Like Barb, I find myself inclining more and more towards self-publishing. Let's face it, what have I got to lose? Just look at it logically:
We all know it's impossible to judge our own work - that's why beta readers are essential (love you guys). But when beta readers are also friends, they're not about to totally trash your work, are they? So basically, we can never really be sure our novels are any good or just a load of !*^$*!
So consider both scenarios (purely hypothetically):
(a) my novels are truly great
If that's true, then even without the marketing of a major publisher behind me, with a bit of work on my part they ought to sell. It's just a question of getting out there and telling people about them, giving them away in return for reviews, all that kind of thing. And if I self-publish, more of the profits come to me.
(b) my novels are truly awful
In which case trying to get them onto a Publisher's list is only wasting my time. But I still like them. And I think I still want them published, if only to be able to say I've done it, or to see my book in an on-line store along with 'real' books, you know what I mean? Even if I'm completely deluded. (I suppose I might change my mind when I get a bad review, or, even worse, no reviews at all, but let's see).
So there we have it.
Now, just to show you how truly conflicted I am, not to mention hypocritical, or maybe just horrendously confused, I'm going to admit that I just submitted The Sapience Assessment to another publisher (Angry Robot Books). (For anyone who's interested, they have an open submissions window until the end of January).
Why did I submit? I don't really know. Fear, maybe, that I can't handle self-publishing. It's not so much the getting it into e-book format and onto online bookstores that worries me, it's how to market it and get people to buy it that baffles me. It's that sentence up there in part (a) - 'with a bit of work on my part' and the worry that it will not be a 'bit' of work but a long, hard slog and that I'll be so busy trying to SELL that I won't have time to do the important thing and WRITE.
And even when I'm doing all this hard work trying to sell the book, without the reassurance of a publisher, I still won't know for certain whether it's actually any good or I'm just wasting my time.
And then there are publishers (like the one I just submitted to) who say that if your book has already been published, even as just an e-book, they are not interested. Absolutely not. So by self-publishing I may be destroying any future opportunities with conventional publishers.
I keep telling Barb how much we agree with each other, for all that we're totally different and put it in a different way and she insists on arguing when we're saying the same things (yes, you do), and I think this is an example of that. I just want someone to come along with all the answers, to hold my hand and say: "here's how you self-publish, I'll guide you through it and I can promise you everything will be fine."
Until I find that person, I guess I'm just going to be groping along fearfully in the dark.