There were several interesting and informative blog posts on the web this week about self-publishing.
The average self-published book sells about 100-150 copies–or 2/3 to 3/4 of your friends and family combined (and don't count on all your Facebook aquaintances buying). I don't have a source for this statistic, but I've seen this stated on several blogs and as a Publishers Weekly article titled "Turning Bad Books into Big Bucks" noted, while traditional publishers aim to publish hundreds of thousands of copies of a few books, self-publishing companies make money by publishing 100 copies of hundreds of thousands of books.
But that reality check didn't stop Carnoy, who does such a good job listing all the substantial pitfalls of self-publishing that I wonder why he bothered to go that route and what he hopes to gain.
It takes time. The deck is stacked against you, and a lot of the publishing process exists primarily to keep the flood of dreck out, sometimes keeping good books and writers out in the process. If it bothers you, and it probably does, I've got two words for you. Boo. Hoo. Like many things worth doing, getting a book published is work. It requires patience, resilience, and determination. And despite all this (and this is what the vanity publishers don't tell you), it beats the alternative.
[…]If selling your book to a legitimate publisher is too too hard for you, then going to a vanity press won't solve your problem, it will multiply it.
York lists many of the same pitfalls as Carnoy does. In a later post, he takes issue with some of Carnoy's conclusions and challenges the columnist's rationale for self-publishing his novel. York makes a lot of excellent points. His two posts should be required reading for anyone contemplating self-publishing their books.