Some time ago, I made the decision that I would not submit to any market that paid less than semi-pro, because I wanted to get compensated for my work and there are quite a few pro and semi-pro markets out there. I still believe that I (and all writers) should get compensated for my work, and except for special circumstances, my conviction stands.
However, a few of my stories--one in particular, which I like but is rather long--are rapidly running out of markets. While it's true that new markets form and disperse all the time, that will not provide me with enough markets to keep up the steady flow of submissions. I will soon be faced with a choice: stop submitting said stories except when new markets appear, submit to token-paying or non-paying markets, or explore the self publishing option.
So far, I haven't been very tempted by self publishing, and I'm not certain I can fully articulate why. Partly it's a desire for validation: someone--often someone with lots of experience in publishing--has to like a story in order for it to be published through traditional means, whereas any one can self-publish. It's also partly fear of the unknown: life is crazy busy and hectic these days, and taking the time to learn the policies and procedures to self-publish hasn't tempted me. Yet.
But I'd be lying if the thought hasn't crossed my mind a little more frequently these days. After all, if I run out of good-paying markets, I might as well do it myself. It may make nothing or only pennies, but if I just trunk a story it won't make money anyway, and it wouldn't take too many sales to match what I'd earn from a token market. And at least it would be out in the world where people could read it, instead of gathering dust at home.
Bottom line: I'm not ready... yet. I still have too much going on to spend the time learning how to do it (take this post for example, I would've completed it hours ago if I hadn't had to suddenly take my baby to the pediatrician for an eye infection.) Plus I haven't quite run out of paying markets. But I'm thinking that small-scale self publishing may be appearing over the horizon.
How about you? Have you self-published, or do you plan to?