I've been thinking about self-publishing today - instead of editing my WIP or doing last year's taxes.
I've only recently decided I was a writer. Before I entered NaNoWriMo in November of 2010 I had written only occasionally - maybe an article in a local newsletter, or letter to the editor. I enjoyed writing in high school, and also used to read a lot in my younger days - mostly sci-fi and fantasy, with a few classics. Just hadn't been able to find the time lately for writing or reading. However, for some reason I decided in October to enter NaNoWriMo. I had barely enough time for some quick research on outlining and structure, then essentially leapt right in. Thirty days later I had my 50,000 plus words, as a very rough draft.
My point is that in my relative ignorance I could have then have self-published right away, maybe with a bit of spell checking and filling in some of the details, but I could have fired it off to say Amazon and published there as an e-book. It would have joined the other thousands (tens of thousands?) of e-books in there, and likely been only downloaded by friends and family. After I promised to reimburse them of course. I likely would have blamed the lack of susccess on the sheer numbers of e-books out there, or on my failure to market it properly. Not on the fact that it was a pretty shitty novel.
OK, maybe shitty is a bit strong, the concept and a lot of the dialogue and plot elements were good, but it was still very much a first draft. After November I started to read more about writing, both in books and via various online blogs, blogs by successful writers and editors. I also started reading more for my entertainment, following recommendations by reviews and friends, and in the process reminded my self what good writing looked like. When I did NaNoWriMo in 2011 I had a lot more background on how to write well, and yet managed to keep that from getting in the way of the creative flow.
The end result - two draft novels, a two part series so far. With my new knowledge of the whole process, I realize that they both need a lot of editing to become "good". Good in the sense that not only do I like the job I have done, but also I feel they tell the story I had in my head, and tell it so that the reader will "get it", will care about the story and the characters, will want to see them succeed. Or fail, for some of the characters.
I have found that the editing process is not the same as that creative first pass, it's not as much fun for me. But there is satisfaction in applying the new knowledge I have and seeing the gradual improvements. Eventually, I may go the traditional agent and publisher route, or I may hire an editor and self-publish and self-market. In either case, I will be proud of what I have created.
BTW - not implying that self-published novels ar all of poor quality, just that there can be risks in skipping the filtering that is done by agents and publishers.