Modern self-publishing used to have a stigma attached to it. “Vanity publishing” it was often called. Some people still look down their noses at someone having the audacity to publish their own book. Presumably those people would prefer to send off their manuscript to dozens of different publishers in the hope of getting a book deal. One reason for this attitude is that for the last few years it has suddenly become much, much easier to self-publish, and for no cost.
Self-publishing goes back thousands of years to the clay tablets of Egypt and Mesopotamia, but it was the advent of printing that really gave it a boost. Benjamin Franklin annually published Poor Richard’s Almanack, later William Blake self-published some of his best known works, illustrating them in the process, and Jane Austen paid to have Sense and Sensibility published. Walt Whitman published Leaves of Grass himself, Marcel Proust published Du Côté de Chez Swann himself, and Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard actually estalished their own Hogarth Press to publish their work. Moving right up to date, The Martian first saw publication as a self-published ebook as did Fifty Shades of Grey.
Self-publishing has also had a reputation for being of poor quality, and unfortunately many books continue to be published which are poorly edited and designed. There is no excuse for this, and my aim is always to create a fully professional product.