One of the unfortunate side effects of (successful) self/indie publishing shows up in the attitudes of (some) writers. To paraphrase: “You can’t just write anymore, and you’re a fool if you just write and hand off responsibility and control to a publisher.”
Luckily, this attitude isn’t nearly as common (or commonly expressed) as it was just a year ago, but it’s still out there. And it’s stil wrong.
There are three main classes of outlets for authors today:
2. Small (and micro) presses
3. Big Six
Each of these approaches has positive and negative elements – this is an extension of looking at digital publishing as investing. You have to be informed about what each of these costs – both in terms of time and money, the drawbacks, and the probable gains.
But don’t let anyone tell you that their way of publishing is the only right way (remember my advice about cults of personality). As long as you are making an informed choice and acting in your best interests, then you’re publishing “the right way”.
Here’s an analogy (largely informed by this episode of 99% Invisible: There are people who are talented musicians or singers, but not skilled songwriters. There are people who are skilled songwriters who are not good at public performances (or singing, or…). Would you insist that only singer/songwriters are allowed to perform? (And therefore, your favorite musicians could never do a cover?) And that same person(s) had to do all their own booking, promotion, and the like?
It’s great when people do many of those things – the band Jasper the Colossal just had their CD release party. Their CD was funded by a Kickstarter, just like Amanda Palmer’s. But to say it’s required in order to be a skilled performer? Or a skilled songwriter?
Be informed. Know the benefits and risks, the pros and cons. And make the choice you’re comfortable with for your story.