After painful edits and rewrites and plenty of sleepless nights, your manuscript is finally perfect. Your first step is to decide whether or not you want an agent.
If your work is shorter or for a very specific market (that doesn't include the "Normies" on the bestseller lists), you may prefer to self-publish or market your work directly to the publishers. If you have the capabilities to market your work successfully, then self-publishing may be your best bet. With self-publishing, you receive higher royalties from books sales, but your book will be priced higher and you may find it difficult setting up book signings in the major book chains (Barnes&Noble, Borders).
Book sellers prefer to have assurances that, if your book does not fly off the shelf in a reasonable time, they can return it.
While an agent will guide you through the publishing process, you will find you have more control over your book, its interior design, the cover, and marketing going through an independent publisher.