When I started to pursue writing, I joined local writing groups, enrolled in novel writing courses, and attended several writers' conferences. At the time, self-publication was a relatively new concept that was poorly lauded. People in the know were adamant that traditional publication was the way to go. By way of example, critics touted Fifty Shades of Grey as emblematic of the perils of self-publication.
Nevertheless, I found the concept intriguing, especially given the oft repeated mantra that getting published was next to impossible unless you were a big-name celebrity or politician or had tight connections in the industry. I figured the tedious process of self-publication might be worth the effort given that finding the right agent/editor/publisher was no walk in the park.
Fast-forward to today where self-publication is more popular than ever. It certainly has its downside, including an abundance of shysters who prey on those hoping to land a book deal. However, when the time comes, I'm definitely inclined to go the route of self-publication, small press, or indie publication (the latter being distinct from self-publication).
What's your experience, particularly for first time authors? Any thoughts about the pros and cons of these options?