Bestselling novelist Jan Burke has two excellent posts on her blog this week on the pros (virtually none) and cons (too many to count) of self-publishing. For non-fiction, self-publishing can make sense. But if you’re a novelist, 99% of the time it’s a mistake:
So when should you self-publish a first novel?
If you are terminally ill — I am not saying this facetiously — and you all you want is for your family to have copies of your story in trade paperback book form (and simply making a photocopy of a clean manuscript to pass down to your grandchildren won’t satisfy you), and you have the money needed to self-publish, by all means do so.
[…]If you aren’t dying, you probably don’t have a worthwhile excuse for your impatience.
Unless, of course, you have written something that you are certain will never appeal to more than 80 or so readers and has no commercial value, and you have no fear of embarrassing yourself, and you really don’t care if you have to hand sell every single copy of your book yourself. If that’s the case, go ahead and self-publish.