I'm honored to be a part of this one-time blog ring about publishing options. My crit group has been discussing this topic for months.And I know it's been a topic for writers and agents (and editors) for longer than that.
First of all, I'd like to say that I think the "right" choice for anyone might change depending on the day. The book. The moment. It's amazing that writers have so many choice these days--we can self publish, we can e-publish, we can freelance, we can publish the traditional route (i.e., publish with a traditional publisher, either by pitching directly or through an agent). Within the traditional route, there are small presses as well "the big six" and other larger publishers. And I'm sure I'm forgetting something.
That said, at this moment, my choice is to pursue traditional publishing for my young adult and middle grade fiction.
Having an editorial agent (Vickie Motter from Andrea Hurst Literary Management), who vets my work and offers significant recommendations when and where they're needed, for me, is priceless. She works with me to polish the book, she pitches the book to editors. She will work to make sure any offers we receive are fair. It really becomes a team approach--how can we make the product the best it can be. And we're both invested in making the book the best it can be.
Unfortunately, getting the agent is often the hardest step--once I started querying, it took almost 10 months. But, for me, it was 100% worth it.
I can't imagine doing this without her. But then again I do my best work as part of a collaboration. So it's the right choice for me.
Some might prefer the challenges offered by self-publishing, or e-publishing because of the opportunity to create a project of their own, on their own.
I've also been very fortunate to have the opportunity to do do a fair amount of work-for-hire (freelance) for the school library market with Capstone Press. Working closely, on assignment, with an editor has been a priceless experience for me. To see my name on the cover of beautifully produced hard cover books has done wonders for my self-confidence, helped to hone my writing skills, and given me great assets to my writers toolbox.
Other folks blogging about their personal choices:
Heather Kelly: Edited to Within an Inch of My Life
Lynn Kelley: LynNerd's Random Acts of Writing.
Ansha's Blog - A Writer's View of the World
Tina Laurel Lee
Tina Laurel Lee: Watch Me Practice
Anita Laydon Miller
Anita Laydon Miller's Blog
Tom M. Franklin