A great question. The answer to that lies in your goals. I typically work with people whose intention is to make a difference in the lives of their readers and to build an entire operation around their book. They are not always writers per se; they are typically people who have a massive conversation they want to be the spokesperson of. People like Robert Renteria and Bea Fields. Robert’s book From the Barrio to the Board Room is a grass roots effort. We don’t sell them in stores and though we do have an online presence and do sell copies that way, the majority of our sales are directly to organizations and individuals who want to make a difference in their community by inspiring at risk youth. These sales are set up directly for the most part and done in large quantities at a discounted rate. For Robert this makes sense. More of the revenue comes back to our partnership, which gets reinvested in spreading the message and inspiring greater numbers of kids.
For clients like Angelica Harris who is a writer first, her new book, Excalibur Reclaims Her King, needs to be sold through bookstores. While Angelica does have a coaching business and works with other writers, her first love is writing. Her second love is marketing, but only out of necessity! Her ideal situation would be a strong publishing partner that could invest in the promotions of the book so that she could continue with the writing of the sequel (which we’re actually almost done with!) and then the next book.
When you work with a commercial publishing partner, you’ll get the support of both bookstores and online outlets. So the better question might be: self publishing, independent press, or commercial publisher?
As you can see, the answer is relative to your goals. Some people are crusaders with a message like Robert. Some people are writers whose imaginations is on the page, like Angelica. Both require different approaches to sell their books. Consider your goals when considering your strategy.