[Some of the links below go to TV Tropes. You have been warned.]
These days, there is no end of people who say, "Why are you still putting yourself through the misery of traditional publishing?" Some folks say it nicer. Some are meaner and use words like "broken," "obsolete," and "dinosaur". I've talked about my reasons before, but I've come to realize that the thing behind it all is an illogical personality quirk.
I am trying to get the best ending.
Before I go on, understand that I don't think either path -- self-publishing or traditional -- is better than the other. They are both means to reach readers, and to that end, both sometimes work and sometimes don't.
I'm talking about video games. The RPGs and graphic adventures that form the core of my childhood often gave you multiple paths to complete the game, and often different endings. Sometimes there was a "best" ending; sometimes the endings were just different.
the most useless Pokemon in existence, trusting he'll become something awesome (spoiler: he does). I'll choose the Smash Bros. character everyone hates and spend weeks figuring out how to beat the crap out of people with him. I once stopped playing Riven for 5 years because I refused to look up the solution to the puzzle I was stuck on.
The point is I'm stubborn, and I've been conditioned to believe that the path of most resistance will yield the best rewards.
Again, before all you self-pubbers stab me with your pitchforks: I don't believe traditional publishing is better, not in a money-and-success way. It's only my subconscious that's convinced me there's some kind of unlockable bonus item.
But if my intellect says both paths are viable, why am I still doing the hard one?
Because the other part of my personality quirk is this: even if the ending is the same, I want to be able to say I finished the game on the hardest setting. To say I beat Super Mario Bros. without warping (I did), I caught all 151 Pokemon (I didn't), I finished Contra without losing a single life (did).
For me, getting traditionally published isn't about making more money or even reaching more readers. Neither path outdoes the other in that sense. Getting traditionally published is about being able to say I did it.
What about you? What's your path and why?