But my point is, I spent a year and a half NOT working on any other writing projects because I was so busy researching and trying to get an agent. With each batch of new rejections, I would dive back into my novel, trying to figure out what was wrong. I researched genres. Was my book a mystery or a literary novel? Then, I'd send out more queries, trying out different approaches, different "hooks." Six weeks later (or never), I'd get back more rejections. Back to the drawing board. Yes, I needed to revise my novel, but did I also need to spend countless ours searching out an agent??
Finally, my friend Lisa Logan published a collection of her short stories on Smashwords from her master's thesis. I had a master's thesis sitting on my computer, too. Along with tons of other short stories. I decided to follow her lead and publish a mini collection on Smashwords. Two years later, I've completed a draft of my second novel, published another collection of short stories on Amazon, and have just released a how-to guide with Lisa called Publishing and Selling Your Ebook on Kindle.
If you are a writer who, like me, won't feel satisfied until your books are out there to be read -- whether by 10 people or 10,000 people -- can you afford NOT to self publish? Sure, if you already have contacts in publishing and/or have the time (and money) to travel to writing conferences, networking and meeting literary agents, then traditional publishing might be the best route for you. But many of us can't do that. We have kids or a full-time job, or we can't afford to spend $300+ on a conference or take a weekend trip to New York City to hobnob with literary agents and visit publishing houses. For the typical, every-day person, self publishing might be the only viable option.
Yes, you have to spend tons of time marketing your own books, but from what I've learned, traditionally published writers are having to do that anyway. They tour, they blog, they tweet... If you only have one year to spend "getting serious" about writing -- do you spend that time trying to find an agent, or do you write? For me, now, the answer is clear -- I write.