Why the distinction?
A photographer take pictures, builds a portfolio, and opens a studio.
An artist paints day and night, assembles a collection, and hosts a showing at a local gallery.
A musician rehearses for months in his band mate's garage, records an album, and releases it under his own label.
An author writes for hours, agonizing over every word, edits and polishes the manuscript, then self-publishes and... wait. What? They self-publish?? Shock and horror abound.
When I tell people I'm an author, the first question I'm almost always asked is "Who's your publisher?" Why does that matter? I'm asking; in the general scheme of things, why does the name of the publisher I list on my creation matter any more than the name you put on yours? Why is what I create deemed inferior because it lacks the stamp of approval from a recognizable publishing house?
Your picture is slightly out of focus. There's a smear on the right hand corner of your canvas. That last chord was off-key. You adjust, you fix your mistakes, and your next project is better than the last. Humans learn by doing; by pushing themselves to evolve, to master new techniques, to perfect their masterpiece.
Authors are no different; self-published or not. We make mistakes, and we fix them. We hone our skill and write a better story. Being self-published does not make us less than. Rather, it takes an immense amount of courage to release our creations to the world, to have them studied and critiqued and, oftentimes, ridiculed. We're no different than any other artist out there, yet self-published authors are looked down upon, even by those in the same circles.
So, I ask again; why the distinction?
Yes, the process for publishing a book has become, for lack of a better word, easy. Anyone can do it; and it doesn't necessarily have to cost money, depending on the product the author is comfortable selling. But artists sell their paintings on Etsy and musicians sell their music on CD Baby. What's the difference? Outlets for creative work are available for a reason; because real talent was going unrecognized by those guarding the gates.
Are my books all that? I leave it to my readers to decide. Will I, one day, be able to add the title of best-selling author to my books? Time will tell. It would be nice, don't get me wrong, but that's not the reason I self-publish. I discovered a hidden well of creativity inside me, a true enjoyment for writing, and, truth be told, I like just letting the words flow. More importantly, I like writing them my way, without someone standing over me critiquing this or deleting that. I had enough of that during my school years.
I believe creativity is subjective. Different is good. Writing a story shouldn't be like fixing a carburetor. It's not the formulaic process many believe. It's an art form; words are the medium rather than film or paint or notes.
So, do me a favor. Please stop equating self-publishing with less than. Please stop undervaluing the time and effort I put into my art. Will what I release ten years from now be better than what I released last month? I sure as hell hope so. I have no desire to churn out the same thing over and over. I want to learn new techniques, apply them to my work, craft something beautiful and worthy of awe. What artist doesn't?
Good or bad, I'm shaping my own future, and the responsibility as such lies squarely on my shoulders. You know what? I can live with that.
Now, go create something beautiful ...