I plan on writing about this in much greater detail in my forthcoming manifesto, but I believe self-published books don’t deserve the stigma that comes with being self-published. From what I’ve seen, the major difference between self-published books and traditionally published books has nothing to do with the stories or the quality of the writing and everything to do with the behind the scenes publishing that happens.
A lot of people (authors included!) don’t realize just how much work goes into every traditionally published book. Editing is not a quick run-through for copy mistakes but several rounds of structural, copy and form edits. Blurbs, ISBN, descriptions are all created early and books are passed on to reviewers in the form of Advanced Readers Copies (ARCs) well before the actual book comes out so the reviewers have a chance to build the buzz. Timing is key for a traditional book launch.
Unfortunately it is often these factors – the book cover, the blurbs, the reviews, the descriptions – that make up a reader’s mind whether or not to give your book a chance. And this is where a lot of self-published authors fail. There are too many pieces to the launching puzzle and important things get left behind.
I believe the gap can be closed and self-publishers can overthrow the big publishers, but it will require a new breed of author/publishers who realize just how important the publishing process is to their work.