An interesting question these days is: “Do I need a publisher?” There are lots of options available for anyone wishing to go it alone, especially when it comes to ebooks.
As someone who has been published by traditional publishers, self-published using print-on-demand and self-published ebooks, I would say that it’s too soon to hold a wake for the publishing industry. Publishers certainly have a lot to bring to the party, in terms of general expertise of the book industry, contacts, editing services and marketing (although almost every author, myself included, remain typically unimpressed by publishers’ efforts in that last category).
However, I think the fundamental issue for any writer looking to a third party to do what she could, in principle, do herself is to look at what they are offering, and to ask some pertinent questions.
This tongue-in-cheek fictitious conversation between an author and the acquisitions editor of a publisher is well worth a read, and reflecting on. Fictional and humorous it may be – but it’s the conversation’s inherent grain of truth which makes it effective.