Is self-publishing really nothing more than what used to be called (with disdain) "vanity press"?
Or let me ask this question another way.
"Are you paranoid if someone is actually following you around?"
The answer lies in the quality of the product. Can anyone get a really lame piece of writing POD printed and onto Amazon? Sure. "See my book? It's in print." That's Vanity Press.
But if you have really worked, and you have some writing talent to go along with your work, and you've engaged any help you need to make a great finished product, well . . . that's a whole different animal. That -- in my mind -- is "self-publishing."
Are you paranoid (or in the case of writing, self-deluded)? Or is someone really following you around (in the case of writing, you have a GOOD book)?
These are the factors that determine the appropriate label for your work. Not whether Simon & Schuster has validated your art by taking a cut. Not whether an overworked and underpaid literary agent has been able to (miraculously) recognize your talent on the basis of an email query.
Publishing is changing. And self-publishing is at the forefront of the change.
So self-publish proudly, if you wish. But do so in a way that makes all self-pubbers look good. Hold the qualities of self-pubbing high, and readers will follow.
That's it for today.
All the best.
P.S. Love Mel's comment below.