I'm no stranger to self-publishing, even though I've never self-published anything before. Sure, I've republished plenty of short stories, a few novellas, and even a novel. But they all had been published elsewhere. They went through a screening process before they were accepted for publication. I was paid for my efforts, and after the rights reverted to me, I sold them as republished reprints.
Self-published? I guess so. But I've always taken that term to mean published by writers without the screening process. Sure, they may have hired an editor to look over their work, but it hasn't passed a publishability litmus test. There hasn't been an agent or a publisher who's said, "Yes, this book deserves to be published. Let us do that for you." Instead, self-published writers wait for readers to decide whether their books should have ever seen print. If their books sell well, then the proof is in the proverbial pudding.
I've sold over 100 short stories to paying publications, many of which were professional sales. I've submitted my novels to hundreds of agents and small presses. I've always told myself, "If they don't want to publish it, I can always self-publish it." But in my mind, that was a last resort. In many ways, it was a sign of failure: Nobody wants to publish my book, so I'll sell it myself.
After submitting my novel Westward, Tally Ho! to 138 agents and publishers over the past 7 years, and after receiving half a dozen full requests, and after having those agents/publishers tell me the same thing (a YA western farce is a tough sell in today's market), I decided to publish it myself. This novel has never been accepted for publication. It has never passed a screening process. It has never been professionally edited. There is no professional cover art. For the first time in my writing career, I've done everything myself. It's all me, folks -- for better or worse.
Let's see how it goes.