not showing up. It had a couple of links in it, so it could have gone to your spam folder.


  2. Anne Clare says:

    I’ve self published through Amazon and been happy with the experience, though I’m not going into it as a full time money-making career. I’ve also heard good things about Ingram Spark. If you REALLY want to hear from some folks who’ve done it, the fb group 20 Books to 50K is all indie authors with a variety of experiences and good tips. If you want to network with indie writers, I’ve found various facebook groups to be very helpful (which is funny, because otherwise I’d pretty much given up on the platform :))

    There are draws to traditional- the vetting process being part of it, but you do have to be prepared to give up control of a lot of things- cover, pricing, how you market, and sometimes major creative elements of your work. (smaller royalties too, generally…:)) Going Indie you have full control, but you have to assemble your “team” yourself to get the most professional product. I was fortunate to have great resources in knowing editors, designers, etc, and don’t feel like I missed out on anything by going it alone.

    Just a thought- if you’re thinking of going traditional, I’d be leery of groups that charge you to contact literary agents. I chose not to pursue querying after dabbling in it, but did quite a bit of research in the process I didn’t find any agents (and I checked out dozens) who require anything like that- a regular query letter from the author seems to be standard. (Not saying it’s a scam, just an encouragement to make sure you check it out and see what other writers have to say 🙂

    Whew! That got long- all the best!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow! Great advice! I’ve also published some smaller works through Amazon and have been pleased. With my novel, though, I want to get it in front of as many readers as possible. I know I’m not going to get rich or famous. I just want to give the book a chance to be read.

      It seems that with every self-publishing company I check out there are success reviews and horrible reviews. It makes it challenging to choose one company to go with. BookBaby seems to be an excellent one-stop self-publishing company, but still, I’m leary.

      Thanks for your time and advice. It’s very much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Do know that even if you go the traditional route, you will have to do all the marketing yourself….just as you would do with self publishing. If you have the patience and don’t mind giving up a huge chunk of royalties, then try out trad publishing. However, you should not have to pay to shop for an agent and your statement about trad publishing costing you money had me on high alert. Query agents directly, query small presses directly, but I would advise against paying someone to do this for you.

    That said, I’m curious about your statement “which company did you use [to self publish]”. Again, self-publishing is just that: publishing yourself, not paying a company to do it for you and alarm bells would start clanging away if a company was charging me to self-publish. Yes, you will pay for editing (which you’ve already done) and a cover, but you should not pay a company to self publish.

    Personally, I like the control of self publishing. I can run sales as I choose, change my covers, swap out the back matter, and all the other stuff you will lose control of if you go the trad route. I keep 70% of my royalties and can have my book up and for sale the moment I feel it’s ready for the world. I publish with Amazon and Kobo directly, then use Draft2Digital and Smashwords to cover Apple, Barnes & Noble, and dozens of other retailers around the world. I’ve also tried Publish Drive and Street Lib. All of these are free to load your books onto and will get your book to a worldwide audience.

    As for paperbacks, since I’m on a tight budget, I have yet to find the cash for purchasing the ridiculously overpriced ISBNs (which are free in Canada and super cheap in the UK), so I can’t publish on IngramSpark (one day). Ingram Spark does charge you to upload your books and will charge you each time you make a change, so be aware of that, but they are the best route for getting a self-published book into a wider market. For now, I’m just using Amazon for paperbacks (and their expanded distribution).


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