And the SFWA has helpfully delineated the differences between vanity, subsidy, and self-publishing.
Let me just get this out of the way: There's nothing wrong with self-publishing. Not intrinsically. And a very small and extremely lucky and persistent percentage of self-publishers manage to sell their self-published works in enough quantity to make a profit. In a few extremely rare instances they sell well enough to be picked up by a trade publisher.
But there IS something wrong with self-publishing presses: They're shitheads.
Self-publishing presses reliably tell their
What they do not tell their clients are all the things that won't happen: It won't be available at both national wholesalers. Even if it is, it won't be available on a returnable basis to bookstores. It won't be available at a normal trade discount to bookstores. It won't have been edited, designed, or illustrated in a professional manner, which is what the book-buying public expects.
Which means it won't have a snowball's chance in hell of placement in bookstores, and 999 times out of 1,000 it won't have a snowball's chance in hell of selling. Period.
If self-publishing presses were educating their clients about all of that, I would have nothing at all against them. But education would cut into their profits. So they won't.