I was reading yet another article on the pros of electronic publishing. There is a definite plus side to not having to pay for printing costs, and that does get bigger returns on your royalties, but I'm also wondering if there isn't a stick-it-to-the-man attitude going on. As Gretchen points out, just a few years ago, she wouldn't have self-published. She already had some books out, and there was a stigma associated with the term "self-published." The idea was that people who had to self publish weren't good enough to land an agent or a "real" publisher. In some cases, this is probably true. The publishing industry is feeling the economic crunch like the rest of us, and they are tightening their belts. They need to make a profit, so they are very picky about what they want. This means that a lot of authors are getting shut down. So, they turn to epublishing, thinking they can flip the industry the bird and say, "See! I don't need you! I can do it myself!"
However, the numbers that Gretchen talks about in her article are very specific to one genre and one person. Not everyone who epublishes is going to make that kind of money. You have to self promote. You have to get a following. And that can be just as difficult as getting an agent and publishing the traditional way. There are so many sites and so many people on the internet, how do you stand out? There really is no easy answer to this. Having a website or blog is a good place to start, as well as a presence on Facebook (I would say Myspace too, but I think that's pretty much fallen out of favor). You have to be willing to do legwork, send out review copies, join forums, be a guest blogger on others blogs, do readings. You could hire a PR company, but that will cost, and you still have to do some of your own work. You can't expect them to take care of everything. Even then, there is no guarantee that your book will go big. But that shouldn't stop you from trying. Even authors who have agents and have gone the traditional route can fail.
Being a part of the publishing revolution is always a good idea. As I've said in other posts, sometimes small publishers and self-publishing are a little more in tune with the latest technologies. Whatever path you choose, remember that you always have to take an interest in yourself before any one else will.