I know several people who are attempting to contact agents and publishers to get their novels published. Obviously, I have chosen the self-publishing route for my books. Since I've been asked about it before, I thought I might talk about why I chose to “not get my book published for real", as my mother said.
I wrote my first novel over 10 years ago. By some stroke of luck, I did manage to land an agent for the book. Unfortunately, that’s where my luck ended. I didn't find a publisher, and after a year of looking, the agent dropped me and my book went unpublished. (Probably for the best, because it was sort of a dumb book.)
Several years later, I bypassed the agent route, and found a small publisher willing to handle a new book I had written, and then subsequently published a second one I wrote. While it was nice having my stuff in print, I wasn't really happy with the publisher. Sales for the first book were okay, nothing great, but sales for the second were abysmal. I felt that the reason for it was that the publisher didn't really do enough to advertise the book. In any case, we mutually parted ways.
I heard about publishing books on Amazon, so when I wrote The Devil Wears Scrubs, I decided to go that route. I paid to get the book professionally edited, and I made sure that it looked good. Long story short, I would never consider doing anything besides self-publishing again. Here's what I like about self-publishing:
-- You know exactly how many copies of the book you have sold in real time, which is definitely fun for an author
-- You have complete creative control over your cover, title, and work
-- You don't have to split the profits with your publisher
-- You can run promotions for the book on the Kindle, where you can literally sell 300-400 copies of your book in a single day
-- You can run free promotions on the Kindle, if you just want to find an audience, and have tens of thousands of people download your book
-- There's no point where the publisher "gives up" on your book and stops advertising it. You can continue to promote your own book as long as you want.
-- Chances are, you won't hit it big. But you might. 50 Shades of Gray was self published. And it's not like most traditionally published books sell huge numbers of copies.
There are so many resources out there to help self-published authors. These days, it almost seems stupid to go the traditional route. I have sold about 4000 copies of The Devil Wears Scrubs, and I’m continuing to run promotions on it. A friend of mine published in autobiographical novel the traditional way at the same time and it hasn't done nearly as well.
Bottom line is, I just think self-publishing is a lot more fun.