I've found this forum to be altogether informative and active. So, I decided to toss in my two cents.
Everything posted is spot-on with good questions and answers.
Upfront, I believe we all know that SP/POD publishing has a stigma attached to it. However, that sore eye is healing.
My favorite critique site is, http://www.fanstory.com
where many members are self-published, and a good number of those books have added to the negative cloud over SP/POD publishing. I check out member SP so-called success stories on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the vast majority are poorly written, have badly designed interiors and covers. Overall, they read like weak first drafts. All of which could've been avoided by hiring professionals to do it right. A pro editor would've been a great start, and pro everything else along with editing.
My platform has been well established over the years with articles and stories including a five year [paid] monthly column for an adult E-zine.
I didn't tackle novel writing until the mid nineties. There was a lot I needed to learn about the form and I'm still learning.
Long story short: I became sick to death of chasing publishers, editors and agents only to play a waiting game. One agent took me for over $700.00 in reading fees and postage. That ended my novel writing efforts for a few years.
Now I have five novels on Amazon and royalty checks keep trickling in, spotty, but better than none. All but one of my books was designed entirely by me, including the covers. "Deathmaker" was my first SP/POD novel, published, edited and designed by Omega Publications. They're not cheap, but absolutely professional. The company is owned by Gayle Farmer and her husband, Jeff. The senior editor is Norma Howell and she's tough. They're all good, honest professionals.
During the course of intensive line-by-line editing I realized, except for editing, I could do the work myself. I have experience in graphic arts, so creating the interior and cover would not be a problem. I published the next four novels on my own with Norma wearing the editor's cap.
I use The Amazon-owned Create Space service basically as my printer and distributor.
Here's a little trick/tip: through CS an author can establish his/her own imprint, therefore becoming an independent publisher and buy ISBN numbers. The tip is: when you create your own imprint it doesn't get immediately flagged as SP/POD. When a buyer looks at your book and sees the publisher as Publish America, Create Space, Lulu and any of the other SP/POD pubs, the chances for a sale immediately drop.
My imprint is: Dragon Lair Books. To the reader, that might be just another imprint of Simon & Schuster, Double Day, or Little Brown. It can be a boost to your sales.
After I created the imprint, I built the DLB Website, http://www.tedtillotsondragonlairbooks.com
-- I'd be pleased to have you check out the site. You'll see how I reach out to other SP/POD authors to help promote their books for free. Of course my novels are listed there with others and a four-part discussion on creating your own book.
You can check out my books on Amazon by going to books and entering my full name in the search box: Ted Tillotson. All five covers will come up.
I have a sixth novel coming out, hopefully, in December titled, "The Legs Collector" -- a sequel is in development.
I hope all this information has been helpful.
Thanks for reading,