I'm a self-publisher.
I am an unabashed fan of CreateSpace, which is what I use to self-publish. Now, I know the arguments against self-publishing: it's not "real", your sales are junk, you're not a "real" author if you self-publish.
And, no, that's not a real word. But anyone who has read "Frindle" knows how much stock to put into "real words". I make up words all the time. Usually they're onomatopoeias, but nonetheless, I make up words when it suits me to do so. That's one of the reasons writers are called "wordsmiths".
Now that we've run down that rabbit hole, let's get to where we are going: self-publishing. I support it. I do it, and here's why:
1. Self-publishing allows you to get works "out of your system" to go on and produce better works. Once you have something (usually a sucky first novel, like my "Empowered"), then you can take a deep breath, clear your mind, and work on something else (like my much, much better novel Scales--Skin Deep).
2. Self-publishing forces you to think of your work as a marketable object. Yes, you want to reach deep into the hearts of your public and bring forth hitherto unrecognized universal longings and motivations...but you also want to support yourself, so you can unearth and bring forth more of them. To do that, you have to think of your work as a saleable package. A commodity. Does it cheapen your novel? Not at all, because it's done after you write it, but it helps you take your heart out of the text and do what needs to be done.
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3. Publishing is moving, and the old rules don't apply. Everyone has a smartphone, and every smartphone can be a Kindle. Who could be reading your novel right now?
4. You can build a following that you can then "sell" to other publishers. Let's face it: are you really willing to gut the novel you so lovingly crafted (and to which you dedicated the last three years of your life) because an editor said so? No. Not right away, at least. So go ahead an publish it. Then write another. And another. And while you are getting to be an expert at writing novels, you become more and more willing to tweak them to suit the tastes of fickle editors. In the meantime, people all over the world (I have a small but amazing following in the UK, for example) begin to like you. They tell their friends, and other people like you. Suddenly, hundreds of people--customers!--are following you on Twitter.
5. You don't die with a bunch of unpublished manuscripts. Yes, it makes for a romantic story we all love to read. Reality check: this only happens if you make it big time. If you don't, no one discovers your stuff and it never gets read.
So, don't be shy. Publish your book, and then come here and tell everyone about it in the Comments section. I might buy your book, too! I love buying books of new authors. Paying it forward.