One thing really tipped the balance when I decided to start my own press--my research into marketing and publicity.
Marketing costs money: advertising, promotions, etc.
Publicity is free: reviews, blurbs, interviews, yadda-yadda-yadda.
The big six publishers pay for very little marketing for most debut authors. Publishing follows a business model in which they put their resources into products that are likely to earn big returns. You need to take artistry out of the equation to understand their logic--it's a business, like the music and film industries, so the executives make their decisions based on projected sales, rather than the intrinsic awesomeness of the book, album, or movie.
For many creative types, that sounds soulless and horrible. It is--it's business. The cold hard fact is that there are a LOT of talented people in the book, music, and film industries. "Talent" is a cheap raw material in these business models. A few movie stars might earn $20 million per film, but that's still a single digit percentage of the studio's expenses. Ditto for the publishing industry. They pay the top names big money because they expect to make much more money from that person's fans.
Promotion sells books. Even a wonderful book won't sell very well if people don't know it exists. Therefore, marketing is the largest chunk of my publishing budget. I requested proposals from several marketing firms, and I eventually went with the Penny Sansevieri, who literally wrote the book on internet promotion. She's had a bunch of clients on the NYT bestseller's list. I have dreams (or delusions) of joining them there.
Online marketing works with my business model because the target demographic groups for a YA paranormal romance series like Ganzfield are very internet-savvy people. I can reach thousands of readers who might like my book through online channels. I'm not planning too many in-person author events for this marketing run--they aren't cost-effective. But I set up a nice-looking website, created a book trailer, and run online promotions like the t-shirt giveaways and the charitable donations to Nothing But Nets. I carry around promotional items--postcards and stickers with the cover art--everywhere and foist them upon anyone who shows the slightest interest in my book.
There's one aspect of this whole process that may seem counterintuitive, though. I'm not aiming to make a profit from Minder. Like a drug dealer, I've made the first taste free.* The goal is to get people hooked, so they come back for more. Minder's just the first book in a series that will have at least six volumes (and I'm playing with some ideas now that may become book 7). This model wouldn't work as well with a stand-alone novel.
*It's not evil--it's just business. The first 80 pages are available as a PDF file. I'll also have a lower, promotional price for the Kindle edition of Minder after the launch date. A few of you may have noticed that the entire Kindle edition is already for sale. I'd entered the proper release date when I set things up, but it went "live" early. Premature release--I hear it happens to a lot of bookstores.