Blueink.com asked traditionally published authors to answer this open-ended question:
Self-publishing is …
The answers are insightful, honest and thought provoking. Here are two examples:
Richard Kadrey: “Self publishing is the literary equivalent of riding a Conestoga wagon into the West in the 1840s. You’re heading into largely uncharted territory where you might find a place to settle down. Or you might strike it rich. Or you might disappear without a trace, only to be stumbled upon years later, bones by the side of the road. Like those early travelers West, I admire self publishers’ gumption and fortitude. They’re carving out a road for others to follow. Frankly, I don’t know if I could do it. There are so many obstacles in the way. So many dead ends. I wish them well and I hope they find the mother lode.”
David Nickle: “I think that people who self publish take a great risk with their careers. For years, I thought they did so recklessly. But I’ve watched too many good, business-savvy writers do very well for themselves—and their books—by hiring editors, publicists, and cutting a deal with Amazon to dismiss self publishing as a viable option. With all that said: nothing beats working with a good, nurturing publisher who handles everything from copy editing to cover art to publicity. But it is, like the song says, nice work if you can get it. And there are a lot of good books that don’t quite fit the needs of the publishing houses that still have an audience out there.”
This is MetaPlume’s answer:
Self-publishing is easier to do than ever before from a technical standpoint but it’s incredibly time consuming and better done with support. If an author is lucky enough to have friends and family who can be a sounding board when making decisions about the description, pitch and keywords; and talent to assist with the cover, title and online media visuals, they’re very lucky. Most authors don’t have the resources around them to put it all together professionally for free and that’s where the quality of self-publishing can stumble. Outsourcing some aspects of the publishing process is a viable option, but it’s a bit like being an owner-builder of a new house – dealing with multiple contractors all trying to build a cohesive design can end up being a nightmare. Finding a parter who is like a reputable and experienced home builder who can oversee the whole project, from editing, to file conversion, to covers and marketing pitches, can give an author the satisfaction of publishing without the headaches of self-publishing.