I’ve asked every question I can think of; asked everyone I can find.
The short version is that if your lifelong goal has been to “get published” then a traditional publisher is the only one who’ll fulfill your dream.
But if your goal is
- to be a “real” author
- to connect with fans
- to work toward making a living as an author
- to see your work in print
- to teach or inspire or entertain through your writing
- or any other goal an author could have
then self-publishing will get you to that goal fast, more efficiently, more certainly, than pursuing traditional publishing.