You've just completed your 300 page masterpiece and now you're trying to decide how to go about publishing it. Do you want to go traditional and find an agent? Would you rather submit your book directly to a small press? Or do you want to take full control of your book and do it all yourself?
All of those options are viable and each has its pros and cons. But before you decide how to publish your book, you need to step back and look carefully at your writing career dreams.
What kind of writer do you want to be? How do you imagine your writing career? If you'll never be happy unless you're a celebrity author at Random House with a guest spot on Oprah, then think no further. Start writing your query letter and start hunting for an agent. Sure, some people make it to the top publishing the book themselves, but you've got the same odds of winning the California lottery.
However, if your dream of publishing doesn't include that big contract from Random House, you can go the other two routes: small press or self publishing. Either route can potentially get you published with a loyal following of readers and enough earnings to keep you in espresso while you write your next book.
How do you decide which publishing road to follow? To figure that out, you need to take a long hard look in the mirror and HONESTLY ask yourself this question: how hard do you want to work?
Self-Publishing will give you the most control over your book, but you will do ALL the work.
Being published by a Small Press will split some of the workload, but you'll lose some of that control. Sometimes, you won't even have a say in the cover design.
There is always a trade off: the more control you have, the more work you have.
If you're willing to do the work and are a control nut, then self-publish. Even in that route there are two ways to go. You can start a small press, which again gives you ALL the control, or go with an online publisher like XLibros and IUniverse. If you go with the last option you'll lose some control. They will own the ISBN, not you, so you won't be able to publish elsewhere if you change your mind. But if want to focus on only writing and marketing your book and don't want to worry about all the details of managing a business, then an online publisher is a good way to go.
To decide the best way for you to be published, start with your dream, and do some homework. Make realistic decision about your needs and your desires. No option will provide everything, but if you do some research and really think before you jump into publishing, you'll be much happier when your book launches.