The author Mat Johnson writes about self-publishing on his blog. Here’s his take:
I don’t think the physical act of self-publishing hurts a writer, just that the hustling involved takes away from time that could be spent developing craft, which is essential to do in the beginning before bad habits set in. I don’t think publishing with a major publisher helps or insures the quality of a work in any way, in itself. And I don’t give a damn about the business of selling books, or typos. My focus is on originality of prose, storytelling, and thought. I don’t think a writer has to write literary fiction—there is a time for popcorn and there is a time for steak—but I don’t think the two should be confused, or that burnt stale popcorn is okay. My primary goal is helping those who want to write literary fiction (like the works of James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, etc.) avoid modern day publishing pitfalls.