I would like to talk a bit about WHY I went the self publish route, and what I found when I got there.
I am shy and insecure about selling myself. I knew I didn't have the energy in me to face the rejection process of finding an agent then finding a publisher--I wanted to save all the positive energy I had for writing my book and I focused on honing it as best I could.
I owe a great deal to author, Hugh Howey. I became an instant fan of his Wool books when I was somewhere between the first and second drafts of my book. I followed his journey, and it struck a chorde with me; here was this humble, personable man who knocked it out of the park--and look how open and upfront he is with his fans! Very inspiring for me and he showed me just how I could go about keeping the focus on my work and not on my self promotion.
I found beta readers by getting engaged in discussions, talking with readers--getting to know my audience. I found readers from among my friends and online aquaintances that I have known for many years. Gaming buddies who I have never met face to face but have already shared virtual lifetimes with!
I edited and edited, then proofread and honed the book some more. I painted my own covers and designed my interior graphics (helps to be an artist in my day job), learned how to do my interior layout through CreateSpace's wonderful resources. I was able to do it all myself! But that 'myself' includes friends and family (my supporting wife in particular).
The process began over two years ago and yielded a 200,000 word fantasy which I divided as cleanly as I could into a trilogy (I did that back when I was still thinking I HAD to go the traditional route--and research showed that debut authors books were rejected if they had wordcounts above a certain threshhold.)
The division of books has also allowed me to focus on the three parts individually...insuring that each was given my undivided attention and its own rich cover. It has also allowed me to test the waters, to a certain extent, with a low price point that insured someone buying the ebook versions would pay less for all three books than the typical cost of a traditionally published ebook.
At the time of this posting I am a few days away from the release of my third book and reviews have been wonderful--Better than I had ever hoped for my efforts.
There has been one drawback to this whole process that I did not see at the outset however. I am finding descrimination against Indie Authors, something I never wanted to be a target of. The people in the writers group I joined after last years NaNoWriMo are truly wonderful people, but even they have cast disparaging comments my way, calling me 'prideful' and 'unwise'...when all I really have ever been was insecure and non-assertive.
I want people to look past the dividing line. What counts, all that should really count, is the story in the reader's hands.