Disclaimer: I am not a self-publishing expert, but I have been self-publishing since 2012, with over a dozen novels and short stories available in print, digital and audio formats. Self-publishing 101 is my effort to pass along what I've learned for anyone just starting out or considering self-publishing. Questions are welcome, in the comments below or at Trolodad AT Gmail dot com.
Before you embark on the epic journey of putting your work out there on the market, you really need to think about one thing: why?
Why do you want to self-publish? I don't mean why as in "because no publisher would touch it". I mean, what's your ultimate goal? To see your work in print? To have others see it? To become famous? To become rich?
If you just want to see your work in print, try vanity publishing. There are a variety of printers available online that will make you a copy of your work. Vanity publishers will offer you all sorts of services and charge you an arm and a leg. Printers like Snapfish or even Walmart offer simple print runs, without ridiculous add on fees.
If you want people to just see what you've written, save the trees and blog. The internet is the world's #1 source of information sharing. Nothing compares. It's what the damned thing was made for. Wordpress, Blogger and countless others offer anyone with access to computer and an internet connection.
If you want to be rich... well, it can be done, but I'll talk more about that next time (It takes Money to Publish for Money). If you want to make a little money...
Here's the thing about self-publising: it's a business. Hard work might make you some money, the same as any entrepeneurial adbenture. Or it might fail miserably.
Imagine you wanted to open a restaurant. Many factors determine whether you'll suceed. Doubtless you've seen many restaurants come and go in your hometown. They don't all make it. Self-publishing is the same, but that doesn't mean you sholdn't try it.
Yes, there's a lot of hard work involved, but you have no idea if you're going to be good or bad at it. If you want to, you should at least try. Thousands of other authors are. Amazon.com has nearly four million works for sale now. Statistics from last year say something like 34% of them are by independant, self-publishers. Some of them are best sellers, some are unheard of, but they all tried, and doing your best is the most important thing in any endeavor.
Next up... It takes Money to Publish for money?