What are some pitfalls? What rewards am I hoping for?
How thick is my skin?
Time between finishing a manuscript and seeing it in print/for sale – you can take years to sell it to a publisher, then probably one to two years to see it in print. How often you can publish – which is as fast as you can finish it and prepare it for publication if you’re on your own.
Control – you decide on everything – the genre (what categories you put it in), the editing, the cover, the blurb, when, where, how, marketing, etc.
Money – you get 100% of the profit. Almost 70 cents on the dollar for ebooks, vs about 10 cents on the dollar for traditional.
What happens when your publisher decides you aren’t worth the time to develop your career, you didn’t earn out the advance, or they go out of business or stop publishing your genre?
The state of the traditional publishing industry – the contracts are mostly awful, the politics, the mindset of the big 5.
All of that said – there are a few good publishers out there. If Baen called me – I’d take that call in a heartbeat, and there are a few others. But I would still keep publishing indie works, as well.
Also, libraries and bookstores are not off the table just because you are indie. I’m in the SLCO library. I have plans to eventually get into bookstores, as well.
Recognize that this means you are now a small business owner. Check your ego at the door, roll up your sleeves, and deal with my cliches. Writing is work, running a business is work, you are your own boss, and the hours are going to suck. And the boss is a jerk.