My books are self-published, because I originally could not get a traditional publisher (trad-pub) interested in my first three books (Aces, Columbus Day and Ascendant). While my experience has been great, self-publishing is not for everyone. You have to do everything by yourself, including marketing. It is more difficult to get attention as a new author if you are self-published. Although, recently I have heard from trad-pub authors that their publishers have cut their marketing budgets, and the authors are expected to do more of the marketing by themselves.
The advantages of being self-published are:
You get to keep a greater % of your book’s sale price. There is no publisher taking a big chunk of the revenue, and you don’t have to pay an agent 15% of the money you earn.
There is no editor telling you to change your book, make it shorter, cut this, cut that, etc. My wife knows that having an editor, who has never written a best-selling book, tell me how to write, would not work well for me. YMMV, see below
You control the title of your book, the cover art, etc. Every decision is yours.
You also control the marketing, ad copy, etc.
The disadvantages of being self-published are:
You don’t have the marketing clout and expertise of a big company behind you. That can be critical to getting your book noticed.
Maybe having an experienced editor suggest/demand changes to your book works for you.
It is much more difficult to get your books into physical bookstores.
You have to do, and pay for, all the marketing.
Some additional comments on ‘going traditional’:
If you think being self-published means you are not a ‘real’ author, check your calendar. It is no longer 2005. Many successful, traditionally-published writers are going to self-publishing, some of them are using the ‘hybrid’ route (some of their books are trad-pub and others are self-pub).
If you are looking for a trad-pub contract because you want editors to tell you that they ‘believe in you’, it is time for a reality check. Editors who want to remain employed only care if your book will sell, not whether it is ‘good’. If you want meaningless praise from an editor, more than you want people to actually pay for and read your book, then I suggest spending your money on a therapist, because that is just pathetic.