As someone who has been published in the traditional way (a novel by a mid-size publisher, an anthology by a university press and about a hundred pubs by print magazines and e-zines) I had little interest in self-publishing. But since the buzz around it is deafening, I wanted to take a look.
It looks to me that self-published books have a stigma the size of Everest to overcome. So much dreck is out there that it affects even the good material. How can the reader tell a diamond from a shard of glass when they all are piled up together? Even decent self-published material is hard to sell because it’s hard to find.
I did a low-level pseudo-scientific experiment: I put up a 3-story collection on Kindle with the reprints from Mississippi Review, the London Magazine and Pank. All decent, traditional publications.
I advertised on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads and on other writers’ forums. I put an average price for this size mini-collection: $2.99. How many copies did I sell? You are right. Zero.
Maybe the genre was wrong? How about fantasy/magic realism for $0.99? Same result.
Of course, this is anecdotal evidence. There are plenty of self-published writers with better marketing skills than me and with better books, but the point is that for an average Joe like me, self-publishing is not a venue. I’d rather stick to mid-size and university presses.