I never intended to self-publsih but when my first novel, The James Version, won the RPM competition (Winchester Writers` Festival) in 2002, the prize was 50 bound copies. It seemed like the obvious thing was to pay for extra copies and sell it.
From the outset I was clear that the end product had to look professional - I didn`t want a cover that had been created by a generic website, for example. I paid to have a cover designed, and for a copy-edit.
The result was a novel I was proud of, and which looked good enough to be sold by Waterstones, Ottakers (ah, we miss you...) and even - shock - WHSmith. Copies sold well (700 to date) but inevitably I have now moved on from The James Version and do not market it like I did in the first year. I had not kept tabs on what was happening.
I was therefore surprised when I went to order more copies to discover that RPM have gone bust! No answer on phone or e-mail. And they have not only 200 covers (paid for) but the disk with the novel and cover. Oops. I have older copies of the manuscript, but the final version is with them.
I am now in the process of dealing with the warehouse manager to get my disk, and maybe even those covers.
Lesson learned: always have a copy of the final product!