You may be a starter writer that wants to share with the world his first manuscript. You are not sure about how the editors will receive this and the thought of going to the publishing houses really scare you off. Most aspiring authors will never finish their first book, so you are one of the lucky few. Now, the next normal step is to try and publish it. This whole task can prove to be even more difficult than writing a book.
There is a lot of competition and the veteran writers are hard to surpass. In case, you are a new writer, there are slim chances to get the attention of the publishers. Hiring an agent might be the right path, but also most agents will not work with new authors like you. The best solution for you seems to be the self-publishing path.
Publishing that first novel on your own might not give you a lot of prestige, but it is a step forward. The paradox is that publishing houses seem to notice new writers only after they have taken this leap of faith and went on to self-publish their books. Besides this recognition, there are other important advantages of being self-published.
In case you opt for self-publishing, you have to know that the book will be printed faster than normally. The companies that deal with this are likely to support a swift resolution of your problems. You can upload the work online. In less than a month or so, the book will reach the retailers. In this way, you can calculate your own timeline for your novel release. In case your book is more appropriate for a certain time of the year, you can schedule it to appear just at the right moment.
The thing about self-publishing is that you are responsible for the way the book looks. In many cases the editors will modify the work according to their own vision. This might not be what you want. It is their job to decide crucial things like your cover or other important aspects. The whole approach might rob you of the literary freedom so you might feel a little bit resentful. You may want to have it your own way and let the readers see the book as a whole unit. Self-publishing will help you preserve the essence of your ideas without anyone interfering with your freedom and your choices.
Even if you might not think of becoming rich after writing a book, the profit that you gain can be equally important. If you go with a publishing company, they will give you only 10% of the profit in royalties. Having an agent will mean receiving an even smaller chunk of that money. A self-published book will work for you and all the earnings are yours entirely.
Do not be afraid or intimidated about the idea of publishing your own book. This is a good starting point and seeing the book printed might be just what will motivate you to continue your work.