I haven't always been a defender of self-publishing. I've seen enough authors who didn't bother to edit, or self-pubbed out of anger, revenge, discouragement, or some other very poor reason, and then wondered why they still weren't getting the attention they so obviously deserved. But I know there are those out there, the indie authors, the small-press authors, self-pubbed or otherwise, who work their tails off for their books.
These people produce great writing, and then work very hard to promote it. They research the best methods to get people to see their work. They put the time in to take advantage of those methods. They blog, tweet, post on Facebook, do book signings, make appearances, anything they need to. And people read their books. Not because they pummeled their readers into submission with advertising, but because they're good.
A particular book at my local library comes to mind. This book is self-published by a local author. It's the only copy in our county, very niche, and VERY popular. It's a contemporary YA titled Opiate Jane by Jessica Baker, and patrons keep asking me about it. Though I've never read it, I can acknowledge when something just hits a reader's sweet spot and deserves to be on those shelves.
This is what self-publishing does. And if done right, and for the right reasons, it is brilliant. Self-pub makes good stories available to eager readers. But, yes, you have to work your tail off.
It's started offending me when laypersons, and especially people in the publishing industry, snub their noses at self-pub, saying things like "Well, you can always self publish." No, you can't 'always self-publish'! It isn't easy. The result, if you do it hastily or slap-dash, can be an awful blow to your writing career. And if you ever want to trad-pub, that catastrophe will follow you. Swallow that, if you can.
Will I ever self-publish? Maybe. Right now I'm pursuing traditional publishing for as long as it suits the direction I want to go in.
There's nothing wrong with illustrators who sell their work at conventions, online, or out of the trunk of their car, so what's wrong with writers who sell their work on Amazon or Createspace?