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Which Publishing Route is Best for You? Traditional or Indie - Detailed by a UK Book Editor

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

Traditional Publishing or Self-Publishing: The Best Publishing Route for Writers

Professional book editor in the UK reveals which publishing route could be best for you and your manuscript - traditional or indie!

You can be at any stage of the novel writing process and STILL not know whether you want to self-publish or try the traditional route (getting a literary agent), and that can be okay...until it really starts to bug you that you have no solid direction!

I get this - I'm still unsure which publishing path I want to take for my fantasy book because both options sound great, but I hope to share my knowledge on both choices so you can hopefully make a quicker decision than me!

I know a lot of my followers on Instagram (@standcorrected_editing) are dead set on self-publishing, but some people feel like that's their only option because they don't believe traditional success could ever happen to them.

It absolutely can, so never be too hasty without knowing all the possibilities.

Many writers choose the indie route because they want to keep ultimate control over their work; they want the final say on which parts remain in the manuscript; they get to choose their book editor; they get to influence the cover design, and they want more royalties per sale.

Sounds great, right?

It can be, but it depends on what type of person you are and how much time, money, and effort you're willing to put into your indie author career.

A lot of writers think they can write a manuscript within 6 months, edit it all themselves, create the cover themselves, publish it within the same year and earn £££, but it's really not that simple, which is what you need to understand if you're considering the self-publishing route.

Although platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes & Noble Press allow you to publish anything instantly, self-publishing isn't an easy way out because you think it's quick and cheap.

If you're serious about launching a successful indie author career, you need to treat it like a business, and therefore put EVERYTHING into your product.

That means taking the TIME to go over your manuscript several times, making necessary revisions and self-edits. It also means saving and spending the MONEY on a decent book editor, illustrator (if necessary) and cover designer. As well as putting the time and money in, you also need to make the EFFORT to promote your book every day, even if you're not getting many sales at first.

If you know in your heart that you're 100% willing to do all of those things because you know it's the best thing for your book - EVEN IF it doesn't do well at first - then self-publishing may actually be the publishing path for you.

Remember: self-publishing is all about putting in TIME, MONEY, and EFFORT while being incredibly patient, so if you can tick all of these off without hesitation or a second thought - go indie!

(Personal reveal: The part that makes me want to self-publish is being able to keep my story exactly how I want it to be without an agent getting rid of things, but the part that makes me hesitant of self-publishing is the worry that a lack of sales will demotivate me, putting me off completely.)

On the other hand, many writers also continue to query literary agents with the hope of representation and a traditional publishing deal. The idea of getting 'accepted' by a prestigious agent fills many with joy, but could this be the path for you?

Related Post: 7 Literary Agent No-No's: What NOT to do When You Query

A lot of aspiring authors choose the traditional publishing route for a number of reasons: the high status of being a represented author; the chance to have their books in actual book shops; the opportunity to have book signings and win literary awards, the idea of having a professional team to lighten the load, and it's free because you don't technically need to pay for an editor or cover designer.

These reasons all sound very glamourous, but it's the same with the indie publishing route - it takes a certain type of person to stick with it.

You may think that once you've perfected your manuscript, you'll soon be on your way to seeing your book in Waterstones or WHSmith, but if it were that easy, everyone would quit their jobs tomorrow and do it.

Manuscript Editing Services UK

The reality is: you could be querying hundreds of literary agents for YEARS before you even get a full manuscript request, let alone an acceptance for representation. And even if you did manage to get an agent faster than normal, it still takes time to get the ball rolling. Again, it can take years for you and the agent to get the book to the standard publishers want to see, and it can take even longer for agents to convince a publisher to buy it. After that stage, you STILL have to wait for your book to actually be released, and even then, your novel could flop more than any of you hoped!

I'm not trying to put you off querying literary agents and dreaming big, it's just really important to think realistically and question whether you have the patience to wait as long as it takes.

If you ARE willing to wait for the right agent, even if it's years down the line with no promise of making it big like Stephen King or Danielle Steel, then the traditional publishing route may be the perfect match.

Just remember that the traditional publishing route is all about time...more time....and a lot of patience!


Thank you for reading to the end of this post, it really means a lot and I always try to produce helpful content for writers like you! :)

If you found it helpful, please like, comment and share so more writers can use the advice!

When you're ready to have your manuscript professionally edited, please get in touch with me here and we can have a chat about how I can best help you.

Here is a list of the book editing services I offer:

  • Developmental/Content Editing

  • Line Editing

  • Copy Editing

  • Proofreading

Speak soon,

Chelsea x



Hey! I'm Chelsea and I'm a professional book editor at Stand Corrected Editing, my independent editorial business in the UK. If you would like to have your manuscript thoroughly edited by myself, please get in touch!

With my book editing and proofreading services, I hope to spread my knowledge and expertise on how to make your novel a success, and be a mentor to others who desperately want to pursue a fruitful career as an author!


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