Hurry up and wait! Traditional vs. Self-published

That seems to be the name of the game in writing. Everything takes time–writing, editing, reediting, reviewing, reading, editing again, polishing, querying, attending conferences and conventions–but there seems to be the need to get things done as fast as possible.

The problem is when they are, you get to sit and wait to find out if the agent/publisher is interested, first in the query (about 2-4 weeks for a response) then the first 3 chapters (about 4-6 weeks for a response) then the whole manuscript (about 6-12 weeks for a response.) By the time you are done waiting, a minimum of three months have flown by! If you are REALLY lucky and you make it through the whole process, it’s usually about a year before your book comes out.

It’s no wonder people have jumped onto the self-publishing wagon. Why wait when you can publish in a flash–just upload your file and you’re done!

But what do you think? Do you think it’s worth going through the process of getting the benefits of a professional to edit and market your book? Or do you think getting it out there the sooner the better and doing everything yourself is your best bet?


  1. mom

    wow, tough question, tough to answer. it seems to me that either way can take a lot of work. writing, rewriting, and editing to the satisfaction of an agent/publisher is a long process that usually needs a pretty tough skin to accept rejection and keep going anyway. writing, rewriting, and editing to your own satisfaction may seem simpler and/or easier, but marketing and everything that goes along w/ that is also a long process that not only takes time but money as well. hmmmm…i think it depends on your own goal for your writing (being published does seem to give the author more credibility somehow). i also think it depends on where you, personally, want to expend your time and energy.

  2. Claire

    It depends why you’re writing in the first place. If happy just writing and getting a few readers, maybe, then self-publishing not too bad. If writing is a career move, though, I think there’s still a lot of stigma associated with self publishing.
    While I don’t think all good stories get a publisher, and I’ve read plenty of published stuff I thought wasn’t that great, going the traditional publication route is still seen as the legitimate path to a writing career.

    For me, this would be the difference between publishing in a peer-reviewed journal and writing a blog. Your blog might be great, but it’s probably not going to get you promoted.

  3. I think that the waiting game can make a book better. Every time I was rejected, I went back with an new perspective and edited my manuscript. It only took six months to write the book. It’s taken another two years to get it to the point where I now have an agent saying she is interested in signing me and a publisher who said they would give me an answer soon. Experience has taught me that it’s quite possible both the agent and the publisher could both end up rejecting me. If they do, I will consider self-pubbing because I am confident at this point that my book is ready and people will enjoy reading it. I’m glad I didn’t self-pub two years ago. This long and torturous process has helped me improve my work tremendously.

  4. I think that breaking into writing is a lot like breaking into music. I think that agents/publishers want to see you to be able to stand on your own legs to an extent. They want to see you reach and connect with an audience before they invest in you.

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